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Crowds circling the Ka'bah

Tawaf (طواف) is one of the Islamic rituals of pilgrimage. During the Hajj and Umrah, Muslims are to circumambulate the Ka'bah (the holiest building in Mecca) seven times, in a counterclockwise direction.[1] The circling is believed to demonstrate the unity of the believers in the worship of the One God, as they move in harmony together around their central shrine, while supplicating to God "Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik".

According to Islamic tradition the Tawaf of the Ka'bah is a depiction of the Tawaf that runs above the Jannat al Firdaws in the seventh heaven where the Arsh (Allah's throne) is situated. Angels do Tawaf continuously around the Arsh. The Tawaf of the Kaabah should make it easy for humans to understand the reality of Tawaf around the Arsh.

Ritual details


The Black Stone

Supplicating Pilgrim at Masjid Al Haram. Mecca, Saudi Arabia

Large crowds of pilgrims sometimes make it difficult to perform the rituals

The circle begins from the Black Stone on the corner of the Ka-bah. If possible, muslims are to kiss or touch it, but this is often not possible because of the large crowds, so it is acceptable for them to simply point at the Stone on each circuit. They are also to make the Takbeer prayer (Allahu Akbar) each time they approach.

For men, it is recommended to make the first three circuits at a hurried pace, followed by four times, more closely, at a leisurely pace.

At the end of the circling, Muslims go to the Station of Ibrahim to pray two rak'ahs, and then try if possible to drink water from the sacred Well of Zamzam, before proceeding to the next ritual of the Hajj, the Sa'i.

Muslims are generally advised to "Make Tawaf" at least twice -- once as part of the Hajj, and again as their final activity before leaving Mecca.[2]

Types of Tawaf

Part of a series on the
Islamic Jurisprudence

– a discipline of Islamic studies


There are several types of tawaf that can be performed:

Tawaf al-nisa is a second tawaf that is performed during Umrah & Hajj. This type of tawaf is only recognised by Shia scholars.

Tawaf Qudoom (The 'Arrival tawaf') is the tawaf performed by those not residing in Mecca once reaching the Holy city.

Tawaf Tahiyah is the tawaf performed after entering the Masjid al-Haram at any other times and is mustahab.

Tawaf Umrah refers to the tawaf performed specifically for Umrah.

Tawaf Wadaa (The 'Farewell tawaf') is the tawaf performed before leaving Mecca.

Tawaf Ziyaarah/Ifadah (Tawaf al-Hajj)


  1. World Faiths, teach yourself - Islam by Ruqaiyyah Maqsood. ISBN: 0-340-60901-X page 76
  2. Mohamed, Mamdouh N. (1996). Hajj to Umrah: From A to Z. Mamdouh Mohamed. ISB 0-915957-54-x. 


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