Category Archives: Landmarks

Zam-Zam: History, Facts, Virtues and Method to Drink

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[Compiled from various sources]

History Of Zam-Zam

Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) narrated that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said:

When Ibraheem had differences with his wife, (because of her jealousy of Haajar, Ismaa’eel’s mother), he took Ismaa’eel and his mother and went away. They had a water-skin with them containing some water, Ismaa’eel’s mother used to drink water from the water-skin so that her milk would increase for her child.

When Ibraheem (alayhissalaam) reached Makkah, he made her sit under a tree and afterwards returned home. Ismaa’eel’s mother followed him, and when they reached Kada, she called him from behind,`O Ibraaheem! To whom are you leaving us?’ He replied, ‘(I am leaving you) to Allah’s Care.’ She said, ‘I am satisfied to be with Allah.’ She returned to her place and started drinking water from the water-skin, and her milk increased for her child.

When the water had all been used up, she said to herself, ‘I would better go and look so that I may see somebody.’ She ascended the hill of the Safaa and looked, hoping to see somebody, but in vain. When she came down to the valley, she ran till she reached the hill of the Marwah. She ran to and from (between the two hills) many times. Then she said to herself, ‘I would better go and see the state of the child,’ she went and found it in a state of one on the point of dying. She could not endure to watch her child dying and said (to herself), ‘If I go and look, I may find somebody.’ She went and ascended the hill of the Safaa and looked for a long while but could not see anybody. Thus she completed seven rounds (of running) between Safa’ and Marwah.

Again she said (to herself), ‘I would better go back and see how the child is doing.’ But all of a sudden she heard a voice, and she said to that strange voice, ‘Help us if you can offer any help.’ It was Jibreel (who had made the voice). Jibreel hit the earth with his heel like this (Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) hit the earth with his heel to illustrate it), and so the water gushed out. Ismaa’eel’s mother was astonished and started digging… She started drinking from the water and her milk increased for her child…” [Al-Bukhari]

In another narration of Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said:

May Allah be merciful to the mother of Isma’eel (alayhissalaam)! If she had left the water of Zamzam as it was, (without constructing a basin for keeping the water), it would have been a flowing stream. Jurhum tribe (an ancient Arab tribe) On their way, and while crossing the desert, the caravan ran out of water, they came to Bibi Hajirah and asked her, ‘May we settle at your dwelling?’ She said, ‘Yes, but you have no right to possess the water.’ They agreed.” [Al-Bukhari]

It was thus how the dry and barren valley of Makkah became inhabited.

The Archangel Jibreel (alayhissalaam) unearthed the water of Zam-zam such that the life of Isma’eel (alayhissalaam), the ancestor of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wa) sallam maybe saved. Bibi Hajirah, the wife of Ibraheem (alayhissalaam), restricted its flow and caused it to become a well. It is located next to the Holiest of all holy places: the Ka’bah. Its water was the direct cause of Jurhum’s settlement in Makkah, and hence the start of the Makkan era in the human history.

The Rebirth of Zam-zam

With passage of time, the inhabitants of Makkah started to forego the ways of the pious ones. Jurhum, the core of the Makkan population, were driven out of Makkah when they became unjust and tyrannical. They, being fully aware of the importance of Zam-zam, hideously plugged it to deny their conquerors its blessings. Zam-zam was not re-opened and henceforth was forgotten.

Many generations passed in Makkah with Zam-zam in complete oblivion, until Abdul-Muttalib (the paternal grandfather of the Prophet sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) resurrected the abandoned well. Abdul-Muttalib himself was oblivious to Zam-zam. With the approaching of the last divine message, a sequence of significant preludes was in order; the rebirth of Zam-zam was one of them.

It so happened that for three consecutive nights, Abdul-Muttalib had a very clear dream about digging a well. During each dream, the name of the well was different and no location was mentioned. On the fourth night, however, both Zam-zam and its location were communicated to Abdul-Muttalib so clearly that he attended to the appointed task on the morning after the very fourth night.

To the utter disbelief of the Makkans who ridiculed the seemingly futile attempt at finding water in such an arid place, Abdul-Muttalib found water in an ancient buried well so close to the Ka’bah. And it was only natural that the Makkans claim a share in this, obviously, special well. Abdul-Muttalib gave no concessions and rejected any such claim.

The Makkans and Abdul-Muttalib’s tribe could not negotiate a middle ground, so both parties agreed to seek arbitration. They set out for a priestess whose judgment was accepted by both parties.

