How do we see?

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How do we see?

Allah brought you out of your mothers’ wombs devoid of all knowledge and gave you hearing, sight and hearts so that perhaps you would give thanks. (Surat an-Nahl: 78)

The act of seeing is realised progressively. During the act of seeing, light clusters (photons) travelling from any object to the eye pass through the lens at the front of the eye where they are refracted and fall upside-down on the retina at the back of the eye. Here, impinging light is turned into electrical signals that are transmitted by neurons to a tiny spot called the centre of vision in the back of the brain. This electrical signal is perceived as an image in this centre in the brain after a series of processes. The act of seeing actually takes place in this tiny spot in the posterior part of the brain, which is pitch-dark and completely insulated from light.

When we say, “we see,” we are in fact seeing the effects of impulses reaching our eyes and induced in our brain, after they are transformed into electrical signals. That is, when we say, “we see,” we are actually observing electrical signals in our minds.

Both the book you are now reading and the boundless landscape you see when you gaze at the horizon fit into this tiny space. This adjustment in scale holds true also for the different perceptions we obtain through our other senses.

What does it mean matter’s being a “not to have direct experience of the real mattercollection of perceptions” mean?

All the information that we have about the world in which we live is conveyed to us by our five senses. The world we know of consists of what our eyes see, our hands feel, our noses smell, our tongues taste, and our ears hear. Modern research reveals that our perceptions are only responses created in the brain by electrical signals. In this regard, we merely deal with the copy images reaching our brains of people, colours, and everything we own in the external world.

All the information that we have about the world in which we live is conveyed to us by our five senses. The world we know of consists of what our eyes see, our hands feel, our noses smell, our tongues taste, and our ears hear. Modern research reveals that our perceptions are only responses created in the brain by electrical signals. In this regard, we merely deal with the copy images reaching our brains of people, colours, and everything we own in the external world.

Can we reach Is the existence of the original of the external world indispensable?

We can never reach the original of the external world. Since throughout our lives we merely deal with the electrical signals reaching our brains, we merely know the perceptions in the mind. The only world we know of is the world that exists in our minds: the one that is designed, recorded, and made vivid there; the one, in short, that is created within our minds.

Do we not also experience dreams in the mind? Are we deceived into believing perceptions, without any material correlates, to be real?

Yes, dreaming is an excellent example to understand the subject. In our dreams, we experience events, see people, objects and settings that seem completely real. However, they are all nothing but mere perceptions. Both of the “dream” and the “real world” are experienced in the brain. While dreaming there is nothing apart from what is in the brain. In the real world, however, the actual matter exists outside us, but we can never reach it and merely know its version perceived in the mind.

If we deal merely with perceptions of all matterall the material entities that we know of are actually perceptions, then what is the brain?

Since our brains are a part of the physical world just like our arms, legs, or any other object, we deal merely with its perception just like all other objects. An example about dreams will illuminate the subject further. Let us think that we see the dream. In the dream, we will have an imaginary body, an imaginary arm, an imaginary eye, and an imaginary brain. If during our dream, we were asked, “Where do you see?” we would answer “I see in my brain.” Yet, actually, there is not any brain to talk about, but an imaginary head and an imaginary brain. The seer of the images is not the imaginary brain in the dream, but a “being” that is far “beyond” it.

Who or what is the perceiver?

So far, people have believed that what does the perceiving is the brain. When we analyse the brain, however, we see that there is nothing in it but lipid and protein molecules, which also exist in other living organisms. This means that within the piece of meat we call the “brain,” there is nothing there to observe images, to constitute consciousness, or to create the being we call “myself.”

It is clear that the being that sees, hears, and feels is supra-material in nature. This being is “alive” and it is neither matter nor an image of matter. This being associates with the perceptions in front of it by using the image of our body.

This being is the “soul.” In the Qur’an Allah states:

They will ask you about the Spirit. Say: ‘The Spirit is my Lord’s concern. You have only been given a little knowledge.’ (Surat al-Isra’: 85)

Since what we perceive as the material world we have experience of is actually merely comprised of perceptions seen by our soul, then what is the source of these perceptions?

