What is the authenticity and meaning of this Hadith?
Jabir (radiyallahu ‘anhu) said, “Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) saw a woman so he entered upon Zaynab bint Jahsh while she was tanning leather and had intercourse with her. He then came out to his companions and said to them, A woman advances in the form of a devil [i.e. Just as Shaytan entices man, a man is naturally enticed and attracted to women], so when one of you gets excited by her, he should go to his wife and have intercourse with her for that will repel what he is feeling.”
This narration is authentic and has been recorded by many Muhaddithun. Imam Abu Dawud (rahimahullah) has recorded the version you have cited. Imam Muslim (rahimahullah) has recorded the narration with a few extra words.
The narration in Tirmidhi further adds, “For indeed with her [his wife] is the same which is with her [the woman you see]”
(Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 1403, Sunan Tirmidhi, Hadith: 1158, Sunan Abi Dawud, Hadith: 2144)
Qadi ‘Iyad and ‘Allamah Nawawi (rahimahumallah) explain that this does not mean that Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) had become affected -Allah forbid- when he saw the woman. Rather Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) showed us and demonstrated what we should do in a case like this. He did this so that we too do the same. His actions were meant as guidance.
(Ikmalul Mu’lim, under Hadith: 1403, Al Minhaj of ‘Allamah Nawawi, Hadith: 3393)
Other commentators have offered a different explanation as well.
(Refer: Faydul Qadir, Hadith: 2113)
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best.
Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala
Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar
Checked by: Moulana Haroon Abasoomar