Saudi Arabia: What is Zam Zam Water

These are the final days of Ramadan 2010 with Eid Al Fitr soon approaching.  During these final days I find myself thinking of all the Muslims in Makkah who are having the opportunity during this special period to not only perform Umrah or simply go to the Haram for Tarawe’el prayers, but that they may also freely enjoy zam zam water.  But, what exactly is zam zam water?  Why is it important to pilgrims and have significance to Muslims around the world?  Why do non-Muslims have an interest in zam zam water?

There is a well located within the Grand Mosque (Haram) in Makkah which has provided water ever since Abraham’s (Ibrahim’s) son, Ishmael was thirsty and kept crying for water.  As Ishmael kicked at the ground, water began gushing out, quenching his thirst.  This well continues to provide water to this very day to all the millions of pilgrims who visit Makkah annually.  This water, from the well, is zam zam water.

From when I first arrived in Saudi Arabia, I was introduced to zam zam water.  My mother-in-law offered my husband and I zam zam water on our first time to her home in Makkah.  I did not notice any different or discernable taste to the zam zam water as compared to other waters.  However, it is believed that zam zam waters have special powers of healing.

Zam Zam water contains a higher content of Calcium and Magnesium Salts in addition to natural fluorides that encompass a germicidal action which contains healing qualities.  The pH content of zam zam water is 7.9–8.0, indicating that it is alkaline to some extent and is similar to seawater.

Sodium chloride (common salt) is in excess in Zamzam making it taste salty. Muslims believe that Zamzam is beneficial for health. They also claim that the excess amount of sodium does not cause any harmful effects.

Minerals Mass concentration[5]

My husband and I were each provided zam zam water during our respective battles with cancer.  Family and friends would visit with us having come from Makkah.  They would present us with carafes of zam zam water.  In fact, during my hospital stay when I had my mastectomy due to breast cancer, I was accidentally anointed with zam zam water in the middle of the night!

It is traditional for Muslim pilgrims who visit Makkah to take zam zam water back with them to their home countries.  It is an honor and one of the greatest gifts to be offered zam zam water.

This video has a German doctor who further expounds on the powers of zam zam water and is well-worth watching in its entirety.

36 Responses

  1. I’m so glad you posted about this! I got offered Zam Zam water for the first time this past spring. My boyfriend had come back from Mekkah and as usually, came back to the US with gifts, as he showered me in dates, candies, jewlery and ouds, he told me he saved the best for last and had me close my eyes. When I opened them it was just a cantainer of water. I looked at him surprised, and then he explained the water to me. I still have the water, I think it’s too sweet of a gift to drink it all, though I do sip on it time to time. But yeah, it was the finish time I heard of giving water as a gift, lol. So I’m thrilled to see this posting. Love your blog so much!

  2. Finish is suppose to be first*

  3. Carol,
    I am pleasantly surprised to see this post! That’s because last year after Hajj season I got to taste Zam Zam water, eventhough I have never visited Saudi Arabia.

    One of my friend’s relatives went for Hajj and they brought Zam Zam water for her. She saved half a bottle of it for me and offered it to me.

    She asked me to face West (in the direction of the Kaaba, which is West from here), cover my head, close my eyes and drink the water.

    It had the fragrant, earthy taste of fresh underground water.

    I was quite surprised to know that Muslims had this custom of drinking water from a well near their pilgrimage site and offering it to their friends and relatives.

    I was surprised because this custom is an integral part of Hindu pilgrimage and Hindu pilgrimage centres are always located near water bodies, where people drink water at the time of pilgrimage. Natural underground water is supposed to have medicinal qualities in many places. Rivers by which pilgrimage centres are located are also regarded as sacred and people carry water from there to drink and distribute.

    This experience led me to do some research on the Hajj and I found many surprising details of the Hajj while reading on the subject!

  4. As far as I am concerned they ruined the Masjid al Hiram when they did all they reconstruction in the 1950s and 70s. If you look at the old photos with the zam-zam building in it, the area had charm, real charm. They removed the old well building and now the well is underground and piped to fountains. Nice, but not the same thing!

  5. I just watched the video. It has “infomercial” written all over it. I am skeptical of the concept of “energy level” unless it is radioactive.

    Still, the zamzam well, like that in Carol’s post on Badr, was an interesting structure. I am sure that the zamzam looked much like the stonework seen in the open Badr structure until it was covered (it the zamzam well!)

