Cupping (hijama) has been practised for over 7000 years and can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians and ancient Chinese civilisations. It pre-dates the revelation of the Qur’an, but its practice has been firmly established by the Sunnah and encouraged by the angels. Practising hijama brings about not only good health, but also reward from Allah.
The word “hijama” is derived from “hajm” which means “sucking.” cupping is the process of applying cups to various points on the body by removing the air inside the cups to form a vacuum. It was the most recommended medical remedy by the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) who said, “Indeed the best of remedies that you have is cupping …” (Bukhari).
Types of Cupping
- dry cupping - This is the process of using a vacuum on the painful areas of the body in order to gather the blood in that area without incisions (small, light scratches made by a razor).
- Dry massage cupping – This is similar to dry cupping but olive oil is applied to the skin (before applying the cups) in order to allow easy movement of the cups.
Dry and massage cupping may be administered any time of the day, any day of the week or month. There are no restrictions. These two types of cupping are not from the Sunnah. However, they fall under the general teachings of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) who said, “For every disease there is a cure so if the [appropriately-given] medicine coincides with the disease it cures it by the will of Allah, the Most High.” (Muslim).
- wet cupping – This is the process of using a vacuum at different points on the body but with incisions in order to remove ‘harmful’ blood which lies just beneath the surface of the skin. It is recommended that this type of cuppingis administered by a cupping therapist.
Hijama as a Form of Preventative Medicine
The Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, “Whoever wants to perform cupping then let him search for 17th, 19th and 21st and let none of you allow his blood to rage (boil) such that it kills him.” (Saheeh Ibn Majah).
Hijama as a Form of Therapy
The Messenger (dallallaahu alayhi wasallam) used or recommended hijama for:
- Headaches: (Abu Dawud);
- Magic: Ibn Al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) mentions that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was afflicted with magic and was cupped on the head to treat it. He also mentions that hijama is from the best of cures for magic if performed correctly (Zaad al Ma’aad).
- Poison: Abdullah ibn Abbas t reported that a Jewish woman gave poisonedmeat to the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) so he r sent her a message saying, “What caused you to do that?” She replied, “If you really are a prophet then Allah will inform you of it and if you are not then I would save the people from you!” When the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) felt pain from it, he r performed cupping (Ahmad).
- Strengthening One’s Intelligence and Memory: The Messenger said, “Cupping & improves the intellect and the memory &” (Ibn Majah).
The Best Time to Practise Hijama
Some ahadith describe the days of the lunar month, the days of the week and the exact places on the body where it may be performed.
- The best days of the month to practise hijama are the 17th, 19th or 21st of the lunar month, based on the hadith: “Whoever performs cupping (hijama) on the 17th, 19th or 21st day (of the Islamic, lunar month) then it is a curefor every disease.” (Abu Dawud).
- The best days of the week, the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, “Whoever is going to be cupped then (let it be) on a Thursday in the name of Allah. Keep away from being cupped on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Be cupped on a Monday or Tuesday. Do not be cupped on a Wednesday because this is the day that Ayoob was befallen with a trial. You will not find leprosy except (by being cupped) on Wednesday or Wednesday night.“ (Ibn Majah).
From these two hadith, we deduce that the best days for cupping are the 17th, 19th and 21st of the lunar month which coincide with Monday, Tuesday or Thursday.
Areas of Hijama
The Messenger (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) was cupped on the following parts of his body:
- The two veins at the side of the neck and the base of the neck (Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah);
- on his head (Bukhari);
- on his hip for a pain in that area (Abu Dawud);
- on the top of his foot, for a pain in that area (Abu Dawud);
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said, “Cupping under the chin is beneficial for pain in the teeth, face and throat, if it is performed in its proper time. It purifies the head and the jaws. Cupping on the top of the foot is a substitution for the puncturing of the saphena, which is a large vein in the heel. It is beneficial for treating ulcers that occur on the thighs and calves, the interruption of menses and skin irritation on the testicles. Cupping at the bottom of the chest is beneficial for the treatment of sores, scabies and mange on the thighs. It helps against gout, hemorrhoids, elephantiasis and itchiness on the back” (Zaad al-Ma’aad).
Hijama For Women
There is a misconception amongst some sisters who believe that cupping is only for women who have reached their menopause. One example from the Sunnah to dispel this is that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) instructed someone to cup Umm Salamah.
The Benefits of Hijama
- Stimulates and strengthens the immune system;
- Enhances blood circulation;
- Stimulates tissues and internal organs;
- Improves physical and mental health conditions;
- Enhances general health of body;
- Reduces stress and depression by releasing chemicals in the brain;
- Allows tissues to release toxins by eliminating them through the surface of the skin;
- Is the best deep tissue massage;
- Brings blood and warmth to an affected organ and therefore promotes healing;
- Reduces unwanted side effects of drugs, removes their residue and reduces the risk of drug toxicity;
- Massage cupping over the digestive system stimulates the inside of the organs, their peristaltic movement and secretion of digestive fluids; strengthens the power of digestion and absorption of nourishment and the power of secretion;
- dry cupping is 10 times more effective than acupuncture;
- cupping works in a radius of 10cm and depth of 10-12cm;
- Massage cupping on the liver aids it to detoxify the body;
- Massage cupping over the back, revitalises the organs, improves blood circulation and is the equivalent of walking 2km.
The greatest benefit, however, is that it revives a Sunnah. The Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, “Whoever revives a Sunnah from my Sunnah, and the people practise it, shall have the same reward of those who practise it without their reward diminishing...” (Ibn Majah).