The companions of Abdul-Muttalib all but gave up any hope of salvation. And when all seemed lost, water sprang out from the ever so small notch that Abdul-Muttalib’s camel made with its pad. Upon seeing this, the Makkans knew that He who saved Abdul-Muttalib from this eminent death on this very journey to settle the very question of Zam-zam, had made Abdul-Muttalib the sole heir to this special water. The matter was settled and the family of the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was ennobled with a mark of clearest distinction.

It is of paramount importance to mention that Abdul-Muttalib’s possession of Zam-zam was not an act of ownership where he would deny its water to others. Being the sole heir to Zam-zam meant that Abdul-Muttalib alone was to provide Zam-zam water to the pilgrims; no one else (save his family of course) could partake in this most honourable privilege.

Here are some interesting facts about Zam-zam:

The Zam-zam well was excavated by hand, and is about 30 metres deep and 1.08 to 2.66 metres in diameter.

It started 4000 years ago. Zam-zam water has no colour or smell, but it has a distinct taste, and its pH is 7.9-8.0, indicating that it is alkaline to some extent.

Never dried since then

Never changed the taste, no Algea or plant growth in the pond, thus no disease caused.

It taps ground-water from the wadi alluvium and some from the bedrock. Originally water from the well was drawn via ropes and buckets, but today the well itself is in a basement room where it can be seen behind glass panels (visitors are not allowed to enter). Electric pumps draw the water, which is available throughout the Masjid via water fountains and dispensing containers near the Tawaaf area.

The water level is 3.23 metres (about 10.59 ft) below the surface. This small pond provides water to millions of people through heavy motors pulling 8000 litres/second for more than a 24 hour period showed a drop in water level from 3.23 metres below surface to 12.72 metres and then to 13.39 metres, after which the water level stopped receding. When pumping stopped, the water level recovered to 3.9 metres below surface only 11 minutes later. This data shows that the aquifer feeding the well seems to recharge from rock fractures in neighbouring mountains.

Scientific Facts Of the Zam-zam Well. A magnificent miracle by Allah. [A research conducted by a group of European Scientists]

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Compassionate.

I found this article in the internet. It was written by a desalting engineer (chemical engineer to produce drinking water from sea water), who was a part of the research team in KSA around 1971. Their job was to find the origin of the water of Zam-zam and whether the water is healthy for drinking.

It is so well written, I do not want to edit it. I am quoting all the article directly.

[Research by Tariq Hussain, Riyadh, Presented By MOINUDDIN AHMED]

Come the Hajj season, and I am reminded of the wonders of Zam-zam water.

Let me go back to how it all started. In 1971, an Egyptian doctor wrote to the European press, a letter saying that Zam-zam water was not fit for drinking purposes (just like a BBC moron who claimed the same in the year 2011). I immediately thought that this was just a form of prejudice against the Muslims and that since his (moronic) statement was based on the assumption that since the Ka’bah was a shallow place (below sea level) and located in the center of the city of Makkah, the waste-water of the city collecting through the drains fell into the well holding the water.

Fortunately, the news came to King Faisal’s ears who got extremely angry and decided to disprove the Egyptian doctor’s provocative statement. He immediately ordered the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources to investigate and send samples of Zam-zam water to European laboratories for testing the portability of the water.

The ministry then instructed the Jeddah Power and Desalination Plants to carry out this task. It was here that I was employed as a desalting engineer (chemical engineer to produce drinking water from sea water). I was chosen to carry out this assignment. At this stage, I remember that I had no idea what the well holding the water looked like. I went to Makkah and reported to the authorities at the Ka’bah explaining my purpose of visit.

They deputed a man to give me whatever help was required. When we reached the well, it was hard for me to believe that a pool of water, more like a small pond, about 18 by 14 feet, was the well that supplied millions of gallons of water every year to hajis ever since it came into existence at the time of Hazrat Ibraheem (alayhissalaam) many, many centuries ago.

I started my investigations and took the dimensions of the well. I asked the man to show me the depth of the well. First he took a shower and descended into the water. Then he straightened his body. I saw that the water level came up to just above his shoulders. His height was around five feet, eight inches. He then started moving from one corner to the other in the well (standing all the while since he was not allowed to dip his head into the water) in search of any inlet or pipeline inside the well to see from where the water came in. However, the man reported that he could not find any inlet or pipeline inside the well.

I thought of another idea. The water could be withdrawn rapidly with the help of a big transfer pump which was installed at the well for the Zam-zam water storage tanks.