  6. I personally found no medicinal benefit in zam zam water when I went to umra suffering serious illness. I was offered it every time I turned around…probably drank enough to sail a ship…not only did I not like the taste…I was just as sick on the way home as I had been on the way there.

    Didnt do a thing for me….but water is still good for you so no harm no foul…if you dont mind drowning on dry land with all thats “forced” on you while in umrah.

  7. That guy in the video sounds like a professional Quack. Perhaps he is going to pitch this at one of the miracle of Islam conferences and land a large grant to continue his amazing study:)

    Does anyone want to bet that there are no peer reviews of his findings?

  8. Zamzam water has a special physique that makes it advantageous water. This fact has been proved by a group of researches. The Haj research center also conducted special researches about Zamzam water and it found that it has a wonderful physique that makes it different from other drinkable liquids. The Haj research center tells that when they were digging for more wells of Zamzam they found the more they take from the well the more the amount of water becomes. They also examined the extent of its purity and they found that it is pure and sterile water that has no any germs in it. The prophet Mohammed [PBUH] said, “The water of Zamzam fulfils the purpose for which it has been drunk”. [Refer to Misnad Ahmed].

    A man from Yemen was fond of reading Quran from a small Mushaf. As he becomes old he found that he couldn’t read Quran easily from that book because his sight is becoming weak. He heard about the water of Zamzam and its advantage of fulfilling the purpose for which it has been drunk. He came to Haj and he drank from Zamzam. He started reading from that small Mushaf of Quran easily and without any sight problems.

    He achieved what he wanted because he was confident of that and has deep faith in the saying of the prophet [PBUH], “The water of Zamzam fulfils the purpose for which it has deep drunk” He was also confident and has deep belief in the Quranic sign in which Allah says, “When my servants ask thee concerning me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he collect on me, let them also with a will listen to my call, and believe in Me. That may walk in the right way”. [2:186] Source: “You ask about the scientific miracles of Quran an Sunna and Shaikh Zindani answers” By Shaikh Abdel Majeed El Zindani.

    Mrs. Yusria from the crimson Alcer in eye after she consumed Zamzam water. She said that she was affected by a crimson alcer in eye. It affect her by a severe headache which cannot be cured by tablets. She was about to become blind in the affected eye. She went to a famous doctor who suggested to give her an injection which will stop the headache but it will also dysfunction the affected eye and consequently she will loose the sight in the affected eye. Mrs. Yusria got frightened but she confident of the mercy of Allah. The almighty and that he would cure her. She thought of performing Omra so that to supplicate to Allah to cure her.

    She come to Makka and performed Tawaf, there were not many people and the place areas not crowded, therefore, she could be with the Zamzam water for long time. She washed her eyes. When she came back to the hotel she found that her affected eyes was cured and the crimson alcer disappeared. This event proves that it is a confirmation of the Hadeeth which says, “Zamzam water fulfils the purpose for which it has been drunk, if you drink it for getting cured Allah cures you, if you drink it for stomach satisfaction Allah will satisfy you and if you drink it for quenching thirst Allah will quench your thirst.” [Refer to El-Dar Gatni and El-Hukm and Zad] There are many of such events, which proves the truth of what prophet Mohammed [PBUH] said and the holy nature of Zamzam water.

    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 effect on the body health. Additionally, sodium is very high in Zamzam water and the international specifications do not put a limit to the measurement of its composition.

    Minerals – Percentages

    Calcium – 9

    Magnesium – 43.7

    Chloride – 335

    Sulfur – 37

    Iron – 0.I5

    Manganese – 0.I5

    Copper – 0.I2

    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 make: Zamzam more saline through evaporation, which is, with Allaah’s might, good for the human body.
    In conclusion, it becomes clear that we should believe in the Prophet’s miracles, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, and that he, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, as described by Allaah (what meant): “Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is only Inspiration that is inspired.” [Quran 53: 3-41]
    Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, 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.

    There is no doubt that drinking Zamzam water is very beneficial. Thus, dear brothers and sisters! One should drink Zamzam water because it is the best water on earth. Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, had said: “The best water on earth is Zamzam water”.

  9. Personally, I did not like the taste although it sounds sort of rude for people to admit this! It was very earthy and also I do not think that it is the original source.

    As for the healing properties, I am sure that people also pray more consciously when they are ill and they drink it. Perhaps that prayer too has an impact on their recovery?

    I had lactose intolerance as a newborn which was undiagnosed in the UK. I have been told people gave me Zam Zam to drink but it was actually an Egyptian doctor in Jeddah that diagnosed my condition and probably saved my life.

