What is Zamzam?
Zamzam is the name of the well that provides the water to billions of people, have thirstily drunk from throughout history, especially during the Hajj pilgrimage.
Zamzam is linked to some of the most important personalities in world history: the Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail (peace be upon them) and Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him and his family), as well as Ismail's mother Hajira (may Allah be pleased with her).
According to Islamic tradition, Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) rebuilt the Bait-ul-Allah (House of Allah) at the site of the well, a building which had been originally constructed by Prophet Adam (a.s.), and today is called the Kaaba (Qiblah), a building towards which all Muslims around the world face in prayer, five times each day. Zamzam well is located approximately 20 meters east of the Kaaba. Zamzam well is located in Makkah, which is the heart of the Hajj pilgrimage. Zamzam well is 35 meters deep and topped by an elegant dome. The miracle water of Zamzam is still flowing until today. Subhanallah!
"The difference between Zamzam water and other (city water) was in the quantity of calcium and magnesium salts. The content of these was slightly higher in Zamzam water. This may be why this water refreshes tired Hajis, but more significantly, the water contains fluorides that have an effective germicidal action."
"This well has never dried up. On the contrary, it has always fulfilled the demand for water. It has always maintained the same salt composition and taste ever since it came into existence. Its potability has always been universally recognized as pilgrims from all over the world visit the Kaabah every year for Hajj and Umrah, but have never complained about it. Instead, they have always enjoyed the water that refreshes them. Water tastes different at different places. Zamzam water's appeal has always been universal. This water has never been chemically treated or chlorinated as is the case with water pumped into the cities. Biological growth and vegetation usually take place in most wells. This makes the water unpalatable owing to the growth of algae causing taste and odor problems."
How the Zamzam came into being?
All traditions agree that Allah (SWT) created the well to provide Hajira, the wife of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him), and her baby Prophet Ismail (peace be upon him) with water in the hot, dry valley they were in, around the year 2000 BC.
In her desperate search for water, Hajira ran seven times back and forth in the scorching heat between the two hills of Safa and Marwa to provide for her baby who was dying of thirst. Today, this same act is a necessary rite of Hajj pilgrimage all Muslims, mothers and fathers, must complete.
Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) settled his family there as part of Allah's mission for him. The first thing Hajira had to do then was to look for water in the area. She was searching for it while watching at her son and would run whenever she could not see Ismail. Allah (SWT) saw her effort and miraculously blessed the spot with a water spring, at the feet of Prophet Ismail (as).
Zamzam before Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)
The appearance of the Zamzam began the settlement of the Makkan valley, where the descendants of Prophet Ismail populated the area.
But as time passed, Prophet Ibrahim and Ismail's monotheistic message, which once dominated the region, began taking a backseat to pagan, polytheistic beliefs.
Nonetheless, the well of Zamzam retained its importance in later generations. The grandfather of the Prophet, Abdul Muttalib, was honored with the responsibility of taking care of the well and the pilgrims to Makkah.
Zamzam water: the power drink
One of the miracles of Zamzam water is its ability to satisfy both thirst and hunger. One of the Companions of the Prophet said that before Islam, the water was called "Shabbaa'ah" or satisfying. It was filling and helped them nourish their families.
After Islam, this powerful ability to quench thirst and fill stomachs remained. Prophet Muhammad said: "The best water on the face of the earth is the water of Zamzam; it is a kind of food and a healing from sickness."
According to the Muslim collection of Hadith, Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, a Companion (Sahabi), noted that when he first arrived in Makkah during the early days of Islam, not only did he satisfy his hunger and thirst but he survived only on Zamzam water for a whole month.
More recently, in the last few decades, scientists have collected samples of Zamzam water and they have found certain peculiarities that make the water healthier, like a higher level of calcium.
Zamzam water: a cure for sickness
Apart from its ability to serve as satisfying food and drink, Zamzam water's health benefits are also commended. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) said it was a healing from sickness. This is why pilgrims to Makkah to this day collect it in bottles to bring for relatives and friends back home who are ill.
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) used to carry Zamzam water in pitchers and water skins back to Madinah. He used to sprinkle it over the sick and make them drink it.
Wahab Ibn Munabbah, who was from the second generation of Muslims, said 'I swear by Him in whose possession my life is, Allah Ta'ala will relieve the person of all illnesses who drinks Zamzam to his fill and will also grant him good health.'
Zamzam water and Hajj pilgrimage
During Hajj and Umra, pilgrims are recommended to drink Zamzam water to their fill to quench their thirst. They also continue the tradition of bringing it back for family and friends.
For example, despite tight US laws forbidding the import of foreign liquids and fruits, there is an exception made for pilgrims returning from Makkah, who bring water of the Zamzam home for loved ones.