Anatomy of the tawaf

It is necessary to do wudu before performing tawaf. After tawaf, it is compulsory to offer 2 rakats nafal prayers.

There are five kinds of tawafs, which will be explained in the course of this guide:

  • Tawaf-ul-qudoom (‘welcome’ tawaf– and optional only for the ifrad method of hajj)
  • Tawaf-i-umrah
  • Nafal tawaf
  • Tawaf-ul-infada
  • Tawaf-ul-wida
You can see Hajrul Aswad or the Black Stone inside the silver circle in the corner.

You can see Hajrul Aswad or the Black Stone inside the silver circle at the corner facing you.

The tawaf begins from the corner at which Hajr-ul-aswad is placed. This corner is marked by a green light so pilgrims know when each circuit has been completed. When starting the tawaf at this corner, point to Hajr-ul-aswad and say:

Bismillahi wallahu akbar

(In the name of Allah, Allah is the Greatest)

The tawaf goes in an anti-clockwise direction. As you start walking you will see:

Multazam: The area from Hajr-ul-aswad to the door of the Kaaba.


Multazam (Photo credit: Adam Khan)

Door of the Kaaba

Door of the Kaaba (Photo credit: Adam Khan)

Next you will see the Maqaam-i-Ibrahim. This is a small golden structure housing the stone on which Prophet Abraham (pbuh) stood while building the Kaaba and offered prayers.


Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) offered prayers here after performing tawaf. That is why a lot of people are constantly trying to go there and pray. They are not allowed to do this in the tawaf area, but that doesn’t stop anyone and really disrupts traffic flow. Occasionally, the guards come and move these people. You may offer nafal prayers standing anywhere behind this point, without disrupting the people performing tawaf.


Maqam-i-Ibrahim (Photo credit: Adam Khan)


Maqam-i-Ibrahim (Photo credit: Adam Khan)

Now you will see hateem. This is the white marble semi circular area. This was supposed to be included in the covered section of the Kaaba. That is why praying in this area is like praying inside the Kaaba.

Near the top of the Kaaba on this side is a golden drain pipe. When it rains, people fight to stand under this drain and let the rain water fall over them, believing it to be a special blessing. This is not true. Please don’t fall for such fallacies that do not have any religious grounds. It was not present at the time of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh).


Hateem (Photo credit: Adam Khan)

After the hateem comes the Rukn-i-Yamani. From this corner to the Hajr-ul-aswad it is sunnah to recite

Rabbana aatina fidunya hasanatan wa fil aakhirati hasantan wa qinaa adhaabanaar

(Our Lord! Give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter, and defend us from the torment of the Fire!)


Rukn-i-Yamani (Photo credit: Adam Khan)

Other than that, there are no set prayers for each round of the tawaf. Please do not believe any such claims and pray as you like.

One circuit will be complete once you reach the green light. Upon completing each circuit, point to Hajr-ul-aswad and say

Allah o Akbar

(God is the Greatest)

This can be done while walking. Once you begin to approach the green light, you will see the traffic flow slow down, even stop, and it will become even more crowded. This is because instead of just pointing and saying takbeer, people stop and start making all kinds of gestures towards the Kaaba, blow kisses, and recite long prayers. Please do not do this.

The green light on the left marking the Hajrul Aswad corner.

The green light on the left marking the Hajrul Aswad corner.

Some people perform tawaf here while moving together in a group. They are usually dressed alike, chanting their prayers out loud, led by the group leader. You will hear them before you see them. Watch out! You might get run over. Please avoid this approach. Their moving as a group greatly disrupts the traffic flow and you can’t hear yourself think over their loud chanting. They also use their group to nudge/push/shove people out of the way and move closer to the Kaaba.

Notice the groups in yellow and blue.

Notice the groups in yellow and blue.

We did not even attempt to go near the Kaaba. The reason is that it is not a requirement of hajj. And to battle through the throngs of people, and employ every method that goes against Islam, like pushing, shoving, jostling, touching na mehram people in order to achieve a goal that is not even an obligation, made no sense to me. People also engage in a lot of unIslamic acts like touching the Kaaba and then rubbing their faces and bodies as though to rub the special powers of the cloth and stones on them. The Kaaba is a man-made structure. Allah is the only one who has the power to help you. You cannot even imagine the mayhem near the Kaaba during the peak period. People are literally coming out of there on stretchers. Enough said.


A guard standing by Hajrul Aswad.