Part 18 – Series on the Shamaa’il (the noble character and sublime conduct) of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)

Chapter on the Cupping of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)

In this chapter, Imaam Tirmizi (rahimahullah) mentioned six Ahaadith which discuss the treatment of cupping on different occasions.

The object of presenting these Ahaadith is to establish that Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) adopted medical treatment and used medicines, hence this is not against tawakkul (placing reliance on Allah Ta‘ala). Who can be greater and have more reliance on Allah Ta‘ala than Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)? Despite this, he adopted the treatment of cupping, as proven in many Ahaadith. Therefore, we understand that adopting cupping or other medical treatments is not against reliance on Allah Ta‘ala.

Shah Waliyullah Dehlawi (rahimahullah) has, in one of his books, compiled many of his mubasharaat (glad tidings) and mukaashafaat (divine inspirations) which he received from Allah Ta‘ala via dreams. Similarly, he included in the kitaab questions which he posed to Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) in his dreams.

He says:

I once asked Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) a question regarding a spiritual matter. I asked, “What is better, for one to adopt the material means of this world or to discard it?” Upon this, I received a spiritual blessing from Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) in the dream, on account of which I began to perceive disinclination within my heart towards the material means, children and all other worldly things. Thereafter, I was inspired for the second time with an inspiration, the effect of which was that my temperament was turned towards adopting the material means of the world, but my heart was turned towards placing complete reliance upon Allah Ta‘ala alone and not upon the worldly means.

Hazrat Shaikh Moulana Muhammad Zakariyya (rahimahullah), after quoting the dream of Hazrat Shah Waliyullah, mentioned, “The fact of the matter is that this is the true meaning of tawwakul (that one adopt the physical means of the world but one’s heart does not rely upon the means, but relies entirely upon Allah Ta‘ala). One should feel convinced that the material means and things have no effect at all in themselves, and their effects are only obtained through Allah Ta‘ala causing them to prove effective. Without the wish of Allah Ta‘ala, nothing can be achieved.

“No one has the strength to change the will of Allah. Bile increases by the use of vinegar, and dryness results by the use of almond oil.”

In another book of Shah Waliyullah Dehlawi (rahimahullah), it is stated, the question regarding adopting the worldly means and causes is among the three questions which Shah Waliyullah Dehlawi (rahimahullah) had posed to Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) had counseled him regarding it. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) made it compulsory upon him to adopt the worldly means and he had accepted it, even though it went against his temperament.

The second question which he posed to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is regarding Shaikhain (Hazrat Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) and Hazrat Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu)) and Hazrat ‘Ali (radhiyallahu ‘anhu). He wished to know whose rank was higher i.e. whether the rank of Hazrat Ali (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was higher than Shaikhain, or whether they were higher than Hazrat Ali (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) in rank. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) explained to him that Hazrat Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) and Hazrat Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) were higher than Hazrat Ali (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) in rank.

The third question which he posed was regarding whether it would be permissible for him to leave out making taqleed (following) one of the four Imaams of Fiqh. Hazrat Shah Waliyullah (rahimahullah) was inclined to leaving out taqleed, but was commanded by Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) to make taqleed and follow one of the four Imaams. Hence, he committed himself to following the Hanafi mazhab.

Hazrat Shah Waliyullah (rahimahullah) has mentioned the details of these three questions and the answers he received from Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) in his kitaabs, Fadl Mubeen and Fuyood-ul-Haramayn.

عن حميد قال: سئل أنس بن مالك عن كسب الحجام فقال: احتجم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم حجمه أبو طيبة فأمر له بصاعين من طعام وكلم أهله فوضعوا عنه من خراجه وقال: إن أفضل ما تداويتم به الحجامة أو إن من أمثل ما تداويتم به الحجامة (الشمائل المحمدية للترمذي، الرقم: 343)

Humaid (rahimahullah) reports that Hazrat Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was once asked regarding the payment to a Hajjaam (person who carries out cupping i.e. are his earnings halaal or not?). Hazrat Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) replied, “Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) underwent the treatment of cupping which was administered by Hazrat Abu Taibah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) (who was a slave). Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) then instructed that he be paid two saa’ of food (in one narration, it is mentioned that he be paid two saa’ of dates), and Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) spoke to his family (i.e. the family he belonged to and requested them to lower his daily stipulated amount of income which he needed to pay to his masters for his limited freedom. In some narrations, it is mentioned that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) spoke to his masters.). The family had (immediately accepted the intercession of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and) decreased his daily amount. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) also said, “Cupping is among the best forms of treatment that you can adopt.””


The Muhadditheen mention that most probably the reason for the questioner posing this question (regarding the earnings acquired through cupping) was that, in certain Ahaadith, this occupation has been disapproved of.

The answer to this question is quite clear and apparent – when Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) himself paid the fee for cupping, then the earnings of this occupation are permissible. However, the reason for Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) disapproving of this occupation (as seen in certain Ahaadith) is that in those days, the one administering this treatment used to remove the dirty blood from the body through sucking it out via some instrument. This action of removing the dirty blood using one’s mouth is inappropriate as one is using the mouth for something that is impure. Apart from this, there is fear that the blood could go down the throat in the process. Therefore, it is essential for a mu’min to exercise caution and ensure that he keeps his mouth paak at all times.

It should be remembered that just as this occupation of cupping has been disapproved of due to the manner in which it was conducted, certain other permissible occupations have also been disapproved of (as seen in other Ahaadith) because they were conducted incorrectly. The Ulamaa explain that if Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) disapproved of something which was of a permissible nature (and permitted by him in other Ahaadith), then his disapproval was on account of something incorrect in it that needed to be remedied. Therefore, one should not doubt the permissibility of this occupation. However, it should be borne in mind that the reason of disapproval which was found during the mubaarak era of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is no longer found today as this treatment is not carried out in the manner it used to be carried out at that time.

In the above Hadith, ‘the stipulated amount of income’ refers to the situation where a slave is given the opportunity that if he agrees to pay a stipulated amount of wealth to his owner/s daily through working or engaging in commerce, then he will be given a limited freedom. In other words, his owners will allow him to spend the extra income which he has earned for his own personal benefit. This type of slave is called an ‘Abd-e-Ma’zoon’ (one who is permitted to engage in trade and commerce). In the situation mentioned in the above Hadith, it was originally stipulated that the slave pay three saa’ daily. However, through the intercession of Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), his daily fee was reduced to two saa’.

There is a difference of opinion among the ‘Ulama regarding the weight of the saa’. According to the Hanafi Fuqahaa, one saa’ equals approximately four seers (approximately 3,8kg).

The statement of Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) that cupping is among the best forms of treatment is undoubtedly true. By this, he (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was addressing the youth of the Haramain, and also the inhabitants of the countries where the climate is hot. The reason is that due to their blood becoming thin, it remains more on the surface of the body, and the climate of the country brings it even closer to the surface. Therefore, cupping is beneficial for them. As for people whose blood is thick, then cupping will not be beneficial for them unless they have a need for it. It is for this reason that the ‘Ulama and Hakeems say that cupping is not advisable for those above the age of forty (as people above this age generally have thick blood) unless they have a need for it.

Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) underwent cupping after the age of forty. However, this was to remove the effects of the poison he was fed by the Jewish woman at Khaibar.

(Some of this explanation has been extracted from Khasaa’il-e-Nabawi of Hazrat Sheikh Moulana Muhammed Zakariyya (rahimahullah)


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