Hijama in Ramadan

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Many people wish to reap the benefits of cupping hijama when fasting, whether it be to treat ill health or to simply emulate the actions of the prophet Muhammed (PBUH).

Many questions arise around this topic and the aim of this article is to expand and clarify the already existing opinions and concerns that we receive from patients.  Please note the Arabic word for Cupping is “Hijama”

Here are some of common questions raised that I will aim to answer.

Does having cupping done break a person’s fast? Has the person doing the cupping broken their fast? Is it allowed to do Cupping during Ramadan? Can you have fast even if you’ve just had cupping done? Cupping hijama when fasting?

For the benefit of patients and readers who are looking for an accurate and short answer…

The majority of scholars hold the opinion that cupping does NOT break the fast, however in cases where the person may become weak then it is Makruh ( disliked)

If you have an interest to understand the exact hadiths and the effect of them on this issue, I will now present more detailed assessment of how the scholars have come to both of these conclusions.

This topic of cupping hijama when fasting has several related hadeeth:

There are separate narrations with slight differences in wording, chain of authority, authenticity and reliability, all of which have been evaluated by scholars in hadeeth to produce several hadeeths concerning this issue:

Hadeeth 1 – The hadeeth of Shaddad and Raafa’i ibn Khadij ( two sahabas)

”     “أفطر الحاجم والمحجوم

It has been narrated the Prophet(PBUH) as saying

‘A man who cups and the one who is being cupped break their fast’

* ( Abu Dawood, 2367, Ibn Maajah 1676, Classed as Saheeh by Albani. The other narrations of this hadeeth can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, and here

The opinion that was formed based on this hadeeth is clearly that Cupping breaks your fast! This opinion was chosen by Ibn Taymiyah, his student Ibn Qayyum as well as other scholars such as Ibn Mundthir, Ibn Khuzaiyma, Al-Awza’i, Al Darmi, Ishaaq and is the opinion of the Hanbali madthab.

Ibn Taymiyah supports this opinion also because it the removal of blood in cupping is similar to other instances where something is removed and the fast is broken. i.e menses, ejaculation

Hadeeth 2 – The hadeeth of Ibn Abbas

احْتَجَمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ وَهُوَ صَائِمٌ مُحْرِمٌ ‏”.‏”

It was narrated by Ibn Abbas that he saw the prophet:

“ The prophet Muhammed (pbuh) did Cupping and he was fasting and in ihram”

*(Bukhari 5:665, Ibn Majah 7:1752, Abi Dawud 2373, Tirmidhi 777,  The other narrations of this hadeeth can be found here, here, here, here, here, here and here)

This hadeeth is taken by the majority of scholars and they hold the opinion that Cupping whilst fasting does not break your fast.

Other hadeeth supporting that sahaba would have cupping even whilst fasting:

وَحَدَّثَنِي عَنْ مَالِكٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ شِهَابٍ، أَنَّ سَعْدَ بْنَ أَبِي وَقَّاصٍ، وَعَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ عُمَرَ، كَانَا يَحْتَجِمَانِ وَهُمَا صَائِمَانِ

“Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab that Sad ibn Abi Waqqas and Abdullah ibn Umar used to be cupped while they were fasting2 (Muwatta Malik 18:665)

حَدَّثَنَا آدَمُ بْنُ أَبِي إِيَاسٍ، حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ ثَابِتًا الْبُنَانِيَّ، يَسْأَلُ أَنَسَ بْنَ مَالِكٍ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ أَكُنْتُمْ تَكْرَهُونَ الْحِجَامَةَ لِلصَّائِمِ قَالَ لاَ‏.‏ إِلاَّ مِنْ أَجْلِ الضَّعْفِ‏.‏ وَزَادَ شَبَابَةُ حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ عَلَى عَهْدِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم‏.‏

“Anas bin Malik was asked whether they disliked the cupping for a fasting person. He replied in the negative and said, “Only if it causes weakness.” (Bukhari 1940)

The following is a translation and explanation of the discourse between the two sides (Ibn Taymiyya/Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal vs hanafi/shafi/maliki/others) and their supporting arguments

  1. Hanbalis: The hadeeth of Shaddad has been narrated by more than 16 companions, it is also supported by the actions of Sahaba who would delay doing Cupping until after iftar.

