Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
خَادِمُ ٱلْحَرَمَيْنِ ٱلشَّرِيفَيْنِ
Khādim al-Ḥaramayn aš-Šarīfayn (in Arabic)
Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
since 23 January 2015
StyleCustodian of the Two Holy Mosques (formal)
His Majesty (diplomatic relations)
First monarchSaladin
Formation12th century CE (de facto)
November 1986 (de jure)
ResidenceAl-Yamamah Palace
Al-Salam Palace

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques (abbreviation CTHM; Arabic: خَادِمُ ٱلْحَرَمَيْنِ ٱلشَّرِيفَيْنِ, romanizedKhādim al-Ḥaramayn aš-Šarīfayn, lit.'Servant of the Two Noble Sanctuaries'), or Protector of the Two Holy Cities, is a royal style that has been used officially by the monarchs of Saudi Arabia since 1986. The title has historically been used by many Muslim rulers in the past, including the Ayyubids, the Mamluks, the Ottomans and the Sharifain rulers of Hejaz. The title was sometimes regarded to denote the de facto Caliph of Islam,[1] but it mainly refers to the ruler taking the responsibility of guarding and maintaining the two holiest mosques in Islam: Al-Haram Mosque (Arabic: اَلْمَسْجِدُ ٱلْحَرَامُ, romanized: Al-Masjid al-Ḥarām, "The Sacred Mosque") in Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque (Arabic: اَلْمَسْجِدُ ٱلنَّبَوِيُّ, romanized: Al-Masjid an-Nabawī) in Medina,[1][2] both of which are in the Hejazi region[3] of Saudi Arabia. The Custodian has been named the most powerful and influential person in Islam and the Sunni branch of Islam by The Muslim 500, as well as the most powerful Muslim and Arab ruler in the world.[4]

Styles of
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
Reference styleCustodian of the Two Holy Mosques
Spoken styleHis Majesty


The holy mosques of Mecca (left) and Medina (right), illustrated in an 18th-century religious manuscript

It is believed that the first person to use the title was Saladin.[5]

After defeating the Mamluks and gaining control of the Mecca and Medina in 1517, the Ottoman sultan Selim I adopted the title. Rather than style himself the Ḥākimü'l-Ḥaremeyn (Arabic: حَاكِمُ الْحَرَمَيْن, Ruler of the Two Sanctuaries), he accepted the title Ḫādimü'l-Ḥaremeyn (Arabic: خَادِمُ الْحَرَمَيْن, Servant of the Two Sanctuaries).[6][7][8]

The first King of Saudi Arabia to assume the title was Faisal bin Abdul Aziz (1906–1975). His successor Khalid did not use the title,[5] but the latter's successor Fahd did, replacing the term "His Majesty" with it.[9] The current king, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, took the same title after the death of King Abdullah, his half brother, on 23 January 2015.[2]


  1. ^ a b Wood, Paul (1 August 2005). "Life and legacy of King Fahd". BBC News. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 6 April 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz". The Saudi Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. Archived from the original on 20 January 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2011.
  3. ^ Hopkins, Daniel J.; 편집부 (2001). Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary. p. 479. ISBN 0-87779-546-0. Retrieved 17 March 2013.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 July 2023. Retrieved 28 July 2023.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b Fakkar, Galal (27 January 2015). "Story behind the king's title". Arab News. Jeddah. Archived from the original on 4 August 2016. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  6. ^ Emecen, Feridun (2009). "Selim I". TDV Encyclopedia of Islam, Vol. 36 (Sakal – Sevm) (in Turkish). Istanbul: Turkiye Diyanet Foundation, Centre for Islamic Studies. pp. 413–414. ISBN 978-975-389-566-8.
  7. ^ İlber Ortaylı, "Yavuz Sultan Selim" Archived 14 November 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Milliyet (In Turkish)
  8. ^ "İlber Ortaylı, "Surre alayı Topkapı Sarayı'ndan geçiyor"" [İlber Ortaylı, "The Surre procession passes through Topkapı Palace"]. Milliyet (in Turkish). 20 April 2008. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  9. ^ "Fahad played pivotal role in development". Gulf Daily News. 2 August 2005. Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2013.