Somali Medical Forums

Health Related Forums => Topics in Healthcare => Topic started by: Sumayya on October 17, 2007, 07:27:01 PM

Title: UK Muslims warned: don't drink poisonous 'holy' water
Post by: Sumayya on October 17, 2007, 07:27:01 PM

British muslims are being warned that criminal gangs are operating a
multi-million pound illegal racket selling them fake holy water wrongly
labelled as having come from Mecca.

The black market trade in fake 'Zam Zam' water - named after the 14ft-deep
well in the holy city in Saudi Arabia from where the genuine substance flows
- is becoming a serious concern for health officials.

They have found that much of the water smuggled into the UK illegally and
labelled as if it has come from the holy spring, which is visited by
millions of Muslims every year as part of the Hajj pilgrimage, contains high
levels of arsenic and nitrates that can be fatal if regularly consumed over

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The scale of the racket is alarming Muslim leaders who have called on their
followers to boycott all forms of the product on sale in Britain. In one
recent case, Dr Yunes Teinaz, an environmental health expert who advises the
London Central Mosque, found an Islamic bookshop that was selling an
estimated 20,000 litres of Zam Zam water a week.

'This water is contaminated and unsafe for the consumer,' Teinaz said. 'And
people are making millions of pounds selling this stuff.'

With the water selling for £3 for a small can, it is a huge moneyspinner for
the gangs involved. Teinaz said it was unclear exactly where the water was
coming from, but that it cannot be genuine Zam Zam water. It is illegal for
Zam Zam water to be commercially exported from Saudi Arabia. The bottling of
the genuine substance and its distribution is monitored strictly by the
Saudi government.

Surveys reveal some of the imported water contains almost three times as
much nitrate and twice as much arsenic as the World Health Organisation
believes is safe. Studies show children under six months and elderly people
are particularly vulnerable to excessive nitrate while regular consumption
of arsenic in water is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths a
year in south east Asia. Diluted arsenic has been associated with disorders
of the nervous system, loss of sensation in the limbs and hearing

Teinaz said he also believed some unscrupulous operators in Britain were
mixing normal tap water with salt and marketing it as Zam Zam water. He said
he was aware of examples of vans transporting vast quantities of the fake
water to mosques where their imams ordered their followers to buy the

Some of the water is smuggled into Britain in crates of vegetables and
furniture, according to customs officials.

Zam Zam water is sacred within Islam and its provenance is recorded in
Islamic texts. According to the Koran, the Prophet Ibrahim, his wife Hagar
and their baby son, Ishmael, found water hard to come by after settling in
what is now Saudi Arabia.

When Hajar thought Ishmael was dying, she searched for water with no
success. After offering prayers to Allah, a gush of water appeared under the
feet of Ishmael and it has continued to flow from the spot ever since. Today
Muslims from all over the world visit the well, believing it to be divinely

'Zam Zam water is extremely important for more than a billion Muslims,'
Teinaz said. 'Muslims believe it not only has healing powers but it is
important to them spiritually as well. Whenever people see it they will buy

Real Zam Zam water was tested in 1971 and found to be fit for drinking.
Tests showed it had a greater quantity of calcium and magnesium salts than
normal water, which may explain why it can help refresh pilgrims. It also
contains fluorides that can help combat germs.

The Food Standards Agency has warned Muslims not to buy the water. A number
of London councils, have seized fake bottles. Earlier this month trading
standards officers seized bottles from a shop in Notting Hill, west London,
and similar seizures have been carried out in Gloucester, Barnsley and