(RNS) — Mementos of creating the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca required of all ready Muslims who can afford the journey no less than as soon as of their lifetime, can draw from historical custom — as within the prayer rugs many hajjis carry house — or from newest fads — a selfie in entrance of Mecca’s Grand Mosque will do for a lot of.
At this yr’s hajj, a portion of holy Zamzam water might function each historical and high-tech memento, as the gathering and distribution of Islam’s holiest water has tailored to expertise and the pandemic.
In an effort to maintain COVID-19 transmission to a minimal, Saudi authorities have deployed 20 robots to serve Zamzam water bottles to usually bemused pilgrims.
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Regardless of the loss in income it has price the nationwide treasury, Saudi Arabia has allowed solely 60,000 vaccinated Saudi Arabians to attend hajj this yr, down from the tens of millions who usually go to from world wide. Usually, many pilgrims take among the liquid house, as passengers on outbound flights from Saudi Arabia are allowed to take as much as 5 liters aboard their return flights.
However with many fewer pilgrims going to Mecca for hajj and umrah, the move of Zamzam out of Saudi Arabia has slowed to a trickle, inducing some determined measures to amass the liquid as provides in some areas have dried up attributable to pandemic-induced provide disruptions.
Final month a police operation in Malaysia uncovered an try to smuggle some $50,000 in Zamzam water into the nation. “The modus operandi in smuggling zamzam water is to declare it as juices and ingesting water to keep away from a better tariff,” in accordance with a press release to the media from Malaysian regulation enforcement.
Zamzam water’s look in Islam goes again to the Quranic story of Hagar, the exiled spouse of the Prophet Abraham, being left alone within the desert together with her crying son, Ishmael. Sooner or later, water was miraculously revealed to the duo. The sudden spring was so plentiful that Hagar instructed the water, “Zamzam” — “cease flowing” — to no avail.
That effectively is believed to be the identical that flows close to the Kaaba, the dice that sits on the middle of the Grand Mosque and the holiest web site in Islam.
Within the period earlier than pilgrims to Mecca traveled by air, some Indonesian pilgrims would add just a few drops of Zamzam water to a neighborhood effectively or spring, believing that even diluted it will confer its holy properties. Various wells close to the Indonesian metropolis of Yogyakarta are mentioned to comprise such ranges of Zamzam water that they’re singled out by native Muslim pilgrims.
In Qing-era China, it was saved in blue ceramic vases meant for show. In some elements of Asia, the water is stored and served with rose water or different desserts to mark and bless a life occasion. Elsewhere, returning pilgrims distribute the water amongst family members and associates, who drink a small portion to obtain the blessings of the hajj. In quite a lot of Islamic cultures, notably within the Horn of Africa, “Zamzam” is a reputation given to ladies.
In the present day Zamzam water may be discovered on sale on Amazon, together with seemingly therapeutic waters of Lourdes, France, the location of an apparition by the Virgin Mary, and water from the Jordan River, the place Christ is believed to have been baptized, and the Ganges, sacred to Hindus.
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For hundreds of years, the position of distributing Zamzam water was reserved for the household of an early caliph, Abd Allah ibn Al-Zubayr. Attendants in conventional garments handed out water to pilgrims from copper pots till 1982, when the method was modernized. In the present day, after being handled, the water is pumped from two sealed tanks.
The unique effectively the place water was as soon as drawn up with ropes and buckets has lengthy since been retired to the Two Holy Mosques Structure Exhibition. Someday, maybe the primary robots to serve Zamzam water will be a part of them within the show.