The reality that should be noted when answering this question is that we see matter only as an illusion and we can never have direct experience of its external existence. Since matter is a perception to us, it is something “artificial.” That is, this perception must have been caused by another power, which means that it must have been created. There is a Creator, Who has created the material universe and continues His creation ceaselessly. This Creator tells us, through the Book He revealed, about Himself, the universe and the reason of our existence. This Creator is Allah and His book is the Qur’an.  

It is Allah Who keeps a firm hold on the heavens and earth, preventing them from vanishing. And if they vanished, no one could then keep hold of them. Certainly He is Most Forbearing and Ever-Forgiving. (Surah Fatir: 41)

Is the love of Allah not sufficient? Is fear of Allah a must?

According to the Qur’an, true love requires respect and avoiding things of which Allah does not approve. When we look at the lives and actions of people who believe that love alone is enough, we see that they are not steadfast on the point mentioned above. However, a person who loves Allah sincerely, primarily follows His commands strictly, avoids the things He prohibits and is guided towards actions of which He approves. He shows his love by seeking our Lord’s approval at every moment of his life by his deep respect for, trust in, obedience and loyalty to Him.

As a result of such concern, he deeply fears losing Allah’s approval and incurring His wrath. Otherwise, expressing one’s love only in words, while living a heedless life, transgressing Allah’s limits, is certainly a very insincere attitude. In the Qur’an Allah has ordered man to fear Him:

Turn back in repentance to Him, and fear Him: perform salat (regular prayers), and do not be of those who ascribe partners to Allah. (Surat ar-Rum)

How intense must the fear of Allah of a sincere believer be?

Everyone who is aware of the being of Allah and who knows Him with His supreme attributes fears Allah deeply. This is because in addition to being infinitely compassionate and merciful, Allah is also al-Qahhar (the Subduer), al-Hasib (the Reckoner), al-Muazzib (the Punisher), al-Muntaqim (the Avenger), al-Saiq (the One Who consigns to Hell). Therefore, Muslims fear Allah in the unseen; they know no one is safe from His punishment. Since they know that they will be accountable for everything they do, they greatly avoid behaving in any way displeasing to Allah. However, it must be added that fear, as referred to here, has a totally different connotation from the typical fear felt in irreligious societies. It is a fear that gives peace to the believer, motivates him and prods him to action to gain Allah’s approval. Allah commanded the believers as follows:

So fear Allah as much as you can, and listen and obey and spend in charity for the benefit of your own soul. It is the people who are safeguarded from the avarice of their own selves who are successful. (Surat at-Taghabun: 16)

Can Anyone who reads the Qur’an understand it?

Allah has sent down the Qur’an to all people as a guide. This is why the Qur’an is extremely comprehensible and clear. Allah thus stresses this characteristic of the Qur’an: “A Light has come to you from Allah and a Clear Book.” (Surat al-Ma’ida: 15)

Another verse further clarifies this:

In this way We have sent it (the Qur’an) down with Clear Signs. Allah guides anyone He wills. (Surat al-Hajj: 16)

To be able to see the wisdom in the Qur’an and to comprehend its supreme features, one who reads it must be a hundred percent sincere and always think in accordance with his conscience.

However, it needs to be made clear that Muslims must strongly avoid producing pronouncements from the Qur’an on the basis of their own personal interpretations and opinions. The most appropriate thing to do for people seeking answers on these subjects is to make use of the catechisms collected by Ahl al-Sunnah scholars.

The Qur’an and the sunnah of the Prophet (saas) are the sole guide for believers.

The Qur’an is the only guide a believer will have recourse to throughout his life. In a verse of the Qur’an where Allah addressed the wives of the Prophet (saas), He commanded them to “remember the Signs of Allah and the wise words which are recited in their homes…” (Surat al-Ahzab: 34), and urged all believers to recite the Qur’an. As this verse makes clear, the believers read the scriptures in their homes and remember their verses. However, more important is reading and then fully practicing and diligently carrying out the Qur’an’s injunctions.

