Will you give information about the history of Zamzam water?

The Details of the Question

Will you give information about the history of Zamzam water?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The Dream of Abdulmuttalib

The noor (holy light) belonging to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) that shone on Abdulmuttalib’s forehead brought him to the station of Quraysh’s chieftainship.

It was a hot summer’s day… He was sleeping by the Ka’ba on a shady spot in the location of Hijr. He saw a dream. In this dream, an individual called to him:

“Awake, and excavate Tayyiba!”
He asked, “What is Tayyiba”?
However, the individual did not answer his question and walked away.

Abdulmuttalib, who woke up, got excited. Not having interpreted the dream, he spent the night wondering, “What did Tayyiba mean? What would excavating Tayyiba be like?”

The next day, he fell asleep at the same place. The same man reappeared and called:

“Awake and excavate Barra!”
Puzzled, Abdulmuttalib again asked,
“What is Barra?”
Once again, that man walked away without providing any answers.

Abdulmuttalib awoke from his sleep with much greater curiosity and excitement. Yet, he was unable to give meaning to what he saw. Again, he spent that day and night under the influence of his dream.

He slept in the same spot on the following day. The same man came to him and said,

“Awake. Excavate Madnuna”.
In his deep sleep, Abdulmuttalib asked the man,
“What is Madnuna?”
Yet again, the man walked away without an answer.

Abdulmuttalib’s curiosity and excitement reached its final level. He knew for certain that the dream he saw on end for three days was not meaningless. Nevertheless, he did not have the slightest clue as to what it meant.

Abdulmuttalib, who was asleep in the same spot on the fourth day, saw the same man’s arrival. This time the man called:

“Excavate the Zamzam!”
When Abdulmuttalib asked, “What and where is the Zamzam?” The man’s answer was,

“The Zamzam is a kind of water that never stops. It never reaches the bottom. With this, you will provide the pilgrims’ needs for water during Hajj. It is between the spot in the Ka’ba where the blood from the sacrifices are spilt and the place where their droppings are buried. A crow with multicolored wings comes and pecks there. There is an ant’s nest there as well”.1

This time happiness was attached to Muttalib’s excitement when he awoke because he obtained the clue to make sense of his dream. He heard the Zamzam well mentioned before many times. However nobody knew where it was because as the Jurhumies were escaping from Mecca’s invaders they threw all of Mecca’s valuable belongings into the Zamzam well, made the top of the well one with the soil, and brought it to an undistinguished condition. Since then, the name Zamzam was there yet the Zamzam itself was missing.

Abdulmuttalib understood at last that he was appointed to find and unearth the Zamzam’s location. He immediately began to explore. He went to the place he learnt of in his dream. Meanwhile, he saw a crow with multicolored wings soaring and as it landed on the ground, it shuffled some place with its beak and afterwards, it took off towards the sky.

There was nothing to say for Abdulmuttalib’s happiness. He was going to attain the glory of finding and exposing the well (from the giver of life) that had been kept secretly for years. He determined the Zamzam’s location and it came turn to dig. He did not want to have this glory snatched by and to open this secret to someone else. For this reason, he took his only son, Haris, to the determined place and began to dig the next day. Awhile after some continuous digging, the Zamzam well’s woven wall stones and its circular opening appeared. Abdulmuttalib was joyful and excited. Naturally, he could not believe his eyes. Nevertheless, regardless of whether or not he believed his eyes, what appeared before him was a well’s opening. He began to recite Takbir, “Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!”

Abdulmuttalib and Quraysh’s Leading Figures

The Qurayshis were watching Abdulmuttalib’s activity from the beginning and when they realized what was about to come , they notified their elders. Sometime after, Quraysh’s elders came to the excavated site and said:

“Oh, Abdulmuttalib! This is the well of our forefather, Ibrahim. We also have rights to this well. Let us partake in this task”.

Abdulmuttalib answered: “No, I cannot. This task has been assigned only to me and has been given to me from among you”.

The notables of Quraysh were not pleased with Abdulmuttalib’s finalized decision. From among them, Adiyy and Nawful spoke:

“You are a lonely man. You have nobody to rely on other than your only son. How is it that you defy and do not bow down to us?”

This remark burnt Abdulmuttalib inside because the Qureyshis were belittling him by saying he was desolate. He made his uneasiness exceedingly obvious, stayed quiet in sadness for some time, and then poured out his heart in this way:

“So, you are condemning me by saying I am lonely and desolate?”

When no answer came from his addressee and after thinking for some time, Abdulmuttalib opened his hands and turned his face towards the sky and said,

“I swear that if Allah gives me 10 sons that I will sacrifice one of them by the Ka’ba”2

These words of Abdulmuttalib were a prayer, an oath, and an offering.

Going to Damascus 

It was obvious that this incident was not going to end here. The situation was quite critical. Clashes had broken out many times due to such incidences. Because Abdulmuttalib knew this, he abandoned his excavation plan for a moment and offered to have the situation resolved by a judge. His offer was accepted. They determined a judge by the name of Sa’d bin Huzaym, who resided in Damascus.

