Showcasing the art and ritual of the African and African-diaspora religions

Zam Zam Water

Catalog Number: G002/J039


Bottled in Saudi Arabia


box: 3.85" x 3.85" x 5.98"

97.76 mm x 97.76 mm x 151.77 mm

bottle: 4.06" x 3.79" x 6.19"

103.23 mm x 96.27 mm x 157.22 mm

Materials: Cardboard
Usage: Ritual (non-yet-used)
Detailed Description of Significance:

The Zamzam Well (Arabic: بِئْرُ زَمْزَمَ‎) is a well located within the Masjid al-Haram in MeccaSaudi Arabia, 20 m (66 ft) east of the Kaaba,[2] the holiest place in Islam. According to Islam, it is a miraculously generated source of water from God, which sprang spontaneously thousands of years ago when Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) son ʾIsmaʿil (Ishmael) was left with his mother Hajar (Hagar) in the desert, thirsty and crying. Millions of pilgrims visit the well each year while performing the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimages in order to drink its water.


The name of the well comes from the phrase Zomë Zomë, meaning “stop flowing”, a command repeated by Hajar during her attempt to contain the spring water.[2][dubious – discuss] Alternative spellings include Zam Zam, Zam-Zam, Zemzem, Zem Zem, and Zem-zem.

Traditional origin[edit]

Islamic tradition states that the Zamzam Well was revealed to Hajar, the second wife of Ibrahim[3] and mother of Ismaʿil.[4] By the instruction of God, Ibrahim left his wife and son at a spot in the desert and walked away. 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. Hajar 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, the infant Isma’il scraped the land with his feet, where suddenly water sprang out. There are other versions of the story involving God sending his angelGabriel (Jibra’il), who kicked the ground with his heel (or wing), and the water rose.[5]

During the greater and the lesser annual pilgrimmages, Muslim pilgrims re-enact Hajar’s search for water and employ the water in rites of devotion and healing.

Because of the sacred nature of this water, the Saudi government officially prohibits its exportation.

According to Islamic tradition, Ibrahim rebuilt the Baitullah (“House of God”) near the site of the well, a building which had been originally constructed by Adam (Adem), and today is called the Kaaba, a building toward which 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.[2] In other Islamic tradition, Muhammad‘s heart was extracted from his body, washed with the water of Zamzam, and then was restored in its original position, after which it was filled with faith and wisdom.[6]

Prof. Matory purchased this bottle of Zam Zam water in a Sierra Leonian grocery store in Durham, North Carolina.