Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: Why do we go around the Ka’ba 7 times during Umrah and Hajj? Why do we go anti-clockwise as opposed to clockwise? The same goes for Sa’ee – again we must walk between Safa and Marwa 7 times? What is the reasoning for this?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.

There is a certain category of legal rulings described as “tawqifiyya,” meaning that the intellect cannot ascertain their wisdom for certain, although it can attempt to come up with logical bases. The Arabic word itself has to do with “bringing something to a standstill, causing to halt,” as if the legal ruling itself forces the intellect to stop and not move further in figuring out why the ruling is as it is…

Examples include amounts or time periods, such as zuhr prayer being 4 rakats or expiation for certain sins being fasting 2 consecutive months; as well as the rituals you ask about, such as going around the Ka’ba 7 times anti-clockwise, or going between Safa and Marwa 7 times, etc.

Regarding the 7 rounds between Safa and Marwa (sa’y), as well as the accelerated pace between the two green lines, some scholars do attempt to provide reasoning, such as the well-known incident of Lady Hajra (Allah send her peace) going back and forth 7 times searching for water, or how our Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) accelerated the pace between the green lines to show the polytheists that the Muslims were indeed physically strong and formidable. [Zayla’i, Tabyin al-Haqa’iq]

However, as the great Imam Ibn Humam states, “The legal experts (muhaqqiqun) are of the opinion that one shouldn’t seek the meaning of these and similar rulings, such as the pelting (ramy) and the like. Rather, they are tawqifiyya matters, the knowledge of which is better consigned to Allah Most High.” [Fath al-Qadir]

And Allah knows best.

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani