Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, SunniPath Academy Teacher
What is the fiqh of zamzam? Should one drink it standing or sitting, facing the qibla or any other direction? Should one drink it all at once or not? Do the scholars differ about any of the above questions?
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful,
Praise be to Allah. May the peace and blessings of Allah shower upon our Beloved Messenger, his family, companions, and those who follow them.
The fiqh of zamzam comes from the sunna of the Noble Messenger, upon whom be peace.
According to Imam Nawawi in the Majmu’, “The Shafi’is and others recommend drinking from the water of zamzam as much as possible, taking one’s fill of it, and drinking it for the affairs of this world and the hereafter. So if one wishes to drink it for forgiveness or recovery from an illness and the like, he faces the qibla, mentioning the name of Allah, then says, ‘O Allah, it has reached me that your Messenger, peace be upon him, said: The water of Zamzam is for that which it was drunk for. O Allah, I drink it so that you may forgive me. O Allah, forgive me. Or [one says], O Allah I drink it seeking healing from illness; O Allah, heal me.’
It is recommended that one drink it in three breaths like with any other beverage, and when done, to praise Allah. There are numerous hadiths on this issue. [These include] From Abu Dharr, may Allah be pleased with him: The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said of zamzam, ‘It is blessed. It is nourishing food, and a healing for sickness.’
Uthman ibn al-Aswad reported that he talked to someone who had sat with Ibn Abbas. This person told him [Uthman], ‘Ibn Abbas asked me where I was coming from. I told him I had just finished drinking from zamzam. Ibn Abbas then asked me if I had drunk like I was supposed to. I asked him, how should I drink? He said, ‘When you drink [zamzam], face the qibla, then mention Allah’s name, then drink it in three breaths, and drink as much as you can. When you are done, praise Allah because the Prophet, peace be upon him, used to say, ‘A major difference between us and the hypocrites is that they do not drink their fill of the water of zamzam.'”
To sum up, the etiquettes of drinking zamzam are:
1. To face the qibla
2. To mention Allah’s name
3. To sip it in three breaths
4. To drink one’s fill
5. To look at the Ka’ba every time you sip [if you’re in Mecca]
6. To sprinkle a little water on your head, face, and chest
7. To say increased supplication
8. To drink it for whatever you need of this world or the hereafter
9. To say ‘O Allah, it has reached me that your Messenger, peace be upon him, said: The water of zamzam is for that which it was drunk for. O Allah, I drink it for such and such.’ Then name what you want from this world or the hereafter. Then say, ‘O Allah, please do this out of your bounty.’
10. To say the du’a of Ibn Abbas, ‘O Allah! Grant me beneficial knowledge, bountiful provision, and a healing from every disease.’
11. To praise Allah when finished
Additionally, scholars have said that the benefits of zamzam are not limited to the drinker, meaning that if someone drinks zamzam for their child or brother for example, the benefits can reach this person if the drinker has sincere intentions.
Scholars have differed over whether one should drink zamzam seated or standing. Some have said that it is sunna to sit, and have said that the hadith of Ibn Abbas where he gave zamzam to the Prophet while the Prophet was standing was just to show the permissibility of standing. They quote the hadith of Ibn Majah from Asim where Ikrimah swore that the Prophet could not have drunk zamzam while standing because he was riding [his mount] at the time.
For more information, see:
What is special about Zamzam?
And Allah knows best.