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Millions of Muslims drink Zamzam water every year. There is little doubt that many thousand, where possible, drink this water regularly and/or have fed their children and other loved-ones with it, thereby putting themselves and others at risk of the effects of arsenicosis, which includes cancer. Is drinking Zamzam water a threat to human body?



The above allegation is based on a news report published by BBC News on 5 May 2011. The allegation is baseless as some water was labeled as Zamzam water and was sell illegally in some UK shops.  Saudi authorities have refuted a BBC report claiming that the Zamzam well in Makkah is polluted and that drinking the sacred water could cause diseases such as cancer. Zuhair Nawab, president of Saudi Geological Survey (SGS), denied the allegation and said his organization has taken adequate measures to ensure the safety of Zamzam well and its water.


Table of Contents


Introduction of ZamZam

Zam Zam is the name of the famous well in al-Masjid al-Haraam [the Sacred Masjid in Makkah, Saudi Arabia]. It provides the water to millions of people, especially during the Hajj for pilgrims. It is the well of Isma’eel the son of Ibraheem (Peace be upon them both), from which Allah (Glory be to Him) quenched the thirst of Isma’eel when he was an infant. His mother looked for water for him, but could not find any. She climbed to the top of al-Safaa, praying to Allah (Glory be to Him) to help her and give her water for Isma’eel, then she climbed to the top of al-Marwah and did the same. Allah (Glory be to Him) sent angel Jibreel, and he struck the earth with his heels, and water appeared. 


Linguistically, Zamzam comes from the words zamamtu al-naaqah. [1]


Kingdom rejects BBC claim of Zamzam water contamination

In this file photo, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah leads the inauguration of the King Abdullah Zamzam Watering Project in Makkah on Sept. 3, 2010. The project was designed to guarantee the provision and pureness of the water of Zamzam, a well located within the Masjid al-Haram mosque in Makkah.(By BADEA ABU AL-NAJA | ARAB NEWS-Published: May 7, 2011 23:34 Updated: May 11, 2011 22:24)


JEDDAH: Saudi authorities have refuted a BBC report claiming that the Zamzam well in Makkah is polluted and that drinking the holy water could cause diseases such as cancer.


Zuhair Nawab, president of Saudi Geological Survey (SGS), denied the allegation and said his organization has taken adequate measures to ensure the safety of Zamzam well and its water.


The BBC said it had asked a pilgrim to take samples from the Zamzam water taps in Makkah and the Zamzam water being sold in bottles to compare them with the water on sale illegally. “These showed high levels of nitrate and potentially harmful bacteria, and traces of arsenic three times the permitted level, just like the illegal water, which was purchased in the UK,” the BBC said, referring to contaminated holy water sold in some UK shops.


Nawab said his organization has been responsible for monitoring the quality of Zamzam water, which not only concerns Saudi Arabia but the whole Islamic world. “Our experts monitor the condition of Zamzam on a daily basis. Every day we take three samples from the water to carry out tests and studies, which showed that it was not contaminated,” he explained. He said the newly established King Abdullah Zamzam Water Distribution Center in Makkah is equipped with advanced facilities and where bottling takes place in accordance with international standards.


“We apply modern methods for filling bottles after sterilization,” Nawab said. He said the contamination of the water could have caused while redistributing the water in small bottles by individuals.


Fahd Turkistani, adviser to the Presidency for Meteorology and Environment, said the BBC report focused on bottled water supplied by individuals and not by the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques Affairs. The water supplied by the presidency undergoes close monitoring and ultraviolet rays are applied to kill harmful bacteria, he added.


Turkistani said the Zamzam water contamination could have caused by illegal workers who sell Zamzam water at Makkah gates as they use unsterilized containers. He said the Saudi government has prohibited such illegal sales of Zamzam water.


Meanwhile, a responsible source at the Presidency of the Two sacred Mosques Affairs highlighted the measures taken for the protection of Zamzam water saying the water passes through stainless steel pipes to the cooling stations and then to the Grand Mosque.


He said the presidency has given utmost importance for the preservation and distribution of Zamzam water, adding that it is closely monitored around the clock.


