Cairo: Saudi Arabia has set guidelines for pilgrims to perform a smooth Tawaf, a ritual circumbulation of the Holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque, Islam’s most sacred site in Mecca.
The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has advised pilgrims making Umrah or lesser pilgrimage, and other worshippers to observe three rules to facilitate the ritual encircling.
The faithful are advised to avoid an abrupt stopping while undertaking the circumbulation around the Kaaba, shun obstructing fellows’ walk at the site and stick to the Tawaf track on entering and exiting.
In a further recommendation to facilitate movement in the place, the ministry said that the Tawaf prayer can be performed anywhere at the Grand Mosque to head off overcrowding.
Authorities made the recommendations as the Umrah season is underway in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia expects around 10 million Muslims from abroad to perform Umrah during the current season that started more than three months ago.
The season began after the end of annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage that around 1.8 million Muslims attended in Saudi Arabia for the first time in three years after pandemic-related restrictions were lifted.
Muslims, who cannot physically or financially afford Hajj, go to Saudi Arabia to undertake Umrah.
In recent months, Saudi Arabia has unveiled a host of facilities for overseas Muslims to come to the country to perform Umrah.
Muslims holding different types of entry visas such as the personal, visit and tourist visas are allowed to undertake Umrah and visit Al Rawda Al Sharifa, where the tomb of the Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) is located at the Prophet’s Mosque after booking an e-appointment.
Saudi authorities have extended the Umrah visa from 30 days to 90 and allowed holders to enter the kingdom via all land, air and sea outlets and leave from any airport. Women pilgrims are no longer required to be escorted by male guardians. The kingdom has also said that expatriates residing in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries are eligible to apply for a tourist visa, regardless of their profession, and be able to perform Umrah.