Majority: It is not clear the sahaba have delayed their cupping till after iftar due to the Prophet saying so or because they were afraid of weakness whilst fasting.

  1. Hanbalis: The hadeeth of Shaddad is a saying of prophet, whilst the hadeeth of Ibn Abbass is an action of the prophet. It is a principle within hanbali fiqh (والقول مقدم على الفعل)

that the speech of the Prophet(pbuh) is higher ranked than the reported actions.

Majority: This principle is only used in cases where you are left to choose between probabilities only,  but this principle should only be used in situations where there is no contradicting hadeeths present ( which there are in this case), or when a hadeeth authenticity cannot be proven.

  1. Imam Ahmed and others: The hadith of Ibn Abbas is wrong due to a defect in one narrator namely Qobaysa, the words “and he was fasting” was not present in the original hadeeth.

Majority: This is the opinion of Ahmed, it has been directed by others and also with Imam Bukhari, that this hadeeth fulfils the conditions required to be in Saheeh Bukhari

  1. Hanbalis: That removing anything coming out from your body that may make you weak will break the fast. E.g vomiting, menses, semen

Majority: This principle of analogy would indeed be correct if it was not contested with any other textual evidences which are supporting the action

The majority audience also presented with several other points to support their opinion:

  1. Majority: Regarding the hadeeth of Shadad being abrograted, because it is proven in some of his narrations that this hadeeth was during the year of conquest whilst the hadith of Ibn Abbas was during the farewall Hajj.

Hanbalis: This is not the case as we believe the Prophet was not actually fasting during this Hajj that Ibn Abbas witnessed.

Even if we are to accept the words “and he was in ihram” and “he was fasting” , this linguistically can be taken as two separate subjects in a sentence, it may be that it was referring to two separate instances. i.e he did hijama during whilst in ihram / he did hijama whilst fasting. It is because of this possibility that we refute this hadeeth.

  1. Majority: The hadeeth of Shaddad is in fact abrogated and is supported by other hadeeths of Al-Nasaa’I in al-kubra and ibn Khuzaymah in his saheeh.
  2. Majority: We don’t hold the hadeeth of Shaddad as an opinion as we have other points which oppose this hadeeth, which allow Cupping during fasting:
  3. a) Shaddad said “broken fast ( iftar) ” and that can means other things like it could mean that you’ve lost the reward in the fast like in the hadeeth of the two people that were backbiting whilst fasting, it was said in the hadeeth they have “broken fast (iftar) ”, in that instance they had not technically broke their fast but In face lost the reward of it.
  4. b) Or we can even understand that it means that the fast has been weakened or closer to being broken
  5. Majority: Imam Nawawi says in the book Sharh madhab says the first understanding that comes from the hadeeth of ibn Abbas and the other hadeeths is that Cupping DOES NOT break your fast.

Conclusion

The conclusion for majority of scholars aside from the opposing party have said about cupping hijama when fasting:

We conclude that Cupping does not break fast, and that if you fear that you become weak from it then it is makrooh (disliked). This issue of weakness being makrooh is supported by when Abi Dawood reported the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) would carry on fasting even after iftar as a special case for himself, the Prophet did not make this haram but advised the sahabas who copied him not to do it due to them becoming weak.

Ibn Tayymiyah also highlights that when Cupping was done, it was a horn style vessel used. This was placed on the site of cupping and suction was created by a person sucking inwards, which occurred to many sahaba. Obviously when blood would pass through to the mouth it would indefinitely break the fast. In modern day cupping the suction is created by hand pumps and the risk of swallowing blood is not present at all.

Moreover within the Hanbali madthab there is differences as to whether analogies can be made on hadeeth which refer to actions of ibadah or it should be taken as they appear literally.

The final point distinguishes between blood removed from bleeding gums, surgery and blood tests and that cupping does not have the same affects on the body if removed. The point suggests that if the above does not negate fast because of the small effect or little weakness on the body then Cupping may be the same