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Ṭawāf (Arabic: طَوَاف, lit. 'going about') is one of the Islamic rituals of pilgrimage in Mecca, the Hejaz, Saudi Arabia. During the Hajj and Umrah, Muslims are to go around the Kaaba (the most sacred site in Islam) seven times, in a counterclockwise direction; the first three circuits at a hurried pace on the outer part of the crowd, followed by four times closer to the Kaaba at a leisurely pace. 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 the Kaaba, while supplicating to God.
The circle begins from the Black Stone (al-Ḥajar al-'Aswad) on the corner of the Kaaba. 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 or hold up their hand to the Stone on each circuit. They are also to make the Takbir prayer (Bismillah Allahu Akbar) each time they approach. For men, it is recommended to do the first three circuits in a hurried pace, followed by four rounds of a more leisurely pace. At the end of the circling, Muslims go to the Station of Ibrahim to pray two rak'ahs of nafl prayer, and then drink water from the sacred Well of Zamzam, before proceeding to the next ritual of the Hajj, the Sa'yee. Muslims are generally advised to "make ṭawāf" at least twice – once as part of the Hajj, and again as their final activity before leaving Mecca.
There are several types of ṭawāf that can be performed:
- Ṭawāf al-Qudūm ("arrival ṭawāf") is performed by those not residing in Mecca once reaching the Holy City.
- Ṭawāf aṭ-Ṭaḥīyah is performed after entering Al-Masjid al-Haram at any other times and is mustahab.
- Ṭawāf al-cUmrah refers to the ṭawāf performed specifically for Umrah.
- Ṭawāf al-Wadāc ("farewell ṭawāf") is performed before leaving Mecca.
- Ṭawāf az-Zīyārah, Ṭawāf al-'Ifāḍah or Ṭawāf al-Ḥajj is performed after casting stones, sacrificing animals (hadi) shaving the hair.
- Ruqaiyyah Maqsood, World Faiths, teach yourself - Islam, p. 76, ISBN 0-340-60901-X
- Shariati, Ali (2005). HAJJ: Reflection on Its Rituals. Islamic Publications International. ISBN 1-889999-38-5.
- Denny, Frederick Mathewson (2010). An Introduction to Islam. Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13814477-X.
- Mohamed, Mamdouh N. (1996). Hajj to Umrah: From A to Z. Mamdouh Mohamed. ISBN 0-915957-54-X.
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