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Zamzam: Its History and Miracles | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Zamzam: Its History and Miracles

Zamzam: Its History and Miracles

Zamzam: Its History and Miracles

“A feeling of nostalgia and sadness takes over me because of the isolation of the Zamzam well from the area of circumambulating (Tawaf) around the Ka’bah”, Hajj Omar Bin Habdy Al-Ansary describes The Black Stone, Al-Maqam, and Al-Hateem in Al-Ka’bah and his sadness for the separation of the Zamzam well after more than five thousand years of communion with it. He added while approaching the Tawaf arena in the higher floor of the Grand mosque (Al-Haraam) “it is sad that I won’t see the Zamzam well beside the Ka’bah anymore. I know that the more pilgrims and worshippers visit, the tighter the space for Tawaf becomes and that the water of Zamzam is close and available throughout different parts of the Haraam. The hearts of pilgrims and guests of God flutter at the sight of the well as it is an astounding miracle.”

Al-Ansary works at a mass media company in the Emirates. He came to perform the Hajj pilgrimage with his wife in Mecca where he was born 35 years ago. During the early years of his life he learned the Koran and religious sciences from religious scholars at the mosque before he committed himself to Dar Al-Hadith institute inside the Haraam. His father immigrated fifty years ago from the capital of the desert of Azwad Al-kobra “Tembekto” when making a living there proved to be difficult so he settled down in Bathaa in Mecca seeking closeness to the Holy Mosque.

The Zamzam well is about 18m away from The Black Stone to the east of the door of the Ka’bah. It is behind Maqam Ibrahim (PBUH). There is a clear sign on its left on a round piece of marble on which “Bi’r Zamzam” is written. The sign points to the opening of the well which is 1.65 cm under the level of Tawaf place.

This well is the most sacred water spring for Muslims. There is no other drink that is of more value to them than that of Zamzam. Muslims give sacredness to this water of unique taste. They believe that it is full of secret possessions that the human mind has no means to grasp or explain its natural benefits to the health of those who drink it.

In the language of the Sufi Gnostics, it is the connection of realized hopes, whatever they may be. They have no doubt that the water of Zamzam &#34fulfils the wishes of whatever it is drank for&#34 and that it is reliable as long as he who drinks it is truly faithful and of good will, not doubting its characteristic or putting it to the test.

They confirm that Allah is with those who trust in him but on the other hand he exposes those who seek to put him to the test. Drinking Zamzam for them is security for fear, cure for the ailing and food for the hungry. Those who drink it should not feel any amazement or horror if mere water changes to a thicker consistency of milk or even pure honey as has occurred to those devoted to worshipping God and visiting his house of the Ka’bah. Tales of such wonders are abundant and there are far too many for religious, historical or biographical books to carry.

There are a number of honorable actions that the water can claim as its own. Firstly, it was dug by Gabriel’s wings and angels brought down from the rivers of paradise to save the lives of Lady Hager and her infant boy Ismail (PBU them). Also it has been the drink for the guests of the Most Gracious, and miraculous for people throughout ages and time.

The Department for the affairs of the two Holy Mosques, which is the institution in charge of looking after the Holy Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet’s mosque in Medina, has recently finished the project of enlarging the Tawaf arena surrounding the Ka’bah in order to raise the capacity of people three fold. The old entrance that was built to the south east of the Ka’bah’s front wall was filled up with earth and a ceiling was built for its open roof to merge with the Tawaf arena. The entrance was moved outside the Haraam at the side of Al-Safa Mountain in the walking area towards Abi Qeis Mountain. This project aimed at coping with the influx of pilgrims and performers of Umrah after the Saudi government agreed to allow a number of 10 million persons to perform Umrah during nine months out of the year.

Many people overlook the fact that Zamzam is the only water well in the whole world that is supervised by the ministry of oil. It is top in the hierarchy of wells that receive the attention of the Al-Saud royal family. According to royal will, the Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources in the Saudi government supervises the Zamzam well considering it a national and religious treasure for the country.

PhD. Eng Yahia Hamza Koshak describes the new project as a positive solution with regards to widening the area for Tawaf but on the other hand, he agrees with the importance of allowing people to see the Zamzam well by any means. He said, “There was a proposal to build a transparent glass roof over the well to allow people to see it, but the problem is that it would cause disruption to those performing Tawaf, as is the case now with Maqam Ibrahim (PBUH) and the new start line for Tawaf.”

