The Meaning of 'Sight'
Fatwa No: 449251

  • Fatwa Date:24-10-2021 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 18, 1443
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Question

Chapter anbya verse 30, أَوَلَمْ يَرَ ?لَّذِينَ كَفَرُو?ا? أَنَّ ?لسَّمَـ?وَ?تِ وَ?لْأَرْضَ كَانَتَا رَتْقًا فَفَتَقْنَـ?هُمَا ? وَجَعَلْنَا مِنَ ?لْمَآءِ كُلَّ شَىْءٍ حَىٍّ ? أَفَلَا يُؤْمِنُونَ, “Have the disbelievers not seen that the heavens and the earth were closed, then We opened them?” As no one of us has ‘seen’ closed heavens and the earth then, why Quran has used this word. Many scholars used the words like observe, known, realize, consider but the meaning of ‎يَرَ is ‘see’, how or according to which rule they changed the meaning, from “see” to observe, known, realize, consider, etc. Please explain 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.

الرؤية The sight in Lisaan al-‘Arab refers to the sight of the eye, and it also refers to the sight of the heart – meaning the knowledge of something and so on.

Ar-Raaghib said in al-Mufradaat about the difficult terms in the Quran: sight: is the visible perception [by the eye], and there are many types according to the forces of the mind/soul:

The first of which is by the senses and the like, like the Saying of Allah (which means): {You will surely see the Hellfire. Then you will surely see it with the eye of certainty.} [Quran 102:6-7], and the Saying of Allah (which means): {And on the Day of Resurrection you will see those who lied about Allah...} [Quran 39:60]

The second type is by impression and imagination, like: “I can see that Zayd is setting off [going away], and like Allah’s Saying (which means): {And if you could but see when the angels take the souls of those who disbelieved...} [Quran 8:50]

The third type is by reflection, like the Saying of Allah (which means): {Indeed, I see what you do not see.} [Quran 8:48]

The fourth type is by the mind, like the Saying of Allah (which means): {The heart did not lie [about] what it saw.} [Quran 53:11]; it is the same meaning as in the Saying of Allah (which means): {And he certainly saw him in another descent} [Quran 53:13]

If رأى (verb see) is transitive and has two objects, it means knowledge, like the Saying of Allah (which means): {And those who have been given knowledge see…} [Quran 34:6], and the Saying of Allah (which means): {Although you see me less than you in wealth and children.} [Quran 18:39]

The verb أرأيت (Did you not see) also has the meaning of inform me, such as the Saying of Allah (which means):

• {[Iblees] said, "Do You see this one whom You have honored above me?} [Quran 17:62]

• {Say, "Have you considered: if there came to you the punishment of Allah} [Quran 6:40]

• {Have you seen if he is upon guidance.} [Quran 96:9]

• {Say, [O Muhammad], "Have you considered that which you invoke besides Allah?} [Quran 46:4]

• {Say, "Have you considered: if Allah should make for you the night continuous until the Day of Resurrection…} [Quran 28:71]

• {Say, "Have you considered: if the Qur'an was from Allah.} [Quran 46:10]

• {He said, "Did you see when we retired to the rock?} [Quran 18:63]

In all of the above verses, the Arabic verb أرأيت has the meaning of bringing into one’s attention (attracting one’s attention).

والرأي Opinion: Believing in one’s mind one of the two opposites according to what one predominantly believes, such as the Saying of Allah (which means): {They saw them [to be] twice their [own] number by [their] eyesight.} [Quran 3:13], meaning that they think based on what they see with their own eyes that they are twice their number.

If أرأيت is added to إلى then it means looking that leads to consideration, like the Saying of Allah (which means): {Have you not considered your Lord - how He extends the shadow…} [Quran 25:45] [End of quote]

The interpreters of the Quran did not change the meaning of this verse – as you claimed. The great and prominent interpreter of the Quran Ibn Jareer at-Tabari  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in his Tafseer (interpretation of the Quran): “Did those who disbelieve in Allah not look with the sight of their hearts, and see with it, and know that the heavens and the earth were a joined entity.” [End of quote]

Allah Knows best.

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