By Layachi EL hadiri
By Layachi EL hadiri
Rabat – Followers of this year’s Olympic Games may have noticed several Olympians of different nationalities with circular purple marks on their shoulders and backs.
The marks have sparked curiosity among fans and social media users wondering what these round bruises are.
Some thought they were burns; others postulated that they were the result of octopus attacks, given that most of the athletes were swimmers, according to Aljazeera channel. To quell the speculation surrounding the purple spots, the athletes have stated that the bruises resulted from an ancient practice known as “cupping” (Hijaamah).
Michael Phelps, the American swimmer who has won 21 gold medals, has shown his love of cupping on his Instagram account. U.S gymnast Alex Naddour and Belarus swimmer Pavel Sankovich have also been photographed with spotted backs and limbs, according to CNN. Naddour said that spending money on cupping was “better than any money I’ve spent on anything else.”
So what is Hijaamah or cupping?
Hijaamah comes from the root al-hajm, which means “sucking.” 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. (Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid).
Hijaamah is an Arabic word meaning “drawing out or sucking or vacuum.” Originally Hijaamah was known as “cupping” as cups were the tools used in this kind of therapy. It is an ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Babylonian practice now recognized as an alternative medicine or alternative way of treating different diseases and bodily disorders (Osman-Latib, 2013). As described in Healthymuslim.com, there are three types of Hijaamah:
- Dry cupping: This is the process of using a vacuum on the painful areas of the body in order to gather the blood in that area without incisions (small, light scratches made by a razor). It is a relaxation therapy as no blood is removed from the body.
- Dry massage cupping: This is similar to dry cupping but olive oil is applied to the skin (before applying the cups) in order to allow easy movement of the cups.
- Wet cupping: This is the process where the cups are placed on the body with suction and then incisions are made on the skin to allow the removal of blood from the body.
Although the practice pre-dates the revelation of the Qur’an, cupping is firmly established in the Sunnah (teachings and practices of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)). It was a common practice of the Prophet and His companions to treat every disease, pain and ailment.
Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with them both) reported that the Prophet (peace 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, the Prophet 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).
Although dry and dry massage cupping are not recorded in the Sunnah and it has not been proven that Prophet practised them, they fall under the general teachings of the Prophet Muhammad who said, “For every disease there is a cure.” (Sahih Muslim 2204). (Sahih means authentic).
Hijaamah or cupping has a number of health benefits such as stimulating and strengthening the immune system, enhancing blood circulation, improving physical and mental health conditions, reducing stress and depression by releasing chemicals in the brain, reducing unwanted side effects of drugs, removing their residue and reducing the risk of drug toxicity. Abu Hurairah reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon Him) said: “Whoever has Hijaamah (cupping) done on the 17th, 19th or 21st of the month (lunar month), it will be for him a cure from every illness.” (Sahih Al-Jaami’ 5968).
Notwithstanding the technological advances in modern medicine and healthcare, cupping is still practiced by large numbers of people in every corner of the world. In addition to Olympians who undergo this kind of therapy, celebrities, including Hollywood film stars, have also embraced this alternative medicine.
1 – Osman-Latib, Feroz. Islamic Cupping & Hijamah: A Complete Guide. EDI Publishers, 2013.
Edited by Elisabeth Myers