Cupping, or Hijama, is the action of blood-letting from one’s body done by a professional in order to remove illnesses or cure diseases from the body. In Islam, there are many ahadith which have been narrated that emphasize the benefits and good use of cupping and how it can help you heal your body.
Cupping therapy itself has been around for thousands of years and many ancient civilizations have reaped its benefits. Special cups – made out of glass usually, but sometimes even silicone and bamboo – are placed on different parts of the body and this creates a vacuum or a sort of suction.
The procedure of cup therapy goes as follows: heat is created within the cup to cause suction. This could be through burning of a substance like herbs or a material like paper. The cup is then placed onto the body after the fire has gone out. This would bring all the ‘bad blood’ and the blood filled with toxins to the edge of the skin. This is called “dry cupping”.
After the bad blood has come to the top of the skin, the cupper makes a small incision in the skin, which allows the blood to flow out. After the incision is made, the cup is put back on so the blood flows into there. This is known as “wet cupping”.
What are the benefits of cupping?
There are so many known and proven benefits of cupping. These could be from hadith which were narrated from Nabi SAW, or they could be scientific reasoning and proofs. Whatever the case, there is no doubt that Hijama is beneficial.
- Cupping (Hijama) is Sunnah
Hijama is a Sunnah. Even if we only carried out this action solely for this reason, the result of this would be so great. If our beloved Prophet SAW informed us of a certain method to do something, in this case, a certain method of healing, then we should do it without even having to research it and try to back it up somehow.
- Cup therapy detoxifies the body
The purpose of Hijama is to clean the body of any toxins or harmful substances it contains. This could be from any food we eat or unnatural medicines we take. Doing cupping is a way of cleaning the body of any bad that it has within it, and would return the body to the state it’s meant to be in.
- Hijama has been named a cure
Not only is it a Sunnah and practice of Nabi SAW to do cupping, but he has also mentioned that it is a cure for a person.
According to a hadith narrated by Jaabir RA, the Prophet SAW said: “If there is any good in your medical treatments, it is in the knife of the cupper, drinking honey, or cauterization with fire, as appropriate to the cause of the illness, but I would not like to be cauterized.”[Sahih al-Bukhari, 10/139]
Ibn ‘Abbaas RA reported that the Prophet SAW said: “Healing is to be found in three things: drinking honey, the knife of the cupper, and cauterization of fire.”[Sahih al-Bukhari, 10/136]
- It has so many medical benefits
The medical benefits of cupping have not only been through scientific research but also by clear ahadith from Nabi SAW. The medical benefits of cupping include:
- Improve memory
- Sharpening of eyesight
- Cleansing of body
- Pain relief
- Improves circulatory and immune system
- Increase in intellect
- Helps fertility
These are just to name a few. The list goes on. Only some of these benefits have been narrated in hadith, however, there are stories of various Sahaba (companions of the Prophet SAW) who had cupping done for a specific reason, and it cured them.
Ibn Umar RA reported that the Messenger SAW said, “Cupping (hijama) on an empty stomach is best. In it is a cure and a blessing. It improves the intellect and the memory…”[Sunan-Ibn-Maajah Hadith No: 3487]
Salma RA, the servant of the Messenger of Allaah SAW said, “Whenever someone would complain of a headache to the Messenger of Allah SAW, he SAW would advise them to perform cupping.”[Saheeh Sunan Abi Dawud (3858)]
- Helps with both physical and emotional pain
Scientific research can only go so far in analyzing something and stating benefits. However, with hadith, we know that cupping helped heal both physical and emotional pain. We have already talked about the physical benefits. From emotional pain, this is taught to us through the hadith which stated that cupping also cures the effects of magic.
Ibn al-Qayyum RH mentions that the Messenger SAW cupped his head when he was afflicted with magic and that it is from the best of cures for this if done correctly.[Zaad al Ma’aad (4/125-126)]
From the effects of magic, there are things like laziness and drowsiness which take place. It can affect someone’s ability to continue praying as they used to. You feel emotionally tied up and there is said to be heaviness on the body. These are not physical problems which you can see or touch, they happen within the mind and affect the heart.
Is cupping safe?
