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Blood Donations while Fasting and the Question of Cupping

Blood Donations while Fasting and the Question of Cupping 05/12/2013 04:28 Published on IslamToday - English

05/12/2013 04:28

Published on IslamToday - English (http://en.islamtoday.net)

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Blood Donations while Fasting and the Question of Cupping

Thu, 10/14/2004 Author:

Sheikh Salman al-Oadah [2] Short Content:

The issue of whether a person can donate blood while fasting is a new one. Such procedures did not exist at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) or indeed, until quite recently. However, there was at the time a very common medical procedure known as cupping or bloodletting, and the majority of the jurists from among the early scholars of hadîth considered this to be something that nullifies the fast. Body:

The issue of whether a person can donate blood while fasting is a new one. Such procedures did not exist at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) nor indeed, until quite recently.

However, there was at the time a very common medical procedure known as cupping or bloodletting, and many jurists from among the early scholars of hadîth held the view that cupping nullifies the fast. These scholars included Ishâq b. Râhawayh, Ibn al-Mundhir, `Atâ ʼ , al-Hasan al-Basrî, and others.

It is also related from a number of Companions that, in Ramadan, they would only sit for cupping at night and avoided doing so during the day. This is related from Ibn `Umar, Ibn `Abbâs, Anas b. Mâlik, and others.

The strongest evidence in support of this view is the hadith where the Prophet (peace be upon him) says: “The one administering the cupping and the one being cupped have both broken their fasts.”

This is an authentic hadith that has been related by at least fifteen different Companions. The most authentic narrations of these hadîth, perhaps, are the ones that reach us from the following Companions:

Shidâd b. Aws [Sunan Abî Dâwûd (2368, 2369) and Sunan Ibn Mâjah (1681)]

Thawbân [Sunan Abî Dâwûd (2367, 2370, 2371) and Sunan Ibn Mâjah (1680)]

Râfi` b. Khadîj [Sunan al-Tirmidhî (774)]

Blood Donations while Fasting and the Question of Cupping

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This hadith is also related from Companions like `Alî b. Abî Tâlib, Sa`d b. Abî Waqqâs, `Abd Allah b. `Umar, Ibn `Abbâs, Abû Mûsâ al-Ash`arî, Abû Hurayrah, Bilâl, Usâmah b. Zayd, `Aʼ ishah, and Safiyyah. Its chains of transmission are indeed numerous.

The second opinion is that cupping does not invalidate the fast, neither for the one administering it nor for the one sitting for it. This is according to the schools of thought of Abû Hanîfah, Mâlik, al-Shâfi`î, and al-Thawrî. This was also the opinion of a number of Companions, like Abû Sa`îd al-Khudrî, Ibn Mas`ûd, `A ʼ ishah, and Umm Salamah. It was the view of many Successors as well, including `Urwah and Sa`îd b. Jubayr.

Al-Bukhârî relates from Ibn `Abbâs that the Prophet (peace be upon him) sat for cupping while he was in the state of ihrâm and that he sat for cupping while he was fasting. [Sahîh al- Bukhârî (1938)]

However, this wording, though it appears in Sahîh al-Bukhârî, has been rejected by Ahmad b. Hanbal and declared defective by a number of the leading scholars of hadith. They say that the correct wording for this hadith is simply that the Prophet (peace be upon him) sat for cupping while he was in the state of ihram, and the addition about fasting is inauthentic.

The hadith of Abû Sa`îd al-Khudrî is also cited as evidence to support the permissibility of cupping for a fasting person. He said: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) granted permission for a fasting person to sit for cupping.” [Sunan al-Nasâ ʼ î al-Kubrâ (3224, 3228) and Sahîh Ibn Khuzaymah (1967)]

The chain of transmission for this hadith is authentic. However, Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalânî says that there is disagreement about whether this hadîth is actually related by the Companion Abû Sa`îd al-Khudrî. It is contended that the statement was actually made by the Successor, without mention of Abû Sa`îd al-Khudrî appearing in the chain of transmission.

The phrase “granted permission” indicates that cupping had previously been forbidden and then permission was granted later on. This is strong proof for those who argue that the final ruling on the question of cupping while fasting is that it is permissible and that the prohibition had been abrogated.

Then there is the hadith where Anas was asked: “Did you all used to dislike cupping for a fasting person?” and he replied: “No, except because it made one weak.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî

(1940)]

What this means is that they (the Companions) did not disapprove of cupping on account of it nullifying the fast. Rather, they disliked it on account of the fact that it makes a person physically weak, and they feared that this weakness might then compel the person to break his fast.

