August 21, 2016 Special Dispatch No. 6581

Egyptian Columnist Mocks Those Who Regard Michael Phelps' Cupping As Proof Islam Is Right

August 21, 2016
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 6581

The purple cupping marks visible on American swimmer Michael Phelps and other athletes participating in the 2016 Olympic Games sparked great interest in the Arab world. Some claimed that the practice of cupping is Islamic in origin and that the athletes' use of it proves the truth of the Prophet Muhammad's sayings about it. Thus, for example,, which bills itself as "a scientific initiative" by researches and scientists to convey scientific knowledge to Muslim readers, stated in an article titled "The Benefits of Cupping Take the Rio Olympics and the Global Media by Storm": "Congratulations to those interested only in questioning the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, even if science proves them accurate every day," and included quotes from Muhammad's praise of cupping.[1] Another website explained that cupping was "a practice known in Islamic societies for centuries... The roots of this practice in Arab societies are the so-called 'Prophet's medicine,' which is based on recommendations of the Prophet Muhammad..."[2]

Khaled Montasser, a columnist for the Egyptian daily Al-Watan, mocked these claims and accused those who make them of hypocrisy. He said that such claims are a mark of shame for Islam, and that, had the Prophet Muhammad lived today, he would have adopted modern medicine.

The following are excerpts from Montasser's article: [3]

Cupping-marks visible on his body of American swimmer Michael Phelps (Image:, August 11, 2016)

"The fact that many Muslims, particularly Salafis, were happy to see the purple marks on the body of American swimmer Michael Phelps at the Rio Olympics attests only to the scope of the disaster afflicting the minds, thought, and souls of [Muslim] believers... The great joy that overcame them was caused by the fact that these marks were the result of cupping, making them think that Phelps had become convinced of the principles of Islam and had converted to Islam, and that this was proof that Islam is right, and that the Prophet's medicine [is also right]...

"Such rejoicing at information like this, and perceiving it as a victory for the religion [Islam], lends it [Islam] fragility and perceives it as lacking any immunity and as vulnerable to potential collapse with every foreign virus. Otherwise, why aren't the Chinese jumping for joy because all media outlets reporting on [Phelps' cupping] noted that it originated in China? Why don't the Chinese declare Buddhism the winner, crow about Buddha being right, and so on? Because [the Chinese] are self-confident and trust their knowledge and their ability to enhance this knowledge, and because they do not mix religion, an absolute, with [scientific] knowledge, which is relative, and therefore paid no heed to this report...

"This is not 'the Prophet's medicine,' but rather medicine that was practiced during the time of the Prophet. Had he lived today, he would have adopted modern medicine, getting ultrasounds, MRIs, etc. Anyone asking nowadays for treatment by cauterization or bloodletting is like asking for anesthesia by being hit on the head with a hammer. As for those who preach and trade in 'the Prophet's medicine,' which has nothing to do with the Prophet - why don't they implement the Prophet's transportation and ride a she-camel instead of driving a Mercedes? ...

"Medical knowledge does not come from a swimmer or a boxer... All scientists agree that bloodletting and cupping have no place in and no connection to [modern] medicine. Some even define [bloodletting] as ridiculous, and those who perform it 'criminals'...

"The Salafis should [clarify] to us whether we are imitating the American infidels or are in conflict with them. When the Americans say homosexuality is not a disease, the Salafis scream: Infidels, heathens, preaching promiscuity, kill the Americans, throw them to the ground!... But when this swimmer with purple cupping marks emerges, we see this as... a clear victory over the U.S....

"My Salafi brothers, [modern] culture is a package deal, and you are welcome to the whole thing at no charge. But this culture is not a vegetable stand where you can pick and choose... We must adopt [modern] means, which are brains and knowledge... So I am saddened when I see you [Salafis] begging a swimmer who underwent cupping for acknowledgement of your religion."




[1], August 18, 2016.

[2], August 11, 2016.

[3] Al-Watan (Egypt), August 12, 2016.

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