An Essay for the Hijama Practitioner Certification Course
by UMM RIDHWAAN,
SHARJAH, UAE, 2011.
Essay: Write a 500 (minimum) word essay-
A) Choose one international culture (except Islamic/Arabic) and describe how they approach/ed cupping therapy.
B) Compare the similarities and differences between their cupping therapy techniques and Hijama cupping therapy
Upon doing a little research into the cupping therapy used in the United States of America, I discovered that Native Americans tribes used cupping as a means of healing. Here are a few excerpts from the sites :
In case of injury, fractured limbs were bound with basswood cords to splints made of cedar or heavy birch bark. Other surgical techniques included tooth extraction. Great Lakes Indians also employed three other techniques of mechanical curing, including cupping, “tattooing,” and the sweat bath.
“Cupping” is a term for the practice otherwise called “bleeding” as it was practiced historically by Euro-American physicians. Whether cupping was a traditional method or one taken over from Whites is unknown. There is no archaeological evidence to prove its use prehistorically, but its exceedingly wide distribution among Native Americans strongly suggests a native origin. Ordinarily, cupping practitioners were women (in Ojibwa, bepe’swe’jikwe, literally cutting or scratching women), and there were no cult or supernatural procedures connected with it. An apprentice could acquire the technique and knowledge for a fee. The patient gave the doctor a fee, tobacco, and one common article, such as a blanket. The most common ailments treated by cupping were headaches and blood poisoning, but it was also used for dizziness, soreness, swelling, and rheumatism.
The equipment consisted of a sharp instrument for making the incision and a section of horn. The cupping device was made from the small end of a cow’s horn, three or four inches long, which had been cleaned out and the tip perforated. To cure a headache, the doctor made a slanting incision in the patient’s temple to strike a vein. She then put the large end of the horn over the cut and then sucked on the small end to draw off the blood, which was caught in a dish. It was emptied outside in an isolated spot where no one would step on it or disturb it. Bloodletting was limited to the head and limbs. For blood poisoning, the individual was bled until “all the dark blood was out and the blood ran red and clear.” A native astringent was employed to stop the bleeding, and some doctors applied a native salve to the cut after the bleeding had stopped. In some cases two or three treatments over a period of several weeks were necessary before a cure was completed.
Historical Health Practices
Practices of the Cherokee people include herb treatments, sweat baths, bleeding, rubbing, and cold baths, which were usually done in nearby running streams.
“The Cherokee’s art of bleeding was resorted to in a number of cases, in particular rheumatism and in organizing the ball game. The two methods used in executing the operation were bleeding and scratching, the latter resulting in the preliminary rubbing on the medicine. This procedure consequently brought a direct contact with the blood. The bleeding was performed with a small cupping horn; thus the suction was applied in the ordinary manner, after scarification with a piece of flint or piece of broken glass. Within the drawn blood the shaman declares that he has found a minute pebble, a sharpened stick or other rarities. He repeatedly pretends to suck out such an object that he has asserted has caused the evil within the patient.”
“Scratching is a painful procedure that is performed with a brier, a flint arrowhead, a rattlesnake’s tooth, or even a piece of glass, according to the nature of the ailment. This practice is performed on the young men for the ball game. The shaman thus uses an implement resembling a comb, having seven teeth made from the sharpened splinters of the leg bone of a turkey. A pattern is utilized in which the scratcher is drawn four times down the upper part of each arm, thus making 28 scratches each about 6 inches in length. This operation is repeated on each arm below the elbow and on each leg above and below the knee. Finally, the implement is drawn across the breast from the two shoulders so as to form a cross; the same pattern is repeated on the back in which the body is thus gashed in nearly 300 places. These scratches did not penetrate deep enough to result in a serious outcome. The blood is allowed to flow freely. The medicine applied appropriately in the wounds is intended to toughen the muscles of the player. The patient then plunges into the stream and washes off the blood. In rheumatism and other local diseases the scratching is restricted to the part infected. “
Both Native American tribes used animal horn and mouth suction in order to draw off the bad blood from the patient, scarification was done with sharp with flint or broken glass or other sharp instrument, native astringent or salve applied (used the same as black seed or honey ) and blood safely discarded like in Hijama cupping. In some cases the procedure was repeated to affect a cure or to ward off evil. The primary cupping practitioners were women in some tribes. Women became the healers of conditions like rheumatism, headaches, blood poisoning, dizziness, soreness and swelling like as in Hijama cupping therapy. The patient paid the doctor a fee, as we see that Anas, radiya Allahu anhu, narrated that he was asked about the wages of the one who cups other. He said, “Allah’s Messenger, salalahu alaihi wa sallam, was cupped by Abu Tayba, to whom he gave 2 Sa’ of food and interceded for him with his masters who consequently reduced what they used to charge him daily. Then the Prophet, salalahu alaihi wa sallam said, “ the best medicines you may treat yourselves with are cupping and sea incense.” ….the end of the hadeeth. [ Sahih Al Bukhari Vol.7, Chapter 13, no. 599 Dar al Arabia, Beirut, Lebanon]
The method of scratching for the ball game seems to be like unto ‘bloodletting’ and not Hijama. It also was administered by a Shaman (religious leader of the tribe) and may have carried some cult or supernatural significance.
May Allah accept this work from me and give us all tawfeeq, Allahummaa aameen.
(Sister Umm Ridhwaan has since passed the course and graduated with a Distinction-Alhumdulillah!)