Hajj Ritual

Obligations of the Ṯawāf

There are eight obligations to be fulfilled for the ṯawāf :

1. The rounds have to start and finish at the Black Stone

(al-hağar al-'aswad). As a precautionary measure, the entire body should go past the Black Stone both at the beginning and at the end of a round. Therefore, it is recommended that one commence the round a little bit in front of the Black Stone so as to make sure one is standing opposite to it and getting a proper start.

2. Each round is complete when the pilgrim arrives at the Black Stone. For the last round, it is recommended that one walk a little further in order to feel certain of having completed it.

3. During all the rounds of the ṯawāf, the Ka´aba has to be to the left of the pilgrim. If they turn towards the Holy Ka´aba to kiss it or if they are facing it due to the crowd or if their right side or back is turned towards the Ka´aba, the distance that was covered in that position is not counted as part of the ṯawāf. The determining factor is what is commonly regarded as being "to the left of someone", as was done by the Prophet (saas) in riding around the Ka´aba (and therefore little deviations are tolerated). That is why the pilgrim is not required to be particularly accurate when passing by the Hijr Ismail and the corners.

4. The Hijr Ismail has to be included in the ṯawāf, i.e. the pilgrim has to circle around it from the outside without stepping on it or climbing the wall.

5. The circumambulation has to be performed at a considerable distance so that the projection known as "Shadharwaan" is included.

6. The obligation is to walk seven rounds in succession. If less than seven rounds are performed, the ṯawāf is invalid. If more than seven rounds are deliberately performed, the ṯawāf is also invalid.

7. The seven rounds have to be performed one after another without extended rest periods in between. Exceptions will be explained later.

8. The ṯawāf has to result from conscious and voluntary movement of the pilgrim. If they are pushed through the crowd not of their own volition, the ṯawāf is not acceptable.

#303: As it is commonly known, the ṯawāf is performed in the space between the Ka´aba and the Maqam Ibrahim. (That is a distance of approximately 12 meters/40 feet.) When moving around the Hijr Ismail, the distance between it and the pilgrim should not exceed 3 meters/10 feet. If the pilgrim happens to walk outside this area, it is acceptable albeit frowned-upon (makruh). However, if the pilgrim is not able to stay within these limits or if it could harm them to do so, being further away is tolerated. In any case, it is advisable to keep the recommended distances whenever possible.