By Suhel Farooq Khan
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Redefining Islamic Education

The reason to choose Zamzam the homepage of islamepedia is that it is where the modern Islam, as we know it today, began.

Zamzam (زَمزَم)

Zamzam is a spring of water which Allah (God Almighty) made to appear in the valley of Makkah to quench the thirst of Isma'il عليه السلام (Ishmael). It is now situated inside al-Masjid al-Haram (The Sacred Mosque).
In Arabic Zamzam means - abundant water, while in the Hebrew language Zamzam means - stop-stop.
Zamzam is also known by eleven other names.[1]

  1. Bi'r Jibril (Well of Jibril عليه السلام)
  2. Maktuma (Hidden, concealed, undisclosed)
  3. Shuba'a (Fullness, gratification)
  4. Suqya (To water)
  5. Ar-Rawa' [Fresh (water)]
  6. Rakdhatu Jibril (Kick from the heel of Jibril عليه السلام)
  7. Hamzatu Jibril (Kick from the heel of Jibril عليه السلام)
  8. Shifau Suqm (Cure of diseases)
  9. Madhnunah (Which was restrained)
  10. Ta'am u Tu'um (Nourishing food)
  11. Hafratu 'Abdul Muttalib (Well of  'Abdul Muttalib)

Ibrahim عليه السلام (Abraham), a Rasul (Messenger) of Allah (God Almighty) and his wife Sarah were married for many years, but they did not have any child. They had to migrate to Misr (Egypt), when people of the town of Ibrahim عليه السلام (Abraham) did not want him to preach them to follow the path of Allah (God Almighty) and began to torture and harass him.
In Misr (Egypt), Sarah asked Ibrahim عليه السلام (Abraham) to marry Hajar for having children. Soon Hajar gave birth to a son, who was named Isma'il عليه السلام (Ishmael). After some time, Sarah, who still did not have any child of her own, began feeling uncomfortable in living with Hajar and her son Isma'il عليه السلام (Ishmael). Finally, one day Sarah told Ibrahim
عليه السلام (Abraham) that she could not live with Hajar and Isma'il عليه السلام (Ishmael)
anymore.
Following a Command from Allah (God Almighty), Ibrahim عليه السلام (Abraham) took Hajar and their infant son Isma'il عليه السلام (Ishmael) to a far away place. After a long journey from Misr (Egypt), they arrived at the valley of Makkah in Arabia. This valley was on the route of caravans traveling between Sham (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine etc.) and Yaman (Yemen). Caravans did not stop at the valley of Makkah because there was no water or vegetation in the area.

Ibrahim عليه السلام (Abraham) told Hajar that he was leaving them in that inhospitable valley, to fulfill the Command of Allah (God Almighty).[2] Like her husband, Hajar was also a faithful servant of Allah (God Almighty). She had full faith in Allah (God Almighty), so she did not complain or protest.
Ibrahim عليه السلام (Abraham) prayed to Allah (God Almighty) for their safety before returning to Sarah in Misr (Egypt).

رَّبَّنَآ إِنِّىٓ أَسْكَنتُ مِن ذُرِّيَّتِى بِوَادٍ غَيْرِ ذِى زَرْعٍ عِندَ بَيْتِكَ ٱلْمُحَرَّمِ رَبَّنَا لِيُقِيمُوا۟ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ فَٱجْعَلْ أَفْـِٔدَةًۭ مِّنَ ٱلنَّاسِ تَهْوِىٓ إِلَيْهِمْ وَٱرْزُقْهُم مِّنَ ٱلثَّمَرَٰتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَشْكُرُونَ
Rabbanaa “inni “askantu min dhurriyyati biwadin ghayri dhi zar-’in ‘inda baytika al-muharrami Rabbana li-yuqimu als-salata faij-‘al “af-“idatanm mina aln-nasi tahwi “ilayhim waurzuqhum mina  alth-thamarati la-‘allahum yashkuruna
"O Our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in an uncultivable valley by Your sacred House (the
Ka'bah at Makkah); in order, O Our Lord, that they may perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), so fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits so that they may give thanks.
Surah (Chapter) Ibrahim (Abraham) 14:37

Ibrahim عليه السلام (Abraham) had also left some supplies for Hajar and Isma'il عليه السلام (Ishmael). The meager supply of water, left by him, finished soon.
Isma'il عليه السلام (Ishmael) got thirsty so Hajar tried to find water for him. Hajar put him down and began to look around for water. She had put
Isma'il عليه السلام (Ishmael) down and ran desperately seven times, between two small hillocks of Safa and Marwah, in search for water. She could not find any signs of water in sight. She was praying to Allah (God Almighty) all along for help. Allah (God Almighty) answered prayers of His obedient servant and sent help through Jibril عليه السلام (Gabriel), Malak (Angel).
When Hajar returned disappointed after not finding water, to her son Isma'il عليه السلام (Ishmael). She was pleasantly surprised to find a spring of water flowing from underneath the rocky terrain, near the feet of her infant son. That was the spring of Zamzam

Hajar tried to contain the flowing water using het arms, uttering Zam Zam that means Stop Stop.

