Is Cupping a Sunnah?

Assalam alaikum.

I read many articles in newspaper regarding the Tibbe-nabawi (the medication of the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم.)

One authentic remedy is the ”cupping-therapy”, which is well known that it is a Sunnah of the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم and it is practiced in my city under the name of Sunnah. In this therapy the waste blood is taken from the body and it is said that this will ensure in getting rid of all diseases. What do you say about it?


Shujath Imran

Hyderabad, India

Wa alaikum us salam

It is not correct to describe cupping as Sunnah. It is an old technique and people were employing it long before the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم even in 3000BC (1000 years before Prophet Abraham علیہ الصلوۃ والسلام). The Prophet also used this technique for his own medical treatment like many other treatments available in his time e.g. herbal medicine etc.

Calling cupping as Sunnah is nothing more than a marketing tactic which our brothers are employing without knowing its implications. If we accept it as Sunnah, then why not to accept many other things as Sunnah: The traditional Arabian dress, use of sword and spear in fighting, riding camels and horses etc. Many of our brothers consider many (not all) of these things as Sunnah and adopt them in their lifestyles. In that case, all what we are doing is something undesirable and we should follow the lifestyle of the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم.

The definition of Sunnah is the practice of the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم that he instituted as a religious directive. For instance, performing prayer, fasting, Zakat, Hajj, E’id, sacrifices etc. are the Sunnah which the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم instituted as Sunnah. There are many things he did in his life merely on the grounds that they were practiced in Arabia. For instance, he rode camels, wore Arabian attire, ate edible things available at his time, used swords in wars, and applied medical techniques commonly used in Arabia. Such elements do not constitute a part of the Sunnah because the Prophet ٍصلی اللہ علیہ وسلم himself did not declare them as Sunnah. I present two example from Hadith. “Dabb” was a reptile commonly found in desert and Arabs used to eat it. The Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم did not like to eat it but allowed others to do so.

حدثنا محمد بن مقاتل أبو الحسن: أخبرنا عبد الله: أخبرنا يونس، عن الزهري قال: أخبرني أبو أمامة بن سهل بن حنيف الأنصاري: أن ابن عباس أخبره:  أن خالد بن الوليد، الذي يقال له سيف الله، أخبره: أنه دخل مع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم على ميمونة، وهي خالته وخالة ابن عباس، فوجد عندها ضبًّا محنوذاً، قَدِمَت به أختها حفيدة بنت الحارث من نجد، فقدمت الضب لرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، وكان قلَّما يُقَدِّمُ يده لطعام حتى يُحَدَّثَ به ويُسَمَّى له، فأهوى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يده إلى الضب، فقالت امرأة من النسوة الحضور: أخبرن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ما قدمتنَّ له، هو الضب يا رسول الله، فرفع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يده عن الضب، فقال خالد بن الوليد: أحرام الضب يا رسول الله؟ قال: (لا، ولكن لم يكن بأرض قومي، فأجدني أعافه). قال خالد: فاجتررته فأكلته، ورسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ينظر إلي.

Ibn A’bbas reported that Khalid Ibn Waleed, who was called as “the Sword of God” told him that he (Khalid) entered in the home of Maimuna (the wife of the Prophet) along with the Prophet. She was maternal aunt of Khalid and Ibn A’bbas. He found a roasted “dabb” there which was brought by her sister Hafidah Bint Harith from Najad (Central Arabia.) The dabb was brought in front of the Prophet and he was about to take it for eating, when he was told about it. The Prophet stretched his hand to take it when a woman said: “Tell the Prophet what he is about to eat. O Allah’s Apostle! It is a dabb.” The Prophet stopped his hand.

Khalid asked: “O Allah’s Apostle! Is it forbidden?” He said: “No, but it is not a food of the people of my area, so I do not like it.” Khalid said: “I took and ate it and Allah’s Prophet was watching me.” (Bukhari, the Chapter of Food, Hadith 5076)

Similarly, in Madina, it was a common practice to pollinate date-palm trees. The Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم advised people to not do so. When they did so, produce of the trees dropped significantly. At that time, the Prophet told them that it was mere an advice and not some Sunnah instituted by him.

حدثنا عبدالله بن الرومي اليمامي وعباس بن عبدالعظيم العنبري وأحمد بن جعفر المعقري. قالوا: حدثنا النضر بن محمد. حدثنا عكرمة (وهو ابن عمار). حدثنا أبو النجاشي. حدثني رافع بن خديج قال: قدم نبي الله صلى الله عليه وسلم المدينة. وهم يأبرون النخل. يقولون يلقحون النخل. فقال "ما تصنعون؟". قالوا: كنا نصنعه. قال "لعلكم لو لم تفعلوا كان خيرا" فتركوه. فنفضت أو فنقصت. قال فذكروا ذلك له فقال "إنما أنا بشر. إذا أمرتكم بشيء من دينكم فخذوا به. وإذا أمرتكم بشيء من رأي. فإنما أن بشر."

Rafi Ibn Khadeej said: When the Prophet of Allah came to Madina, they used to pollinate date-palm trees and called it “marriage of trees.” He asked them: “Why are you doing so?” They said: “This is our normal practice.” The Prophet said: “I hope that if you do not do so, it might be better.” They left the practice and produce was lesser than before. They told this to the Prophet, he said: “I am a man. When I tell you something about the religion, follow it but when I tell you something in your [worldly] affairs from my personal opinion, then I am only a normal man.” [So it is your call to accept my advice.] (Muslim, the Book of Virtues, Hadith 2362)

It is apparent from both Ahadith that the Sunnah is something which the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم has declared Sunnah. Any other items are not binding instructions of Shari’ah.

Feel free to discuss this issue so that we agree on a definition of the Sunnah.



Don’t hesitate to share your questions and comments. They will be highly appreciated. I’ll reply as soon as possible if I know the answer. Send at

Is Cupping a Sunnah?
Scroll to top