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There are Ahadith which mentions the Prophet (May Peace and Blessings be upon Him) saying that those who look up at the sky during salat will have their sight taken from them. Some books in which this Hadith can be found is in the following:

  1. Sahih Bukari and Riyadussaliheen
  2. Sunan Annasa'i

My question is, is going blind referring to physical, spiritual, or both? What have scholars said about this Hadith?

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I think we can be pretty confident (and it would certainly be easy enough to validate) that the answer is not "physical" –  Marc Gravell Jan 2 '13 at 11:26
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@MarcGravell I agree, but there is still one more part to my question, what have scholars said on this. –  Mujahid مجاهد Jan 2 '13 at 14:31
    
Indeed, I'm interested in that aspect (what scholars have said) myself. –  Marc Gravell Jan 2 '13 at 14:47
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2 Answers 2

In addition to the great narrations provided in @owari answer, I would like to mention that in many cases in Quran or Hadith the physical understanding is not complete/relevant. For instance:

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Indeed, the worst of living creatures in the sight of Allah are the deaf and dumb who do not use reason. Al Anfal - 22

Trivially this Ayah is not about the physical conditions. We can understand the true meaning of deaf and dumb here looking the other Ayah in Quran:

enter image description here

And We have certainly created for Hell many of the jinn and mankind. They have hearts with which they do not understand, they have eyes with which they do not see, and they have ears with which they do not hear. Those are like livestock; rather, they are more astray. It is they who are the heedless. Al A'raf - 179

If you think you can list many similar concepts in Quran and Hadith that when we read, we should think beyond just simple physical conditions we know, even if the same terms are used for physical objects/conditions.

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First see the following verse from Quran:

الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ

Those who humble themselves in their prayers [23:2]

In its interpretation have come the followings:

و روى ان رسول الله صلى الله عليه و آله كان يرفع بصره الى السماء في صلوته، فلما نزلت الاية طأطأ رأسه و رمى ببصره الى الأرض.

It is narrated that the holy prophet --peace be upon him and his household-- used to take his sights sometimes toward the skies while at praying until this verse was revealed, then after he bent his neck and kept his sights downward to the ground.

في تفسير على بن إبراهيم و قوله: «الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلاتِهِمْ خاشِعُونَ» قال: غضبك بصرك في صلوتك و إقبالك عليها.

From Imam Sadiq --peace be upon him-- Ali ibn Ibrahim has quoted that as Allah has stated "Those who humble themselves in their prayers" so keep your sights downward ...

في مجمع البيان «هُمْ فِي صَلاتِهِمْ خاشِعُونَ» روى أن النبي صلى الله عليه و آله راى رجلا يعبث بلحيته في صلوته فقال: اما انه لو خشع قلبه لخشعت جوارحه.

It is quoted from the holy prophet --peace be upon him-- when he saw a man playing with his beard while he was at Salat, that he said if his heart was humble also his body limbs were certainly humble.

في كتاب الخصال عن أمير المؤمنين عليه السلام: ليخشع الرجل في صلوته فانه من خشع قلبه لله عز و جل، خشعت جوارحه فلا يعبث بشيء...

From Imam Ali --peace be upon him-- it is quoted that he said one who humbles his heart for Allah, his body limbs would also be humbled and he would not play with a thing.

في أصول الكافي عدة من أصحابنا عن سهل بن زياد عن محمد بن الحسن ابن شمون عن عبد الله بن عبد الرحمن عن مسمع بن عبد الملك عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و آله: ما زاد خشوع الجسد على ما في القلب فهو عندنا نفاق

In the book Usul Kafi it is quoted from Imam Sadiq --peace be upon him-- that he narrated from the apostle of Allah --peace be upon him and his household-- that he said if the humility of body exceeds the humility of the heart that is hypocrisy in our view.

Source: تفسير نور الثقلين، ج3، ص: 528

So you see the whole story, no one would get blind, physically, for seeing the skies, but it is only discouraged (مکروه) in Shia Fiqh, and instead it is encouraged (مستحب) to look at your prostration position (موضع السجدة). Avoiding any discouraged deed and committing any encouraged deed of course would have some effects on the person, and in reverse committing any discouraged deed would have its own bad effects.

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