The best reference source to see how the Qur’an has been put into practice is the life and actions of our Prophet (saas), in other words, his Sunnah.

The Qur’an addresses every age

Allah sent down the Qur’an as a guide for all worlds and all times:

This is a clear explanation for all mankind, and guidance and admonition for those who fear Allah. (Surat Al-Imran: 138)

Allah gives examples in the Qur’an based on past events so that people who live throughout the ages may take warning and not repeat the same mistakes. One may commonly encounter events similar to those recounted in the Qur’an even today.

The verses of the Qur’an have been preserved by Allah until today without any change

The Qur’an is protected by Allah and has come down to our day without any change for the past 1400 years. Allah informs us of this truth:

It is We Who have sent down the Reminder (the Qur’an) and We Who will preserve it. (Surat al-Hijr)

The Words of your Lord are perfect in truthfulness and justice. No one can change His Words. He is the All-Hearing, and the All-Knowing. (Surat al-An‘am: 115)

These promises of Allah are sufficient for those who believe. Yet, Allah has shown us that the Qur’an is the book of truth by including certain scientific and numerical miracles in it.

What are the scientific miracles of the Qur’an?

Although the Qur’an was revealed 1400 years ago, it includes many scientific facts which were absolutely unknown at that time and have been discovered only in our day by the help of the latest scientific and technological means. These attributes of the Qur’an clearly demonstrate that it originated in Allah. The following are some of these miracles.

The constant expansion of the universe is one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century. Yet Allah proclaimed this truth to us 1400 years ago in the 47th verse of Surat adh-Dhariyat:

It is We Who have built the universe with (Our creative) power, and, truly, it is We who are steadily expanding it. (Surat adh-Dhariyat: 47

The movement of heavenly bodies in unchanging orbits was proclaimed centuries ago in the Qur’an:

It is He who created night and day and the sun and moon, each one moving in its own orbit. (Surat al-Anbiya: 33)

Interesting properties are revealed when the Arabic wording of the verses that make mention of the sun and the moon is examined. In these verses, the words siraj (lamp) and wahhaj (brightly-burning) are used for the sun. For the moon, the word «munir» (enlightening, shiny) is used. Indeed, while the sun produces an enormous amount of heat and light as a result of the nuclear reactions inside, the moon merely reflects the light it receives from the sun. This distinction is made as follows:

Do you not see how God has created seven heavens in full harmony with one another, and has made the moon a light therein, and made the sun a (radiant) lamp? (Surah Nuh: 15-16)

In the Qur’an, the 22nd verse of Surat al-Hijr refers to the “fertilizing” property of the winds:

And We send the fertilizing winds, then cause water to descend from the sky, therewith providing you with water (in abundance). (Surat al-Hijr: 22)

In Arabic, the word “fertilizing” refers to the effect on both plants and clouds. Modern science for its part has shown that the winds do indeed have both of these functions.

Another miracle of the Qur’an is emphasized in the following verse:

He has created the Heavens and the Earth for the sake of Truth. He wraps the night up in the day, and wraps the day up in the night… (Surat az-Zumar: 5)

In this verse, the day’s and the night’s wrapping each other up is described by the word “tekvir”. In English, this means «to make one thing lap over another, folded up like a garment that is laid away». In Arabic dictionaries this word is explained as the action of wrapping one thing around another, in the way that a turban is put on. Implicit in this verse, therefore, is accurate information about the shape of the world. The expression used can be truly apt only if the earth is round. This means that in the Qur’an, which was revealed in the 7th century, the roundness of the world was hinted at.

How do we know of the existence of the hereafter?

Allah currently causes people to live in a world, whose original they do not know and whose perceptions are what they can ever have experience of. Allah, Who created this world,—such a perfect and magnificent creation with three dimensional images that have depth, and are full of colour and light—surely has the power to create that which is far more beautiful.

Just as Allah forms an image of the world in man’s brain, so will He transfer him to another dimension after his death and will show him the image of a different environment. That dimension, to which man will be introduced, will be the hereafter.

