What is it?:
Zamzam is the name of a well in Mecca, Saudi Arabia which provides natural spring water to the millions of Muslim pilgrims who visit each year. The well is located a few meters east of the Ka'aba.
Where did it come from?:
Islamic tradition holds that the spring, in the middle of a desert valley, dates back to the Prophet Abraham. It is believed that Abraham visited the area with his wife, Hajar, and infant son, Ishmael. When they were left alone, Hajar searched desperately for water in the dry, barren land -- running back and forth between two hills and praying for God's help. Muslims believe that God answered her prayers and satisfied her thirst, by causing the spring to rise up from the Earth. The spring has run continuously for several thousand years.
What is it like?:
The water of Zamzam is slightly salty to taste, and is known to quench both thirst and hunger. Scientific analysis has shown the water to have high levels of calcium, fluoride, and magnesium salts.
How do Muslims use it?:
During the annual Hajj, pilgrims re-enact many events in the life of the Prophet Abraham, including Hajar's search for water, by running between the hills of Safa and Marwa. Pilgrims drink from the spring and perform ablutions with the water. The water is also believed to have medicinal qualities, so many pilgrims take liters of Zamzam water back home with them to drink from time to time, especially when ill.