Tawaaf is the circumambulation of the ka’bah 7 times in anti-clockwise direction. It is an act of worship that cannot be done anywhere else but there, at Allah’s house, the Beit’ullah, the ka’bah.
When is the best time to Tawaaf?
Many people advised us to go late at night, or after Esha. It’s cooler then, and you don’t get the heat of the sun. So, of course, we tried that.
The sheikh also leads group tawaafs every evening at 11pm. We decided immediately that we would not partake in the group tawaafs, for a number of reasons. Three of the main ones being the time, intention and freedom. A midnight, we would rather be fast asleep and busy recharging for the next day, than be halfway through a tawaaf fighting with human chains that give one no room to move. Tawaaf should also be done purely for the sake of Allah in order to be accepted. Knowing that someone is looking out whether you are there, and asking about you if you’re not, it’s hard to distinguish to myself whether its being done for the sake of Allah or for the sake of people. Here I am referring to myself, I’m not saying that anyone that does a group tawaaf doesn’t do it purely for the sake of Allah. Then, all 3 of us like to free during the tawaaf, free to say and supplicate what we want to, to go where we want to, and to be as close or as far from the ka’bah as we would like. So that’s the longish, shortened version of why we don’t do the group tawaafs.
The next aspect to consider would be the time of day. It was Fadeelah who was first brave enough to tawaaf in the middle of the day…after Thuhr salaah. She reported that it was lovely and that the heat wasn’t that bad. And she even got to go into the Hijr Ismail.
My first 2 tawaafs were as ‘middle-of-the-night’ as one gets (midnight and 4am) and I did not feel that it was cooler at all. It was hot, the crowd was tight and there was lots of fierce pushing and shoving going on. To survive, one basically has to just go with the flow (literally) and not try to resist. What I did was to just keep moving gradually inwards closer and closer to the ka’bah, until eventually you are right against it and you can just reach out your hand and touch it (if it’s possible to get that close).
So the next day I tried the tawaaf in the middle of the day as well… After Thuhr. I found it to be awesome and enjoyed it very much. It was less crowded, there was more space to walk, and it wasn’t that hot at all. In fact, quite the opposite…even though of course the temperature was a lot higher, a lovely cool breeze blew across the mataaf. This has happened every day that I’ve made tawaaf at midday, and I’ve never felt a breeze like that at night. I got into the Hijr Ismail too, and the first time I was in there was the most spiritual feeling I’ve had so far in Makkah, much greater than seeing the ka’bah for the first time. That was what really touched me and gave my heart a little jolt and opened the tear ducts a bit. I seem to need to have someone buried nearby in order to actually feel a connection to a place. LOL (joke) Once again the Rawdatul Jannah was a good training ground for the dangers of trying to make 2 raka-aat in the Hijr.
The Hijr Ismail (also referred to as the Hijr) forms part of the ka’bah, so being inside there is equivalent to being inside the ka’bah. That is why one’s tawaaf is not valid if you walk through the Hijr, you have to walk around it. Allah gave Haajar such a great honour that every pilgrim until the end of time has to all around where she is buried in order for their Ibadat of tawaaf to be valid.
Getting back to times, tawaaf at midday is my favourite. This might change for different people depending on the season though. It’s autumn in Saudi Arabia now and the temperatures are a bit cooler, around 45 degrees in Makkah. During summer it will be hotter and more uncomfortable, as temperatures could easily climb above 50 degrees celcius.
Last Friday the 3 of us decided to go and tawaaf together between Maghrib and Esha. We would make maghrib on the roof and then go down to the mataaf to make tawaaf and finish before Esha salaah. We had a bit of a major run-in on the roof with a male chauvinist who for some reason believes that men have greater right to ka’bah-view space than women do, and that he can come after us and demand the space that we had been occupying for the past 10 minutes. He came off second best in the end. You can only oppress women that much and some might stand for it, but Fadeelah and I certainly don’t.
Kenny’s 1 – 0 Rude guy
He still tried to make a scene after the salaah, but Dad said we must just walk away and not argue with him, which we did. Fadeelah took this panoramic shot from where we were standing…
We went down as planned and had a beautiful tawaaf, and finished just in time before they cleared the tawaaf area for Esha salaah. Dad got a space on the mataaf extremely near to the ka’bah on the side of the murtazam. The only space Fadeelah and I could get that was good was on the steps from the mataaf onto the slightly raised level of the ground floor. We took our places there, which meant we had to make salaah down the steps…tricky, but quite possible if you’re careful. A female asgari came and tried to pull and chase us away and say we can’t stay there on the steps. We resisted and insisted on staying there. She scolded and scolded and eventually left us when I told her I don’t understand Arabic.
How much they mess with you must also have something to do with how you carry yourself in a way and how you handle them. Because during the first raka-at another lady saw us there and stood next to me and started making salaah. This same asgari came and literally pulled her across the stairs violently and said she can’t stand there. The poor lady was so shocked, especially as she was already making salaah, and we were there as well and she was the only one pulled away. Shame, poor girl. LOL.
Anyway, having that spot gave us such an amazing view. The elevation as well as the spot was just perfect. We had a totally unobstructed view of the jamaat and the ka’bah. The level we stood was about 5 steps higher than the mataaf, but lower than the raised level above where most of the other people were. So the flower opening and closing for rukuh and sujood was totally visible. And we were across the corner of the gajr al aswad. So we could see the gajr al aswad, the ka’bah’s door, even the imam’s position. I was so in awe that I completely forgot to take a picture after the salaah was done. I did take one the following day after Asr though, where I also had the honour of standing in the first row after the steps.
That evening when we got back to our room, Dad thanked us for a very special evening, and a wonderful day in general. Thinking back…it was awesome indeed!
The night before last, Fadeelah and I decided to make tawaaf on the roof between maghrib and Esha. We didn’t get into the haram for maghrib though, so we had to make salaah in the street. Afterwards we tried to get up the ramp and escalator as quickly as possible in order to get started and finish before Esha. Making tawaaf on the roof is a much longer ‘course’ than downstairs. It’s at least 4 times longer in distance to what I was used to, and we would have to complete it in 1hour. We did the first round in 10 minutes, and Fadeelah told me we’d have to speed up if we want to complete the next 6 in time before Esha. During the next round, we found a guy pushing a lady is wheelchair and he was going super-fast. We decided to follow him, along with 2 other Australian guys and another guy who eventually fell out of the group because he couldn’t keep pace. It was exhilirating. The wheelchair opens a path which we just follow and try and keep up, no having to fight through crowds. Keeping up was the problem though, as at some points we’d literally have to run to keep up. We finished the entire 7 rounds in 51min, which I’m sure was between 7 and 8km.
That tawaaf literally broke me though! I had forgotten that I had started antibiotics the previous day for my cough that didn’t want to go away, and straining my heart running around like I was doing a 5km race was a bad idea. The next day my chest was even worse, my cough sounded more terrible, and immediately after the tawaaf I realised I had a blister under my left heel that was now painful to even walk on. It must’ve developed from the friction of my feet moving so fast against the marble, coupled with the extra distance that I wasn’t used to. Yesterday I was down and out and pretty useless for most of the day. Today, I’m starting to feel a bit better Alhamdulillah.
Q: So, when is the best time for tawaaf? A: There isn’t one.
The time you prefer is possibly as unique as your fingerprint. And each one has to find their own special time that’s best for them. Whatever the time, make the best of this special opportunity that you are given to be as close to your Creator’s house as you’ll ever be.