Is there something called What does reincarnation mean?

Reincarnation is a baseless superstition. It was produced as a result of the concern felt by certain irreligious people in their subconscious about “disappearing after death” or the fear that grips people with poor religious faith when they think about going to the hereafter after death. For either group, it is an attractive prospect, in their own eyes, to come back to the world once again after death.

However, in many verses of the Qur’an, it is stated that there is only one life in this world where man is tested. It is also stated that there is no return to the world after death. That man will die only once is emphasized in the following verse:

They will not taste any death there – except for the first one. Your Lord will through His mercy safeguard them from the punishment of the Blazing Fire. (Surat ad-Dukhan: 56)

Is death a disappearance?

Death is not a disappearance for man. It is a transfer to the abode of the hereafter, which is the real truth. Death disconnects one’s relation to the setting of this world and the body present in this setting. When the connection between the body and the soul is cut off and the soul starts to come in contact with the images of the hereafter, that is when man dies; the curtain in front of his eyes is lifted and he realizes that death is not a disappearance as he thought. Just as he starts the day every morning waking up from sleep, so does he start living in the hereafter, resurrected after his death. It is as proclaimed in the verse: “It is He Who gives life and causes to die. When He decides on something, He just says to it, ‘Be!’ and it is.” (Surah Ghafir: 68) The transfer of man to the hereafter happens with a single command of this type uttered by Allah.


What does one experience at the moment of death?

Or do those who perpetrate evil deeds suppose that We will make them like those who believe and do right actions, so that their lives and deaths will be the same? How bad their judgement is! (Surat al-Jathiyah)

How the spiritual death of man takes place has been described in detail in the Qur’an, in which it is made clear that it is different from the clinical death of the body. It is stated that certain events take place at the moment of death which are seen by the dying person but not by others.

For instance, an unbeliever who has not been able to make a just estimate of the existence of Allah may seem to have died peacefully in his sleep. But, in reality, his soul that makes the transition into another dimension experiences death in great pain. Or, in just the opposite case, the soul of a believer who is thought to be suffering is in fact gently taken out of his body by the angels, as is related in the scriptures.

The events the unbelievers and the believers respectively experience during their deaths are completely different from each other. In the Quran, it is stated that at the moment of death the unbelievers will experience the following:

Their souls will be taken by hitting them on their backs and faces.

They will suffer the throes of death.

Angels will give them the news of eternal torment.

Their souls will be pulled out of their bodies.

As for the believers:

Their souls will be gently taken away from their bodies.

They will be welcomed by the angels with kindness and greetings.

As the angels take their souls they will give them the news of Paradise.

Is the universe mortal too?

Allah states that apart from all the created things in the universe, the universe itself will also die. All animals die, plants die, people die. Planets also die. So do the stars and the sun. All material beings die on the day of resurrection and they are destroyed. The day of resurrection which brings the death of the universe will be an event greater than anything experienced by man before. This day is referred to in the Qur’an as follows:

Yet man still wants to deny what is ahead of him, asking, ‘So when is the Day of Rising?’

But when the eyesight is dazzled,

and the moon is eclipsed,

and the sun and moon are fused together,

on that Day man will ask: ‘Where can I run?’

No indeed! There will be no safe place.

That Day the only resting place will be your Lord.

That Day man will be told what he did and failed to do. (Surat al-Qiyamah: 13)

Will everyone who has ever lived until the day of resurrection experience it or will only those who are alive at that moment experience it?

The day of resurrection starts by the blowing of the trumpet. Along with a great quake and a deafening blast, all people on the earth realize that they are going to face a horrible disaster. The earth and the sky are rent apart and the physical universe dies. No live being is left on the earth. When the trumpet is blown a second time, people are resurrected and they are pulled out of their graves. (Surat az-Zumar: 39:68)

All the people who have ever been created witness the events that develop after resurrection.

However, Allah has stated that He will keep the believers in safety and peace and will relieve them of the fear of the day of resurrection:

Those who perform good actions will receive better than them and will be safe that Day from terror. (Surat an-Naml: 89)

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