Many Muslims have become victims of the bombardment of the enemies of Islam with allegations and attacks. One such is a narration of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) as follows:
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ “ إِذَا نُودِيَ لِلصَّلاَةِ أَدْبَرَ الشَّيْطَانُ وَلَهُ ضُرَاطٌ حَتَّى لاَ يَسْمَعَ التَّأْذِينَ، فَإِذَا قَضَى النِّدَاءَ أَقْبَلَ، حَتَّى إِذَا ثُوِّبَ بِالصَّلاَةِ أَدْبَرَ، حَتَّى إِذَا قَضَى التَّثْوِيبَ أَقْبَلَ حَتَّى يَخْطُرَ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَنَفْسِهِ، يَقُولُ اذْكُرْ كَذَا، اذْكُرْ كَذَا. لِمَا لَمْ يَكُنْ يَذْكُرُ، حَتَّى يَظَلَّ الرَّجُلُ لاَ يَدْرِي كَمْ صَلَّى ”
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah’s Apostle said, “When the Adhan is pronounced Satan takes to his heels and passes wind with noise (ضرط) during his flight in order not to hear the Adhan. When the Adhan is completed he comes back and again takes to his heels when the Iqama is pronounced and after its completion he returns again till he whispers into the heart of the person (to divert his attention from his prayer) and makes him remember things which he does not recall to his mind before the prayer and that causes him to forget how much he has prayed.”
عَنْ أَبِي سُفْيَانَ، عَنْ جَابِرٍ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ “ إِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ إِذَا سَمِعَ النِّدَاءَ بِالصَّلاَةِ ذَهَبَ حَتَّى يَكُونَ مَكَانَ الرَّوْحَاءِ ” . قَالَ سُلَيْمَانُ فَسَأَلْتُهُ عَنِ الرَّوْحَاءِ . فَقَالَ هِيَ مِنَ الْمَدِينَةِ سِتَّةٌ وَثَلاَثُونَ مِيلاً
Abu Sufyan reported it on the authority of Jabir that he had heard the Apostle of Allah say: “When Satan hears the call to prayer, he runs away to a distance like that of Rauha”. Sulaiman said: “I asked him about Rauha.” He replied, “It is at a distance of 36 miles from Medina.”
The Arabic word for breaking the wind is not limited to releasing stomach gas
The Arabic word ‘ضرط (dart)’ needs to be understood properly. It carries the meaning of passing or breaking the wind but this is not the only meaning. It also means to let slip which can be stomach gas but not necessarily so.
Other meanings of the Arabic word ‘ضرط’ are ‘to ease’ or ‘shortage’ or ‘to release/escape’ and hence shortage of hair is also called ‘ضرط’ where hair is ‘released’ from the head or ‘reduced’. Therefore, it could be said for a balding man that his hair is escaping him. A person who has light beard is called ‘اضرط’ (Adraat). A woman with light eyebrows is called ‘ضرطاء’ (Dartaa); all different forms of the same verb ‘ضرط’.
Even though it is weak, there is a saying of Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) that proves that the word is not exclusive to passing the wind i.e. stomach gas. The sentence, at the least, proves that the usage of the word in the past was not restricted to the one being alleged and made fun of by enemies of Islam.
إنه دخل بيت المال فاضرط به أي استخف به و سخر منه
He entered the state treasury and got angry with him and despised him and ridiculed him.
Here the meaning of the word ‘ضرط’ is ‘to treat with contempt’, ‘to disapprove of something’.
How have the scholars understood these narrations?
1. First group of scholars understand the narrations on face value, even though they admit that the word ‘ضرط’ is not restricted to the release of wind from the stomach. Hafiz Ibn Hajar carries this view. He states the different views and prefers the literal approach.
Furthermore, in support of this view, it can be stated that since shaytaan is made from fire, he does not have the same body as humans and does not have the same characteristics as humans and does not go through the same physical conditions as human beings go through. Therefore, if he has the ability to release stomach gas at will, it should not be a surprise as details of his physical features, attributes and qualities are unknown. However, Hafiz Ibn Hajr states that it is the level of fear of shaytaan that results in him releasing wind while running away.
Interpreting these narrations literally should not be a problem to anyone. Since the shaytaan is an enemy of Islam and promotes everything that Islam prohibits and encourages vile and disgusting behavior, it should not be a surprise if he acts this way literally while hearing the Adhan. Making fun of these narrations is actually defending the shaytaan from being a filthy creature. Any believer would readily accept that the enemy of Allah is indeed hideous and anyone defending shaytaan from being hideous requires serious and urgent help.
Imam Qurtubi is also of the opinion that such narrations of shaytaan releasing stomach gas are to be understood as literal since it is proven that shayateen eat and drink, urinate, marry etc.
2. Second group of scholars have stated that this was an Arabic figurative way of saying that shaytaan runs away in a disgusted fashion. For example in English, if one say that he went away with his ‘tail between his legs’, a literal tail is not intended, rather the meaning is that the person went away frightened, defeated or as a coward.
Arabic-English Lexicon approves of this as well. On page 1786 of the dictionary under the definition of ‘ضرط’ we find the following:
It is explicitly mentioned that these are proverbs. It is taken as a figure of speech and not in literal sense. The approach of the second group of scholars is well founded and strong as well.
3. Third group of scholars also state that ‘ضرط’ is not restricted to releasing stomach gas and has other meanings and they use other meanings in these narrations. They state that ‘ضرط’ in these narrations means ‘to go away angrily’ (as evidenced from the narration from Ali – may Allah be pleased with him) and hence when shaytaan hears the Adhan, he takes to his heels and escapes away angrily. Among modern scholars, Sheikh Maududi has stated this opinion, however, he considers the second opinion as equally strong.
Such narrations are very much logical and there is nothing in it for Muslims to deny or twist. Muslims who have been affected by the bombardment of anti-Islamic claims should keep the following verse of the Qur’an in mind:
ماضل صاحبكم وماغوى – وماينطق عن الهوى – ان هو الا وحي يوحى
Your companion [Muhammad] has not strayed, nor has he erred, Nor does he speak from [his own] inclination. It is not but a revelation revealed.
Indeed, Allah knows the best.
 Sahih Bukhari, vol. 1, book 11, Hadith no. 582
 Sahih Muslim, book 4, Hadith no. 751
 Arabic-English Lexicon by Edward William Lane (London: Willams & Norgate 1863)
 Qur’an 53:2-4