Hjama treatment remains popular in Iraq

Hjama therapist Ali al-Badri says the treatment is more popular in summer.  [Dhikra Sarsam / Mawtani]

Hjama therapist Ali al-Badri says the treatment is more popular in summer. [Dhikra Sarsam / Mawtani]

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Hjama, a treatment that involves the letting of blood from a number of small incisions, remains a well known and popular tradition in Iraq.

Although this practice is widely accepted as having no medical benefit, Ali al-Badri, a Hjama therapist, said some patients regularly receive this treatment twice a month.

Mawtani met al-Badri at his office in Baghdad for the following interview:

Mawtani: What is the principle of Hjama treatment? And for which diseases can it be used?

Ali al-Badri: Hjama is recommended for many diseases, the most prominent of which is perhaps high blood viscosity as a result of excessive smoking. It is also recommended for high blood pressure in its early stages and for other diseases as well.

During Hjama treatment, a number of incisions on the patient's body are made using a medical scalpel, and then blood is drawn out from the body. The tools used in Hjama have witnessed great development. In the past, therapists used to use animal horns after burning and drying them to draw blood. Later, a glass cup started to be used for this purpose, where a number of incisions would be made using a medical scalpel, over which a glass cup would be placed. Inside that cup, a burnt piece of cotton is placed to vacuum air, and as a result of the pressure, blood will flow into the cup.

For the time being, this method can be replaced by a plastic cup that is air vacuumed mechanically. However, some clients believe in using only the glass container method and the burnt piece of cotton.

Mawtani: Is Hjama treatment restricted to the Arab region, or is it practiced in other countries?

Al-Badri: Hjama is different from one region to another. However, many treatments that are practiced in other countries depend on the same principle. In China, for example, treatment by acupuncture is common, and it is not different from Hjama treatment. But the difference is that in Hjama we stimulate the drawing of blood to activate the infected area, as compared to the Chinese method, where the therapist settles for insertion of needles.

Mawtani: Are there any seasons where Hjama is more popular?

Al-Badri: In the summer, it is usually more popular. The time of doing it differs based on the different Muslim sects. For example, I do not practice it on Wednesdays and Fridays. Monday is one of the most popular days, as is the last Thursday in each Arab month. There are also certain days in the Arab month that we call "white days", which are days usually preferential for Hjama treatment. These days are the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th of each Arab month.

Mawtani: Do women also use Hjama?

Al-Badri: There are some women who resort to the Hjama treatment. I have trained my wife to do that at home. However, the percentage of women as compared to men is almost insignificant. As to age groups, they range between 30s up to 70.

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  • READER COMMENTS

    اسماعيل

    2014-10-7

    Hello, does frequently doing Hijama help anything? I do Hjama every 20 days for blood viscosity that always causes me headaches. When I do Hijama I am relieved fully. I’m twenty-seven years old, does it have an effect at this age?

  • حيدر علي

    2013-10-28

    Hello, is there a school for teaching cupping? In case the answer is Yes, I’d like to get a copy of a graduation certificate so I may be able to work with it.

  • احمد

    2013-8-16

    Hello, I want to get Hjama, can I have your address or phone number? I am from Baghdad.

  • مجيد السعيدي

    2012-6-15

    Yes, Hjama has become widely used among the people in Iraq because of its ease and the fact that it does not use medications. We hope that those who practice Hjama use sterilized tools in this procedure, because it has had negative effects lately, such as catching hepatitis. We pray to God to give health and well-being to all the Iraqis.

  • رفعت سعيد

    2011-8-27

    Some people may view the issue from another perspective. Medicine has developed and we are in the age of technology and advancement, which means that these phenomena and these old treatment methods can’t go on. But I also say what’s wrong with continuing these practices, if they are beneficial? This kind of treatment isn’t only exclusive to Islamic countries, because it represents a kind of medicine which has been present since ancient times, but it is now used in many countries and is really an alternative to normal and traditional treatment.

