Meaning of 'shihaab-in-mubeen' in verse 15:18
Fatwa No: 350767

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. I was wondering; does shihaab-in-mubin mean that we have to see this flame in the sky with the naked eye, or does it just mean a flame that is manifest but we do not have to see in the sky with the naked eye; like, can it be that far away that it is manifest but that we cannot see it?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

This question arises based on saying that the 'shihaab' is a piece of fire and that the meaning of 'mubeen' is 'visible to the viewers'. This is the view of a group of the interpreters of the Quran.

The answer to this question is that the fact that the burning flame is visible to the viewers does not necessitate that they see it exactly as it is. The sun is visible to the people who see it with their own eyes, but they do not see it as a flaming fire because of the distance. The same thing applies to the burning flame which people see as a light because of its far distance, but in reality it is a fire.

As-Sam’aani said, The 'shihaab' is a flame of fire, and if someone says, 'We do not see a fire, but we only see a light or shooting star,' the answer is that it is possible that it falls as a light, and when it reaches the devil, it becomes fire, and it is possible that it is seen as a star because of the far distance while it is fire.

Some other Quran interpreters have another interpretation about the meaning of 'shihaab-in-mubeen'; At-Tabari said, He (the devil) is pursued by a clear burning flame; (clear means that) its effect is clear in him, either by destroying him or burning him.

According to this view, the question you mentioned does not arise.

Allah knows best.

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