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Mataf (Area of Circumambulation)

The Mataf of Masjid al-Haram
The Mataf of Masjid al-Haram

The Mataf refers to the open white area immediately around the Ka’bah where tawaf takes place.

Reference in the Quran

  • Allah (ﷻ) mentions in the Quran:
    We commanded Ebrahim (عليه السلام) and Ismail (عليه السلام) (saying), “Clean (remove idols from) My house (the Ka’bah) for those who perform tawaf, those who stay in it, those who bow (in Ruku) and those who prostrate” (referring to those who perform salah there).” [Surah Baqarah, verse 125]
Aerial view of the Mataf area of Masjid al-Haram
Aerial view of the Mataf area

History of the Mataf

  • Abdullah bin Zubayr (رضي الله عنه) was the first to cement this area. It’s width then was approximately 5m and since then it has been expanded from time to time.
  • In 1960s it was extended from 40m to 50m in a circular shape. In the interests of the people performing Hajj and Umrah, the pulpit, the platform used for Adhaan and some pathways were removed from the Mataf. Even the Zamzam Well was moved down to the basement so that tawaf could be performed above it. The buildings in the Mataf and the dome of the Maqaam Ebrahim were also demolished so that the Mataf could accommodate even more people.

Special marble used to pave the Mataf

Historic photo of tiles being layed in the Mataf area
Historic photo of tiles being layed in the Mataf area – Photo: Destination KSA
  • Towards the end of the expansion, a rare quality of marble was used to pave the Mataf that does not heat up even in the intense heat, thus making it possible for people to perform tawaf barefoot even on the hottest days.

References:  The History of Makkah Mukarramah – Dr. Muhammad Ilyas Abdul Ghani