There is also the hadith related by `Abd al-Rahmân b. Abî Laylâ from one of the Companions that he said: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited cupping for a fasting person - and likewise prohibited fasting consecutive days in Ramadan without breaking the fast at night - as a kindness to his Companions, but he did not make it unlawful.” [Sunan Abî Dâwûd (2374)]

Ibn Hajar says about this hadith: “Its chain of transmission is authentic and there is no harm in the fact that the Companion is not identified.”

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The "kindness" mentioned here alludes to the fact that cupping makes a person weak and makes fasting difficult, in the same way that fasting consecutive days without breaking the fast at night weakens a fasting person and makes his fast too difficult. Therefore, the prohibition here is not one of legal proscription, but one of dislike. It merely discourages cupping.

This brings us to the question of how those who permit cupping for a fasting person answer the hadith “The one administering the cupping and the one being cupped have both broken their fasts.” Scholars have suggested quite a number of answers.

One of these is that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had passed by two men who were busily backbiting someone else while one of them was administering the treatment of cupping to the other. So when the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The one administering the cupping and the one being cupped have both broken their fasts” he was referring to these two specific people, meaning that their fasts were compromised on account of their backbiting.

However, this argument is weak for a number of reasons. To start with, the narration that gives this background information has a weak chain of transmission. Also, the wording of the hadith associates the breaking of the fast with cupping. Moreover, scholars are nearly all agreed that backbiting someone else does not actually cause one ʼ s fast to be broken.

Other scholars suggest that the words “have both broken their fasts” should be interpreted to mean that they have brought themselves very close to breaking their fasts. This is because most of the time, when a person undergoes cupping, the loss of blood weakens him to the point where fasting becomes extremely difficult, if not practically impossible. This could compel the person to have to eat and drink.

This argument is also not strong. Though it is easy to understand how this interpretation applies to the person sitting for cupping, it is unclear how it applies to the one administering it, since he is not suffering any loss of blood.

Another suggestion is that abrogation has occurred. This is a likely possibility. Those who wrote on the subject of abrogation mention this as a case where it might have occurred. Some argue that the permission to sit for cupping was abrogated by the hadîth “The one administering the cupping and the one being cupped have both broken their fasts.” This is the view of Ibn Taymiyah, who argues that cupping is not allowed for a fasting person. Others hold the view that the prohibition against cupping is the ruling that was abrogated.

I hold the view – and Allah knows best – that cupping does not nullify a person ʼ s fast. This is because we have no choice but to interpret the hadith in one of the ways suggested above. The most likely of these is the opinion that the prohibition against cupping for a fasting person had later been abrogated. This is the opinion of the majority of jurists. We must also consider the good number of Companions who held this view.

As Ibn Taymiyah points out, questions of fasting are among those that all the Muslims need to know about. The Companions – even the Mothers of the believers like `A ʼ ishah and Umm Salamah – witnessed people undergoing the treatment of cupping during the fast but said nothing about it. Moreover, some of the Companions made it clear that cupping was only prohibited out of kindness to them. Also, there does not seem to be any clear reason why the one administering the cupping should have his fast nullified. All of this compels us to either apply an interpretation to the hadîth “The one administering the cupping and the one being

Blood Donations while Fasting and the Question of Cupping

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cupped have both broken their fasts” or consider it to have been abrogated.

This brings us to our question of a fasting person donating blood by modern means. This also includes the question of having blood drawn for the purpose of a blood test. Some scholars have compared these procedures to cupping, in consideration that they all entail the extraction of blood from the blood vessels in a manner that brings harm to the individual and causes weakness.

Other scholars reject the idea that these procedures are comparable. They argue that cupping may have other aspects to it besides the mere drawing of blood that require the legal rulings for each to be different. This is the opinion that I tend towards.

Therefore, we can say with certainty that the doctor who draws blood from a patient using a needle is definitely not breaking his fast by doing so. This would be the case even if we were to say that the one administering cupping breaks his fast. The reason for this is that the procedure of drawing blood with a needle is very different than that of cupping.

Even if we hold the view that cupping breaks the patientʼ s fast, we should limit this ruling to cupping itself and those procedures that are very similar to cupping. As for modern methods of taking blood samples, they do not break the patientʼ s fast, nor the fast of a blood donor.

Indeed, many of those who hold the view that cupping breaks the fast concede that if a person suffers a small injury that results in the loss of some blood, his fast is not broken. Blood donations should be seen in the same light.

And Allah knows best.

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