Hajar and Isma'il عليه السلام (Ishmael) settled down near Zamzam. Caravans traveling between Sham (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine etc.and Yaman (Yemen)began to stop there by seeing birds flying over the valley of Makkah, because of water. Hajar settled near Zamzam with her infant son Isma'il عليه السلام (Ishmael), and made a living by serving water to travelers.

Hajar and Isma'il عليه السلام (Ishmael) were the first inhabitants of the city of Makkah. Later, many tribes settled down in the valley of Makkah because of Zamzam. This was the beginning of the city of Makkah.

Jurham tribe was among the first tribes to settle there.[3] When Isma'il عليه السلام (Ishmael) grew up, he married Ra’lah, the daughter of Mudhadh ibn 'Amr. Mudhadh ibn 'Amr was the chief of Jurham tribe at that time.

Back in Misr (Egypt), Ibrahim عليه السلام (Abraham) had another son Ishaq عليه السلام (Isaac) from Sarah, when both of them were very old. Ibrahim عليه السلام (Abraham) always remembered his family whom he had left in that inhospitable environment. He always prayed for their welfare. One day he decided to visit them.
Ibrahim عليه السلام (Abraham) thanked Allah (God Almighty) when he found Hajar and Isma'il عليه السلام (Ishmael) safe and settled in Makkah.
Near the spring of Zamzam, Ibrahim عليه السلام (Abraham) constructed the Ka'bah with the help of his elder son Isma'il عليه السلام (Ishmael).

وَإِذْ يَرْفَعُ إِبْرَٰهِۦمُ ٱلْقَوَاعِدَ مِنَ ٱلْبَيْتِ وَإِسْمَٰعِيلُ رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّآ ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلْعَلِيمُ
Wa-“idh yarfa-‘u “Ibrahimu al-qawa-‘ida mina al-bayti wa-“Isma-‘ilu Rabbana taqabbal minnaa (صلي) “innaka “anta als-Sami-‘u al-‘Alimu
And (remember) when Ibrahim (Abraham) and (his son) Isma'il (Ishmael) were raising the foundations of the House (the
Ka'bah at Makkah), (saying), "Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us. Verily! You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knower."
Surah (Chapter) al-Baqarah (The Cow) 2:127

When Sarah died, Ibrahim عليه السلام (Abraham) came to Makkah to live with Hajar and Isma'il عليه السلام (Ishmael). His younger son, Ishaq عليه السلام (Isaac) was grown up by then.

Many generations later, 'Amr ibn Harith chief of Jurham tribe became the caretaker of Ka'bah. With time, his tribe became disloyal to the Ka'bah. They began misusing the offerings for the Ka'bah and did not care for the pilgrims either. Other tribes did not like it. Khuza’ah tribe with the help of several other tribes drove the Jurham tribe out of Makkah. Before leaving Makkah, the chief of Jurham tribe 'Amr ibn Harith buried a treasure in the Zamzam well and clogged it as well.

Zamzam remained lost for a long time. About four hundred years later, 'Abdul Muttalib, a descendant of Isma'il عليه السلام (Ishmael) and the grandfather of the Messenger of Allah Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم, became caretaker of the Ka’bah. 'Abdul Muttalib was also responsible for Siqayah, the responsibility of providing water for the pilgrims of the Ka'bah. There was very little water in and around Makkah. At that time, 'Abdul Muttalib had only one son, Harith. Both of them had to carry water from distant wells for the pilgrims of Ka'bah. They used to get tired in bringing water all day long, for the pilgrims.
One day, 'Abdul Muttalib was sleeping near Hijr. Hijr is the semicircular space near the Ka'bah. In his dream, some one asked him to dig for Zamzam, the never ending source of water that will quench the thirst of a very large number of pilgrims. The man in his dream also gave the exact location of the long lost Zamzam well.
'Abdul Muttalib and his son Harith started digging for it. They dug in between the idols of Isaf and Na"lah, as told in the dream. Soon they uncovered Zamzam and also found the treasure buried there by the chief of Jurham tribe 'Amr ibn Harith, the last care-taker of the Ka’bah from Jurham tribe before fleeing from Makkah.
Other clans of the Quraysh tribe also wanted to share the treasure, because it was found in the well of their common ancestor Isma'il عليه السلام (Ishmael).
This matter was settled by drawing arrows near the feet of Hubal, the main deity of Ka'bah. People used to settle their issues by drawing arrows. Arrows were normally used to make decisions. Lots were drawn between 'Abdul Muttalib, the Ka’bah and the Quraysh. The Quraysh lost out completely in this draw. Zamzam and the swords and armor from the buried treasure went to 'Abdul Muttalib and the two golden gazelles from that treasure went to the Ka’bah. 'Abdul Muttalib made a door for Ka'bah from those swords and armor.

Before the Messenger of Allah Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم went for Isra" [The (Miraculous) Night Journey] and Mi'raj (Ascention to the Heavens), his heart was cleansed with Zamzam.[4]

Following the Sunnah (Traditions of Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم), Zamzam water should consumed while standing.[5]

The spring of Zamzam continues to flow today. Zamzam has been quenching the thirst of millions of pilgrims for centuries and In sha" Allah it will continue to do so forever.


