Ruling on exposing awrah for massage or cupping

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by DarulUloomTT.net
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Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu, My question is from the point of view of being the therapist and being the patient… If one has the intention to learn manual massage & dry cupping therapy to be able to assist others in pain relief, relaxation, improving blood circulation etc , as a massage therapist, but it means viewing certain parts of the body while trying to cover as modestly as possible (when learning and when practicing as a career) – will this be permissible? – or are we allowed to pursue a career in this field while it means the awrah has to be exposed to some extent? – are we allowed to get full body massage and dry cupping therapy done to us while it means the awrah will be exposed to some extent? In both scenarios it’s same gender. May Allah accept, bless and reward your efforts ameen. Jazakallah khair



As Salaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah,

Covering the awrah (body parts which must be covered by males and females as ordained by the Shariah and also known as intimate parts of the body) is very important and a firm injunction given in Islam. While giving this instruction, the Prophet (S.A.S) is reported to have said, ‘No man should look at the awrah of another man and no woman should look at the awrah of another woman’ (Muslim).

Based on this injunction, Muslim men and women are required to cover their awrah, and at the same time, protect their gaze from the awrah of others (except those who are lawful for them).

The awrah of a man is from his navel to his knees. Therefore, a man can look at the body of another man except the area from the navel to the knees.

The awrah of a Muslim woman for another Muslim woman is just like that of a male. That is, from the navel to the knees. So when a need arises, it is permissible for a Muslim woman to look at the body of another Muslim woman except the area between the navel to the knees.

With respect to a Muslim woman exposing her body to a non-Muslim woman, this is not the same as exposing it to a Muslim woman. The Muslim woman can only expose her face and palms in front of a non-Muslim woman.  She will also have to cover her hair in front of her. This is the most correct opinion according to the over whelming majority of scholars. (Fiqh Al Islami Wa Adilatihi Vol. 4 pg. 2656 and vol 1 pg. 754).

With this understanding of the awrah of the male and the female, the scholars have mentioned that those areas which are permissible to look at, then it will be permissible to touch provided that it is done without desires. Therefore, a male can go to another male for a massage or dry cupping, and expose the parts of the body which are not awrah to him, and allow him to touch his body for that purpose.

In a similar manner, a female (Muslim) can go to another female (Muslim) for a massage or dry cupping and expose any area of her body besides the area between the navel to the knees, and allow her to touch those areas for that purpose. If she goes to a non-Muslim woman for a massage or dry cupping, then she will not be allowed to uncover any parts of her body, since the only parts she can expose to the non Muslim woman are the palms and her face. It must be understood that when a valid need arises for exposing the awrah, like in the case of serious medical reasons, surgery etc, then it will be permissible for the awrah to be exposed to the extent that is needed for the medical expert to attend to, since this is a dire necessity which involves the protection of a person’s health or the removal of that which is harmful. For this reason, the Shariah has allowed the exposing of the awrah. When such a need arises for a male, then he must visit a male doctor. He is not allowed to visit a female doctor, since he may have to expose his awrah and also be touched and handled by the female, and the Shariah does not allow this. However, if he has no choice except to visit a female doctor, because of the non-availability of a male doctor or he can only find a female specialist for his sickness, or he may be in the hospital and will be attended to by female nurses, then in these situations, on the basis of fulfilling a necessity, it would be allowed for him to uncover his awrah and be attended to by female doctors and nurses.

The same is the case of a Muslim woman. When she wishes to seek medical care, she must visit a female doctor, preferably a Muslim, since she may have to expose her awrah and be touched and handled by the female doctor. If this is not possible, then she must visit a non-Muslim female doctor who can attend to her. In this case, she will be allowed to expose her awrah to the extent needed on the basis of necessity.

However, if the situation arises where only a male doctor can attend to her since there is no qualified female doctor in that field, or she is in the hospital where male doctors or male nurses may attend to her, then she will be allowed to expose her awrah to the extent needed, based on necessity. However, a male blood relative or her husband should be with her when she visits a male doctor. (Al Mawsoo’ah Al Fiqhiya Vol. 31 pg 56 Maktaba Uloom Al Islamiya Chaman Bahchistan).

The above allowances are granted when there are sound valid reasons (acceptable in the Shariah) for exposing of one’s awrah. The ruling regarding the covering of one’s awrah is extremely important in the Shariah, however, when the need for curing serious medical  complications arises, and one is compelled by necessity to treat an illness, then the Shariah grants allowances for these needs to be fulfilled.

These allowances however, do not extend to getting a massage or doing dry cupping. On one hand, no serious health problem occurs which will compel a person to go for a massage, and on the other hand, a massage or a dry cupping does not cure any serious medical condition or sickness. It may help in pain relief, but it is not a definite cure for pain. It brings about some relaxation, but this is not really a medical problem. It may improve blood circulation, however, patients who suffer from poor blood circulation like heart patients etc., do not normally turn to massage or dry cupping as a cure. Instead, they will visit their heart doctors and use medication along with exercise to overcome their problem.

Therefore, massage and dry cupping are not definite cures for medical conditions and so, they cannot bring about allowances  for a person’s awrah to be exposed and for one to look and touch the awrah of another person, even if it is the same gender. With respect to the questions you have asked, the following are the answers:-

  1. It will be permissible for a person to learn manual massage and dry cupping. However, a person must not look at and touch the areas of the body that are considered to be awrah. This is the same, whether one is learning or practicing as a therapist. As such, the male can learn manual massage and do dry cupping, and then practice only on males, on all the parts of the body except the area between the navel to the knees. The Muslim woman can also learn manual massage and dry cupping, and then practice only on females, on the different areas of her body except the area between the navel to the knees.
  2. One can pursue a career in this field, however, while doing so, one cannot expose his/her awrah.
  3. Getting a full body massage or a full body dry cupping done will require one to expose the awrah and also be touched on those parts, therefore, this will not be permissible. Besides the area of the awrah, one may have the massage and dry cupping done on all the other parts of the body.

And Allah Knows best

Mufti Waseem Khan


This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.