What does the hadith "Satan flows in the blood vessels of man with blood" mean?

Details of the Question

It is said that the Prophet (pbuh) said there were Satans flowing in the blood vessels of man with blood.

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The following is stated in a narration: The Prophet said,

"Do not enter upon the women whose husbands are absent; for, indeed Satan flows through one of you as the blood flows.” We said,

“And you?”

He said, “And me, but Allah helped me over him (he surrendered), so I am safe.” (Tirmidhi, Rada 17, 1172).

EXPLANATION:

1. In the hadith, the Messenger of Allah advises us not to enter upon the women whose husbands are away. 
2. Satan’s flowing in the body like blood can have two meanings:
     a) Satan may really have been given the power to flow in the body of man. In that case, no metaphor is in question in hadith. 
     b) This expression may be a metaphor. It may represent the abundance of the delusions caused by Satan. 
3. Sufyan ath-Thawri opposes the issue of Satan’s becoming a Muslim and says, "Satan cannot be a Muslim." In that case, it is appropriate to pronounce the verb اَسْلَمَ not as “aslama” (in the past form) اَسْلَمُ but as “aslamu” (in the present form). It will mean "I was kept safe from him."

Ibn Abbas narrates:

"The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,

"Satan waits perching on the heart of man. When man mentions Allah, he keeps down; when man is heedless, he causes delusions." (Bukhari, Tafsir, Qul audhu birabbinnas 1)

The origin of this narration in Bukhari is a bit different. Bukhari gives the narration without its chain and includes the word waswas as a definition:

"Al-Waswas: When man is born, Satan snuggles into him; When man mentions Allah, he leaves; if Allah is not mentioned, he settles in man’s heart."

Said Ibn Mansur reports this hadith with some additions that make it more understandable:

"When man is born, Satan perches on his heart. If he thinks and mentions the name of Allah, Satan keeps down; if man is heedless, he causes delusions."

Ibn Marduya reports a different version of the hadith from Ibn Abbas:

"Al-Waswas is Satan. When a child is born, Satan is on his heart. Waswas treats him as he wishes. However, when that person mentions Allah, Satan keeps down; when man is heedless, Satan perches on his heart and causes delusions."

Said Ibn Mansur reports a similar hadith from Urwa Ibn Ruwayn:

"Hz. Isa asked his Lord to show him Satan’s place in man. Allah showed it to him. Satan’s head was like a snake and his head was on the fruit of the heart. When the person mentioned Allah, Satan retreated and kept down; when he stopped mentioning Allah, Satan returned and spoke."

THE MEANING OF THE CHAPTER OF AN-NAS:

"Say: I seek refuge with the Lord and Cherisher of Mankind, The King (or Ruler) of Mankind, The god (or judge) of Mankind,- From the mischief of the Whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after his whisper),- (The same) who whispers into the hearts of Mankind,- Among Jinns and among men. "

The Prophet (pbuh) ordered Ibn Umar as follows:  

"O Ibn Umar! Take care of your religion! Take care of your religion! It is your flesh and blood. Be careful about from whom you take your religion. Take it from those who are upright and do not take it from those who have swerved."

As it is seen in the hadith above, blood is likened to the religion. When this meaning is considered, Satan’s flowing in man’s blood vessels is metaphorical; it is understood that Satan causes delusions in man all the time to make him go astray.  

(Prof. Dr. İbrahim Canan, Kütüb-ü Sitte Translation and Expalnation)

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