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What is Hijama (blood-cupping)?

Question:

What is the status of cupping /hijama in Islam? Is it a 'forgotten' Sunnah? In which case is it's revival a commendable act worthy of great potential reward or would it now be seen as an outdated therapy that no longer applies given the advances of modern medicine?

Answer: 

Thank you for this brilliant question, which –Insha Allah – will make many Muslims aware of what is certainly a forgotten Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

Hijama is a medical procedure whereby blood is drawn from the body with the intention of cleaning it and making a person healthy. The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself had this blood-cupping performed on him, by Abu Hind (may Allah be pleased with him). In a Hadith, he described Hijama as ‘Khayr al-Dawa’, meaning the best of the cures. Imam al-Bukhari reports that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘There are no remedies comparable to cupping and blood-letting.’  

Though this procedure is good for all people, it is particularly beneficial for people living in hot climates, according to Ibn al-Qayyim, writing in Tibb Nabawi.

There are several benefits of this procedure. One man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and complained of pains in the head. Our Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) advised him to have blood-cupping (Sunan Abu Dawud; cited in Medicine of the Prophet, Imam al-Suyuti, p.21).  

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also gave very specific advice on how and when to perform for it. For example:  

-It is essential to refrain from cupping when taking a hot bath, except when the blood is very thick – in which case it is good to have a hot bath and then be cupped an hour later.

-A full stomach must be avoided when being cupped.

-Cupping beneath the chin relieves pain in the teeth and face.

-Specific advice was also tendered by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as to when exactly to have the cupping done. He said: ‘Whoever is cupped on the 17th, 19th or 21st day of the (lunar) month will be cured of every disease’ (Sunan Abu Dawud). Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday should be avoided, as the Messenger said that blood does not clot easily on that day.  

The Prophet’a advice is universal to all people and all times and so we should remind people of the benefit of Hijama. Muslims should consult an experienced cupper should they wish to have this Sunna procedure done on them. They are also advised to consult their GP too beforehand.

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