Saturday, July 3, 2021

Tawaf: Definition, History, Types

  Anonymous       Saturday, July 3, 2021

Meaning Definition

Tawaf (Arabic: طواف) is an important part of the Hajj pilgrimage and Umrah. It consists of walking or circumambulating the Kaaba in a anti-clockwise direction in order to fulfill its requirements. To complete one Tawaf, one must complete seven circuits, two of which begin at the Hajar al-Aswad and two of which end at the same location. The technical definition of the ritual is circumambulating the Kaaba seven times in an anti-clockwise direction. The Kaaba's full circuit is referred to as Shawt (Arabic: شوط) .

tawaf definition types


Before the advent of Islam, during the Jahiliyah period, polytheists would come to perform the Tawaf of the Kaaba naked claiming that it was a tradition passed down from their forefathers. This group of people stripped themselves naked, allowing the rest of the crowd to step on their clothes, because they believed that the sins they had committed had tarnished their clothes and that by stripping themselves naked, they would be able to separate themselves from those garments and those sins.

Ibn Khatir describes this practice as: 

The Arabs, with the exception of the Quraysh, used to perform Tawaf naked. They claimed they would not perform Tawaf while wearing the clothes that they had disobeyed Allah in. As for the Quraysh, known as al-Hums, they used to perform Tawaf in their regular clothes. Whoever among the Arabs borrowed a garment from one of al-Hums, he would wear it during Tawaf. 

And whoever wore a new garment, would discard it and nobody would wear it after him on completion of Tawaf. Those who did not have a new garment, or were not given one by al-Hums, would perform Tawaf while naked.  Women would also perform Tawaf while naked, usually at night. This was a practice that the idolaters invented on their own, following only their forefathers in this regard. They falsely claimed that what their forefathers did was in fact following the order and legislation of Allah. (Reference: Tafsir Ibn-Khatir)

However, with the advent of Islam, Allah obligated all Muslims to cover Awrah. Allah states in Quran: 

يَا بَنِي آدَمَ خُذُوا زِينَتَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا وَلَا تُسْرِفُوا ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ

O children of Adam, take your adornment at every masjid, and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess.

[Surah al-A’raf, 7:31]

The Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) redirected Tawaf toward God's worship and prohibited the practice of performing Tawaf naked in the year before his final Hajj. Abu Huraira narrates: 

In the year prior to the last Hajj of the Prophet ﷺ when Allah’s Messenger ﷺ made Abu Bakr the leader of the pilgrims, the latter (Abu Bakr) sent me in the company of a group of people to make a public announcement: ‘No pagan is allowed to perform Hajj after this year, and no naked person is allowed to perform Tawaf of the Kaaba.' (Reference: Sahih Bukhari: Book 8 Hadith 21)

Types of Tawaf 

Tawaf al-Qudum (Tawaf of Arrival)

This is the first Tawaf performed by those who are undertaking Hajj al-Qiran or Hajj al-Ifrad from outside the Miqat boundaries upon entering Makkah's Masjid al-Haram. Idtiba and Raml can be observed wearing Ihram

Tawaf al-Qudum is the name given to this ritual because it is performed immediately upon arrival in Makkah (Tawaf of Arrival). If the Tawaf al-Tahiyyah is observed upon entering the mosque, it is also referred to as Tawaf al-Tahiyyah (Tawaf of Greeting).

It should be performed by Hajj al-Ifrad and Hajj al-Qiran pilgrims who arrive in Makkah before reaching Wuquf and who perform the umrah before proceeding to Arafat at the conclusion of the Hajj on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah, which is the last day of the month of Dhul Hijjah. 

It is not performed because pilgrims wish to complete the circuit of the Kaaba as quickly as possible; instead, they perform the Tawaf al-Umrah, which is identical to the Tawaf al-Umrah except for the intention. 

Tawaf al-Ziyarah (Tawaf of Visitation)

Pilgrims perform this after exiting Ihram, and before returning to Mina for the Rami al-Jamarat ritual. Proscribing marital relations until the completion of Tawaf is obligatory. This journey to and from Mina is known as Tawaf al-Ziyarah (Tawaf of Visitation) because it occurs upon exiting Mina and beginning the trip to the Kaaba. 

This is also known as Tawaf al-Ifadah (Tawaf of Pouring Forth) because pilgrims make the move from Mina to Makkah through the act of pouring forth. As it is commonly known as a Rukn of the Hajj, it is sometimes referred to as Tawaf al-Hajj.

Tawaf al-Wida (the Farewell Tawaf) 

Tawaf al-Wida (the Farewell Tawaf) is also referred to as Tawaf al-Sadr (the Tawaf of Leaving) and performed by Hajj pilgrims shortly before departing Makkah following the Hajj. It is the last rite performed in Makkah before departing for the next destination. According to the Hanafi and Hanbali schools, its performance is Wajib, requiring Fidyah as atonement if neglected, whereas the Maliki school regards it as a Sunnah, requiring no atonement if neglected.

Tawaf al-Umrah

This is the Tawaf that those performing Umrah outside of the Hajj season and those intending to perform Hajj al-Tamattu. It is a mandatory rite, and failure to perform it invalidates the Umrah. Ihram is worn during Tawaf al-Umrah, and Idtiba and Raml may be performed. Following that, the Sa'i of Umrah is performed.

Tawaf al-Nafl

The Tawaf is not obligatory, but it is at the discretion of each pilgrim as to when and how often to perform it.


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