By the Editors of the Madain Project

The Mataf (المطاف) is the open area around the Kaaba, where pilgrims and Muslims circumbulate around Ka'bah. Over the centuries it has been significantly altered and expanded.


Total area of current Mataf's ground floor is about 14,000 square meters. The Ka'ba (الكعبة) is located in the center of Mataf area, along with Hateem (Hajr Ismaeel) and Maqam Ibrahim. The Mataf area was originally just sands, and was first plastered by 'Abdullah ibn Zubayr, since then Mataaf has seen countless, building and rebuilding developments. Current Mataf floor is paved with Carrara marble.

Although, during its long history the Mataf area has seen several renovations, major changes were made during Ottoman and subsequent Saudi era. During 1940s and 1950s it was extended from 40 meters to 50 meters in a circular shape. In the interests of the pilgrims performing Hajj and Umrah, the Ottoman pulpit, the platform used for Adhaan and some pathways were removed from the Mataf.

Other than the Shia Madhab who specify the maximum extent of Mataf to the Maqam Ibrahim, no other schools of thought restrict the outer limit of Mataf.

Historic Structures

circa 1930 CE

Bab Bani Shaibah and ZamZam
Previously the Mataf area had several structures built within, including Zam Zam building, Bab Bani Shaybah (باب بني شيبة), an Ottoman era pulpit (minbar), Mukkabariya (Adhan platform). Some of the these were removed during the first Saudi expansion of Masjid al-Haram and some were removed late on to allow the Hajis (pilgrims) perform Tawaf with ease.

circa 1920 CE

Up until the first Saudi expansion of Masjid al-Haram, there used to be four stations (identify) dedicated to the Imams of four Madhahibs. These four "Maqamat" were established some time before 1326 CE (726 Hj.). Each shrine was a chapel for the imams to lead prayer of followers of each doctrine (Madhhab) of the four schools (Shafali, Hanafi, Hambali, Maliki).

circa 1920 CE

List of Structures in Mataf
During the Ottoman era a large number of structures, stood in the al-Mataf around the Kabah. Some of these are pictured here, from left to right:
1. Bab Bani Shaibah,
2. Hateem (not pictured),
3. Zamzam well building,
4. Kabah Staircase,
5. Older set of staircase of Kabah,
6. Maqam Ibrahim,
7. Ottoman pulpit.

Construction Plaque of Jaffar al-Mansur

circa 1254 CE
(631 Hj.)

Inscription on a marble slab, from the Exhibition of the Two Holy Mosques' Architecture (معرض عمارة الحرمين الشريفين), marking the date for the construction of the Mataf during the reign of Abbaid caliph abi Ja'far al-Mansur al-Muntasir Billah in the year 611 Hj. The Mataf area has been rebuilt, redeveloped and expanded over the centuries. Several

Third Saudi Expansion

circa 2020 CE

After the King 'Abdullah Expansion the Mataf area is at its largest in its over 1500 year history. Performing tawaf closest to the Kaba constitutes about 75-80 meters per tawaf. And a total seven tawafs around Kaabah would make about 525-600 meter (about half a kilo meter). The circle of tawaf begins and ends at the Black Stone (al-Ḥajar al-'Aswad) on the corner of the Kaaba. If possible, Muslims are to kiss or touch it, but this is often not possible because of the large crowds, so it is acceptable for them to simply point or hold up their hand to the Stone on each circuit.

COVID-19 Closure

circa 2020 CE

The Mataf, (area for circumambulation around the Kaaba) at the Grand Mosque in Makkah was closed down for about two days during the 2019-20 COVID-19 outbreak. The Mataf along with Mas'a (area for sa’i between Safa and Marwah) and the Rawdah al-Sharifah was closed down for about two days, from 5th till 7th March 2020, to be disinfected over fears of the coronavirus. It is one of the rarest events, as the Great Mosque of Mecca (Masjid al-Haram) remains open round the clock.


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