[1]    Lisanul Arab, Volume 15, Page 166

[2]     Ibrahim brought her and her son Ismail while she was suckling him, to a place near the Ka'bah under a tree on the spot of Zamzam, at the highest place in the mosque. During those days there was nobody in Makkah, nor was there any water so he made them sit over there and placed near them a leather bag containing some dates, and a small water-skin containing some water, and set out homeward. Ismail's mother followed him saying, "O Ibrahim! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?" She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her Then she asked him, "Has Allah ordered you to do so?" He said, "Yes." She said, "Then He will not neglect us,"
Bukhari, Book 55, Hadith 583

[3]     Narrated Ibn Abbas رضي الله عنه: The first lady to use a girdle was the mother of Ishmael. She used a girdle so that she might hide her tracks from Sarah. Ibrahim عليه السلام (Abraham) brought her and her son Ishmael while she was suckling him, to a place near the Ka’bah under a tree on the spot of Zamzam, at the highest place in the mosque. During those days there was nobody in Makkah, nor was there any water. So he made them sit over there and placed near them a leather bag containing some dates, and a small water-skin containing some water, and set out homeward. Isma'il عليه السلام (Ishmael)'s mother followed him saying, "O Ibrahiعليه السلام (Abraham)! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?" She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her Then she asked him, "Has Allah ordered you to do so?" He said, "Yes." She said, "Then He will not neglect us," and returned while  Ibrahiعليه السلام (Abraham) proceeded onwards, and on reaching the Thaniya where they could not see him, he faced the Ka’bah, and raising both hands, invoked Allah saying the following prayers: 'O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Your Sacred House (Ka’bah at Makkah) in order, O our Lord, that they may offer prayer perfectly. So fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits, so that they may give thanks.' (14.37) Isma'iعليه السلام (Ishmael)'s mother went on suckling Ishmael and drinking from the water (she had). When the water in the water-skin had all been used up, she became thirsty and her child also became thirsty. She started looking at him [i.e. Isma'iعليه السلام (Ishmael)] tossing in agony; She left him, for she could not endure looking at him, and found that the mountain of Safa was the nearest mountain to her on that land. She stood on it and started looking at the valley keenly so that she might see somebody, but she could not see anybody. Then she descended from Safa and when she reached the valley, she tucked up her robe and ran in the valley like a person in distress and trouble, till she crossed the valley and reached the Marwah mountain where she stood and started looking, expecting to see somebody, but she could not see anybody. She repeated that (running between Safa and Marwah) seven times." The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, "This is the source of the tradition of the walking of people between them (i.e. Safa and Marwah). When she reached the Marwah (for the last time) she heard a voice and she asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. She heard the voice again and said, 'O, (whoever you may be)! You have made me hear your voice; have you got something to help me?" And behold! She saw an angel at the place of Zamzam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing), till water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water-skin with water with her hands, and the water was flowing out after she had scooped some of it." The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم added, "May Allah bestow Mercy on Ishmael's mother! Had she let the Zamzam (flow without trying to control it) (or had she not scooped from that water) (to fill her water-skin), Zamzam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth." The Prophet further added, "Then she drank (water) and suckled her child. The angel said to her, 'Don't be afraid of being neglected, for this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father, and Allah never neglects His people.' The House (i.e. Ka’bah) at that time was on a high place resembling a hillock, and when torrents came, they flowed to its right and left. She lived in that way till some people from the tribe of Jurhum or a family from Jurhum passed by her and her child, as they (i.e. the Jurhum people) were coming through the way of Kada'. They landed in the lower part of Makkah where they saw a bird that had the habit of flying around water and not leaving it. They said, 'This bird must be flying around water, though we know that there is no water in this valley.' They sent one or two messengers who discovered the source of water, and returned to inform them of the water. So, they all came (towards the water)." The Prophet added, "Ishmael's mother was sitting near the water. They asked her, 'Do you allow us to stay with you?" She replied, 'Yes, but you will have no right to possess the water.' They agreed to that." The Prophet further said, "Ishmael's mother was pleased with the whole situation as she used to love to enjoy the company of the people. So, they settled there, and later on they sent for their families who came and settled with them so that some families became permanent residents there. The child (i.e. Ishmael) grew up and learnt Arabic from them and (his virtues) caused them to love and admire him as he grew up, and when he reached the age of puberty they made him marry a woman from amongst them.     
Bukhari, Book 55, Hadith 583

[4]    It is narrated on the the outhority of Ans ibn Malik رضي الله عنه that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: (The angels) came to me and took me to the Zamzam and my heart was opened and washed with the water of Zamzam and then I was left (at my place).  
Muslim, Book 1, Hadith 310

[5]    Ibn ‘Abbas رضي الله عنه reported: I served (water of) Zamzam to Allah's Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم, and he drank it while standing.  
Muslim, Book 23, Hadith 5023

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