  • خليل ابراهيم

    2011-8-25

    Many people have been resorting to cupping therapy until now because of their convictions, especially since cupping is among the treatment methods that were used by the Prophet. It has a positive effect on human bodies, especially after getting rid of the bad blood that can cause a lot of suffering. In fact, many Iraqis still practice and receive cupping therapy that has spread widely in many Iraqi provinces during the recent years. And many Iraqis who have suffered from many illnesses such as diabetes, blood pressure, pains in the back and joints, and high blood viscosity have resorted to cupping therapy in order to draw out the bad blood and to give energy to the body. Thus, I am in favor of cupping therapy, because many of those who have been suffering from pains and diseases have recovered in a successful way, thanks to this therapy, and they have gotten rid of their pain and suffering. Besides, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, recommended this therapy, and this is according to his Hadith which says: “Cupping is the best treatment.” And this Hadith is right. Thus, many patients have resorted to cupping therapy following the advice of the Prophet, peace be upon him. In fact, this therapy has proved its success through treating many cases that modern medicine has been unable to cure. Today, many people prefer the cupping therapy in order to recover from their illnesses. Thus, cupping has started to spread in Iraq and I am among the supporters of this therapy that has been also used in many other countries.

  • ياسين الدوري

    2011-8-24

    This common treatment in Iraq, which is becoming widespread, is considered one a simple treatment, or as it is called, the “medicine of Arabs". There are a lot of citizens in Iraq who still go to the specialized places, such as in Al Kadhimiya region in Baghdad, where there are a lot of Sheikhs and the people who treat people with cupping, and there are lot of people who return to them and feel great comfort as a result of getting rid of the poisoned blood. As I know, and according to my information, the person who is treated with cupping feels great comfort, because he gets rid of the toxic blood in his body, or something like that. Treatment with cupping does not specialize in one matter or the treatment of one thing or one place in the human body, but it is used to treat many diseases, tumors and many other parts in the body. Therefore, you find out that there are many Iraqis who still cling to this type of treatment. As for me, I am not against this type of treatment, as long as it still makes people feel better, especially if this type of treatment has no side effects which may cause other problems to the human being. However, they were treated with cupping for many years and had not been exposed to any negative complications or bad matters in terms of health. This shows that this type of treatment does not have risks which the human may be exposed to.

  • زهير شاكر

    2011-8-20

    The age of people who perform cupping ranges from 35 to 70. As far as I am concerned, this is really a good act, and I would like to thank God because there are many people who are interested in it. Thus, I personally encourage whoever wants to adopt cupping, because it is easier than Chinese acupuncture. Only God knows whether this method of acupuncture is sanitary. In fact, Iraq has a lot of cuppers and I would like to encourage them and ask God to grant them all the best and all the success. Thus, I pray to God to grant all the patients recovery and to bless them. May God rid Iraq of the different diseases and accidents, namely heart diseases and the blocking of blood vessels due to smoking, which destroys the human body. May God protect Iraq from any harm and diseases and make people able to heal from diseases.

  • رميل بوسعيد

    2011-8-20

    Undoubtedly, I am in favor of cupping in Iraq. It is of great importance and it is getting more and more popular, because it saves many of those who have heart disease, diabetes and blood clotting. Cupping was an old and important remedy. Iraqis are more experienced persons in these issues and they go to cuppers. This operation is very simple and is not time-consuming. It is just the process of making an incision in the back with a medical blade, and placing a clean and sterile pot over it with a piece of burned sterile cotton inside it, in order to completely drive the out air of it. This operation aims at withdrawing bad blood. It is also carried out for men more than women. In addition, cupping should be done during certain days in the month, because of the traditions and customs followed by cuppers a long time ago. These days are counted from 13 through 16, and it is something only known to Almighty God. We don’t know whether these words are true or false, but cuppers should be experts when doing their work. In addition, they should have qualifications to do this job, in order not to give the opportunity to others who pretend to be cuppers. There are persons who have inherited this job from their fathers and grandfathers, and therefore they should ask for a document that proves that they are interested in this job.

  • شريف علي

    2011-8-18

    Yes, I support Hjama in treating diseases, as it’s still a greatly popular treatment among Iraqi people, who prefer Hjama therapy to using medications and other drugs for treatment, because of its great efficiency in getting rid of many diseases that harm humans.

