PREVIOUSLY WE INTRODUCED the strongly recommended Sunnah of Ḥijâma, or wet-cupping, which removes impurities from the blood, restores balance, and replenishes the body.
According to Ibn ʿAbbâs, the Prophet ﷺ 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. (Bukhâri)
From this ḥadîth we understand the superiority of wet-cupping to dry-cupping and that the baraka is in the incision at the cupping site. Inshâ’Allah, in this article we will mention some specific sunnahs of the Prophet ﷺ related to ḥijâma, such as timing, places of cupping on the body, and other benefits.
Timings for Cupping
Cupping is preferable in the middle of the month on the odd days of the seventeenth, nineteenth and twenty-first according to a ḥadîth of the Prophet ﷺ, narrated by Abu Hurairah, in which he said:
Whoever is treated with cupping on the seventeenth, nineteenth or twenty first, will be healed from all diseases. (Abû Dawûd and Tirmidhi)
Islam extols the odd number (witr), and our calendar follows the course of the moon. It is common knowledge that the full moon affects the earth’s oceans and that the tides are highest during the full moon. Other unproven theories abound, that the moon causes an increase in women who go into labor, and other studies seem to suggest that people with mental disorders exhibit increased symptoms during the full moon.
Allah knows best what correlation there is (or isn’t) between the full moon and the human body, but the Prophet ﷺ said that the middle of the month is the best time for cupping and that in the odd days there is cure for disease (presumably because of the baraka in the odd days). However, one can still be cupped at any time of the month without harm.
There are varying opinions on the best days for cupping and the disliked days for cupping, but it is sufficient to say that while there is no clear evidence to say any day is definitely good or bad, some scholars suggested avoiding cupping on Wednesdays. However, this dislike was related to leprosy, an illness which is not present in most societies today. Some preferred to be cupped on Monday and Thursday. One reason for this may be because of the baraka of these days as they are both the days recommended for fasting.
Fasting and Cupping
There is conflicting evidence about the permissibility of being cupped while fasting, though there is clear evidence that it is permissible to be cupped while in a state of iḥrâm.
One ḥadîth mentions that the Prophet ﷺ was cupped while fasting. There is another statement of Anas ibn Malik in which is stated that it was not forbidden to be cupped while fasting, but that there was a fear of weakness or fatigue.
Yet there is another ḥadîth of the Prophet ﷺ to the effect that both the cupper and the one being cupped have broken their fast when he saw cupping being performed during Ramadan. (Abu Dawûd and Ibn Mâjah)
Based on these statements one should not have cupping done while in a state of ritual fasting. Furthermore, it is recommended that one not be cupped on a full stomach and that one should “fast” from food and liquid for a few hours at least before being cupped.
Scientifically this makes sense, considering that when one eats the blood is pulled away from surface of the body and is directed toward the stomach and intestines to aid in digestion. Also, it is recommended to have had a bath shortly before cupping, as having a bath will cause the veins to expand and improve blood circulation.
Places of Cupping
The Prophet ﷺ was cupped for various ailments and recommended it for others. For instance he ﷺ was cupped on the top of the head when he was afflicted with siḥr (meaning: black magic/witchcraft) The Prophet called this spot “Umm Mugîth” and it is a strongly recommended place for cupping, not just for siḥr but for any issues related to health of the head, brain, eyes, and psychology.
Whenever the Prophet ﷺ was visited by someone who complained of a headache he would advise them to undergo cupping. And also we are all familiar with the story of the Jewish woman who poisoned the Prophet and that he felt the pain of that in his body for the duration of his life thereafter. What many people may not know was that he had cupping performed on his body when he felt this pain as cupping both alleviates swelling/infection and also extracts harmful substances.
In one incident the Prophet ﷺ fell from his horse and dislocated his foot. He was cupped for the swelling and bruising from this injury. Personally I have been cupped for an injury from a fall and even weeks after the incident one can see that the blood that comes from the site of the injury is dark and congealed. The Prophet ﷺ was also cupped on the two sides of the neck and in another narration additionally on the nape of the neck.
Many skillful practitioners of ḥijâma (called ḥajjâmîn, sing: ḥajjâm) have discovered different places for cupping that they recommend, in addition to these places where our Prophet ﷺ is known to have been cupped. Just as in any other medical science, knowledge in gleaned over time by practitioners and new techniques come to be employed. Some ḥajjâmîn have techniques that they use for alleviating pain in other areas, and others have techniques for treating infertility. My own ḥajjâm says that many women become pregnant after having cupping done and that it greatly reduces the likelihood of miscarriage, presumably because blood flow is optimal and toxins are removed from the body, in addition to the baraka of the procedure.
In our final installment, we will, inshâ’Allah, have an interview with an experienced ḥajjâm whose family has passed down the knowledge and practice of cupping for generations.