If you're like me, and you enjoyed watching or reading Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then you know that one of the many ways to destroy the mythical vampire is a good bottle of holy water. In the religion of Islam, many believe that Zam Zam water is holy water. But there has been recent debate about the health hazard the Zam Zam water poses on its drinkers. Despite the rumours, many religious people decide to stick with their beliefs instead and risk the potential damage they could be doing to their body. Today, we explore the religious accounts of what makes Zam Zam water so symbolically special.
Located at the heart of a desert area in Mekkah, the Zam Zam spring is 35 metres deep and covered by a dome. One of its many miracles is that its water supply has never run dry since its creation, despite it supplying water to Muslims who perform Pilgrimage (Hajj) each year. To put it into proportion, about 2 million pilgrims attended Hajj just this year alone. So just how was this never ending supply of water created?
According to the Islamic beliefs, the story began with Prophet Ibrahim a.s. and his infertile wife Sarah. As the Prophet wished to father a child, Sarah offered him a female slave, Hajar, whom eventually mothered his child Ismail. One day, Prophet Ibrahim a.s. brought Hajar and Ismail from their home in Palestine to a desert in Mekkah, where the Prophet was instructed by Allah s.w.t. to leave them alone in the desert. Upon noticing that Ibrahim was about to return to Palestine alone, Hajar questioned the Prophet, who later revealed that it was the will of Allah s.w.t.. As such, Hajar had faith that she would be able to find her way.
She went on her merry way to search for the exit of the desert, breastfeeding Ismail and consuming the dates and water Ibrahim had left them, but soon, her water supply ran out. In an attempt to look for water, she hiked back and forth seven times between the mountains of As-safa and Al-Marwah, but to no avail. On her final arrival at Al-Marwah, she heard a voice that instructed her to call out "Help, if you can." No sooner had she called out, Angel Jibril, beat the ground with his wings and fresh water emerged. This was the spring of Zam Zam, which quenched not just Hajar's and her child's thirst, but countless others after hear passing as well.
This story is so symbolic that pilgrims are required to imitate her walk between the two mountains during their trip to the Ka'bah, which is the house of Allah s.w.t. Muslims are encouraged to empathize with the panicky plight of Hajar as they travel the same path she did many years ago. The miracle of Zam Zam water is entrenched in this ritual, which all Muslims are required to perform at least once in their life, unless dire circumstances prevent it.
Today's research on Zam Zam water shows that the Zam Zam water contains higher levels of Calcium and Magnesium than city water. These minerals are what reinvigorates weary Pilgrims. Aside from minerals, water also contains healthy levels of fluoride which prevents germicidal contamination. Furthermore, its purity has been maintained, as it has not been treated in any way. These health benefits, when compounded with its symbolic significance make Zam Zam water an essential part of Islamic culture that is here to stay.