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Olympics: Why Do Athletes Perform Prophetic Hijama?

As Tokyo Olympics 2020 get underway, with many games being won and lost, a number of Olympians have been photographed with large red circles on their skin!

What are they, and why is everyone suddenly going dotty over them? The mark of an Olympic athlete seems to be a scattering of perfectly round bruises. Swimmers and gymnasts are among those seen sporting the mysterious dots.

It’s not the first time cupping marks have been seen at the Olympics – the technique was previously used by Chinese swimmer Wang Qun at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and American swimmers in Rio 2016.

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Cupping or Hijama

Perhaps athletes wondered and searched for the different reasons behind the peaking Olympic athletes since the last few Olympic Games. Now they started to practice the technique.

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The red circular marks not paintballing misadventures – they are the result of a practice known as “cupping”; an ancient therapy where heated cups are placed on the skin.

The technique, which is a form of acupuncture, is done by lighting flammable liquid in a glass cup. Once the flame goes out, the drop in temperature creates suction which sticks the cups to the body.

The suction pulls the skin away from the body and promotes blood flow – and leaves those red spots, which typically last for three or four days.

Difference between Cupping and Wet Hijama

Olympics: Why Do Athletes Perform Prophetic Hijama? - About Islam

Before glass cups, cups made of bamboo were used to the same effect. The technique is known in Mandarin Chinese as “huo guan”, which means “fire cupping”, and is popular in China with older generations, he says.

However, the alternative technique of it which is practically known as “wet cupping”, is done in both China and some parts of the Muslim World where it is known as Hijama.

It involves making a small cut in the skin before the cup is placed. The suction draws out a small quantity of blood.

Origins of Hijama

The practice has Persian origin and is mentioned by the Egyptian-educated Greek physician Hippocrates.

It is reported that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has once said, “Indeed the best of remedies you have is hijama, and if there was something excellent to be used as a remedy then it is hijama.”

Another Prophetic Hadith that is narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas says: “Healing is in three things: A gulp of honey, cupping, and branding with fire (cauterizing). But I forbid my followers to use (cauterization) branding with fire.”

While often used interchangeably, Hijama and bloodletting aren’t similar techniques. Bloodletting opens veins and bleeds patients, whereas Hijama draws blood to a specific location with suction and extracts it by perforating the skin.

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