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Mas'a (the building in which sa'y is performed)

Saʿy al-Ṣafā' wa l-Marwa (Arabic: سعی الصفا والمروة) is an obligatory action in hajj and 'umra consisting of 7 times of walking between the two mountains, al-Safa and al-Marwa.

Al-Safa and al-Marwa

Al-Safa and al-Marwa are two small mountains adjacent to Masjid al-Haram. The distance between the two mountains, called "Mas'a", is about 395 meters. The mountains, al-Safa and al-Marwa, used to be taller and larger, but they came to be smaller after the expansion of Masjid al-Haram. Today al-Safa is about 8 meters tall and a little part of al-Marwa remained, but in 1995-6, it was removed in order to expand the area around which pilgrims walked, and a door was opened to the outside at the end of al-Marwa. Today only a trace has remained from al-Marwa.[1]

The two mountains and the "sa'y" between them is mentioned in the Qur'an.[2]


Sa'y consists in walking the distance between al-Safa and al-Marwa for 7 times with the intention of doing an action required for hajj or 'umra. Each round of this action is called a "shawt".[3] Sa'y is an obligatory, and even an essential, action in hajj and 'umra. If it is intentionally left out, the hajj or 'umra will be invalidated. However, if it is unintentionally left out, the hajj or 'umra will not be invalidated. One can then perform it whenever they remember that it was left out. And if it is impossible or very difficult to do so, then they should choose a representative to do it on their behalf. All things that were forbidden for the person before the sa'y will remain forbidden until the sa'y is performed.[4]

According to the majority of the fuqaha (Islamic jurisprudents), unlike tawaf, there is no recommended kind of sa'y.[5]

Historical Background

According to hadiths, when Hajar was searching water for Isma'il, she went back and forth between al-Safa and al-Marwa mountains for 7 times. This Abrahamic tradition was a hajj ritual even in the Jahiliyya period. During this period, there were two idols on the two sides, and when the pilgrims met the idols, they touched them. They thought that the two idols, called Usaf and Na'ila, were an adulterous couple (a man and a woman) who had turned into stone.[6]

Time and Place of Sa'y

Sa'y is performed after the tawaf and its payer: if the pilgrim of hajj or 'umra intentionally performs it before the tawaf, their sa'y will be invalidated and it will be obligatory to perform it after the tawaf and its prayer.[7] But if one performs the sa'y prior to tawaf unintentionally or out of ignorance of the jurisprudential law, then there is a disagreement among the scholars of fiqh with respect to whether or not it will be invalidated.[8]

According to the view of many faqihs, it is permissible to postpone the sa'y after the tawaf until the night.[9]

Obligatory Actions in Sa'y

After intending to perform the sa'y for the closeness to God, the sa'y will start from al-Safa and will end in al-Marwa. It is not obligatory, though it is recommended, to climb the mountains, al-Safa and al-Marwa.[10] Every travel from al-Safa to al-Marwa counts as one round, and the return from al-Marwa to al-Safa counts as another round.[11]

  • If one knowingly and intentionally walks for more than 7 rounds, then their sa'y will be invalidated.[12]
  • According to most of the fuqaha, it is permissible to take a short rest and sit down during the sa'y.[13]
  • It is not permissible to take stones form al-Safa and al-Marwa.[14]

Recommended Practices in Sa'y

It is recommended for a pilgrim of hajj and 'umra to drink from the zamzam water before the sa'y and pour it on one's head and body, reciting the following supplication:

and then touch the Black Stone (al-Hajar al-Aswad), and then move to al-Safa with calmness. After arriving in al-Safa, one is recommended to climb it and look at the Ka'ba and recite the relevant supplication while directing oneself to the corner of the Black Stone after praising God and reciting takbir and tahlil for 7 times.[15]

  • It is recommended to prolong the stay on al-Safa,[16] and according to some hadiths, it will increase one’s property and wealth.[17]
  • According to the majority of fuqaha, it is recommended to have tahara (cleanliness), and on some views, to have clean body and clothes during the sa'y.[18]
  • It is also recommended to walk at the beginning and at the end of the "mas'a", and for men it is recommended to perform "harwala" (jumping up and down) in the space that is marked with green fluorescents. It is also recommended to recite the relevant supplications during the sa'y.[19]

Sa'y on the Second and the Third Floors

Today the distance between al-Safa and al-Marwa is built in three floors, and since the second and third floors are not located between the two mountains, some fuqaha hold that it is not valid to perform the sa'y on these floors.