In this way, the water level would drop enabling us to locate the point of entry of the water. Surprisingly, nothing was observed during the pumping period, but I knew that this was the only method by which you could find the entrance of the water to the well.

So I decided to repeat the process. But this time I instructed the man to stand still at one place and carefully observe any unusual thing happening inside the well.
After a while, he suddenly raised his hands and shouted, “Alhamdullillah! I have found it. The sand is dancing beneath my feet as the water oozes out of the bed of the well.”

Then he moved around the well during the pumping period and noticed the same phenomenon everywhere in the well. Actually the flow of water into the well through the bed was equal at every point, thus keeping the level of the water steady.

After I finished my observations I took the samples of the water for European laboratories to test.
Before I left the Ka’bah Sharief, I asked the authorities about the other wells around Makkah.

I was told that these wells were mostly dry. When I reached my office in Jeddah. I reported my findings to my boss who listened with great interest but made a very irrational comment that the Zam-zam well could be internally connected to the Red Sea. How was it possible when Makkah is about 75 kilometres away from the sea and the wells located before the city usually remains dry?

The results of the water samples tested by the European laboratories and the one We analysed in our own laboratory were found to be almost identical.

CALCIUM & MAGNESIUM IN ZAM -ZAM WATER:

The difference between Zam-zam water and other water (city water) was in the quantity of calcium and magnesium salts. The content of these was slightly higher in Zam-zam water. This may be why this water refreshes tired hajis.

FLUORIDE IN ZAM-ZAM WATER:

But more significantly, the water contains fluorides that have an effective germicidal action.
Moreover, the remarks of the European laboratories showed that the water was fit for drinking.

Hence the statement made by the Egyptian doctor was proved false.
When this was reported to King Faisal he was extremely pleased and ordered the contradiction of the report in the European Press. In a way, it was a blessing that this study was undertaken to show the chemical composition of the water.

In fact, the more you explore, the more wonders surfaces and you find yourself believing implicitly in the miracles of this water that Allah Ta’ala bestowed as a gift on the faithful coming from far and wide to the desert land for pilgrimage.

Let me sum up some of the features of Zam-zam water:

1. Never Dried Up: This well has never dried up. On the contrary it has always fulfilled the demand for water.

2. Same Salt composition: It has always maintained the same salt composition and taste ever since it came into existence.

3. Portability: Its portability has always been universally recognized as pilgrims from all over the world visit Ka’abah every year for Hajj and Umrah, but have never complained about it. Instead, they have always enjoyed the water that refreshes them.

4. Universal taste: Water tastes different at different places. Zam-zam water’s appeal has always been universal.

5. No Biological Growth: This water has never been chemically treated or chlorinated as is the case with water pumped into the cities. Biological growth and vegetation usually takes place in most wells. This makes the water unpalatable owing to the growth of algae causing taste and odour problems. But in the case of the Zam-zam water well, there wasn’t any sign of biological growth.

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Centuries ago, Bibi Hajirah A.S. searched desperately for water in the hills of Safa and Marwa to give to her newly born son Hazrat Isma’il A.S. As she ran from one place to another in search of water, her child rubbed his feet against the sand. A pool of water surfaced, and by the grace of Allah Ta’ala, shaped itself into a well which came to be called Zam-zam water.

May we appreciate and utilize this great Ni’mah of Allah Ta’ala

Drinking Zam-zam is an ‘ibadah

The Prophet salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “The water of Zam-zam is for whatever it is drunk for.” [Ibn Majah]

Our righteous predecessors would act upon this hadith verbatim.

It was reported that when Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) drank from the water of Zam-zam, he said: “O Allah, I ask you for beneficial knowledge, plentiful provision and healing from every disease.”

Al-Humaydi said: “We were with Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah, and he told us the hadith about the water of Zam-zam being drunk for whatever purpose it is drunk for. A man got up and left the gathering and then returned and said, ‘O Abu Muhammad, is the hadith which you told us about the water of Zamzam sahih?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ The man said, ‘Just now I drank a bucket of Zam-zam so that you would tell me one hundred hadiths.’ Sufyan said, ‘Sit down,’ so he sat down and he told him one hundred hadiths.”

Ibn al-Qayyim once said, “Myself and others tried seeking healing with Zam-zam water and saw wondrous things. I sought healing with it from a number of illnesses, and I was healed by the permission of Allah. I saw someone who nourished himself with it for a number of days, half a month or more, and he did not feel hunger…” [Zad al-Ma’ad]

The scholars say it is sunnah to drink one’s fill of Zam-zam.

