Zamzam, the precious and holy water in the precincts of the Grand Mosque in Makkah that started gushing out nearly 4,000 years ago in a spontaneous way, is still going strong.
The average daily consumption of Zamzam is 100 cubic meters on regular days, which doubles to 200 cubic meters on Fridays, and shoots up to more than 1,000 cubic meters during the Ramadan and Haj seasons.
Not only do pilgrims coming for Haj and Umrah from all over the world, but locals also take it home in thousands of cans everyday to drink it to their heart’s content. The consumption of Zamzam naturally increases in Ramadan because of the large number of pilgrims visiting Makkah.
The authorities also transport and supply Zamzam to the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina.
Aifan Al-Juaid, Director of Zamzam water distribution in the Grand Mosque, said this week that three million cups of Zamzam water are consumed daily at the Grand Mosque during the month of Ramadan.
“More than 1,800 cubic meters of water is consumed inside the mosque and 270 cubic meters in the courtyards outside each day in Ramadan,” he said.
Pilgrims can drink Zamzam at 90 drinking points with 1,100 taps inside the mosque and 43 drinking areas furnished with 100 taps outside.
Al-Juaid said that Zamzam water is also supplied to the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina at a daily average of 274 cubic meters.
He said the late King Faisal showed considerable interest in improving the system of Zamzam water distribution to pilgrims.
Pilgrims and visitors drink plenty of Zamzam water, as there are several traditions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), his Companions, and others, extolling the virtues, benefits, and curative values of Zamzam.
The Ministry of Haj and Endowments laid down financial and administrative statutes for the distribution of the holy water and established the Zamzam United Office in 1982, which has been striving to upgrade distribution so that pilgrims do not find any difficulty in getting desired quantities.
An engineer, Dr. Yahya Hamza Koshak, has documented in detail the story of Zamzam in his book “Zamzam: The Holy Water.” He has also produced a documentary film titled “Zamzam: Nourishment and Curative Value,” in Arabic, English, French, Urdu, Bahasa, Malay and Turkish, based on his first-hand experience with the well of Zamzam.
In 1975, during King Faisal’s time, the old buildings of Zamzam were pulled down to widen the area around Ka’ba, The work was completed in a year. The second expansion, during King Khaled’s era, required the moving away of all entrances to Zamzam. While digging, underground water flooded many places. There was a risk. Research had to be carried out to protect the well itself.
Koshak was charged with the study. He had to investigate the water source and its outlet. After proper bathing and ablution, two divers began a mission that had never been undertaken before. They plunged into the divine waters of Zamzam on Jumad-Al-Awwal 17, 1399 Hijra (1979).
Zamzam well is 3.5 meters deep, 17 meters of which are of granite rocks. The well’s diameter is irregular. The part above the rocky layer is of lime with a constructed well, a linear section leaning toward the Holy Ka’ba.
At this stage of work, Zamzam was cleared of many objects thrown in by people who wrongly believed that doing so brought luck and prosperity – metal money of different epochs, seals, emblems, pottery, earthen vessels and copper objects.
Down the ages, many people have examined the qualities of Zamzam. Muhammad Labib Al-Bitnoni, an Egyptian author, wrote in his book “Al-Rehlat Al-Hijaziyah” that “the water is alkaline; rich in sodium, calcium, potassium and chloride salts. It has sulfuric and nitric acids too. The combination makes it similar to mineral waters that have healing effects.”
It is difficult to describe the exact taste of Zamzam. “It is not that of water to which salt has been added, nor is it that of diluted water. Its true taste, a slight salinity is clear only to the person who drinks it,” writes Koshak.
The well has never been infected by germs or microbes. It has never been polluted by floodwater or drainage of nearby houses. No one has ever contracted any disease by drinking the water. The well miraculously cleans itself.
It springs forth from beneath the venerated House of Allah – the Ka’ba – from the direction of Safa and Marwa.
“The main source of Zamzam is an opening tending toward the Holy Ka’ba. It is 45 cm long and 30 cm wide and slopes downwards. It supplies the main volume of Zamzam as stated in historical references,” mentions Dr. Koshak, who was asked to supervise the cleaning and sterilization of the well in 1980. “The second main source is a broad gash measuring 70 cm long and 30 cm wide, that divides into two openings within. It lies in the direction of Ajyad,” he adds.
There are also secondary sources. These are small outlets between the stones at the junction of the built-and-hewn-parts of the well.
There are five openings in the one-meter gap separating the two main sources. Besides, there are 21 inlets distributed from near the first main source that opens in the direction of JabalAbu Qubais, the Safa and the Marwa, to the second main source. These inlets are at different levels and they discharge varying amounts of water. – SG