Hijaamah comes from the root al-hajm, which means “sucking” (the infant suckled his mother’s breast)..Al-hajjaam is the name given to the cupper, and hijaamah is the name given to this profession. Al-mihjam is the name given to the tool in which blood is collected, or to the knife used by the cupper.
In conclusion, hijaam refers to the extraction of blood from the body by means of cupping using a suitable vessel or whatever modern equipment serves the same purpose.
Cupping was known since ancient times. It was known to the Chinese, the Babylonians and the Pharaohs. Their relics and carved images indicate that they used cupping to treat some diseases.
At first they used metal cups or bulls’ horns, from which they would remove the air by sucking it out after placing the cup on the skin. Then they used glass cups from which they would remove the air by burning a piece of cotton or wool inside the cup.
Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with them both) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“Healing is to be found in three things: drinking honey, the knife of the cupper, and cauterization of fire.”(Reported by al-Bukhaari, 10/136).
According to a hadeeth narrated by Jaabir (may Allaah be pleased with him), the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) 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.”(Reported by al-Bukhaari, 10/139)
According to a hadeeth narrated by Anas ibn Maalik, may Allaah be pleased with him, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“I did not pass by any group on the night when I was taken on the Night Journey (Isra’), but they said to me, ‘O Muhammad, tell your ummah to do cupping.’”(Reported by Ibn Maajah; it has corroborating evidence which strengthens it).
Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with them both) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was treated with cupping, and he paid the cupper his fee.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 10/124; Muslim 1202).
Anas ibn Maalik (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allaah was treated with cupping by Abu Tayyibah. He commanded that he should be given two measures of food, and he spoke with his tax-collectors, who reduced his taxes. He said:
“The best treatment you can use is cupping.”(Reported by al-Bukhaari, 10/126; Muslim, 1577)
Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“Whoever is treated with cupping on the seventeenth, nineteenth or twenty first, will be healed from all diseases.”(Reported by Abu Dawood, 3861, and al-Bayhaqi, 9/340. The isnad is hasan).
Benefits of cupping:
Cupping has real benefits in treating many diseases, past and present. The diseases which have been treated by cupping and for which it has been of benefit by Allaah’s Leave include the following:
- Circulatory diseases
- Treating blood pressure and infection of the heart muscle
- Diseases of the chest and trachea
- Headache and pains in the eyes
- Pain in the neck and stomach, and rheumatic pain in the muscles
- Some diseases of the heart and chest, and pain in the joints
In addition, cupping may offer a unique treatment which may reduce pain, and it does not have any side-effects. For more information on the benefits of cupping see Zaad al-Ma’aad by Ibn al-Qayyim, 4/52, and al-Hijaamah: Ahkaamuha wa Fawaa’iduha by Ibraaheem al-Haazimi.
How cupping is done:
The mouth of the cupping vessel (nowadays they use glass vessels) is placed on the skin at the site chosen for cupping. Then the cupper rarefies the air inside the vessel by burning a small piece of paper or cotton inside the vessel, so that the mouth of the vessel will cling to the skin. Sometimes a machine is used instead of the method described above.
The vessel clings to the skin and is left for a period of three to ten minutes. Then it is lifted off and a very small incision is made in the skin using a clean sharp instrument such as a razor blade or the like.
Then the cup is put back in the same manner as described above, until it is filled with the bad blood that comes out of the veins. Then it is taken off, and may be put back once more if needed.
When it is finished and the cup is taken away, a dry dressing is placed over the site of the incision. (See Mabaahith fi’l-Jaraahah al-Sughra wa’l-Takhdeer by Prof. Dr. Nazmi al-Qabbaani).
It is essential to make sure that you do it properly; cupping should be done by one who is experienced and he or she should use instruments that are properly cleaned and sterilized. The cupper must also ensure that no blood reaches the stomach of the patient.