Abd Al-Muttalib - Dreaming of Zamzam
Arabian Knights - Volume 2

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Kaan Ya Makaan, Fee Qadeem Al-Zamaan…
There was a Place, in Times of Old…

Called Mecca where Abd Al-Muttalib bin Hisham, a prominent merchant and respected citizen of the town, was peacefully sleeping. As he slept, he dreamt that someone walked up to him, stood over his sleeping form, and quietly said, "Dig for Zamzam."

The vividness of the dream woke Abd Al-Muttalib with a start. He leapt up and searched high and low for the owner of that strangely resonant voice. But after a quick search, he realized he was all alone and that the night was still and silent. Puzzled but reassured, he went back to bed and spent the rest of the night turning over those few simple words.

The next day, Abd Al-Muttalib jokingly mentioned to some of his friends how a voice in a dream had told him to dig for the lost well of Zamzam. To his surprise, his friends all urged him to go back to sleep as soon as possible. Perhaps, they said wistfully, the dream voice would tell him where that fabled fresh water source was hidden.

A little surprised by his friends' reaction, Abd Al-Muttalib nevertheless went to sleep that night hoping for just such a dream. A man who found the fabled well of Zamzam would be a fortunate man indeed. As he drifted off to sleep, Abd Al-Muttalib decided that he would follow any hints or directions he dreamt of that night, regardless of how strange they might seem.

Sure enough, no sooner had Abd Al-Muttalib fallen asleep than the soft-spoken visitor returned, "Dig for Zamzam," it said again, "If you dig it up, you will not regret it. It is your heritage from your forefather. It will never run low or dry up, and it will provide ample water for the pilgrims."

"Where is it?" Abd Al-Muttalib murmured as he slept.

"By the anthill, where the crow pecks the ground tomorrow," the voice replied quietly.

Then the dream faded away and Abd Al-Muttalib settled into a deeper sleep and didn't wake until dawn.

In the morning, Abd Al-Muttalib thought wryly about the vague directions he had dreamt of. Everyone knew that Zamzam was located near the Ka'aba (the cube-shaped building at the heart of Mecca). If he went there and found an anthill and a crow pecking in the dirt, he decided, then he would indeed "dig for Zamzam". His mind made up, Abd Al-Muttalib summoned his eldest son, Al-Harith, and together they briskly set out carrying shovels, both eager to start their search for the lost well.

When father and son approached the Ka'aba, their eyes were immediately drawn to an anthill. As if it had been waiting for their arrival, a gleaming crow fluttered down between two of the idols placed around the Ka'aba and started pecking at the ground. Sharing a look of surprise and understanding, Abd Al-Muttalib and his son started to dig where the crow had pecked.

Some of their fellow townsmen, seeing what they were about, hurried forward to stop the two men from their digging, "We will not allow you to dig here," the indignant townsmen rumbled. "This is where we make our sacrifices to these two idols!!"

"Son," Abd Al-Muttalib said nonchalantly to Al-Harith, "defend me as I dig, for by god, I will dig here!"

Hearing the steely tones of Abd Al-Muttalib's voice and seeing his son's fierce readiness to meet any attempt to hinder his father's digging with unrestrained violence, the townsmen backed off. They consoled themselves with the thought that any holes Abd Al-Muttalib dug could easily be filled in later.

Confident in his son's ability to drive off any and all meddlers, Abd Al-Muttalib continued digging near the anthill, right where the crow had pecked the ground. Al-Harith meanwhile stood protectively over his father, brandishing the shovel he held in a businesslike manner while his eyes promised violence to anyone bold enough to approach him. The angry townsmen stood by and watched resentfully as Abd Al-Muttalib dug a deep hole in the ground near the Ka'aba.

Before long, Abd Al-Muttalib saw some aged bricks that no doubt marked the mouth of a well. An excited murmur arose when the bricks were unearthed, and the small crowd around Abd Al-Muttalib and his son grew dramatically in size. Soon half of Mecca had gathered to witness Abd Al-Muttalib as he rediscovered the lost well of Zamzam.

