IJÂMA, ORWET-cupping” is an emphasized sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ which few Muslims practice today.

Authentic aâdîth on ijâma abound. Here are some of them:

ʿAbdullâh ibn ʿAbbâs narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said:

Healing is in three things: in cupping, in ingesting honey, and in cauterizing with fire. I, however, advise my Ummah to shun cauterizing with fire. (Bukhâri – 5681, Ibn Mâjah – 3491, and Aḥmed)

Abû Hurairah reported that the Messenger ﷺ said:

If there was something excellent to be used as a remedy, then it is cupping (ijâma) (Abû Dâwûd, Ibn Mâjah, Aḥmed, and Al-Ḥâkim)

ʿAbdullâh ibn ʿAbbâs reported that the Messenger ﷺ said

I did not pass by an angel from the angels on the Night Journey (Al-Isrâ’ wa Al-Miʿrâj) except that they all said to me: “Order your nation to cupping (ijâma), O Muhammad.” (Tirmidhi and Al-Ḥâkim. Rated aḥiḥ by Al-Albâni in his aḥiḥ Al-Targhîb, 3/352)

Certain trends brought dry-cupping into vogue from Asia a few years ago, with celebrities touting tell-tale circular marks from the procedure on their backs. However, dry cupping does not even come close to having the remarkable benefits of wet-cupping. Both types of cupping involve the use of a vacuum, or absence of air that creates suction, inside of a transparent cup that is then placed on certain points of the body.

Types of Cupping: Dry & Wet

Left there for several minutes, the flesh inside of the cup becomes mildly swollen and reddish in color as blood is sucked to the surface just beneath the skin. In dry-cupping the suction is released from the cups and the procedure is complete. In theory this practice releases toxins and “old blood” (such as blood that was left over from injuries, bruises or swollen body parts from infection) and makes it easier for the body to eliminate them through human waste. However, these substances are still left to travel the bloodstream and must be filtered by the organs before being released.

In wet cupping after the cups are removed from the initial suction, hair-fine incisions are made in the flesh and the cup is replaced and a vacuum created again. Toxins and “old blood” are released from the incisions directly into the cup. After several minutes the blood is disposed of and the area is cleaned and the procedure is complete. In this way toxins and harmful substances are released immediately which is ultimately best for the internal organs and safer for women like breastfeeding mothers as toxins can be released into breast milk.

Technique & Practitioners

Those of us who have grown up in the West have heard stories of the pseudo-science of “blood-letting.” Whether done with an incision by a barber or using leeches, this technique in Western medicine lacks the wisdom of the sunnah, in that it does not apply the same method or include the knowledge of prime areas of the body for cupping for various ailments. My initial reaction to ijâma was one of hesitation, however after some convincing from my friends who recommended it so highly, I attended a friend’s cupping appointment then underwent my own. Since them I have, alamdulillah, had it done about six times.

I am very blessed in that our local women’s ajjâma has learned from her own husband, whose family has passed down this sunnah in the family for centuries, with the older generation teaching the younger. Various techniques have been experimented with and knowledge gleaned from so many generations of experience who have seen so many different patients and issues. Perhaps the most interesting technique I had heard was that of the “fire cup,” a certain procedure done to increase virility. Where I live people call for this treatment and come from hours away to have it done.

Concerns: Pain & Blood Loss

My initial fear with ijâma was the loss of blood, however, it is amazing to see that the body only releases the toxic blood and then completely stops, in spite of the vacuum still being present. In areas of infection or injury as much as two cups will be filled. The same can be said in areas of the body that are used for hormone imbalance or on the crown of the head for sir (witchcraft) or ʿayn (the evil eye); the cups become filled with dark, coagulated blood. However, the same person will have several other cups applied to his body and the incisions there may only release a few drops of blood or none at all. This shows the importance of applying the cup and not simply creating an incision in the skin like with blood-letting, and a good ajjâm always sterilizes instruments.

ijâma is also surprisingly painless unless one is suffering from sir or ʿayn, and even then the pain is tolerable. Just like any other disease, sir and ʿayn leave behind a physical contaminant in the body that needs to be released. When the Prophet ﷺ was afflicted with sir, we all are familiar with the adîth that he recited the âyât of Sûrat Al-Falaq for ruqya. However, many of us don’t know that Ibn Al Qayyim mentioned in his work Zâd Al-Maʿâd that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ was cupped on the top of his head when he was afflicted with sir (witchcraft) and that it is of the best of cures for this ailment if it is performed correctly.

Overall if the ajjâm is experienced and good at what he does, these cuts are very painless and feel like nothing more than a fingernail scratch on the skin. I personally have seen children have ijâma performed on them for a variety of reasons and they handle it remarkably well. Online I have seen images of cuts that look like gashes in the skin, and from my understanding this is not correct. Perhaps some people who are not as skilled, or who want to impress their patients, cut deeply into the skin to release more blood. In this way they will make their patient believe that the ijâma was very thorough or that they have problems because of the amount of blood released. Only a very fine cut is needed and the body will release as needed.

