بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Treating Fever with Cold Water
‘Abdullãh bin Omar narrated that God’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “The intensity of fever is a scorching torridity that is vented from the boiling of hell-fire, so cool it down with water.” (Reported in sahïh Bukhãri and Muslim). In the past, this saying baffled the majority of inexperienced physicians and hakïms, who were even able to convince some doubting canonists to regard it as an apocryphal tradition. Therefore, we shall, and by God’s leave, explain the depth if this important prophetic saying which is a divine revelation (wahi). Often revelations become controversial among adepts when misunderstood. However, pursuing modern medical practices, it is common among pediatricians to give an infant suffering from fever a bath of cold water until it subsides. We therefore testify and Allah is our helper, that His Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم spoke the truth. This prophetic saying carries two meanings: one is general for all people, and the second is exclusive and pertains to some people only. The second interpretation particularly concerns people who live in an extremely hot climate such as the inhabitants of the Arabian peninsula, for example. In their case, it is common to suffer from ephemeral fever due to exposure to extreme heat, and this must be treated by drinking cold water or by bathing in it. However, exposure to extreme cold also can produce such ephemeral fever, and such case can be treated by drinking hot drinks or bathing in hot water. Here again we recognize the theory of opposites.
According to Tibb medicine, fever is a biologically unnatural temperature that originates in the heart and rises through stagnation of certain blood hormones that are connected to the spirit or soul (described by Galen as pneuma); and by floating in a median course throughout the veins and arteries, such temperature expands across the entire body and rises to yield biological imbalance that affects the body’s natural functions.
There are two types of fevers: (1) Ephemeral fever, which is caused by inflammation, excessive motion, or exposure to scorching summer heat or freezing winter cold besides other causes; and (2) traumatic fever, which is divided into three categories. Traumatic fever originates from the blood humor and it develops a temperature that spreads throughout the whole body: a) When temperature is related to the soul, it is called a one day fever (i.e. ephemeral), and it may last up to three days; b) when fever is related to the primary four humors, namely: bilious (yellow bile), atrabilious (black bile), phlegmatic, and sanguine, it is called putrefactive, and finally when fever originates from a primary organ, it is called hectic, and the latter further divides into many types.