In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and May Allah blessings and peace be upon His Messenger.
Ibn Abbas narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: "When Abraham had differences with his wife Sarah, (because of her jealousy of Hajar, Ishmael's mother) he took Ishmael and his mother and went away. They had a water-skin beg with them containing some water, Ishmael's mother used to drink water from the water-skin beg so that her milk would increase for her child. When Abraham reached Makkah, he made her sit under a tree and afterwards returned home. Ishmael's mother followed him, and when they reached Kada, she called him from behind, 'O Abraham! 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-beg, and her milk increased for her child. When the water had all been used up, she thought to herself, 'I should go and look for someone.' She ascended the hill of the Safa and looked around, hoping to see somebody, but her attempt was in vain. When she came down to the valley, she ran till she reached the hill of the Marwah and did as she had done on Safa. She ran to and fro (between the two hills) many times.
Then she said to herself, 'I should go and see the state of the child.' She went and found him 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 someone. She ascended the hill of the Safa and looked for long while but could not see anybody. Thus she completed seven rounds (of running) between Safa and Marwah.
Again she thought about the condition of the baby, but all of a sudden she heard a voice. She replied to that strange voice: 'Help us if you can offer any help.' It was Gabriel (who had made the voice). Gabriel hit the earth with his heel like this (Ibn Abbas hit the earth with his heel to illustrate it), and so the water gushed out. Ishmael's mother became astonished and started digging… She started drinking from the water and her milk increased for her child…" (Bukhari).
It was thus how the dry and barren valley of Makkah became inhabited. Gabriel unearthed the water of Zamzam such that the life of Ishmael, the great grandfather of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) maybe saved. Hajar, the wife of Abraham the Patriarch, 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 the settlement of Jurhum (an ancient Arab tribe) in Makkah, and hence the start of the Makkahan era in the human history. No other water can claim this honor.
The Rebirth of Zamzam.
With the passage of time, the inhabitants of Makkah started to forego the ways of the pious. 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 Zamzam, hideously plugged it to deny their conquerors its blessings. Zamzam was not reopened and henceforth was forgotten.
Many generations passed in Makkah with Zamzam in complete oblivion, until the time of Abdul-Muttaleb (the paternal grandfather of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) . Abdul-Muttaleb himself was oblivious to Zamzam, but with the approaching of the last divine message, a sequence of significant preludes was in order; the rebirth of Zamzam was one of them.
Abdul-Muttaleb's possession of Zamzam was not an act of ownership where he would deny its water to others. Being the sole heir to Zamzam meant that Abdul-Muttaleb alone was to provide Zamzam water to the pilgrims; no one else (save his family of course) could partake in this most honorable privilege.
The Names of Zamzam
Like any object of reverence, Zamzam commands both love and respect. In addition to the sublime nature and the lofty history of this unique water, its attributes have originated its many names. Some of its names that are related to its sublimity are 'Blessing' and 'Blessed'. Another beautiful name is 'Bushra' which signifies glad tidings for the believers.
Its lofty history contributed to its many names, such as 'Sanctified'. Another set of names derive from the fact that the Archangel Gabriel unearthed the water, such as 'Hamzat Jibreel' and 'Wat'at Jibreel', with both names referring to the act of knocking the ground open by the Archangel.
However, Zamzam's attributes account for most of its names. Some of these attributes were learned form teachings of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) others were coined as descriptive names taken from physical and spiritual attributes of the water. For example, these names include 'a cure for illness', and 'a food for hunger.' It is also called 'Sufficient', 'Beneficent', and 'Pure and Sweet.'
A Clear Sign
Al-Masjid Al-Haram (The Sacred Mosque) is the first House of worship appointed for mankind. Along with this appointment, Allah blessed this sacred place with many signs of distinction. Allah says: Verily, the first House (of worship) appointed for mankind was that at Bakkah (Makkah), full of blessing, and a guidance for Al-Alamin (the mankind and jinn). In it are manifest signs (for example), the Maqam (place) of Ibrahim (Abraham); whosoever enters it, he attains security…" (3:96-97).
Zamzam is one of those signs. Chronologically it is the first, for when Abraham, the Patriarch, left his wife and infant son in the barren valley, following Allah's command, he made a humble request: "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 salah. 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). Zamzam was the first among many fruits.
One of the greatest attributes of Zamzam is that it will never dry up. This is a gift from Allah to Makkah and to its pilgrims. Ibn Abbas narrated that the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: "…May Allah bestow His mercy upon her (Hajar, the mother of Ishmael), had she let go (of Zamzam) it would have become a spring (rather than a well) whose water shall never dry." [Ahmad]
Every year, millions upon millions of pilgrims drink Zamzam water, which has been around for thousand of years. It is fed daily to the Prophet's Masjid in Madinah in large quantities, and is packaged and shipped to millions of Muslims worldwide, without the slightest blemish in its flow. It is the epitome of munificence; the more we drink, the more it gives.
The Chemical Analysis of Zamzam Water
Dr. Ahmad Abdul Qadir Al Muhandis indicates that the results of chemical analyses show the Zamzam Water is pure water, without color or smell, has a distinct taste, and its hydrogen exponent is 7.5, indicating that it is alkaline to some extent.
A study conducted by the American laboratories showed that traces of thirty elements were identified in Zamzam water by means of energizing neutrons. Some of these elements scored less that 0.01.
After matching up the chemical analysis to international specifications, especially to the specifications of the World Health Organization (WHO), results proved the portability of Zamzam water as well as its beneficial effects on the body's health. Additionally, sodium is very high in Zamzam water and the international specifications do not put a limit to the measurement of its composition.
Zamzam water has also been treated by ultraviolet rays, and microbes have no place to survive in it, which means that Zamzam water preserves its taste and is not a congenial environment for bacteria. According to various chemical analyses, dry weather makes Zamzam more saline through evaporation, which is, with Allah's might, good for the human body.
The Benefits of Drinking Zamzam Water
There is no doubt that drinking Zamzam water is very beneficial. Prophet Muhammad SAWS said, "The best water on earth is Zamzam water." He also said, "Zamzam water is a lavish meal and a great healer," and, "Zamzam water is what one intends to drink it for." Thus, it is a Sunnah to Drink Zamzam water, wash with it, and splash it on a sick person.
Ibn Abbas said that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) had said, "Zamzam water is what one intends to drink it for. When one drinks it to be healed, Allah heals him; when one drinks it be full, Allah makes him full; and when one drinks it to quench his thirst, Allah quenches it" [Ahmad and Ibn Majah].
Many Islamic scholars drank it and experienced its dazzling effects. For instance, Abu Hanifah drank from Zamzam water in order to be a knowledgeable scholar and he became the best among the scholars in his era. Al-Bakri said, “I tried (Zamzam water) and sensed the truth about what had been said about it, and when I drank it, I had no doubt about its amazing effect."
It is also true that our Imam Shafi'ie, felt its tangible results when he drank Zamzam water in order to be a knowledgeable person and a good arrow shooter, hitting nine out of ten targets at a time.
[Via Islam Online Excerpted from Al-Jumuah Vol. 13 Issue: 12]