MOOMTAZ EMRITH
(Windsor, ON, Canada)

The story of the Blessed Well of Zamzam is a fascinating tale in itself. It is one of the glorious landmarks of Islam in the City of Mecca. It is a story of faith, love and trust in the Majesty and Power of Almighty God (Allah). So much so, the Well of Zamzam that sprung in the arid desert sands of Arabia at God’s command in answer to the desperate cry of a mother seeking water to quench the thirst of her baby son in the burning desert of Arabia, is one tangible symbol of God’s (Allah) blessing on Earth just like the two hills of Sa’afa and Marwa’a where the Blessed Well is located. It dates back to well over 4,000 years.   The Patriarch Abraham (Ibrahim — (peace be upon him—[pbuh] in Arabic) was ordered by God Almighty to take his second wife Hagar (Hajra — in Arabic) and their baby son Ishmael into the desert because of the jealousy and pettiness shown towards Hagar and her infant son, Ishmael, by Sarah, his first wife, who had been unable until then to give the Patriarch a son — an heir.

God then ordered Prophet Abraham (pbuh) to take Hagar and the infant Ishmael into the desert and leave them there. When Hagar was told that Abraham (pubh) was only fulfilling God’s will, she acquiesced with no argument.  In fact, Abraham (pbuh) left her and their baby son between the hills of Sa’afa and Marwa’a. Prophet Abraham (pbuh), who remains a noble epitome of faith and trust in God, Almighty, fulfilled God’s commands. He knew deep within himself that if God had willed that he left Hagar and Ishmael alone in the desert, God would take care of them also. And Hagar, who equally had faith in God and her husband Abraham (pbuh), made no protest and no pleas. She too had faith in God and accepted His will.

However, when the provisions that Hagar had with her, were exhausted, both Hagar and Ishmael began to feel the effects of the desert’s torrid heat and the dire need of water to quench her own thirst but more so that of her baby son.  The baby cried and Hagar was at a loss what to do. She needed to find water for her baby badly.

The Sacred Well of Zamzam as it was before. A bucket and a cord were used to draw water from the “Sacred Well.”  The bucket and the bord were replaced in 1953 with pipes and electric pumps. The Well is now underground and pilgrims cannot see it.

Hagar kept running back and forth between the two hills of Sa’afa and Marwa’a hoping to find someone with a goatskin filled with water. But there was no one around. She was going crazy. She had run six times between the two hills when on the seventh run, she noticed Ishmael scraping the sand with his foot and water was oozing out of the sand. The miracle that Prophet Abraham (pbuh) had hoped would save his wife and son, had happened. Allah Hu Akbar! (God is great!) God Almighty had, indeed, taken care of his wife Hagar and his son Ishmael. Both were saved.

Hagar began to dig the sand with her hands and water kept coming out, and out, and out! She gathered mounds of sand and rocks to put around the oozing the water in order to stop it from flowing away and entreating repeatedly: “Zomé! Zomé! (Stop! Stop! ) – hence, the name Zamzam. As the scriptures tell us, the “Miracle Well” saved Hagar and her son.  The Blessed Well still exists in the Valley of Mecca and, since way back in time, it would be the reason for an entire community of nomads who came to settle around it. As the Holy Qur’an tells us: “Water is the source of all life!”

The location of the Blessed Well of Zamzam is within the Masjid al-Haram (the Grand Mosque), where the cube-shaped Ka’aba is and which is the holiest shrine in Islam. The Well is some 35 metres east of the Grand Mosque and only some 20 metres away from the Ka’aba, which was initially built, at Allah’s command, by Adam but had long been destroyed. God ordered Prophet Abraham (pbuh) to rebuild the “House of God” (the Ka’aba) on Earth – the “BAYT ALLAH” — which he did!

After the advent of Islam, Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), revived and instructed his followers to continue the Abrahamic tradition of the Hajj (Pilgrimage) to Mecca. He commanded them to visit the Ka’aba and perform the Hajj at least once in their life-time during which occasion every pilgrim must circumbulate the Ka’aba SEVEN times and also perform the Saii (running between the two hills of Sa’afa and Marwa’a SEVEN times) just like Hagar did, and then drink from the Well of Zamzam. As a matter of fact, the millions of Hajees (pilgrims), who perform the annual Hajj, have been drinking from the Well of Zamzam. Indeed, Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) instructed his followers to invoke Allah’s name as they drink the blessed water of Zamzam. It is no ordinary water. It is sacred water!

An aerial view of the Haram and the two hills of Saa’fa and Marwa’a now connected by a tunnel

Millions of Muslims from across the world visit the Ka’aba each year to perform the Hajj or Umra and they all drink from the Blessed Well yet it never gets depleted despite the fact that millions of Hajjees (pilgrims) not only drink from the Well but also carry it with them thousands of miles in bottles and cans as prized gifts for loved ones at home. Aren’t we then tempted to ask ourselves: What is so special about the Zamzam water? To Muslims, there is nothing like it on earth! It is blessed water. It is unique and comes out of a Well that sprung in a scorching arid valley in Arabia at God’s command.

Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) has said this about Zamzam water: “The water of Zamzam is good for whatever one intends (while drinking it). If you drink it seeking health, Allah will give you healing. If you drink it to satisfy your hunger, Allah will satisfy your hunger. If you drink it to quench your thirst, Allah will quench your thirst. Zamzam is a well dug by the angel Jibreel (Angel Gabriel) by which Allah quenched the thirst of Ishmail.”

I know personally of cases of many folks – family and friends – , who have drunk from the Blessed Well, invoking, as instructed by Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), Allah’s blessings in the cure of certain ailments and pains. And their prayers have all, indeed, been answered. However, not all pilgrims love to talk about them.  It’s a ‘bond’ between them and Allah and many love to keep it that way!

The circle indicates the location of the Well of Zamzam underneath the Mataf – area around the Ka’aba where Tawaf is performed

Besides, we can safely say that to the more than a billion Muslims in the world, Zamzam Water is much more than a drink to quench the thirst. As one writer has very rightly put it: « Zamzam Water is a thread that connects every person who drinks it to Ibrahim (Abraham), his son Ismail, and his wife Hagar, and … not the least of all … to Prophet Muhammed (pbuh).

Water is essential for life on earth and the Well of Zamzam is one prime example of how water sustains life and fulfills the cherished dreams of the millions of (Hajjees) Pilgrims, who visit the Haram and the Ka’aba every year, seeking Allah’s Mercy and Munificence since the advent of Islam. The ‘Miracle Well of Zamzam’, in one of the most arid and scorching regions of the world, is, indeed, one symbol of the many Mercies of God (Allah) to humankind on earth.

Photos: Google