Ṭawāf al-Nisāʾ (Arabic:طواف النساء) is one of the compulsory rituals of hajj and 'umra. Before performing tawaf al-nisa' all sexual activities is haram. Tawaf al-nisa' is only found in Shi'a fiqh and there is no such ritual in Sunni fiqh.
This kind of tawaf is wajib (compulsory) on men, women, children and even those who do not want to get married in all kind of hajj and 'umra except for 'umrat al-tamatu'. Kaffara of having sexual intercourse during hajj before performing tawaf al-nisa' is sacrificing a camel. However, there are disagreement whether all sexual pleasures are haram (prohibited) during Ihram or only the intercourse.
Tawaf al-nisa' is not a rukn (elemental part) of hajj and 'umra i.e. hajj or 'umra is not void if one does not perform it; however, it is compulsory that one performs it or if one cannot, another person performs it on one's behalf.
How to Perform
Tawaf al-nisa' is performed after sa'y of Safa and Marwa and only differs with tawaf al-ziyara in intention (niyya). This tawaf can be performed in regular clothes (and not ihram outfit) provided it is performed after halq and taqsir.
After sa'y, all prohibition of ihram except using perfume and sexual activities are lifted. By performing halq or taqsir using perfume will be allowed and after finishing the prayer of tawaf al-nisa' sexual activities with one's spouse.
Tawaf al-Nisa' among Shi'a
According to several hadiths from Ahl al-Bayt (a), all Shi'a faqihs believe that tawaf al-nisa' is wajib (compulsory). Al-Shaykh al-Tusi added the consensus of Shi'a faqihs and Precaution (Ihtiyat)—that all Muslims believe by Ihram sexual activities are banned and we doubt that it is lifted without tawaf al-nisa'; so the Precaution is performing it— to the sources of this ruling.
Some Shi'a hadiths indicate that the 29th verse of Sura al-Hajj is about tawaf al-nisa', and some explicitly mention that tawaf al-nisa' was performed even in the time of Prophet Adam (a) and Prophet Noah (a).
Tawaf al-Nisa' among Sunni
There is no such thing as tawaf al-nisa' in Sunni fiqh; however, "Tawaf al-Qudum," "tawaf al-ifada", and "Tawaf al-Wida'" are discussed. Their proof is a hadith that says Prophet Muhammad (s) only performed two tawafs in Hajjat al-Wida'.
Shi'a faqihs believe that there are three tawafs in hajj al-tamattu', which always consists of 'umrat al-tamattu' and hajj al-tamattu': Tawaf al-Ziyara of 'Umrat al-Tamatu', Tawaf al-Ziyara of Hajj al-Tamatu' and tawaf al-nisa' of Hajj al-Tamatu'. But according to both Shi'a and Sunni hadiths, the Prophet's (s) hajj was hajj al-qiran or al-ifrad (and not al-tamattu') so there was not 'umrat al-tamattu'; so he only performed two tawafs: tawaf al-ziyara and tawaf al-nisa'.
Tawaf al-Wida' instead of Tawaf al-Nisa'
According to Shi'a faqihs tawaf al-wida' (farewell tawaf), which is performed when returning back from Mecca, is mustahab (recommended). Among Sunnis, Hanafis and Hanbalis hold the compulsion of tawaf al-wida' and Malikis say that it is mustahab. Al-Shafi'i, in one of his two fatwas, says that is wajib (compulsory).
In some Shi'a hadiths, tawaf al-wida' from Sunnis is regarded as tawaf al-nisa' which lifts the prohibition of sexual activities with spouse.
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