Tuesday, October 8, 2013
The Well or Zamzam
The Well of Zamzam (or the Zamzam Well, or just Zamzam; Arabic: زمزم) is a well located within the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, 20 m (66 ft) east of the Kaaba, the holiest place in Islam. According to Islamic belief, it is a miraculously-generated source of water from God, which began thousands of years ago when Abraham's (Ibrāhīm) infant son Ishmael (ʼIsmāʻīl) was thirsty and kept crying for water. Millions of pilgrims visit the well each year while performing the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimages, in order to drink its water.
Muslims believe that the Zamzam well is a contemporary miracle, never having gone dry despite the millions of litres of water attributed to the well consumed every year. It had been deepened several times in history during periods of severe droughts.
Islamic history states that the Zamzam Well was revealed to Hagar, the second wife of Abraham and mother of Ismail. According to Islamic tradition, she was desperately seeking water for her infant son, but she could not find any, as Mecca is located in a hot dry valley with few sources of water. Muslim traditions say that Hagar ran seven times back and forth in the scorching heat between the two hills of Safa and Marwah, looking for water. Getting thirstier by the second, Ismail scraped the land with his feet, where suddenly water sprang out. There are other versions of the story involving God sending his angel, Gabriel, who kicked the ground with his heel and the water rose.
The name of the well traditionally comes from the phrase Zomë Zomë, meaning 'stop', which, according to legend, was a command repeated by Hagar during her attempt to contain the spring water.
According to Islamic tradition, Abraham rebuilt the Bait-ul-Allah ("House of God", cognate of the Hebrew-derived place name Bethel) near the site of the well, a building which had been originally constructed by Adem, and today is called the Kaaba, a building toward which all Muslims around the world face in prayer, five times each day. The Zamzam Well is located approximately 20 m (66 ft) east of the Kaaba.