According to the World Health Organization, the permitted arsenic rate in natural water is up to 0.01 microgram per liter. If the rate goes up then the water could be harmful to the kidney and liver and cause cancer. The rate of arsenic in Zamzam water is much less than the amount permitted by the WHO. [2] [3] [4]


Scientific research

The Saudi Embassy in London also issued a statement affirming the purity of Zamzam in Makkah.


“Scientific tests conducted on samples taken from the original source have proved the Zamzam water is good for drinking,” it said, referring to tests conducted on the water at a French laboratory. It said the Kingdom does not export Zamzam water. The King Abdullah Zamzam water complex, which was established in Makkah last September at a cost of SR700 million, can supply 200,000 bottles daily.


Some facts of ZamZam

The King Abdullah Zamzam Water Complex, established in Makkah in September 2010 at a cost of SR700 million ($223 million) can supply 200,000 bottles daily.

The Zamzam well is located within the Masjid Al Haram in Makkah, and is about 20 metres East of the Kaaba.

It is about 30 metres (98 ft) deep and 1.08 to 2.66 metres in diameter.

The water level is 3.23 metres below the surface.

A pumping test at 8000 litres per second for more than a 24-hour period showed a drop in water level from 3.23 metres below the surface to 12.72 metres and then to 13.39 metres, after which the water level stopped receding.

When pumping stopped, the water level recovered to 3.9 metres below the surface only 11 minutes later. [5]


Miracle of Zamzam

ZamZam water level is around 10.6 feet below the surface.  It is the miracle of Allah that when ZamZam was pumped continuously for more than 24 hours with a pumping rate of 8,000 liters per second, water level dropped to almost 44 feet below the surface, BUT WHEN THE PUMPING WAS STOPPED, the level immediately elevated again to 13 feet after 11 minutes.

8,000 liters per second means that

8,000 x 60 = 480,000 liters per minute

480,000 liters per minutes means

that 480,000 x 60 = 28.8 Million liters per hour

And 28.8 Million liters per hour

means that 28,800,000 x 24 = 691.2 Million liters per day

So they pumped 690 Millions liters of ZamZam in 24 hours, but it was re-supplied in 11 minutes only. [6]


The chemical analysis of Zamzam Water

Dr. Ahmad Abdul-Qaadir Al-Muhandiss indicates that the results of chemical analyses show that 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 in American laboratories showed that traces of thirty elements were identified in Zamzam water by means of energizing neutrons. Some of these elements scored less than 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 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 - 198
  • Magnesium - 43.7
  • Chloride - 335
  • Sulfur - 370
  • Iron - 0.15
  • Manganese- 0.15
  • Copper - 0.12


This is an Analysis of a study conducted in the laboratory of the Department of Water and Waste Water Treatment, the Western Province, Saudi Arabia (I400H.)

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. [7] [8]


Features of Zamzam water

  • Never Dried Up: This well has never dried up. On the contrary it has always fulfilled the demand for water.
  • Same Salt composition: It has always maintained the same salt composition and taste ever since it came into existence.
  • Portability: Its portability has always been universally recognized as pilgrims from all  over the world  visit Ka'aba every year for Hajj and umrah, but  have never complained about it. Instead, they have always enjoyed the water that refreshes them.
  • Universal taste: Water tastes different at different places. Zamzam water's appeal has always been universal.
  • No Biological Growth: This water has never been chemically treated or chlorinated as is the case with water pumped into the cities. Biological growth and vegetation usually takes place in most wells. This makes the water unpalatable owing to the growth of algae causing taste and odour problems. But in the case of the Zamzam water well, there wasn't any sign of biological growth. [9]


History of Zamzam

There follows the story of Haajar and Zamzam from the Sunnah.


Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) narrated the story of Haajar, the wife of Ibraaheem and the mother of his son Ismaa’eel. He said:  Ibraaheem brought her and her son Ismaa’eel while she was suckling him, to a place near the Ka'bah under a tree on the spot of Zamzam, at the highest place in the mosque. During those days there was nobody in Makkah, nor was there any water. So he made them sit over there and placed near them a leather bag containing some dates, and a small water-skin containing some water, and set out homeward. Ismaa’eel's mother followed him saying, "O Ibraaheem! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?" She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her. Then she asked him, "Has Allah ordered you to do this?" He said, "Yes." She said, "Then He will not neglect us," and returned while Ibraaheem went on his way. 