In addition to finding the fabled lost well, Abd Al-Muttalib found two golden statues and several ancient swords and sets of armor buried deep in the sand. When the spectators saw these valuable finds, the townsmen who had so recently tried to hamper Abd Al-Muttalib's search, stepped forward and said to him in oily, wheedling tones, "O' Abd Al-Muttalib, a share of what you have found rightfully belongs to us. Everything you discovered was placed there by our common ancestors."

Disgusted with his spectators' sudden interest as well as their naked avarice, Abd Al-Muttalib said simply, "No."

"However," he continued as a great wave of protest arose from the crowd, "I will give you the chance to acquire some of my finds. We will draw lots for it."

"How exactly will we do this?" the townsmen said suspiciously.

"We will designate two sticks as shares for the Ka'aba," Abd Al-Muttalib declared, well knowing no one would dare object to that idea, "and two sticks for me, and two for you. Whichever two sticks are not drawn will get nothing and we will have the usual man do the drawing."

The townsmen agreed to this method of dividing the newly unearthed treasures, so Abd Al-Muttalib provided two yellow sticks for the Ka'aba, two black sticks for himself and two white sticks for the townsmen. Then everyone went to the man who attended one of the larger idols placed around the Ka'aba, and they had him blindly draw the sticks from a bag.

Abd Al-Muttalib softly prayed for a favorable outcome, silently promising that regardless of the outcome of the drawing, he would put the waters of Zamzam to their traditional use as free water for the pilgrims and those who needed it. As the attendant drew out the sticks in pairs, every eye was avidly focused on his hands and every breath was held. The silence was absolute and filled with anticipation.

The first two sticks were drawn to see who would be the new owner of the golden statues. One yellow, two yellow were drawn! Both golden statues now belonged to the Ka'aba!

There were a few murmurs, a cheer or two and then profound silence fell again as the attendant drew the next two sticks, this time for the swords and armor. One black stick, another, Abd Al-Muttalib was now the proud owner of the swords and armor!

The townsmen ground their teeth in chagrin and tried to take this dismal twist of fate stoically as Abd Al-Muttalib's friends and family congratulated him on his good luck. Surely, they told him, everything had turned out as it was meant to be! He was truly a fortunate man! As its discoverer, he was now the proud owner of the well of Zamzam and its pure sweet waters, not to mention the valuable ancient swords and gleaming armor.

Grateful for the wonderful honor bestowed on him and anxious to express his gratitude, Abd Al-Muttalib melted down the old swords and armor and made a large, sturdy door for the Ka'aba from them. Then he melted the two golden statues and used the gold to decorate the new door of the Ka'aba with inlaid gold designs.

Everyone flocked to the newly rediscovered well of Zamzam and, with Abd Al-Muttalib's permission, drank deeply of its historically healing waters and wondered aloud at its unique mineral taste and wonderfully cool waters. The water of Zamzam was so sweet and plentiful that before long, all the other wells and water sources in and around Mecca were abandoned in favor of that one well.

Abd Al-Muttalib built two basins by the well, which he devotedly kept full of Zamzam water, and he generously let all and sundry drink their fill from it and take as much as they wanted. He also cared for the pilgrims arriving in Mecca, as he had promised in his prayer, and provided them with all the water and hospitality they could ever want.

As a result, Abd Al-Muttalib became the most prominent citizen of Mecca and was viewed with both respect and envy for the rest of his long life. All because he had the courage and the faith to follow his dream and search for what many were sure could never be found again, the fabled lost well of Zamzam.

*Written by © 2012. Care to read or leave Comments?

  1. Names, Translations and Aliases:
    • Abd Al-Muttalib: عبد المطلب بن هاشم القرشي.
    • Al-Harith: الحارث بن عبدالمطّلب بن هاشم القرشي.

  1. Al-Dimishqi, A. (2009 AD, 1430 H). البداية و النهاية [The Beginning and the End]. Beirut: Al-Maktaba Al-Assrya Publishing and Distributing. Volume I. Book 2. Page 144-147.
  2. Ibrahim, M., Al-Mowla, M., Al-Bajawi, A. (2011 AD, 1432 H). قصص العرب [Stories of the Arabs]. Beirut: Al-Maktaba Al-Assrya. Volume 1. Page 73-74.

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