Abu Dharr (radhiyallahu anhu) once stayed near the Ka’bah and its coverings for forty days and forty nights with no food or drink other than Zam-zam. When asked by the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) as to how he nourished himself, he answered, “I have had nothing but Zam-zam water, and I have gotten so fat that I have folds of fat on my stomach. I do not feel any of the tiredness or weakness of hunger and I have not become thin.” The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “Verily, it is blessed, it is food that nourishes.” [Muslim] Other narrations include, “… and a healing for sickness.”

What would you intend or make du’a for when drinking Zam-zam? Personally, this comes to mind:

رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِى أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ الَّتِى أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَىَّ وَعَلَى وَالِدَىَّ وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَـلِحاً تَرْضَـهُ وَأَدْخِلْنِى بِرَحْمَتِكَ فِى عِبَادِكَ الصَّـلِحِينَ

My Rabb! Grant me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your favours which You have bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds that will please You, and admit me by Your mercy among Your righteous servants.“

Standing up or being seated whilst drinking Zam-zam

Classical scholars and jurists (fuqaha) have differed over whether one should drink Zam-zam water standing up or seated.

a) According to some scholars, it is ‘recommended’ to stand and drink Zam-zam. This was chosen by a group of Hanafi scholars; such as Mulla Ali al-Qari, Imam al-Lakhnawi, and Imam Ibn Abidin who cited ‘standing’ as one of the etiquettes (adaab) of drinking Zam-zam. [See: Ali al-Qari, Jam’ al-Wasa’il; LakhnawiUmdat al-Ri’aya 1/267; and Radd al-Muhtar 2/524]

Their evidences are the following Hadiths:

Sayyiduna AbdAllah ibn Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) says, “I served Zam-zam water to the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), and he drank from it whilst standing.” [Sahih al-Bukhari 1528 and Sahih Muslim 2027]

Sayyiduna AbdAllah ibn Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) relates that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) drank Zam-zam water from a bucket whilst he was standing. [Sahih Muslim 2027]

The great Hadith scholar and Hanafi jurist, Imam Mulla Ali al-Qari’ (rahimahullah) explains that the general practice of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was to drink whilst being seated, and this is the real Sunnah. However, Zam-zam (as well as leftover water after performing ablution) is to be exempted from this in that one should stand and drink. The reason is that it is encouraged to drink Zam-zam as much as possible to one’s fill, and this is better achieved in a standing position. [Jam’ al-Wasa’il fi sharh al-Shama’il 1/308]

b) According to many Shafi’i and other jurists, it is a Sunnah to be seated whilst drinking Zam-zam water, and mildly disliked (makruh tanzih) to stand. This is due to the general prohibition in various Hadiths of drinking water whilst standing up – which, according to them, includes Zam-zam water. For example:

Sayyiduna Anas ibn Malik (radhiyallahu anhu) relates that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) disapproved the drinking of water while standing. [Sahih Muslim 2024]

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (radhoyallahu anhu) relates that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, “None of you should drink while standing; and if anyone forgets, he must vomit.” [Sahih Muslim 2026]

The great Hadith scholar and Shafi’i jurist, Imam Nawawi (rahimahullah) explains in his Commentary that the prohibition in the above hadiths refers to this practice being mildly disliked (makruh tanzih), and not unlawful (haraam). This is because it is established that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) drank whilst standing up. He (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) would occasionally carry out certain actions in order to show their permissibility – despite his regular practice being to the contrary. As such; his regular practice was to drink water while being seated, but on a few rare occasions he stood up and drank to show that it was not unlawful to do so. [Nawawi,Al-Minhaj sharh Sahih Muslim p: 1532]

Thus, in accordance with the regular practice of the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), according to this group of scholars, it is a Sunnah and better to drink even Zam-zam water while being seated, and mildly disliked to drink it in a standing position.

c) According to many Maliki and Hanbali scholars, it is permitted without any dislike to drink Zam-zam or any other drink whilst standing. This is due to the hadiths in which the Messenger of Allah [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] drank Zam-zam water standing up [quoted above]. [See: Mardawi, Al-Insaf  8/330 and Ibn Juzay, Al-Qawanin al-Fiqhiyya 646]

So, in conclusion, it is neither necessary to stand and drink Zam-zam water nor be seated, as both are permitted. As for what is better, there is a genuine and valid difference of opinion on the issue. Some are of the opinion that it is better to stand, some say it is better to sit, and some say both are equal. As such, no one should be rebuked or looked down upon whether they drink Zam-zam water standing up or being seated.