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Importance of Hijama

8 Comments

By Amreen Pathan

What is Hijama?

Hijama also known as cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine, which ‘rids the body of harmful pathogens by drawing out the excess blood lying dormant under the skin.’ (Hijama, 2021)

Though the exact origin of Hijama is, widely debated, ancient use can be traced back to early Egyptian and Chinese practices (Qureshi, 2017) which means that diverse civilisations have contributed to the development and narrative of this practice.

How hijama works is by the creation of suction using valves or flames when cups are applied to the site of the body chosen for cupping. Once the cups are in position, the excess or dormant blood is drawn into the cups through tiny incisions made on the site prior.  This is called wet cupping whilst dry cupping focuses on the suction created by the cups and no incisions are made therefore making it completely non-invasive.

Theory behind the practice

Although the process of hijama is widely acclaimed, there isn’t enough science or scientific research to support potential health benefits of this practice.

However, the justification behind the extraction of this stagnant blood is that stagnant blood slows down the delivery of necessary oxygen, minerals and nutrients to the body’s cells, tissues and organs. By extracting the blood, healthy delivery can resume.   

There is also the idea that the suction created by the cup encourages blood flow, which is essential for circulation. Increased circulation promotes healing and reduces pain to any afflicted area.  

Dr Tamimi uses the analogy of a tree log impeding the flow of a river to explain the above. If water is unable to flow (i.e. becomes stagnant), after time, water will bring diseases and flies (cited by Kwong, 2008). Similarly, stagnant blood is more liable to become toxic and so Hijama can be used to boost this process of releasing those toxins.

Thirdly, the ‘therapeutic effect of cupping on acupuncture points or… areas of injury’ are also theorised (Saleh, 2020).

Are Hijama and bloodletting the same?

Whilst the terms are often used synonymously, the techniques for both procedures are actually different. Bloodletting actually involves the process of opening veins and bleeding patients whereas hijama involves the extraction of blood from a specific location using suction and perforations in the skin.  

Hijama in Hadith  

‘Hijama predates the revelation of the Qur’an’ (Monaf, 2021) but its practice is firmly reinforced by the Sunnah of the Noble Prophet ﷺ. This means that for generations of Muslims, the lack of science has not been an inhibitor in benefitting from hijama.

Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Healing is in three things: a gulp of honey, cupping, and cauterizing…” [Sahih al-Bukhari 5680]

Whilst the Prophet ﷺ forbade cauterizing (branding with fire) in the same hadith, we learn about the healing nature of both honey and Hijama.

Some of the healing properties and benefits of hijama have also been referred to in another hadith of the Prophet ﷺ: “The best treatment is cupping, it removes blood, lightens the back and sharpens the eyesight.” [At-Tirmidhi, 3053]

Even more interesting is the Prophet’s mention about the effect of hijama in improving intellect and memory in a hadith narrated by Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him):

“Hijama on an empty stomach is best. In it is a cure and a blessing. It improves the intellect and the memory…” [Sunan Ibn Majah 3487]

Despite there being a lack of scientific research to scientifically substantiate these points, the benefits of hijama on the head are proposed as follows:

  • Relief is granted by applying pressure to the relevant pressure points  on the head.
  • Any blocked blood vessels in the head are cleared which also relieves pressure in the brain.

It is important to note here that the beauty of the Muslim faith is this concept of belief. Muslims believe in the unseen, the illogical and the inexplicable. Why? Because Allah says.  We do, precisely because Allah says.

In turn, Allah deals with each of his servants on the strength of their beliefs.

This concept of faith should be applied to all mentions of beneficial foods, drinks and medicines in the Sunnah. By performing hijama for example on the very basis that it is Sunnah, regardless of the science, Allah will demonstrate its potential in the healing and prevention that it provides.  

Finally, the Prophet ﷺ enhanced this practice by prescribing specific times in which hijama should be performed as well as specifying the preferred body sites on which hijama should be performed.

Which parts of the body?

By virtue of the Prophet’s chosen physical points for Hijama, the following are considered to be the Sunnah points:

  • Head (yafookh)
  • Posterior jugulars (akhdayn)
  • Upper part of the back (kahil)
  • Nape cavity (qamahduwa)
  • Hips (waraq)
  • Feet

A visual diagram of the Sunnah points can be found here.

When?

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

“Whoever performs hijama on the 17th, 19th or 21st day (of the Islamic lunar month), then it is a cure for every disease. “ (Sunan Abu Dawud)

Summative benefits of Hijama

  • Alleviates chronic muscle soreness
  • Increases circulation
  • Releases toxins
  • Reduces stretch marks and scars
  • Improves varicose and spider veins
  • Clears lung congestion
  • Hay fever relief
  • Aids digestion
  • Headache and migraine relief
  • Maintaining skin health
  • Healing urinary diseases
  • Refines eyesight
  • Improves memory

Conclusion

I defined Hijama as ‘cupping therapy’ at the very beginning. I would like to point out that whilst cupping is the name of the process that is also used for what Muslims refer to as Hijama; Hijama is an elevated form of cupping because of its religious and spiritual associations.

So both the practitioner and the person having the treatment should perform ablution and begin with the name of Allah to reap not just the physical benefits, but the spiritual and religious ones too.

References

Hijama, S., 2021. Simply Hijama. [Online]
Available at: simplyhijamah.com/What-is-Hijama
[Accessed 25th May 2021].

Kwong, M., 2008. Getting rid of bad blood. [Online]
Available at: www.thenationalnews.com.cdn.ampproject.org
[Accessed 26th May 2021].

Monaf, J., 2021. Al-Hijama. [Online]
Available at: https://www.drticm.com/post/al-hijama-1
[Accessed 26th May 2021].

Qureshi, N. A., 2017. ScienceDIrect. [Online]
Available at: sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S209549641760339X
[Accessed 25th May 2021].

Saleh, N., 2020. The ancient practice of cupping. [Online]
Available at: https://www.verywellhealth.com/does-cupping-work-1123947
[Accessed 26th May 2021].

8 Comments

  1. Sehnaz Girach
    June 3, 2021

    Assalaamoalaikum,
    Jazakallahu Khairan for this article Amreen Pathan. I really enjoyed this, excellent quick read Subhan’Allah worth it.

    Reply
    • Amreen
      June 11, 2021

      Alhamdulillah. My appreciation for reading! I’m looking forward to having a session soon insha’Allah!

      Reply
  2. khaj3@hotmail.com
    June 4, 2021

    M.A very good info about hijama tells you what its all about.

    Reply
    • Amreen
      June 11, 2021

      It was very interesting researching @khaj3. There is nothing in Islam that is not beneficial and so even the lack of science is not off putting at all!

      Reply
  3. Khadija G
    June 6, 2021

    An excellent read exploring the significance of Hijama and its Sunnah.

    Reply
    • Amreen
      June 11, 2021

      @Khadija G – JazakAllah for taking the time again to read and comment.

      Reply
  4. Mariyam
    June 20, 2021

    Jazakallah for the for the lovely article to read about as it talked about what is Hijama, Hijama in Hadith and the benefits of Hijama. I think the best treatment is cupping, it removes blood and lightens the back. I’ve had both done, dry cupping and went cupping it is also said to be sunnah.

    Reply
  5. Shuaib
    September 17, 2021

    MashaAllah a great reminder of a forgotten Healthy Sunnah !

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