Hijâma & Human Ailments

Many people who have never had ijâma done before will have dark marks left from the cups, almost like bruises. But once a person has had it done multiple times the body is not so sensitive. What is interesting is to note the type of blood that is released as well as the type of mark that is left behind from the cup. An experienced ajjâm can understand what ailments a person may have by examining these things. In some cases a person may have dark, gelatinous blood released from one area, and in others a thin, foamy blood released from another area. Depending on the person’s complaints, a lot can be understood from this, such as the presence of infection, hormonal imbalances, vitamin deficiency, blood pressure issues, blood circulation issues, sir or ʿayn, and so on. Also if someone has fertility issues, the result of the ijâma can help indicate whether it is caused by physical problems or something like asad or sir.

In cases of sir or ʿayn, strange marks are often left behind on the cups that resemble symbols or shapes which are often very bizarre to see. In cases of possession or the attachment of a jinn to a person, the pain that a person feels is a shared pain from the jinn (thus one of the most effective treatments for these issues is ijâma) as the jinn dislike feeling it. One should exercise caution however because in some cases the jinn can cause vomiting or temporary paralysis as a result.

ijâma is most emphasized for those who live in hot climates, according to scholars who have written on the subject. The Prophet ﷺ said:

Do not allow your blood to boil such that it kills you. (Muslim)

When the body becomes ill it develops a fever, or, at the site of an injury there is a feeling of heat. This process benefits the body but then the leftover, damaged blood needs to be released. It is interesting to see the coagulation of the blood in such cases which ultimately will be released to circulate again if not removed. Heat from climate will have a similar effect on the body though it is more like a low simmer that is harmful over time.

Along the same vein, no pun intended, ijâma can also benefit those with problems of a hot temper. Allah created certain human beings that are quicker to anger than others, just as he created some that are more susceptible to stress and anxiety. ijâma can alleviate these issues and restore a natural balance if done on a regular basis. Also for women who suffer from severe PMS or heavy menstrual bleeding, ijâma can alleviate this problems and restore normalcy to the body, both mentally and physically.

Inshâ’Allah in the next installment of this series we will talk more about the various points on the body used during ijâma and their benefit. The final installment will be an interview with an experienced ḥajjâm.

 

Originally posted 2015-08-10 03:00:33.

Olivia Kompier

Olivia is a married homeschooling mother of four who converted to Islam at the age of 16 in the month of Ramadan. She has gone on to attain a B.A. in Islamic Studies, is a Certified Screamfree Marriage / Parenting Consultant, and is a certified lactation consultant.

13 Comments

  • Jodie Umm Ali

    August 10, 2015 - - 4:15 am

    Bunaa Dorra interesting read

  • Hanaa Leilani Asif

    August 10, 2015 - - 5:42 am

    Faiza Maqbul

  • Norzaidah Mardani

    August 10, 2015 - - 5:46 am

    Alhamdulillah. Just had mine last week!

  • Imam Muhammad Amin Abdulrahman

    August 10, 2015 - - 6:06 am

    As salaamu alaikum. Good article. There are many certified hajams that can be advertised. One emphasis that can help in reviving this essential yet forgotten sunnah is to talk about the o ligation to observing sunnah and why it should not be shunned.

  • Imam Muhammad Amin Abdulrahman

    August 10, 2015 - - 6:07 am

    Hijama Nation

  • Moied Ahmed

    August 10, 2015 - - 6:42 am

    Pseudo-science level too high.

  • Harris Dean

    Harris Dean

    August 10, 2015 - - 7:00 am

    Ajaz Mohammed

  • Kaighla Um Dayo

    August 10, 2015 - - 7:05 am

    so pertinent! all my new friends are swearing by the benefits of hijaama and I am wanting to learn more.

    • Aafreen Mukthar

      August 10, 2015 - - 7:28 am

      Gave me relief from some chronic conditions I was suffering from. And it’s the fastest way to relieve a migraine headache too.

    • Haleema Um-Safiyyah

      August 10, 2015 - - 7:39 am

      It’s true. My life was completely turned around after being afflicted by sihr and jinn possession through some sessions with an experienced hajjam alongside the ruqyah I did. Alhamdulillah for this sunnah which literally saved my life, my memory and my family from me.

    • Kaighla Um Dayo

      August 10, 2015 - - 7:40 am

      Man that’s scary stuff!

  • Millgo Heff

    August 14, 2015 - - 5:25 pm

    Alhamdulillah I had it done

  • Maymunat Zakariyya

    November 7, 2022 - - 1:12 pm

    Thanks for the valuable information shared. May Allah increase you in hidayah.

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