Cupping is completely safe and there is no serious risk of any side effects. For around 7-10 days there will be bruising and skin irritation but they both will naturally disappear. Due to the small incisions made, there is a minor risk of getting an infection, however, the cupper or therapist will usually give bandage to put on and maybe even antibiotics.
Is cupping painful?
Overall, there is little or no pain when doing cupping. The whole procedure lasts around 5 minutes and it may feel a little weird at first when you are getting used to the suction of the cups, but apart from that there is no pain.
What do cupping marks mean?
The main cupping mark which occurs after cup therapy would be the red mark. This shows that due to heat and suction, blood has risen to the surface just under the skin. There may be other colors which a professional can notify you about.
Does cupping release toxins?
One of the major benefits of cupping is that it helps the body to release the toxins which have been built up inside. When cup therapy takes place, the tissues in your body are given a boost due to the increased blood flow and other factors, resulting in the tissues flushing more toxins out.
Is cupping a Sunnah?
Yes! Cupping, or hijama, is a beautiful Sunnah. Nabi SAW practiced cupping many times and encouraged us to do it also. There are so many ahadith supporting this. Some have been mentioned above and some are mentioned below.
The Prophet (PBUH) explained that Hijama is one of the best medicines: “The best medicine with which you treat yourselves is Hijama, or it is one of the best of your medicines,” or “The best treatment you can use is Hijama.”[Sahih Bukhari Hadith-No: 5371]
“The best treatment is cupping, it removes blood, lightens the back and sharpen the eyesight”.[Al–Hakim 4/212, At-Tirmidhi Hadith No: 3053]
Jaabir ibn Abdullah y reported that the Messenger (PBUH) said, “Indeed in cupping (hijama) there is a cure.”[Sahih Muslim hadith No: 5706].
How often should you do cupping Islam?
Not only do we have scientific research as to when the best time is to do cupping, but we also have exact dates from Prophet SAW which tells us what days are best for cupping.
Al-Hafiz ibn Hajar RH said: “According to the doctors, the most efficacious cupping is that which is done at the second or third hour, after having intercourse or taking a bath, etc., and neither on a full nor empty stomach.
Abu Dawood reported from Abu Bakrah that he disliked cupping on Tuesdays, and said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘Tuesday is the day of blood, and on that day there is an hour when blood does not stop.’ The doctors are agreed that cupping in the second half of the month, especially in the third quarter, is more beneficial than cupping at the beginning or end of the month. Al-Muwaffaq al-Baghdaadi said: The body fluids (humours) flow heavily at the beginning of the month and calm down at the end. So the best time to let the blood flow is in the middle of the month.”
It was reported in a hadith narrated from Ibn ‘Umar by Ibn Maajah that the Prophet SAW said: ‘Administer cupping, may Allah bless you, on Thursdays, and administer cupping on Mondays and Tuesdays, but avoid cupping on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.’
[It was reported with two da’eef isnads, and there is a third version, also da’eef, reported by al-Daaraqutni in al-Afraad.]
Remember, these are good times to do it but hijama shouldn’t just be restricted to these. If someone needs it done at other times due to illnesses etc, then it can be done whenever.
Hadith on cupping
It was reported from Ibn ‘Abbaas RA that the Prophet SAW said: “The best times to be treated with cupping are the seventeenth, nineteenth or twenty-first [of the month].”[Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 2054; the isnad is da’eef]
It was reported from Anas ibn Maalik RA that the Prophet SAW said: “Whoever wants to be treated by cupping, let him do it on the seventeenth, nineteenth or twenty-first, lest the blood flow too copiously and kill him.”[Reported by Ibn Maajah, 3489; there is some weakness in the report]
Abu Huraira RA reported that the Prophet SAW said: “Whoever is treated with cupping on the seventeenth, nineteenth or twenty first, will be healed from all diseases.”[Reported by Abu Dawood, 3861, and al-Bayhaqi, 9/340. The isnad is hasan]
What to avoid after cupping?
There are a few things which you should avoid for at least a good few hours after cup therapy. A couple days would be even better:
- Avoid doing strenuous and intense exercise
- Avoid hot showers and baths or saunas – this would cause irritation to the skin
- Make sure the part where the cupping took place is covered up, especially in cold and windy conditions – this would again cause irritation
- Avoid caffeinated drinks like tea or coffee and sugary foods
- Some people might also be affected by dairy products and processed foods