  • وجدي باسل

    2011-8-17

    There are a lot of incorrect medical ideas that spread in every society, whether in the East or the West. The source of these ideas is the ancient times in which the human being depended on the remedy and treatment with herbal medications or spirituality. These ideas are more like a legacy that is passed down by successive generations. Some of these ideas may work with some simple diseases, but in the present time the diseases have increased and their risks have become bigger, especially if they are treated according to an ancient way that is far from urbanization, especially in the Eastern countries that are known for their high temperatures and their volatile climate that surely affects the human being. Today, Iraq has been alerted to this serious problem and to the negative impacts that may happen as a result of using the incorrect first aid when a person gets injured with a nervous disorder, a heart attack or the other diseases in our time.

  • غانم محمود

    2011-8-16

    Al-Hijamah, i.e. cupping, is one of the healthy Islamic practices that aims to protect human beings from many diseases. And the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, urged people to resort to cupping in order to prevent diseases. And he said that for every disease, there is a remedy. And the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: “Cupping is beneficial for every disease.” And modern studies have confirmed that cupping has a great impact on healing diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stomach diseases, rheumatism, brain diseases, middle ear infections, nerve and facial paralysis, headache, leprosy, toothache, and cataracts. This is in addition to many other diseases. In fact, cupping is an Islamic “Sunnah” that was applied by the prophets. Then, they urged the people to resort to cupping, which witnessed prosperity in the Islamic era. And the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, revived this phenomenon and applied it. In fact, the word Al-Hijamah is taken from the word “hajam,” which means to return something to its normal size. It has also helped the return of blood to human beings’ bodies. Thus, blood circulation can resume its activity, thanks to the removal of the bad blood. In fact, cupping has been carried out through the use of special cups made of glass. These cups are called air cups that draw bad blood from human beings’ bodies. It is carried out after burning a cone-shaped paper and placing the cup on the part to be healed. The paper burns in the cup, leading to loosening the air pressure and drawing out bad blood. Thus, the body gets rid of dead cells and impurities.

  • رفعت السيد

    2011-7-25

    Cupping is an outdated, rather than a modern treatment in Iraq. However, there are many people who have enough experience to perform this job. In fact, cupping is for patients who suffer high blood pressure, high blood viscosity and diabetes. Cupping consists in creating superficial incisions in the region, using a medical cupping scalpel, together with putting a medical container with a burned piece of cotton inside it in order to create an air vacuum and draw out coagulated blood. This process is carried out by cuppers. Some of them say that this process is confined to some days of the Arab months, namely 13, 14, 15 and 16. However, we do not know why these dates exactly. We wonder whether it can be carried out throughout the year. Only God knows. Indeed, cupping therapy is more popular among men than women, between the ages of 30 and 70. As far as I am concerned, cupping is a good therapy, because it is not scientifically frightening. It is just an operation of ridding the body of spoiled blood. May God heal Iraqis of cardio-vascular diseases. It is enough for them to have acts of murder and booby-trapping. We pray to God to grant Iraqis good things everywhere and to facilitate cupping therapy for whoever wants it. In fact, I hope that this therapy will be carried out by experienced people in order to protect people’s lives, since the majority of people who want to get cupping therapy have these diseases, and particularly smokers. I personally think that cupping is better than Chinese acupuncture because cupping is easier and does not cause the same pain as Chinese needles. May God protect us from diseases and surgeries, grant Iraqis all the best and rid them of terrorism and terrorists, who do not want the well-being of Iraq. May God protect the Iraqi youth from terrorists.

  • محمد الدسوقى

    2011-6-30

    The favorite days for having the Hjama treatment are 17-19-21 of the current Hijri month. I offer services of cupping, manual massage, and I hold a recognized certificate of experience. I want to work as a technician, and I am ready for any job. Egyptian.

  • aشمير السامر

    2011-6-23

    Modern medicine failed to find a treatment for my late father, because he was suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure, in addition to heart disease, angina, a gastric ulcer, arthritis and a herniated disk, and he was so sick that he used to perform prayer while sitting. If he wanted to go to the bathroom, he had to take an emulsification pill placed beneath his tongue. Hence, we cupped him and he performed two Rak’ahs while standing immediately after Hjama treatment. He also started ascending the stairs for two floors and walked in the street for about 400 meters. However, the treatment was not available in Basra governorate, so he remained without it for two years. Hence, his condition deteriorated and I traveled to Babil Governorate to bring the cupper to Basra but while I was there my father suffered a third clot that killed him, may God have mercy upon him. This is my story and experience with the Hjama treatment, without any exaggeration.