Tawaf is “walking round the Ka’abah seven times”. This act of circumambulating begins from Hajr-e-Aswad (the sacred black stone) in an anti-clockwise direction. Each circumambulation’s completed upon returning back to Hajr-e-Aswad. It’s preferable to approach the stone for the purpose of touching or kissing its surface; however, if that isn’t possible, then the individual can point to the stone with his/her right hand.
There are seven types of Tawaf, each coming under the categories of optional, mustahab (duties recommended, but not essential), sunnah, wajib (duty), and fardh (obligatory):
This is performed by outsiders (Aafaaqi) upon reaching Makkah (regardless of their intentions to perform ritualistic duties or not). It’s quite similar to two “raka’at of salat” performed as “tahiyyat almasjid (greeting of the mosque)”, which is why it’s also called “tawaf altahiyyah”.
Aisha (R.A) stated: “The first thing the Prophet (S.A.W) did on reaching Mecca, was the ablution and then he performed Tawaf of the Ka`ba and that was not `Umra (alone), (but Hajj-al-Qiran).”
(Tawaf-ul-Qudoom’s sunnah for an Aafaaqi who’s performing Al-Ifrad or Al-Qiran; however, it isn’t sunnah for the one performing Al-Tamatt’u or Umrah.)
Also referred to as Tawaf-ul-Rukn or Tawaf-ul-Hajj, it’s performed by those who enter Makkah to perform the ritual of Hajj, which makes this an obligation upon the pilgrims. It can be performed after completing the smaller rituals in Mina: jamarat al‘aqabah (throwing of pebbles), dhibh (sacrifice), and halq or taqsir.
It’s performed upon returning to Makkah on the dawn of 10th Zil Hajj to 12th Zil Hajj. It’s often called Tawaf-ul-Ziarah as it’s performed upon the visit (ziyarah) to Ka’bah after leaving Minah; and it’s also called Tawaf-ul-Hajj as it’s a rukn (pillar) of Hajj. Sometimes, it’s also referred to as Tawaf-ul-Ifadah, (ifadah means ‘pouring forth’) as the pilgrims ‘pour forth’ from Mina. (It’s fardh.)
An obligatory (wajib) Tawaf that’s performed as a final ritual of Hajj, before a pilgrim leaves Makkah. The Prophet (S.A.W) stated: “Let none of you leave Makkah before making a Tawaf around the Ka’abah, as the last of Hajj rites.” (It’s wajib.)
It’s a non-obligatory or optional (nafl) ritual of Tawaf and can be performed at any time. (This Tawaf’s considered better than performing nafl salaat; it’s also optional.)
It’s an integral part of the ritual of Umrah; hence, this Tawaf takes an obligatory status for those who come to Makkah for the intention of performing Umrah. (It’s fardh.)
This Tawaf’s intimately associated with the pledge made before God. If an individual makes a pledge that he’ll perform Tawaf if his desire is fulfilled by God, then he’s obliged to come through and complete the ritual. (It’s fardh.)
This is performed by the individual who enters Haram—the sacred boundary of Makkah. After the completion of this ritual, the individual has to offer two prayers behind Maqam-e-Ibrahim. (It’s mustahab.)