Permissibility of Wearing Odors after the Sa'y

According to the majority of the fuqaha, with halq (shaving) or taqsir (shortening of hair and nail), the prohibited actions of ihram, except taking pleasure from one’s spouse and wearing odors, will be permissible for the pilgrim,[20] and after the tawaf and sa'y, it will be permissible for the pilgrim to wear odors as well.[21] In 'Umra, none of the prohibited actions of ihram will be permissible after the sa'y.[22]


  1. Jaʿfarīyān, Āthār-i Islāmī-yi Macca wa Medina, vol. 1, p. 105-108.
  2. Qurʾān, 1:158.
  3. Manāsik-i Ḥaj, Rule No. 871.
  4. Najafī, Jawāhir al-kalām, vol. 19, p. 429-431.
  5. Manāsik-i Ḥaj, Rule No. 871.
  6. Jaʿfarīyān, Āthār-i Islāmī-yi Macca wa Medina, vol. 1, p. 105.
  7. Khoei, al-Muʿtamad fī sharḥ al-manāsik, vol. 5, p. 63; Manāsik-i Ḥaj, Rule No. 840.
  8. Khoei, al-Muʿtamad fī sharḥ al-manāsik, vol. 5, p. 63; Najafī, Jawāhir al-kalām, vol. 19, p. 446.
  9. Najafī, Jawāhir al-kalām, vol. 19, p. 390-391; Manāsik-i Ḥaj, Rule No. 841.
  10. Manāsik-i Ḥaj, Rule No. 851.
  11. Manāsik-i Ḥaj, Rule No. 871.
  12. Manāsik-i Ḥaj, Rule No. 872.
  13. Manāsik-i Ḥaj, Rule No. 865.
  14. Manāsik-i Ḥaj, vol. 1, p. 496.
  15. Manāsik-i Ḥaj, Rule No. 895.
  16. Najafī, Jawāhir al-kalām, vol. 19, p. 415-417.
  17. Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Wasāʾil al-Shīʾa,vol. 13, p. 497.
  18. Najafī, Jawāhir al-kalām, vol. 19, p. 410-417.
  19. Najafī, Jawāhir al-kalām, vol. 19, p. 423-428.
  20. Najafī, Jawāhir al-kalām, vol. 19, p. 251.
  21. Najafī, Jawāhir al-kalām, vol. 19, p. 257-248.
  22. Manāsik-i Ḥaj, Rule No. 903.


  • Qurʾān.
  • Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-. Wasāʾil al-Shīʾa. Qom: Muʾassisat Ahl al-Bayt, 1412 AH.
  • Jaʿfarīyān, Rasūl. Āthār-i Islāmī-yi Macca wa Medina. Tehran: Mashʿar, 1382 Sh.
  • Khoei, Abū l-Qāsim al-. al-Muʿtamad fī sharḥ al-manāsik. Qom: Maṭbaʿat al-ʿIlmī, 1409 AH.
  • Maḥmūdī, Muḥammad Riḍā. Manāsik-i Ḥaj muṭābiq-i fatāwā-yi Imām Khomeini wa marājiʿ-i Muʿaẓam-i taqlīd. Fourth edition. Tehran: Nashr-i Mashʿar, 1387 Sh.
  • Najafī, Sayyid Muḥammad ḥasan al-. Jawāhir al-kalām fī sharḥ sharāyiʿ al-Islām. Edited by Ibrāhīm Sulṭānī Nasab. Beirut: Dār iḥyāʾ al-Turāth al-ʿArabī, 1362 Sh.