Have you ever heard of the Arabic
word “zamzam”? For example, maybe you know someone who’s going to Mecca and you
heard somebody ask them to bring back “zamzam”. Afterwards, you might have wondered
to yourself about what exactly this “zamzam” is that everybody’s asking for. After all, it
is one of the most often asked for souvenirs of Muslims visiting Mecca for Hajj
Well, today it also happens to be
the subject of today’s post. So, without further ado, let’s get started so you won’t
have to wonder what zamzam is anymore.
Chances are, if you’ve ever read
the Bible or the Holy Quran, you might already know what zamzam water is. (You
just didn’t know its name.)
Zamzam water in the Bible is mentioned in Genesis 21:17-20:
heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said
to her, "What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the
boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I
will make him into a great nation." Then God opened her eyes and she saw a
well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a
Likewise, Islam’s holy book mentions zamzam water in Quran 2:158
As-Safâ and Al-Marwah (two mountains in Makkah) are of the Symbols of Allâh. So
it is not a sin on him who perform Hajj or 'Umrah (pilgrimage) of the House
(the Ka'bah at Makkah) to perform the going (Tawâf) between them (As-Safâ and
Al-Marwah). And whoever does good voluntarily, then verily, Allâh is
Still, even if you’ve never read
about the zamzam well in
the Bible or the Quran, Zamzam’s history is interesting.
The origins of zamzam lie in the
story of the prophet Abraham.
Abraham and his wife, Sarah, were
childless. As a result, Sarah told Abraham to lie with her maidservant, Hagar,
so that he would have an heir. Abraham did as his wife suggested, and indeed,
Hagar bore him a son whom Hagar called Ishmael. However, soon after, Sarah came
to regret her decision and became jealous of Hagar. God then told Abraham to
take Hagar and her son far away from Sarah’s jealous eyes.
Though he was very sad about
this, Abraham did as God asked. He took Hagar from Canaan (today’s
Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel and Palestine) to the far off barren land of
Mecca. Giving her some dates and water,
Abraham turned his back to her and started heading home. As he walked away,
Hagar called out, “Has God told you to do this?”
Abraham shook his head, “Yes”.
Hagar replied, “Then God will not
cause us to be lost.”
Inevitably, the two ran out of
dates and water in that dry and desolate land. As a result, the child became
very thirsty and started crying. Desperate, Hagar ran between the hills of
Safa and Marwa in search of water for her son. On her seventh trip between
the two hills, an angel appeared before her. “God has heard Ismael’s
cries,” he said and immediately, a spring burst forth from the ground beneath
Ismael’s heel. Hagar carefully collected some water for herself and her son. The
well was subsequently named “Zamzam” from the phrase “Zomë Zomë”, meaning "stop flowing". This is believed to
be a phrase Hagar repeated during her attempt to contain the spring water.
Today, some four millennial
later, zamzam still quenches the thirst of countless numbers of people from across
the globe. Located just 20 meters from the Kabba, the well pumps three to five
gallons (11- 19 liters) of water a second. Of course, this leads one to wonder
whether or not the well will ever run out of water.
Well, Muslims believe the well
will never run dry because it’s a miraculously generated source of water from Allah.
While this may be true, it’s also true that Zamzam’s water is renewable
water. It’s primary source comes from
Meccan rainfall that amounts to an average of 4.4 inch (111 mm) a year. Experts
claim the Zamzam well hasn’t replenished itself in years, so the fact that it’s
still flowing is truly miraculous.
As mentioned before, Muslims
believe zamzam is holy water. In fact, in Saheeh al-Jaami, 3302, the Prophet
(PBUH) 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.”
Arabic words that describe Arabic
are murwiya (“quenched”) and shabbaa (“satisfying”). Along
with a source of nourishment, Muslims also believe it to be a cure for all
is also believed that if a person makes a wish after drinking Zamzam water, his
wish will come true.
And, as if that’s not enough, here are five other
interesting facts about Zamzam:
1. The Zamzam well is 30 meters deep.
2. Zamzam water has no color or smell but a distinct taste.
3. Its high calcium and magnesium salt content are believed to give
Zamzam healing properties.
4. Zamzam helps stave off hunger pangs.
5. Zamzam may help reduce stomach acidity.
Today, the Zamzam well is located
inside of the Masjid al-Haram only 20 meters from the Al-Kaaba, Islam’s holiest
site. Indeed, millions of pilgrims from around the world travel to Makkah for
a result, many are requested to bring some Zamzam back home with them.
And since the Zamzam water
price is SR5 ($1.33 USD) for 10 liters (2.6 gallons), many think that’s
a pretty good deal for a souvenir.
Still, if you’d like to try
Zamzam, but don’t know anyone going to Mecca anytime soon, don’t worry. Nowadays,
you can get zam zam water
online. However, the King Abdullah ZamZam Water Distribution Center
advises against getting water anywhere from other than the original source. This is because
they cannot authenticate the Zamzam’s purity and you may get water that is
contaminated. In fact, it may not be Zamzam at all, but local tap water.
So, when it comes to zamzam
water, buy it straight from the source.
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