Tawaf is one of the principal rites performed in both Umrah and Hajj pilgrimage. Tawaf is comprised of seven circumambulations around the holy Kaaba in an anti-clockwise direction. All of the seven rounds start and ends at the Black Stone “Hajar-al-Aswad.” Linguistically, the meaning of the word Tawaf is “to walk around.” Tawaf is an act of spiritual devotion performed by the Muslim pilgrims for connecting with the Allah spiritually. The Kaaba is a sacred site for Muslims and that is why pilgrims encircle it. In the past few years, due to the ease of transportation and Saudi government Umrah policies, the number of Umrah pilgrims have been increased globally. Pilgrims now can perform Umrah pilgrimage from India or any other country easily.
The Tawaf is a symbolic act which demonstrates the unity and belief of Muslim pilgrims in Allah and his worship. Tawaf depicts the idea of oneness, unity, and brotherhood. According to the holy Quran, the reasons behind these seven circumambulation is because everything fundamental related to human beings and the universe has seven components, and everything in the universe is in the state of Tawaf.
There are five types of Tawaf. They are as follows:
Tawaf al-Qudum, meaning Tawaf of arrival or welcome Tawaf, is performed by the pilgrims travelling beyond the Miqat boundaries upon entering in Saudi Arabia. This Tawaf is considered Sunnah, and all male and female pilgrims are required to wear Ihram to perform it.
Tawaf al-Ziyarah also known as Tawaf-ul-Rukh, meaning Tawaf of invitation, is performed by all the pilgrims undertaking Hajj on Dhul Hijjah after leaving the state of Ihram and before returning to Mina for Rami al-Jamarat.
Tawaf al-Umrah is performed by the Umrah pilgrims while undertaking Umrah pilgrimage. Tawaf is an initial ritual of Umrah performed by the pilgrims after entering into the Ihram.
Tawaf al-Nafl is the type of Umrah performed by the pilgrims voluntarily at any time of the year.
Tawaf al-Wida, meaning Tawaf of farewell, is performed after the completion of Hajj before leaving Mecca. This is the final ritual performed in Mecca by the pilgrims.
How to perform Tawaf?
Tawaf starts with the Hajar-Al-Aswad. There are three ways of completing the Tawaf. If you are close enough to the Hajar-Al-Aswad, then touch it with both your hands and place your face in between your hands and recite the prayer. Thereafter, kiss the Aswad without making any sound. If it is crowded and only your palms are capable of touching the stone, then you can touch the stone with your hands and later kiss your hands. Now, if you are too far from the Aswad, then face the Aswad and raise your hands up to your earlobe and recite the prayer. You can later kiss your palms if you wish so.