  10. Actually, MMA, I remember a guy in the State Fair saying exactly the same thing to me 60 years ago. He had this small bottle filled with something be called ‘snakeoil’ but now I realize it was really zamzam water.

  11. I drank zam zam water when we visited Amer’s house in Syria. I was told it was special! :)

    Thanks for this post which reminded me of my trip to Damascus!

  12. MMA,
    I agree with the statements of the Holy Prophet about the benefits of ZamZam but remember that this is a water source in an arid desert so was a precious resource also. He also advised some ill people to frink camel urine but we wouldn’t say that it was ‘the best medicine on earth’. It was what was available at the time.

  13. MoQ, Have you heard of the TV show ‘Edge of Reason’ which is now playing in the UK? It is by Richard Dawkins. It is interesting and i was reminded of your interview and perspective when I watched it. You might enjoy his pov.

  14. @Sarah,

    I like Dawkins books and documentaries. Since, I do not watch TV I did not see this series. I will look for it in media format and watch it on my PC once it is out there for purchase. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  15. Daisy, ”holy” water is being used by religions all over time and space.

    Before Islam the Kaaba was a place of worship to the great Goddess, and the seven caretakers were female priestesses.
    Black stones from the sky (meteorites) are worshiped all over the world as well, especially to Goddesses.
    A place which has a black stone, and a well in which never dries in the middle of a desert. would naturally become a place of worship to the great Goddess.
    And the water from that well would be regarded as sacred.
    There were pilgrimages for ages to this place of worship before Islam. And for years everybody went to worship together, until Mohammed forbade the place to anybody but muslims.
    Bit selfish I think.

    In Europe there were several places with holy wells whose water would bring healing to those who suffered.
    In England the city of Bath is based on the healing powers of the sacred water welling up there. This place has been sacred for thousand of years. It was dedicated to the Goddess Sulis.
    When the Romans invaded Britain they regarded Sulis as the counterpart of Minerva and so they build a temple to ”Minerva Sulis” and beautiful baths there. Parts of those are still existant.

    Throughout the eighteenth century Bath was a very popular place for sick people to find healing, (and have a lot of fun)
    You can still go there to the beautiful 18th century pumproom and drink the healing water.
    I did so.
    But didn’t notice magical health afterwards….

    It’s interesting how people all over the world make up the same believes about the same things. I think out minds are much closer related to each other as we are willing to admit!

  16. There is this great ”inspector Alleyn” book by Ngaio Marsh which deals with a sacred well, whose water heals the sick: Dead water.

  17. I remember being offered bottled zamzam water before boarding a Saudia flight from New York to Riyadh.

  18. Aafke,
    Thanks for the information about Bath. I know about the significance of water in ancient cultures and during my readings on the Kaaba and Haj came to know about the Goddess cult of the Black Stone and th significance of the well.

    Hajj basically appropriates many rites from the pre-Islamic Arabia while abolishing the gods and goddesses of the pre-Islamic Arabia.

    I wonder if Christianity and Judaism have this concept of using sacred water from a pilgrimage site.

  19. @ Daisy: Some Christians believe that being baptized in the Jordan River is best because in the Christian tradition it is where Jesus (as) was supposedly baptized. I don’t know of any Jewish traditions that utilize water from a pilgrimage place (one of the main rituals involving water, the mikvah, just uses regular water from no place in particular).

  20. Daisy, Bath was but one place in Europe, there were many others, but Bath is the best preserved I think. It’s also a good example of how the ”holy spring” simply gets absorbed by the following religions.
    Most archeological evidence of previous religions use of the ancient holy center of mecca is systematically destroyed, but the archeological evidence of Bath is being conserved. It is very interesting.
    Especially that Bath had several periods of popularity, and how people keep coming to bathe in the water and drink it in the conviction that it will heal their ailments.

    Christianity has sacred water too, but more easily obtainable, they do not need special wells: Catholic priests bless normal water which then becomes ”holy” water and is supposed to have all kinds of magic properties.
    Just read vampire stories!

    I think water has always been significant in human history. Hence all the holy water you see in all times and all religions, the holy wells, streams etc. the magical creatures and gods associated with the holy springs, those being handed down to the next deity when the next religion comes along…

    Must be something in our collective mind which aligns water with superstitions about special properties and gods.

  21. Anne and Aafke,
    Thanks for that information. On my next trip to UK I should see Bath.

    Yes, I have seen Catholic priests blessing water.