Abdulmuttalib took a few of his uncles by his side and went with a group that included the Qurayshi tribes’ leading figures towards Damascus. However, the Divine fate stopped them before they entered Damascus. The water of Abdulmuttalib and those with him ran out in the middle of the burning desert. For them, this was much more dangerous than their most violent enemy. The leading figures of Quraysh refused Abdulmuttalib’s appeal by saying, “Our water is only enough for us”.

Abdulmuttalib and his kin found their lives in great danger. There was nothing they could do. Looking for water in the middle of the desert was no different than pursuing a mirage.

Abdulmuttalib Goes to Find Water

However, Abdulmuttalib mounted on his camel and tried to find water after all. The others started to wait for the moment they and their relatives would die of thirst. However, what they expected did not happen. The camel of Abdulmuttalib, who was bearing the light of the Pride of the Universe (Muhammad-pbuh), tripped on a large stone covered by dry grass while passing through a valley. The camel stumbled and the stone moved out of its place and rolled down. Ab­dul­mut­ta­lib could not believe his eyes. In the scorching desert, he saw water glittering in the hole that the stone moved out of!

He dismounted his camel. When he broadened the hole, the water started to flow rapidly. More water accumulated in the hole. He returned and shouted enthusiastically.

At one point, Abdulmuttalib turned to the Qurayshis who did not give him water and said,

“Come to the water! Allah gave us water. Both you and your animals should drink from it. Come, do not stand there, come!”

The Qurayshis approached the water with embarrassment. They drank heartily and had their animals drink from it as well. They spilt the old water from their leather bottles and refilled them with clean water.

As soon as the Qurayshis drank the clean and cool water that was offered to them by the one who excavated it, they immediately changed their attitudes. They turned to Abdulmuttalib feeling shameful and guilty and said,

“Oh Abdulmuttalib, we do not have anything to say to you now. We understand that excavating the Zamzam is your right. You are the only one who is worthy of this task. By Allah, we will never hassle you on the topic of the Zamzam again. We no longer think it is necessary to see the judge”.

Without visiting the judge, they all returned to Mecca from the halfway point together.3

When Abdulmuttalib returned to Mecca, he continued excavating with his son, Harith, and extracted the Zamzam in a short time.

They Draw Lots for Valuable Goods  

There were some valuable goods that emerged from the Zamzam well. Among these goods, there were two deer statues made from gold, swords, and suits of armor (shields). When the notables who left Abdulmuttalib the right to extraxt the Zamzam saw these valuable goods, their anger swelled and they stood over Abdulmuttalib once more. They said,

“Oh, Abdulmuttalib, we have shared rights over these goods”.

At first, the generous and patient Abdulmuttalib rejected their wishes by saying,

“No. You have absolutely no rights over these goods”. However, then, he put forth his generosity and chivalry and said, “I am going to behave gently towards you once more. Let us draw lots among ourselves”.

The Notables of Quraysh were pleased by this and asked: “Fine, but how and in which manner are you going to draw lots?” Abdulmuttalib explained the procedure that was to be followed:

“We will draw two lots for the Kaa’ba, two lots for me, and two lots for you. Whatever comes up for whichever party will belong to them and if nothing comes up, then, that party will be deprived.”

This method was an unbiased solution. For this reason, the Qurayshis were pleased and they commended Abdulmuttalib’s behavior and said,

“Truthfully, you have acted in a merciful manner”.

They went next to the Hubal statue in the Kaa’ba and drew lots. Once more, the drawing proved that the Notables of Quraysh had no rights over these valuables. The golden deer statues were left to the Ka’ba; Abdulmuttalib won rights over the swords and armor, (5) and the notables’ share was deprivation. They no longer had something to oppose and the matter was resolved in this way.

After having the swords and armors forged into sheet, Abdullmuttalip covered the door of the Kaa’ba with it. Thus, he became one of the people who adorned the Kaa’ba with gold.

Abdulmuttalib was at the perfect age of 40 when he extracted the Zamzam well.

Thirty years later, his number of sons became 10 thanks to the endowment of Allah Almighty. Meanwhile, he remembered the promise he had made many years ago: to sacrifice one of his sons by the Kaa’ba. However, which one should he sacrifice? All of them were more wonderful and loveable than the other. However, Abdullah was much different.

Abdullah was the eighth among the ten sons. He was much different than his siblings in terms of looks and character. As soon as he came into this world, the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) noor that shone on his father’s forehead passed to his. This noor brought out a magnificent beauty and an exceptional cuteness/sweetness to his face. However, nobody noticed from where and how this beauty and cuteness came.


1. Sirah, 1/150-151.
2. Sirah, 1/160; Tabaqat, 1/88; Tabari, 1/128.
3. Sirah, 1/152-158; Tabaqat, 1/84.

Questions on Islam

Was this answer helpful?
In order to make a comment, please login or register