Koshak is the first Saudi expert, specializing in water also supervised a historical study of the Zamzam well in the year 1401 Hijra. He confirms that, “the Zamzam well did not spring in the arena surrounding the Haraam. It is in its correct place underneath the Tawaf arena since the custodian of the two Holy Mosques carried out the extension projects for the Haraam. It is surrounded by thick sheets of glass so that people can view it. The aim is to prevent diffusing unpleasant odors that resulted when some performers of Hajj, Umrah, or prayer washed using Zamzam water.”

In the past there was a dome-shaped building over the well which covered an area of 88 square meters inside of which were container rooms and cooling rooms for Zamzam water vessels. It was pulled down between the years 1381- 1388 year of Hijra in order to widen the Tawaf arena. An air-conditioned cellar was built under the Tawaf arena with separate entrances for both men and women. The well can be seen behind a permeable glass partition. The old way of drinking the water was lifting water out of the well by using buckets but this is now substituted with modern systems providing Zamzam water. These modern means supply filtered, cool water treated with ultraviolet rays to reach excellent health standards.

In his interview with the Asharq Al-Awsat, Koshak remembers that the well use to be surrounded with glass to prevent people from throwing their belongings inside the well for blessings and so on. He says, “During the cleaning process we found coins, teapots, and bone horns with engravings and magical shapes. Among the things we found in the well was a piece of marble on which the Libyan freedom fighter Omar Al-Mokhtar wrote ”Oh, Allah please help realize what is inside my soul!””

Koshak adds that in the new project: “a tunnel was made outside the Haraam to reach the well. It is especially made for use during the maintenance process only. There were two opinions concerning the use of that tunnel. The first was to allow those who wish to see the well to enter from it without bathing in it. Many debated this as they said that the tunnel is long (around half a mile), it is tight, and needs ventilation systems, lighting and security measures.

The water of Zamzam has more than 60 names; the most famous of them are Zamzam, Soqya Al-Hajj (drink of the pilgrim), Sharab Al-Abrar (drink of the pious), Tayba (goodness), Barra (reverent), Baraka (blessings), Afeya (good health). Many scientific studies were carried out to discover the sources of the well. Results showed that the Zamzam well receives its water from foundation rocks that were formed in ancient times passing through three rock fractures extending from the Holy Ka’bah and the mountains of Safa and Marwa to meet in the well.

Engineer Fakhry Bakhsh, sales manager of the French (Afyan) water in The Saudi Al-Bahrawy Company says: “a French company invented an accurate device that analyzes water and came to promote it in Saudi Arabia. The company’s representative displayed the capacities of the new equipment to the agents of purified and mineral water exports of the local market. It revealed that according to the apparatus, the water of Zamzam is the purest water.” Engineer Yahia Koshak, who holds a doctorate degree in Environmental Engineering from Washington University, describes the sources of the Zamzam water in his book entitled ”Zamzam” after the location process that he carried out with a team of researchers in the year 1400 Hijra, saying: “the main source of water is an opening directly under The Black Stone. It is 45 cm long, 30 cm high and the largest amount of water springs from it. The second source is a bigger opening towards Al-Mekbaria which is a tower used for the call to prayers that lies on the Tawaf arena. This one is 70 cm long and is divided into two openings inside. It is also 30cm high. There are small openings between the rocks of the tower above the well out of which water flows; five of which are in the area between the two main openings and are a meter in length. There are twenty one other openings, some starting beside the first main opening towards Abi Qbeis Mountain from Al-Safa, and the others ending towards Al-Marwa. The depth of the well is 30m in two parts. The first part is a building with a 12.80 meters depth from the well opening. The second part is cut inside the mountain rocks at 17.20 meters in length. The water level of depth is 4 meters down from the opening.

The springs nourishing the well are 13m deep from the opening and 17m down towards the bottom of the well.” With regards to the pumping of the Zamzam water he says, “After four very powerful pumps were put in place, working for 24 hours a day, with a pumping rate of 8000 Liters a minute. The water level at the opening was 3.23m. It was being measured every 30 seconds until the water level inside the well became 12.72 m, then 13.39 m. At that depth the water level stopped lowering inside the well. When the pumps were stopped, the water started rising until it reached 3.9m in eleven minutes.” He recorded what he saw saying, “I will never forget this incredible sight for as long as I shall live. The water overflowed from these sources in unimaginable amounts. The sound of the water gushing out was deafening.”