When he reached al-Thaniyyah, where they could not see him, he faced the Ka'bah, and raising both hands, prayed to Allaah in the following words: “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 As Salaah (Iqaamat as Salaah). So fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allaah) provide them with fruits so that they may give thanks”[Quran Surah Ibraaheem 14:37 – interpretation of the meaning]  


Ismaa’eel's mother went on suckling Ismaa’eel and drinking from the water (she had). When the water in the water-skin had all been used up, she became thirsty and her child also became thirsty. She started looking at him (i.e. Ismaa’eel) tossing in agony (or he said: kicking with his heels). She left him, for she could not endure looking at him, and found that the mountain of al-Safa was the nearest mountain to her on that land. She stood on it and started looking at the valley keenly so that she might see somebody, but she could not see anybody. Then she descended from al-Safa and when she reached the valley, she tucked up her robe and ran in the valley like a person in distress and trouble, till she crossed the valley and reached al-Marwa where she stood and started looking, expecting to see somebody, but she could not see anybody. She repeated that (running between al-Safa and al-Marwa) seven times. 


Ibn ‘Abbaas said: the Prophet ﷺsaid, "This is the source of the tradition of the walking between them (i.e. al-Safa and al-Marwa). When she reached al-Marwa (for the last time) she heard a voice and she asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. She heard the voice again and said, “O (whoever you may be)! You have made me hear your voice; have you got something to help me?" And she saw an angel at the place of Zamzam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing), till water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water-skin with water with her hands, and the water started flowing out after she had scooped some of it."  


Ibn ‘Abbaas said: The Prophet ﷺadded, "May Allah bestow Mercy on Ismaa’eel's mother! Had she left the Zamzam alone (flowing without trying to control it) (or had she not scooped from that water) (to fill her water-skin), Zamzam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth." The Prophet further added, "Then she drank (water) and suckled her child. The angel said to her, 'Don't be afraid of being neglected, for this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father, and Allah never neglects His people.' The House (i.e. Ka’bah) at that time was on a high place resembling a hillock, and when torrents came, they flowed to its right and left. She lived in that way till some people from the tribe of Jurhum or a family from Jurhum passed by her and her child, as they (i.e. the Jurhum people) were coming through the way of Kada'. They landed in the lower part of Makkah where they saw a bird that had the habit of flying around water and not leaving it. They said, ‘This bird must be flying around water, though we know that there is no water in this valley.’ They sent one or two messengers who discovered the source of water, and returned to inform them of the water. So, they all came (towards the water)."  


The Prophet ﷺadded, "Ismaa’eel's mother was sitting near the water. They asked her, 'Do you allow us to stay with you?' She replied, 'Yes, but you will have no right to possess the water.' They agreed to that." Ibn ‘Abbas said: the Prophet ﷺ further said, "Ismaa’eel's mother was pleased with the whole situation as she used to love to enjoy the company of the people. So, they settled there, and later on they sent for their families who came and settled with them so that some families became permanent residents there. The child (i.e. Ismaa’eel) grew up and learnt Arabic from them and (his virtues) caused them to love and admire him as he grew up, and when he reached the age of puberty they made him marry a woman from amongst them.    


After Ismaa’eel's mother had died, Ibraaheem came after Ismaa’eel's marriage in order to see his family that he had left before… 


Then Ibraaheem came back later on. He saw Ismaa’eel under a tree near Zam-zam, sharpening his arrows. When he saw Ibraaheem, he stood up to welcome him, and they greeted each other as a father does with his son and a son does with his father. Ibraaheem said, 'O Ismaa’eel! Allah has given me an order.' Ismaa’eel said, 'Do what your Lord has ordered you to do.' Ibraaheem asked, 'Will you help me?' Ismaa’eel said, 'I will help you.' Ibraaheem said, ‘Allah has ordered me to build a house here,' pointing to a hillock higher than the land surrounding it." The Prophet added, "Then they raised the foundations of the House (i.e. the Ka'bah). Ismaa’eel brought the stones and Ibraaheem was building, and when the walls became high, Ismaa’eel brought this stone and put it for Ibraaheem who stood on it and carried on building, while Ismaa’eel was handing him the stones, and both of them were saying, ‘Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knower' [al-Baqarah 2:127 – interpretation of the meaning]. The Prophet ﷺadded, "Then both of them went on building and going round the Ka'ba saying: ‘Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knower’ [Quran al-Baqarah 2:127 – interpretation of the meaning] . Sahih al-Bukhari, 3113 [10]


Prophet‘s saying on ZamZam water

The Messenger of Allahﷺ  said “The best water on the face of the earth is the water of Zamzam; it is a kind of food and a healing from sickness.” Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3302


 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 and 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.

