Pilgrims visiting Saudi Arabia are usually welcomed in the holy sites by young men from Mecca who distribute Zamzam water to them.
Offering water, however, is actually a tradition that has been on for more than 14 centuries as it actually dates to the pre-Islamic era. Water was mainly distributed due to its scarcity.
Back then however, the task was only carried out by the family of Prophet Mohammed’s grandfather Abdul Muttalib. Following the conquest of Mecca, the prophet tasked his uncle Abbas bin Abdul Muttalib of the duty and later it was assigned to Al-Zubayr’s family.
However, considering the increasing number of pilgrims later on, other families were allowed to perform the job of distributing the holy water of Zamzam.
According to Islamic belief, zamzam is a miraculously-generated source of water from God, which began thousands of years ago when Abraham’s infant son Ishmael was thirsty and crying for water when it discovered a well by kicking the ground. (AFP)
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Abdulhadi Abduljalil Zamzami, the chairman of the Zamazemah United Office, said that before water refrigerators became common at the Great Mosque of Mecca, the Zamazima families were deployed there to distribute water.
“Each family had its own spot where they put their pottery flasks and copper pots to distribute water to visitors and pilgrims,” he told Al-Arabiya.net, adding that pilgrims also coordinated with these families to be provided with water in their dwelling place.
According to Abdulhadi, the Zamazima families first transferred the water to pottery flasks and then to bottles that were flavored with mastic. Afterwards, these families, who wore traditional clothes, distributed water to pilgrims in copper pots.
This tradition lasted for years, until 1982 AD, Abdulhadi said, adding that a royal decree was issued stipulating that providing water to pilgrims inside the Great Mosque of Mecca must be a tasked performed by The General Presidency for the affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque.
The Zamazima families were thus all united under the Zamazemah United Office which was tasked with distributing Zamzam water to pilgrims and delivering it to their dwelling place on a daily basis.
Abdulhadi added that the office distributes water to more than 2 million pilgrims a year.