IS CUPPING ALLOWED WHILE FASTING?

THE RULINGS ON CUPPING (HIJAAMA) WHILE FASTING.

Written and Compiled by;
Assoutudeen Abu Mubaashir

This is a write-up written to corroborate our previous articles on those actions that invalidate one’s fast during Ramadan, in which cupping was categorically stated not to be permissible. We result to explain deeper that there are different opinions among the scholars concerning its permissibility.

Firstly, it was stated in the hadeeth of Shaddad and Raafa’i ibn Khadij (two sahabas) that the Prophet(Peace be upon him) as saying
“أفطر الحاجم والمحجوم”
‘A man who cups and the one who is being cupped break their fast’

(Abu Dawood, 2367, Ibn Maajah 1676, Classed as Saheeh by Albani.)

Secondly, it was narrated by Ibn Abàas that
احْتَجَمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ وَهُوَ صَائِمٌ مُحْرِمٌ ‏”.‏”
It was narrated by Ibn Abbas that he saw the prophet: “ The prophet Muhammed (pbuh) did cupping and he was fasting and in Ihram”

(Bukhari 5:665, Ibn Majah 7:1752, Abi Dawud 2373, Tirmidhi 777)

Looking critically at these two authentic ahadith, we will see that they seem to undoubtedly contradict each other. Then the question is what has the scholars got to say on these two ahadith❓

In Islam, understanding the statement of Allah and the Prophet is very paramount to our religious affairs. Difference of opinions among the scholars concerning an issue most especially on fiqh might be a blessing of knowledge for this Ummah.

The first opinion was based on the first quoted hadith which clearly means that Cupping breaks your fast! This opinion was chosen by Ibn Taymiyah, his student Ibn Qayyum as well as other scholars such as Ibn Mundthir, Ibn Khuzayma, Al-Awza’i, Al Darmi, Ishaaq and is the opinion of the Imam Hanbali and his madhab. (Check Al-mugni vol.2 and Zàadul Màad)

Ibn Taymiyah supports this opinion also because, if the removal of blood in cupping is similar to other instances where something related to that is removed and the fast is broken such as menses & ejaculation, then cupping itself could break the fast.

Consequently, the second hadith is taken by the majority of scholars and they hold the opinion that Cupping whilst fasting does not break your fast because there are other hadeeth apart from the quoted one supporting that sahaba would have cupping even whilst fasting:
وَحَدَّثَنِي عَنْ مَالِكٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ شِهَابٍ، أَنَّ سَعْدَ بْنَ أَبِي وَقَّاصٍ، وَعَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ عُمَرَ، كَانَا يَحْتَجِمَانِ وَهُمَا صَائِمَانِ
“Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab that Sad ibn Abi Waqqas and Abdullah ibn Umar used to be cupped while they were fasting (Muwatta Malik 18:665)

In another hadith reported by Imam Bukhari himself,
حَدَّثَنَا آدَمُ بْنُ أَبِي إِيَاسٍ، حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ ثَابِتًا الْبُنَانِيَّ، يَسْأَلُ أَنَسَ بْنَ مَالِكٍ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ أَكُنْتُمْ تَكْرَهُونَ الْحِجَامَةَ لِلصَّائِمِ قَالَ لاَ‏.‏ إِلاَّ مِنْ أَجْلِ الضَّعْفِ‏.‏ وَزَادَ شَبَابَةُ حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ عَلَى عَهْدِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم‏.‏
“Anas bin Malik was asked whether they disliked the cupping for a fasting person. He replied in the negative and said, “Only if it causes weakness.” (Bukhari 1940)

While understanding the concept of the first and second hadith quoted above, we reconcile them together through the scholars argumentation explained below

1⃣ Hanbalis says: The hadeeth of Shaddad is a saying of prophet, whilst the hadeeth of Ibn Abbass is an action of the prophet. It is a principle within hanbali fiqh (والقول مقدم على الفعل)
that the speech of the Prophet(pbuh) is higher ranked than the reported actions.

❌ Majority argues that: This principle is only used in cases where you are left to choose between probabilities only, but this principle should only be used in situations where there is no contradicting hadeeths present (which there are in this case), or when a hadeeth authenticity cannot be proven.

2⃣ Hanbalis says: The hadeeth of Shaddad has been narrated by more than 16 companions, it is also supported by the actions of Sahaba who would delay doing cupping until after iftar.

❌ Majority argues that: It is not clear the sahaba have delayed their cupping till after iftar due to the Prophet saying so or because they were afraid of weakness whilst fasting.

3⃣ Imam Ahmad and others said: The hadith of Ibn Abbas is wrong due to a defect in one narrator namely Qobaysa, the words “and he was fasting” was not present in the original hadeeth.

❌ Majority argues: This is the opinion of Ahmad, it has been narrated by others and also with Imam Bukhari, that this hadeeth fulfils the conditions required to be in Saheeh Bukhari.

4⃣ Hanbalis continues: That removing anything coming out from your body that may make you weak will break the fast. E.g vomiting, menses, semen.

❌ Majority argues that: This principle of analogy would indeed be correct if it was not contested with any other textual evidences which are supporting the action.

5⃣ Hanbalis says: This is not the case as we believe the Prophet was not actually fasting during this Hajj that Ibn Abbas witnessed. Even if we are to accept the words “and he was in ihram” and “he was fasting” , this linguistically can be taken as two separate subjects in a sentence, it may be that it was referring to two separate instances. i.e he did hijama during whilst in ihram or he did hijama whilst fasting. It is because of this possibility that we refute this hadeeth.

❌ Majority refutes that: The hadeeth of Shaddad is in fact abrogated and is supported by other hadeeths of Al-Nasaa’I in al-kubra and ibn Khuzaymah in his saheeh. They continue, ”We don’t hold the hadeeth of Shaddad as an opinion as we have other points which oppose this hadeeth, which allow cupping during fasting. Their points are:

👉 Shaddad said “broken fast (iftar) ” and that can mean other things like it could mean that you’ve lost the reward in the fast like in the hadeeth of the two people that were backbiting whilst fasting, it was said in the hadeeth they have “broken fast (iftar) ”, in that instance they had not technically broken their fast but in fact, lost the reward of it.

👉 Or we can even understand that it means that the fast has been weakened or closer to being broken.

Imam Nawawi who is also part of the majority says in the book Sharh madhab that the first understanding that comes from the hadeeth of Ibn Abbas and the other hadeeths is that cupping DOES NOT break your fast.

Conclusively, personally what I (Assoutudeen) can infer from the scholars’ stances is that cupping does not break fast, and that if you fear that you become weak from it then it is makrooh (disliked). This issue of weakness being makrooh is supported by Abi Dawood. He reported the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) would carry on fasting even after iftar as a special case for himself, the Prophet did not make this haram but advised the sahabas who copied him not to do it due to them becoming weak.

Besides, we result to one Qooidah (judgement) in one of the Qowaaid (judgements) of Usuul li fiqh (principles and fundamentals of fiqh) which states that
ما حرم سدا لذريعة ابيح للمصلحة الراجحة
which means what has been generally known as greatly forbidden matters might be permissible if there is a need for it in as much as there is an evidence (Qur’an and Sunnah) to support its permissibility.

If there is a need to perform cupping (Hijaamah) while fasting such that if not done, it may lead to death, then it might be permissible to do so .

On the final note, the best opinion to me is to follow the minority among the scholars by avoiding cupping during fasting except there is exceptional need for it.

And Allah knows best!

© Assoutudeen Prophetic Medicine Foundation (APMF)

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