    Water is the source of sustenance of life. Rivers and large fresh water lakes support large populations. Agriculture depends on it. Water also gives supports many kinds of life forms. So ultimately a notion of sacredness gets attached to it.

    A perennial well in a desert area certainly had a lot of value. That’s why Zam Zam was so important and various cults of gods and goddesses grew around it.

  22. Moq, Hope you find the series. It has only just started showing here. It is ‘Age of Reason’ not Edge as I said before/.

  23. Ah, I couldn’t find it. Now I have found it!

  24. Thanks for the article, i would like to sort of adjust certain understandings. This well is held in great esteem for a number of reasons, however in Islam it is not ‘sacred’ or ‘holy’ as some may try to compare with that of other religions and cultures. The main reason for its esteem lies in how its water flowed from under the kicking feet of Ishmael son of Ibrahim, when left amidst an arid desert with his mother. The second is that it has continued to flow through thousands of years, and is mentioned in the prophets teachings about its merits. It is good water to drink, from a well with a long history.

  25. The Blessing of the water of Zam-Zam: Zam-Zam is the name of the famous well in al-Masjid al-Haraam. It is situated at a distance of thirty cubits away from al-Kaa’ba. This well sprung up when Isma’eel u, (the son of Ibraheem (alaihi as-salaam) and Hajar), as an infant struck the Earth with his heels, in thirst. His mother looked for water, but could not find any. She climbed to the top of Mount Safa and prayed to Allah for help, and then she climbed Mount Marwa and did the same. Allah responded to her supplication and sent Jibreel u to dig out the well of Zam-Zam. It is from the virtues of the well of Zam-Zam that it is situated in Makkah, which is a desert land. Today, even with all the advanced scientific technologies, no well can be dug in the land of Makkah, where Zam-Zam is fresh and gushing forth water in abundance.
    It was reported from Jaabir Ibn Abdullah (radhi allahu anhu) that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “The water of Zam-Zam is for whatever it is drunk for.” [Ibn Majah vol: 2, no: 1018 (see al-Maqaasid al-Hasanah by al-Sakhaawi, p. 359)] Therefore, the scholars recommend that one should make lots of Du’aa while drinking the water of Zam-Zam and he should drink it for a purpose that will benefit him in this world and the next
    Myself I found the water very good .

  26. Unless I missed it I”m supprised no one mentioned Lourdes.

  27. @zahra,

    “Today, even with all the advanced scientific technologies, no well can be dug in the land of Makkah”

    That is not a fact. Through the ages, most of Mecca water comes from wells. Zamzam just happens to be one of them. Actually, the water of that well is not the best in quality as it has too many minerals.

    It is one thing to believe in your religion. However, making claims about support from science is just dishonest.

  28. *Unless I missed it I”m supprised no one mentioned Lourdes.*
    How could we have forgotten Lourdes!

  29. Lourdes is always my first thought in Magic Water. Aafke how do you change/upload your avatar?

  30. You go to Gravatar:
    You sign up using the email address you want to use when commenting. (the avatar is linked to your mail address)
    You choose a picture and load it.
    Select your mail address and add the picture. it takes a while but soon your own avatar should pop up at all your comments.

  31. This might be interesting; here is an article that king abdullah is putting up 700 mil rial to put up a new factory to bottle the zamzam water.
    it seems the factory has purification. So the water isn’t ”pure” or ”magical” enough todo without purification.
    And the article is unclear but it almost seems as if they plan to pump water into the well and then bottle it.

    I always thought there is so much zamzamwater about that well must be like the niagara falls…

    here is the article

  32. @Zahra,

    Well that shows the quality of Al-Jazeerah reporting. Wells exist and existed in Mecca through history (fact). Actually the entire article is written like legend not a piece of journalism.

    Here is a news item about Saudi redeveloping historic wells in the city. This is not legend, but a project with money spent on it. Why would they spend money if Wells do not exist in the city.

    “Under the agreement, the Ain Zubaida water supply system, urban centers in Jabal Al-Nour and Jabal Al-Thour, and some historic buildings and wells in Makkah would be developed.”

  33. @savethewomen ,I would say you misunderstood the arabnews article or you never visited the Holy Mosque in Makkah.

  34. Assalamualaikum,

    Thank you for knowledge you impart. I wish to use zamzam water for eye wash. Will the nutrients in the water be of benefit for my eyes with mild catarract.


    Dahalan from Malaysia.

  35. Zamzam is a special preetty waterfall!

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