History of Hijamah
Hijamah is an ancient, holistic method for the treatment of a variety of diseases. Historical evidence suggests that the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese, Arabs and Early Western civilisations performed Hijama using different techniques as early as 3000 BC, such as applying suction to the skin via a tube bone or blood-letting or leeching in barber shops, to remove toxins from the body as a means of preserving and improving health.
The Ebers Papyrus, written approximately 1550 BC and known as one of the oldest medical books in Western history, recounts the birth of Hijama by the Egyptians and Saharan people and details their use of it. It was believed that bleeding via wet cupping removed foreign matter from the body and was seen as a natural remedy for almost every kind of disorder. According to historical texts, the Egyptians passed the art of cupping onto the people of ancient Greece.
Hippocrates of Kos, born roughly 400 BC, was a Greek physician who has often been referred to as the Father of Western medicine. Records have shown that he used cupping as a means of combating the internal diseases and problems linked to the anatomical structure of his patients. Galen of Pergamon, a prominent physician, surgeon and philosopher, was a staunch believer in the benefits of cupping, going so far as to criticise Erasistratus, a fellow noted physician, for not making use of the method. Herodotus, a famous Greek historian and physician, wrote about cupping and its uses in 413 BC:
“Scarification with Cupping possesses the power of evacuating offending matter from the head; of diminishing pain of the same part; of lessening inflammation; of restoring the appetite; of strengthening a weak stomach; of removing vertigo and a tendency to faint; of drawing deep-seated offending matter towards the surface; of drying up fluxions; checking haemorrhages; promoting menstrual evacuations; arresting the tendency to putrefaction in
fevers; allaying rigors; accelerating and moderating the crisis of diseases; removing a propensity to somnolence; conciliating natural repose; removing heaviness. These, and many analogous maladies, are relieved by the judicious application of the Cucurbits (Cups), dry or bloody.”
It is believed that cupping was passed on from ancient Greeks and Roman practitioners to the people of Persia and Arabia, via the Alexandrians and Byzantines. After the advent of Islam, it was greatly recommended by Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم as a religious act and as a form of curing many kinds of ailments, both spiritual and physical. The technique was further developed by Muslim scientists and is still practised to this day.