Wet Cupping or ‘Hijama’: The Ancient Art of Healing


From Aztecs and A-list celebrities, the ancient healing practice of cupping has such an diverse fanbase and illustrious history that it’s hard to credit one culture with its conception. The practice is believed to date back to thousands of years with evidence of the method amongst medicinal traditions of the Egyptians, Chinese and Greeks. The holistic therapy consists of heating small round cups on an open flame and placing it on the skin which creates a vacuum that sucks up the skin and encourages blood flow. The most popular form of cupping in the Muslim world is ‘wet cupping’ where small incisions are made to the skin after cupping to draw out blood.

How Hijama Is Done

Wet cupping or ‘Hijama’, which comes from the Arabic word for ‘sucking’, took on particular importance in the Arab world after the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said: “Healing is in three things: in the incision of the cupper, in drinking honey, and in cauterizing with fire, but I forbid my Ummah (nation) to use cauterization.” (Al-Bukhari) Although over time the popularity of cupping has waned significantly, Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa carry out wet cupping to soothe their aches and pains till this day.

Wet cupping has been credited in the Islamic faith as a cure for various ailments such as headaches, stomach problems, poisoning and alleviating pain. As Abu Zakariya, a Hijama practitioner in the UK explains, “Hijama is like an oil change for the human body- if you compare the body to a car- you remove the old dirty (oil-blood), so the body can replenish the circulatory system with clean blood. Hijama helps to remove impurities and stimulate the bone marrow to produce new, healthier blood and increase blood circulation.”

Hijama, which is basically a combination of cupping and blood-letting, also has the added benefits of these two therapies. Cupping is widely used to treat pain and muscular aches, indigestion, colds, fever and even arthritis. Whilst blood-letting is credited with removing toxins, excess iron and excess red blood cells from the body. Leeches which were used in the past to aid blood letting appear to have made a comeback in recent times as they are now used in hospitals to clean wounds and improve blood circulation in damaged tissue.

Although the practice has an important place in most Muslim communities, there does tend to be a DIY attitude to the whole thing with people using the ‘guy down the street’ to carry it out. This probably stems from the fact that traditionally it was the barber who carried out the practice, along with other small operations such as circumcisions, but my advice is to seek a professionals or registered practitioner who will ensure that the hijama is carried out in a sterile environment. Abu Zakariya’s advice is to make sure the practitioner is medically qualified and follows strict universal cross infection control procedures (ie all cups are disposable and single use).

Despite the alien-like bruises that this alternative therapy leaves behind, the procedure for wet cupping is quite straight forward and consists of encouraging blood circulation using suction and pressure combined with small incisions. The bruising which occurs due to the suction from the cups fades within days and I have been told repeatedly that cupping looks a million times more painful than it actually is. Most people say that they find the procedure soothing and effective form of pain relief which helps them detox.

:: Al-Hijamah and image via Matt Kowal on flickr.

For More on Alternative Medicine see:

Pauline Wafts Through “Uses & Abuses of Plant-Derived Smoke”

Black Cumin: Islam’s Miracle Cure Seed

The Healing Powers of Honey

About Arwa Aburawa

Arwa is a Muslim freelance writer who is interested in everything climate change related and how Islam can inspire more people to care for their planet and take active steps to save it while we can.She is endlessly suspicious of all politicians and their ceaseless meetings, especially as they make normal people believe that they are not part of the solution when they are the ONLY solution.Her Indian auntie is her model eco-warrier, and when Arwa is not busy helping out in the neighborhood alleyway garden, swap shopping or attempting fusion vegetarian dishes- with mixed success, she’d like to add- she can be found sipping on foraged nettle tea. You can find all of Arwa’s published work on her freelance site, and check out her musing on her blog.You can contact her @arwa_journalist or via arwa (at) greenprophet.com

25 thoughts on “Wet Cupping or ‘Hijama’: The Ancient Art of Healing

  1. Ash

    Is there any one offer accrideted course of wet cupping or hujama in australia?

    Ist legal to make wet hujama to others in australia? If yes plz mention where i can read about it.

  2. Hijamah Works

    As salaamu alaikum and jazakumAllah khair for posting this great article and history to Hijamah!

    For anyone wishing to apply this sunnah into their lives please allow me to introduce Alif2Yaa Hijamah Services. We are a professional clinic offering Hijama in Toronto, GTA, Mississauga and Milton Ontario in Canada.

    We have certified male and female therapists and our female practitioner has spoken at conferences on this topic of prophetic medicine.

    For more information and to read what customers have said about their hijama experience with us, find us at http://www.hijamahworks.com.

    If you are not in Toronto the best resource to find a practitioner is br. Shuaibs website: http://www.hijamadirectory.info/. May Allah have mercy on him for his great website to spread this neglected sunnah-ameen.

    JazakumAllah khair,

  3. stanley

    i am in melbourne, australia. i am hijama therapist. you can contact me on [email protected]

  4. yudhi sri mulyadi

    لقد ولدت في اندونيسيا ، والآن ,أنا أعمل في أحد المستشفيات في الكويت,لدي مهارةالحجامة, لقد حجمت المرضى تدليكه بإذن الله. اعتدت الحجامة. فإذا أردتم الحجامة,فاتصلوا بي. هذا هو رقم هاتفي

  5. Jawad

    Asalaamu alaiykum

    I live in calgary, Canada and I am interested in performing hijama. Are aware of any places here that have this service

    Jazakm allah kher

  6. Abu Zakariya

    Jazakhalhu khayrun to sister Arwa – nice article
    keep up the good work
    anyone who has any hijama related questions feel free to contact me vis the website
    peace to all mankind


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