Methods of healing: 'Cupping' & 'Cautery'

Q387 :Could you please explain the Hadith which states that healing of illness can be achieved through three things: Taking honey, cupping and cauterization. Could you explain what 'cupping' is and why the Prophet said: "I forbid my followers to use cauterization". As a specialist in childhood diseases, I come across numerous cases of young children subjected to the ancient form of treatment which relies on burning the skin, i.e. cautery. What I would like to know is whether there is anything mentioned by the Prophet in favor or against this practice.


A387 : The Hadith you have mentioned is an authentic one related by Al-Bukhari on the authority of Abdullah ibn Abbas who quotes the Prophet as saying: "Illnesses are cured by means of three things: a drink of honey, a cut of cupping and cauterization. I, however, advise my followers against the use of cauterization." There is no doubt about the usefulness of honey for curing illness. Allah describes it in the Qur'an as a curative drink. He says: "There issues from within these (bees) a fruit of different colors, in which there is cure for people" (16;69). The other two methods need a little explanation: Cupping was a method used for letting out blood either from one's hands, legs, head or other spots. It was extensively used, as people found it highly useful. The Prophet himself was cupped and on one occasion that took place while he was fasting. Cauterization, on the other hand, involved the use of a red hot piece of iron to stop the bleeding from a bad cut. If a soldier lost an arm or a foot in battle, the surest way of stopping him bleeding to death was to resort to cauterization. There are a couple of points to make here. The statement of the Prophet was not exclusive. He did not say that cure can only be sought in these three methods, to the exclusion of any other. In another Hadith, the Prophet encourages us to seek medical treatment for our illness. He says: "Seek medical treatment, for Allah has not created an illness without creating a cure for it." Secondly, the Prophet was making a statement on the basis of what was known in his time. These were the three principal methods of treatment. We know that honey is a cure for several illness. Cupping was also approved as a method of treatment, while cautery could save the life of a badly injured person. The Prophet discouraged resorting to this last method because of the pain it involves and the unsightly mark it leaves. It is needless to say that the discouragement does not apply to modern methods of cautery which is done under anesthesia and the use of sophisticated tools and with perfect precision. Resorting to the old method of cautery in this day and age, when medicine has made such great advances, is a great pity.


Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )