Circling the Kaaba seven times is a symbolic act meant to reflect the idea that life should revolve around thoughtful contemplation of God and His Messenger, according to Sheikh Ahmad Kutty. However, there is no written explanation of the significance of the Tawaf.
Circling the Kaaba seven times is referred to as the rite of Tawaf, one of five rituals performed during the annual Hajj, or during an individual Umrah. During each circuit of the Kaaba, the pilgrim recites the Takbir, hurrying around the circuit during the first three trips and then taking four more at a leisurely pace. Pilgrims are encouraged to observe the Tawaf multiple times during their pilgrimage, especially if they do not reside within Mecca. These additional observances of Tawaf are not strictly required by Islamic tradition.
Further observance of other rites during the Hajj include making a trip between two hills outside Mecca, completing the path seven times, and the shaving of the head and the casting of pebbles at the valley known as Mina outside of Mecca. For some, the Hajj also includes the sacrificing of an animal, though not all schools of Islam agree on this point. In total, the Hajj lasts for 13 days and is an annual event observed by more than 1.4 million Muslims each year.