 The Messenger of Allahﷺ  said:" The most sublime of all earthly waters is that of zam zam; therein one finds food for the hungry and medicine for the ill." At- Tabarani


 It was reported that the Prophetﷺ  said to Abu Dharr (R), who had stayed near the Ka’bah and its coverings for forty days and nights with no food or drink other than (Zam Zam): “How long have you been here?” Abu Dharr said: “I have been here for thirty days and nights.” The Prophet ﷺ be upon him) said, “Who has been feeding you?” He said, “I have had nothing but Zam Zam water, and I have gotten so fat that I have folds of fat on my stomach. I do not feel any of the tiredness or weakness of hunger and I have not become thin.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah (Glory be to Him) be upon him) said: “Verily, it is blessed, it is food that nourishes.” Sahih Al Muslim, 2473 [5]


He also said that the Messenger of Allahﷺ had said: “Zamzam water is what one intends to drink for. When one drinks it to be healed, Allah (Glory be to Him) heals him; when one drinks it be full, Allah (Glory be to Him) makes him full; and when one drinks it to quench his thirst, Allah (Glory be to Him) quenches it.” [Ahmad and Ibn Majah 3062]


Narrated Abu Jamra Ad-Dabi: I used to sit with Ibn `Abbas in Makkah. Once I had a fever and he said (to me), "Cool your fever with Zamzam water, for Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said: 'It, (the Fever) is from the heat of the (Hell) Fire; so, cool it with water (or Zamzam water).  Sahih al-Bukhari 3261 [11]


The Benefits of Drinking Zamzam Water

One of the miracles of Zamzam water is its ability to satisfy both thirst and hunger. One of the Companions of the Prophet said that before Islam, the water was called "Shabba'ah" or satisfying. It was filling and helped them nourish their families.


a)      Zamzam water: the power drink

One of the miracles of Zamzam water is its ability to satisfy both thirst and hunger. One of the Companions of the Prophet said that before Islam, the water was called "Shabbaa'ah" or satisfying. It was filling and helped them nourish their families.

After Islam, this powerful ability to quench thirst and fill stomachs remained. Prophet Muhammad said: "The best water on the face of the earth is the water of Zamzam; it is a kind of food and a healing from sickness."

According to the Muslim collection of Hadith, Abu Dharr al-Ghifari, a Companion (Sahabi), noted that when he first arrived in Makkah during the early days of Islam, not only did he satisfy his hunger and thirst but he survived only on Zamzam water for a whole month.

More recently, in the last few decades, scientists have collected samples of Zamzam water and they have found certain peculiarities that make the water healthier, like a higher level of calcium.


b)     Zamzam water: a cure for sickness

Apart from its ability to serve as satisfying food and drink, Zamzam water's health benefits are also commended. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said it was a healing from sickness. This is why pilgrims to Makkah to this day collect it in bottles to bring for relatives and friends back home who are ill.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ used to carry Zamzam water in pitchers and water skins back to Madinah. He used to sprinkle it over the sick and make them drink it.

Wahab Ibn Munabbah, who was from the second generation of Muslims, said 'I swear by Him in whose possession my life is, Allah (Glory be to Him) Ta'ala will relieve the person of all illnesses who drinks Zamzam to his fill and will also grant him good health.'


c)      Zamzam water and Hajj pilgrimage

During Hajj and Umra, pilgrims are recommended to drink Zamzam water to their fill to quench their thirst. They also continue the tradition of bringing it back for family and friends. [12]


See also

Allah; Prophet Muhammad; Hajj; Umrah; Makkah; Kaba; Islam;















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