Cupping Therapy

What is cupping therapy (hijama)?
Cupping (hijama) is the best remedy recommended and used by the Messenger r. The Messenger said, “Indeed the best of remedies you have is cupping (hijama)…” [Saheeh Ul-Bukhaari (5371)].
He also said that on the night of Israa (Meraj: his ascension to the heavens) he did not pass by an angel except that it said to him, “Oh Muhammad, order your Ummah (nation) with cupping (hijama).” [Saheeh Sunan Tirmidhee (3479)].
This shows the importance and greatness of this Sunnah.
‘Hijama’ in Arabic is derived from ‘Hajm’ which means ‘sucking’. Cupping (hijama) is the process of applying cups to various points on the body by removing the air inside the cups to form a vacuum.
Cupping is a method of relieving local congestion by applying a partial vacuum that is created in a cup(s), either by heat or by suction.
Types of Cupping
Cupping (hijama) is of three types:

  • Dry cupping (hijama) – This is the process of using a vacuum on different areas of the body in order to gather the blood in that area without incisions (small, light scratches using a sterile surgical blade).
  • Dry massage cupping (hijama) – This is similar to dry cupping (hijama) but olive oil is applied to the skin (before applying the cups) in order to allow easy movement of the cups.  70% of diseases, pains and ailments are due to the blood being unable to reach certain parts of the body. Dry cupping (hijama) and dry massaging cupping (hijama) allow the blood to reach these places. Dry and massage cupping (hijama) may be administered any time of the day, any day of the week or month. There are no restrictions. Although dry and massage cupping (hijama) are very beneficial, they are not from the Sunnah. However, they fall under the general hadeeth:  The Messenger said, “For every disease there is a cure so if the medicine comes upon the disease it cures it by the will of Allah, the Most High.” [Saheeh Muslim (2204)].
  • Wet cupping (hijama) – This is the process of using a vacuum at different points on the body but with small incisions in order to remove ‘harmful’ blood which lies just beneath the surface of the skin. (It is recommended that wet cupping (hijama) is only administered by a cupping therapist).  Wet cupping (hijama) is from the Sunnah. To obtain maximum benefit from cupping (hijama), it is recommended that all three methods of cupping are used.

History of Hijama:
Cupping has been used for thousands of years. Although it is often associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine, the entire world once knew this of therapy and used it. The Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Chinese used cupping therapy. The oldest recorded medical textbook, Ebers Papyrus, written in approximately 1550 BCE in Egypt, mentions cupping (Curtis, 2005). In the UK, the practice of cupping therapy also dates back a long time in one of their leading medical journals, The Lancet. It was named after this practice as it refers to the surgical instrument that can scrape the skin to perform a style of cupping.
Is cupping (hijama) a cure for every disease?
Cupping (hijama) is a cure for every disease if performed in its correct time. The Messenger said, “Indeed in cupping (hijama) there is a cure.” [Saheeh Muslim (5706)]. Said, “Whoever performs cupping (hijama) on the 17th, 19th or 21st day (of the Islamic, lunar month) then it is a cure for every disease.” [Sunan abi Dawud (3861)].
Conditions Which Can Benefit From Cupping
Conditions that can benefit from cupping include headache, back pain, joint and muscular pain, infertility, sexual disorders, rheumatic diseases, hypertension, breast enhancement, bed wetting, common colds and flu, insomnia, stroke, fever, constipation and diarrhea, chest pain, asthma and blood disorders.
Precautions and Contraindications
Always take sensible precautions when using cupping or be sure that the therapist you seek cupping treatment from follows these precautions.

  • Sterilization: this is the main key to success.
  • Use suitable cups for the area being treated.
  • Take extra care with children and the elderly.
  • Do not apply strong cupping to the face.
  • Do not treat pregnant women.
  • Do not use cupping on inflamed or cut skin.
  • Take extra care when scraping the skin and do not cut a vein or artery.
  • Do not treat people with a serious heart disease.

Scientific Medical Achievements of Cupping
The official broadcasting station of London (BBC), in one of its main news bulletins on 12.08.2001, declared the following:
The Syrians were used to betake themselves to the British capital seeking for channels of treating their diseases of which they were desperate, or they came to make medical checkups or to perform some complicated medical operations. Such a way of acting on the part of the Syrians seemed very normal, but the unexpected act was the change in their destination from Great Britain towards the Syrian capital. A scientific medical team representing the British Royal Family began communications and dialogues with a group of Syrian physicians in Damascus in search for the cupping operation for the treatment of the hereditary disease, hemophilia. The disease confirmed its recovery in a number of sick people in Syria by means of cupping operations.
A spokesman on behalf of the professor Abdul-kader Dayrani, a verifier and a publisher of the books of the Damascene erudite who vitalized the cupping operation and restored its correct methods. The spoke man added that a delegation communicated with him to acquaint themselves with the medical studies done on hundreds of Syrian and Arab patients through the precise and accurate procedures which led to astonishing results for most diseases, especially hemophilia. He also mentioned that the first start for cupping in history was during the era of the most highborn the Arab Messenger. He also added that the scientific techniques and procedures of cupping were lost as time passed until the late Damascene erudite and scholar Mohammad Amin Sheikho brought the procedures of cupping to light anew.
Dr. Abdulmalek Al-Shalati, a specialist in neural diseases from UK and a professor in Damascus University, said to the BBC, in his talk, that the performance of cupping operations in its strict regular conditions on a group of patients gave amazing results in the complete recovery of many cases of cancer, paralysis, the problematic hemophilia, angina pectoris, Hodgkin’s disease, and some improvements in asthma, rheumatism, and other cases of disease. All these cases were confirmed foundings in clinical examinations, radiological and laboratory investigations performed on patients.