Cupping or al hijama is a known medical treatment in Islam. Its name came from the root word al-haj, which literally means “sucking.”Al-hajjaam is the name that is used to refer to the person performing this treatment, while hijaamah is what the profession is called. According to the Quran, the best days to perform al hijama is during the 17th, 19th and 21st of the Islamic lunar month. These days are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Hijama holds a special place in Islam culture due to its use by the Prophet Muhammad. Muhammad said, “Indeed the best of remedies you have is hijama, and if there was something excellent to be used as a remedy then it is hijama.” The Prophet Muhammad is also said to have used cupping therapy for his own ailments such as headaches, sprained ankle, detoxification, and hip pain.
Some say that the benefits of al hijama are limitless. It helps treat diseases from a simple cough and colds to infectious diseases and cancer. Some of the common conditions treated by al hijama include, but are not limited to, constipation, diarrhea, back pain, head aches, obesity, fatigue, asthma, hypertension, gout, arthritis, rheumatic diseases and others.
There have been studies that show the efficiency of cupping. In one study, 70 patients who were suffering from headaches were studied and the results showed that after wet cupping treatment, their headache pain reduced by 60 percent. The patients also showed an equivalent of 12.6 days of headache reduction per month. The study lasted for 3 months. The following tests were used as baseline: severity of headache, frequency of headache per month and the use of al hijama as treatment. Another study conducted in Iran showed that traditional wet cupping is safe and can treat patients with lower back pain.
Hijama and Cancer
Al hijama is also used for cancer patients, although there is no study that proves it to be a cure for cancer. However, cupping is said to undo the damages caused by conventional cancer treatments. Al hijama is not yet used as a cure to cancer, but as a supplementary treatment to patients to lessen the pain, detox, and helps them recover faster. It is known that during chemotherapy, the patient suffers from a weak immune system. The use of al hijama cupping as a supplementary treatment helps the patient strengthen their immune system to deal with further attack from cancer cells.
Other ailments and diseases
Cupping or al hijama is also known for treating chest and heart diseases. As early as the 1940’s, there are textbooks that claim al hijama is an effective way to treat pneumonia. It has also been written that cupping is an efficient way to treat hypertension.
Apart from treating diseases, al hijama is also good for stress, fatigue, depression and anxiety treatment. It is also said that cupping is known to balance the hormones. Hormonal imbalance may lead to anxiety and depression. Al hijama has an effect on the patient that is similar to massage. After the treatment, patients are expected to be relieved and more relaxed.
Varicose veins can also be treated with al hijama. Although cupping can not be directly applied to the main varicose veins, it removed not flowing blood from the capillaries. Hence, reducing, if not at all eliminating the varicose veins.
Cupping therapy is a form of healing technique that has been practiced across all cultures since possibly 5,000 years. Although the exact origins of the technique are not known, there is a probability that it was carried across many locations by migratory people. This therapy is practiced in the Middle Eastern countries by the name of al-hijama and basically follows the same ideology. The word hijama is derived from the Arabic word hajm that means sucking.
Teachings of the Prophet
Cupping has been mentioned in the hadith or the first documentations of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. In them, the Prophet talks about his encounter with an angel on the night of his ascension to heaven. He recounts how the angel asked him to educate the people of his nation on the benefits of cupping. He also says that if cupping is used on the proper points on the body, using the appropriate amount of suction, it is effective in curing almost any disease or ailment. The 17th, 19th or 21st day of the Islamic lunar month are recommended as the days when cupping therapy is most effective.
Muhammad al-Bukhari, Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj Nishapuri are some of the scholars who kept written accounts of the sayings of the Prophet and they have noted that he gave his approval of this form of healing describing it as one of the best healing therapies they could use. In keeping with his teachings, wet cupping is widely used in Islamic countries.
Wet cupping or bleeding cupping is called the sunnah method by Islamic scholars. Trained therapists use a surgical blade to prick or scrape the skin and then apply a cup to suck up blood (known as wet cupping). They place the cups on specific locations on the body such as between the shoulder blades on the back, a little upwards, towards the neck. Other locations on the body are also cupped but the sunnah cupping technique is mostly used on the back.
Another very fascinating technique is that of water cupping which is performed rarely. A cup is filled up to a third of its capacity with warm water. The therapist holds the cup close to the point where it must be applied. Next, a piece of burning cotton wool is slipped into the cup that is immediately inverted over the chosen point. In the hands of an expert, there is no water spilt at all.
Other Forms of Cupping
Aside from sunnah and water cupping, other forms of cupping are also used by Islamic therapists. They use weak suction cups over oiled skin to perform moving or massage cupping. By using a herbal tincture on the cup before creating suction, they perform herbal cupping. Hot cupping is another technique where a needle heated by dried artemisia vulgaris or mugwort leaves are used to pierce the skin and then the vacuum cup is placed on the skin.
Cupping to Cure Sihr Magic
Islamic accounts have descriptions on how the Prophet was once afflicted with magic and was treated by using cupping therapy on the head. They also say that if cupping is performed in the right way, it is the ideal treatment for Magic Sihr and cases of possession.
Similar to the cupping therapy techniques that evolved the world over, Islamic al-hijama also uses cups to create heat vacuum for three minutes. After that minor nicks are administered on the skin to suck up a few drops of toxic blood to cure ailments. Like in all other cupping treatments, al-hijama does not cause any major pain or discomfort to the patient.
Along with cupping’s rich ancient history and scientific studies, it is safe to conclude that al hijama is an effective way in bringing cure to various diseases. However, al hajima should be performed with precaution. No matter how wonderful this treatment method may be, let us not forget that like any other treatment, there are known contraindications for al hijama. It should not be performed in the areas where there is an open wound to avoid infection or allergy. People who have thin skin like the elderly should not undergo this treatment as well as the people with bleeding disorder. The treatment should be done by a practitioner to make sure it is properly performed to maximize the results.
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