One night Maulana ´Abdul-Muttalib AS saw an approaching figure in his dreams who ordered, “Dig the Zamzam, the lost article of the great Sheikh!” Maulana ´Abdul-Muttalib AS awoke and exclaimed, “O Lord, elucidate this matter for me.” He then rested once more. The figure once more approached him and ordered, “Dig the Zamzam, that whose water will never empty!” Maulana ´Abdul-Muttalib AS awoke once more and exclaimed,“ O Lord, elucidate this matter for me.” For the third time the figure appeared and ordered, “Dig the Zamzam, which will quench the thirst of the great pilgrims.” He awoke and exclaimed, “O Lord, elucidate this matter for me.” He was then ordered, “Dig the hidden treasure, that which has been hidden from all people except you.” He further pleaded, “O Lord, elucidate this matter for me.” He was then ordered, “Dig the Zamzam, between the bowels and blood, where the crow is searching, on top of the ant-hill, in front of the red idols”.
He walked towards al-Masjid al-Ḥarām and waited for what he was foretold. He remained in this state until a bovine approached that a group had slaughtered. It had run away from its butcher with its last breaths remaining until it fell in the Masjid. The butcher captured the bovine, slaughtered him at that very spot, skinned him, and carried away his meat. Then, a crow approached and fell into the remaining cow bowels, and searched for an ant-hill.
Maulana ´Abdul-Muttalib AS stood up and began to dig at the very spot where this had all transpired. Members of his tribe, Quraysh came to him and asked, “What are you doing? Why are you are digging in our masjid, and we know for sure that you are not ignorant.” Maulana ´Abdul-Muttalib AS answered, “I am digging a well here and will confront any one who stops me from doing so”. They desisted from stopping him for they were well aware of his pre-eminence and firm adherence to his faith. Maulana ´Abdul-Muttalib AS continued to dig until he uncovered swords and shields buried by the Zamzam at the same time it was hidden. Quraysh ordered him to, “give to us that which you have found.” Maulana ´Abdul-Muttalib AS replied, “It is for the Baitullah.” Maulana ´Abdul-Muttalib AS continued digging until he found water, he then made a well so that the water would never empty and made upon it a sink-basin.
Zamzam was the well of Maulana Ismail AS. When he travelled to Jurhum from Makkah he buried treasures with the Zamzam, sealed the hole, and hid its location. When Quraysh came to know that this was the well of Maulana Ibrahim AS and Maulana Ismail AS and that Maulana ´Abdul-Muttalib AS was gifted with it and chosen to uncover it and its treasures their respect for him grew. Zamzam is the well of Maulana Ismail AS that Allah provided for him to drink from when he was thirsty in his youth.
After Maulana ´Abdul-Muttalib AS had excavated the Zamzam, Quraysh ended its practice of providing pilgrims with water from other sources. People came to the Zamzam seeking its blessing, drinking its water, and bathing in its basin. The bathing caused its water to spoil. Subsequently, Maulana ´Abdul-Muttalib AS was told in a dream to say, “O Allah I do not permit that the Zamzam be used for bathing, but only for drinking and seeking cure.” After he had conveyed this directive, not a single person bathed in the Zamzam, but was afflicted with a malady. When people witnessed this they all ceased bathing in it.
It is said that in the well Maulana ´Abdul-Muttalib AS found a deer forged of gold, some say two deers, and lots of jewelry which Quraysh claimed as theirs. It was then decided to settle this dispute by picking arrows (picking arrows or Darb al-Sihaam was a method of settling disputes, or adjudication, in the Jaahiliyyah where both parties had designated arrows amongst a large bundle and whoevers arrow was picked was the winner of the dispute). Ultimately the arrow in favour of Baitullah was picked, so it was decorated with these treasures. These were the first jewels that the Baitullah was decorated with.
It is narrated by Amirul Mumineen Maulana Ali AS that when Quraysh witnessed the treasures that Maulana ´Abdul-Muttalib AS uncovered from digging the Zamzam they gathered around him and said, “O ´Abdul-Muttalib, this is the well of our father Ismail and we are entitled to it so make us partners in it and the treasures that you have uncovered within it.” Maulana ´Abdul-Muttalib AS replied, “I will not do that, indeed this is a matter for which I have been chosen over you and been bestowed with amongst you all”. However, Quraysh refused and continued to demand their share. They called him towards adjudication in this matter and that they should go to the soothsayer of Bani Saad bin Huzaim. Maulana ´Abdul-Muttalib AS along with a representation from each tribe that made up Quraysh journeyed to the soothsayer. The route was one of barren deserts. When they reached one of the deserts between Hijaz and Shaam the water supply of Maulana ´Abdul-Muttalib AS and his companions depleted. They sought water from the various tribes of Quraysh that accompanied them, but they refused and replied, “We are in a barren land and we fear upon ourselves that which has befallen you.” Upon hearing this response, they all began to dig holes and sat in them proclaiming, “He who is left amongst us will bury those that die.” Maulana ´Abdul-Muttalib AS exclaimed, “By Allah! Our meeting of death in this manner, with our own hands, without exploring the ground and seeking water for ourselves is indeed failure”. He stood up and mounted his camel. The moment his camel raised its hoof to proceed, a spring of sweet water surged from under it. Maulana ´Abdul-Muttalib AS and his companions exclaimed, “Allahu Akbar”. They all proceeded towards the spring, quenched their thirsts from it and filled their vessels with water. They then called the accompanying tribes of Quraysh, “Come, for indeed Allah has served us water.” They all drank. The people of Quraysh then accepted, “By Allah, He has settled our dispute in your favour, O ´Abdul-Muttalib. We will never dispute the Zamzam with you. Indeed, the One that has provided you water in this desert is the very One who has provided to you the Zamzam. So, return to your rightly guided deed of offering water”. They all returned to Makkah al-Mukarramah.