Koshak, who was former general manager of the water department in the western area, denies that the operations of digging tunnels inside the mountains and the deep basis of housing towers around Haraathe can have any effect on the geological formation of the Zamzam water path or it”s blending with other sources. He said, &#34This has never happened. According to the studies that we have carried out, we found that when rain falls in Mecca and the Ibrahim valley is flooded, the water level increases slightly in the well. But when rain falls on the areas surrounding Mecca, for example Taif and others, the water increases tremendously in Zamzam well. This means that the main sources for the well are the mountains surrounding Mecca and the fractured rocks in them. In my book, Zamzam, there is a photo taken by satellites attached to an analysis showing that all these cracked rocks lead towards the Zamzam well.” He added, “I think that the secret lies in the main spring of the well. Any water springing from that place takes on the characteristics of Zamzam water.&#34

The strange thing is that another well in the Haraam named ‘Al-da’oudiya’ which is located 120m away from Zamzam well, close to the Ibrahim entrance does not share the formula of Zamzam water. Results of the analysis also show that the same goes for the water of the ‘Ain Zubaida’ well too. One of the nice things that are prominent in the social life of Muslims is that the one who provides the water prays for a long life for those who drink the holy water. This is similar to the exchanging of wishes after performing prayer, one saying “To the Haraam”, and the other replying “Together Allah Willing”. For a very long period, the people of Mecca offered their guests Zamzam water as a way of showing hospitality and celebrating their visit. They have their tradition of serving the water in cold clean pots made of mud that enhance the aroma and special taste loved by those who drink it. This custom still exists and is frequently seen at the time of breaking fast during Ramadan along with a few ripe dates. People are also keen to put Zamzam water and a piece of date in the mouths of their newborns, a tradition they take from the last Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, with his two grand sons Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein, may Allah be pleased with them. The people of Mecca are also careful to use the water of Zamzam in the last washing of their dead before burial hoping that its blessings and good benefits cover them. On the lighter side of it, the women of Mecca faithfully make their student children drink Zamzam water before taking exams hoping that they won’t forget what they have been taught!

Everyone who visited the Holy Mosque is familiar with the sight of performers of Hajj and Umrah coming from abroad and washing long pieces of white cotton cloth then soaking it in Zamzam water. After, they would let them dry in the passages of Haraam to keep and use later as blessed shrouds for their dead and themselves back in their home countries. Performers of Hajj or Umrah rarely go back to their countries without sufficient amounts of the water to give to their relatives and friends as presents and blessings. The Sheikhs who use religious invocation are also careful to equip themselves with large amounts of Zamzam water to recite from the Koran beside it. They give it to the patients resorting to them and to those who were frenzied by jinn to drink a specified amount of it to complete their treatment.

Dr. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Beih, the former Mauritanian Minister of Justice, was asked whether it is legal for non-Muslims to seek cure in the water of Zamzam, replies, “I know not of any text concerning this issue. But I know that if the Muslim is treating someone else, he/she can treat them using Zamzam water to illustrate the honor of this water for non-Muslims. It would also be a kind of invitation and call for Islam.” The knowledgeable Sheikh cited a story as proof in which some of the companions of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them) attempted to cure a non-believer who had been stung and they treated him by reading Surat Al-Fatiha over his body. The Prophet (PBUH) approved what they did as mentioned in his tradition.”

In his book ”The Stories of Mecca”, the historian Al-Fakihy retold many stories indicating how Christian and Jewish scholars loved Zamzam water. It was reported by Abu Haseen that Mujahed Bin Jabr Attabe’y Al-Makkey, the sheikh of interpreters of the Koran said: “we were walking in the land of the Roman Empire, and the fall of the night drove us to a monk. The monk asked if any of them were from among the people of Mecca. I said yes. The monk asked how far it was from Zamzam to The Black Stone?” I replied that I don’t know but I can guess. The monk said but I know, it runs under the stone, and to have a bucket full of it is much better for me than to have the same amount in gold.” Sheikh Said Bekdash, author of the book ”The merit of Zamzam water” reports Mohamed Bin Harb saying that he was captivated by the Romans, and went to the king who asked him from what country he was. He said, &#34From the people of Mecca.&#34 The king asked if he knew Hazmat Jibreel (the conquest of Gabriel) in Mecca. He said yes. The king asked him if he knew Barra? He said yes. The king asked if there was another name for it? He said yes, it is now known as Zamzam. The king told him to mention some of its blessings. Then he said, “in addition to what you said, we find in our books that anyone who pours three sums of it on his head would never be humiliated!”

Books of Islamic history relate that the water of Zamzam is an everlasting spring that will not expire until the Day of Judgment. They also report that all waters will seep away before Judgment Day except the water of Zamzam. It was reported that Al-Dahhak Bin Muzahem said, “Allah Almighty will lift all water before doomsday, and all water trickle away except for Zamzam water.” It was also recorded that Ibn Abbas said, &#34Pray in the prayer place of the best people and drink the drink of the pious. When he was asked what is the prayer place of the best people? He said: under the drain of Ka’bah. When he was asked, what is the drink of the pious? He replied, &#34The water of Zamzam.&#34