Assalamualaikum ustaz. What is the ruling of bathing with Zamzam water? Thank you.
Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,
Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.
Zamzam water is the best water of all in this world. Zamzam is the name of a water spring in Masjidil Haram in Mecca. The emergence of this water spring dates back to the time of Prophet Ismail and Ibrahim AS when Allah SWT specifically granted for Prophet Ismail and his mother when the water that they brought was finished in the barren Mecca at the time.
Among the special characteristics of Zamzam water is that it is blessed water and can satiate hunger. We’ve discussed this matter in detail in two of our previous articles:
- 369 The Blessings of ZamZam Water Isn’t Bound to the Holy Land 
- 374 The Permissibility of Transporting Zamzam Water Out of Mecca 
Likewise, Islam emphasizes the matters of cleanliness and purification. The reason is cleanliness is a part of the characteristics of faith. This is as stated in a narration from Abu Malik al-Asy’ari, where Rasullullah PBUH said:
الطُّهُورُ شَطْرُ الإِيمَانِ
“Purity is half of iman (faith).” 
Furthermore, this matter can be clearly seen in several hadiths of the Prophet PBUH. Among them is a commandment to cut one’s nails, brush one’s teeth and clean one’s clothes as stated in a narration from Abu Hurairah RA:
الفِطْرَةُ خَمْسٌ، أَوْ خَمْسٌ مِنَ الفِطْرَةِ: الخِتَانُ، وَالِاسْتِحْدَادُ، وَنَتْفُ الإِبْطِ، وَتَقْلِيمُ الأَظْفَارِ، وَقَصُّ الشَّارِبِ
“The inborn characteristics of man are five. Another version says: Five things are of the inborn characteristics of man: circumcision, shaving the pubes, plucking out hair under the armpit, paring the nails and clipping the moustaches.” 
Likewise, the commandment to take a bath in certain situations. This is as stated in a narration from Abu Hurairah RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
حَقٌّ عَلَى كُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ، أَنْ يَغْتَسِلَ فِي كُلِّ سَبْعَةِ أَيَّامٍ يَوْمًا يَغْسِلُ فِيهِ رَأْسَهُ وَجَسَدَهُ
“It is a duty for every Muslim to bathe once a week, washing his head and his body.” 
Bathing with Zamzam Water
Bathing is included as one of the purification methods, cleaning oneself from dirt and filth. Ibn Hajar al-Haitami stated that it is not makruh to purify using Zamzam water, however, it is prioritized to not use it to remove or wash najis – which means using Zamzam water to clean najis.  Likewise, Syeikh Ibrahim al-Baijuri stated that the final opinion in madhhab Syafi’I stated that it isn’t makruh to use Zamzam water even if it is used to clean najis, however, it is included in khilaf aula – that is it contradicts the prioritized matter. 
Imam al-Nawawi when discussing the ruling of performing ablution and taking a bath using Zamzam water stated that the opinion of the majority of scholars is the same as the opinion of madhhab Syafi’I that is it is not makruh to perform ablution and take a bath using Zamzam water. The evidence is the sahih and clear general hadith regarding the ruling of water without differentiating them. Furthermore, there are always people who perform ablution using Zamzam water and there was never anyone who contradict their actions. 
There is a narration from Imam Ahmad who stated that it is makruh. This is based on the opinion of al-Abbas RA when he was by the Zamzam water well, he said:
لا أُحِلُّها لمغتسلٍ وهي لشاربٍ حِلٌّ وَبِلٌّ
“I don’t allow Zamzam water to be used to take a bath, however, it is permissible for those who want to drink it.” 
However, scholars of madhhab Syafi’I stated that the opinion by al-Abbas RA is stated when the Zamzam water was decreasing because they were too many people who drink it.  While Ibn Qudamah said that this opinion by Ibn Abbas RA doesn’t clearly mean that it is prohibited, however, it can be understood that using other than Zamzam water – to take a bath – is prioritized and the honour of Zamzam water doesn’t necessarily mean it is makruh to be used. 
According to the above arguments and discussion, in our opinion, it is permissible to use Zamzam water to take a bath or perform the ablution as well as clean oneself from najis because it is pure water that is also purified just like other mutlak water.
Although, if there aren’t any problems or there is other water available that can be used to clean oneself from najis, then it is best to first use the other water to celebrate the khilaf of scholars who ruled it makruh. Moreover, the status of the honoured Zamzam water is stated by al-Munawi where Zamzam water is the best of all waters, the most honoured, valuable and loved by people. It was dug by the angel Gabriel AS and was given to the Prophet Ismail AS to drink. 
May Allah SWT grant us all a clear understanding in this religion. Amin.
 Narrated by Muslim (223)
 Narrated by al-Bukhari (5889); Muslim (257)
 Narrated by al-Bukhari (897); Muslim (849)
 See Tuhfah al-Muhtaj, 1/76.
 See Hasyiah al-Baijuri ‘ala Fath al-Qarib al-Mujib, 1/55.
 See al-Majmu‘ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 1/91.
 See al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, 2/230.
 See al-Majmu‘ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 1/91.
 See al-Mughni, 1/16.
 See Faidh al-Qadir Syarh al-Jami‘ al-Saghir, 5/404.