## Does Islam say that Sun sets in Murky Water?

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Bismillah ir Rahman nir Raheem

This article has several rebuttals written by different scholars and preachers which is taken from different websites. It clears every doubt about sun setting in murky water in Quran and Hadith and also explains the meaning behind sun’s prostration.

# First rebuttal: Sun sets in the murky water as per Qur’an?

One of the top-ten questions hurled at Muslims in any debate against Christians is about the following verse of the Holy Qur’an about Zulqarnain;

حَتَّى إِذَا بَلَغَ مَغْرِبَ الشَّمْسِ وَجَدَهَا تَغْرُبُ فِي عَيْنٍ حَمِئَةٍ

“Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found (wajada) it set in a spring of murky water: “(Qur’an 18:86)

They say, the verse clearly says that sun sets in the murky water and needless to say it is blunder and proves that Qur’an is not the word of God

What does the Qur’an actually say?

Had the Qur’an actually said what they make it say, their conclusion would have been logical only. But they err in understanding the verse in the very first place.

1- The word used by the Qur’an:

I have given the translation of Abdullah Yusuf Ali above. The word he translated as “found” is وجد i.e. ‘wajada.’ This word is used to describe the perception. See the proof from the Edward William Lane’s Lexicon.

And further he writes;

Edward William Lane’s Arabic-English Lexicon p. 2924

So the word ‘wajada’ refers to perception through any one of the five senses.

2- Qur’an uses the wording from Zulqarnain’s perspective:

What we find is that Qur’an has used the word from the perspective of Zulqarnain and merely describes his perception and how it appeared in his sight. owH And the description is very much valid for on a shore that is how sunset actually seems. May be the following image helps a bit.

3- Muslims have always understood the verse like this:

Someone may argue, the above explanation is the concoction of modern Muslim apologists and the verse reads as the skeptics say because early Muslims never knew the scientific facts about the cosmos as they are known today.

In Tafsir Jalalayn co-authored by al-Suyuti (d. 911 A.H.) and al-Mahalli (d. 864 A.H.), we find the following words;

وغروبها في العين في رأي العين

“… its setting in a spring is [described as seen] from the perspective of the eye.” (ONLINE SOURCE)

Before them Ibn Kathir (d. 774 A.H.) wrote:

رَأَى الشَّمْسَ فِي مَنْظَرِهِ تَغْرُبُ فِي الْبَحْرِ الْمُحِيطِ، وَهَذَا شَأْنُ كُلِّ مَنِ انْتَهَى إِلَى سَاحِلِهِ، يَرَاهَا كَأَنَّهَا تَغْرُبُ فِيهِ، وَهِيَ لَا تُفَارِقُ الْفَلَكَ الرَّابِعَ الَّذِي هِيَ مُثَبَّتَةٌ فِيهِ لَا تُفَارِقُهُ

“… he saw the sun as if it were setting in the ocean. This is something which everyone who goes to the coast can see: it looks as if the sun is setting into the sea but in fact it never leaves its path in which it is fixed.” (ONLINE SOURCE)

And even before him Nasiruddin al-Baydhawi (d. 691 A.H.) said:

ولعله بلغ ساحل المحيط فرآها كذلك إذ لم يكن في مطمح بصره غير الماء ولذلك قال { وَجَدَهَا تَغْرُبُ } ولم يقل كانت تغرب

“Perhaps he reached shore of an ocean and saw it like that as there was nothing in his sight except water and for this reason it is said, “and he perceived it to set”, and not that it actually sets.” (Anwar al-Tanzil wa Asrar al-Tawil 4/14)

I hope all this detail leaves no ambiguity.

LET ME TURN THE TABLES!

In the Bible we have something interesting on these lines. Talking about the two mountains, Gerizim and Ebal, the Book of Deuteronomy tells us;

“Are they not on the other side Jordan, by the way where the sun goeth down, in the land of the Canaanites, which dwell in the campaign over against Gilgal, beside the plains of Moreh?”(KJV, Deuteronomy 11:30)

Now the question is if the sun actually goes down? Certainly not! There is no doubt the verse simply refers to how humans perceive it and calling it a scientific error is nothing but sheer cunningness.

But the point here is, why adopt double standards? Why do the missionaries divorce with the common sense when they speak about Islamic texts?

Remember the words of Jesus, may Allah bless him?

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (KJV, Matthew 7: 1-2)

Indeed Allah knows the best!

# Second rebuttal: What does it mean that the “Sun runs on to its place of settlement?” When is this? How is this?

Allah says: “And the Sun runs on to its place of settlement. That is the determination of the Mighty the Knowing.” [Sûrah YâSîn: 38]

What does it mean that the “Sun runs on to its place of settlement?” When is this? How is this?

Abû Dharr al-Ghifârî, one of the Prophet Muhammad’s Companions, relates the following:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to me: “O Abû Dharr! Do you know where the Sun goes when it sets?”

I said: “Allah and His Messenger know best.”

He said: “It goes until it prostrates beneath the Throne. Then it seeks permission and permission is granted to it. Soon it will prostrate and it will not be accepted from it, and seek permission and will not be granted permission. It will be said to it: ‘Go back where you came from.’ Then it will rise from its setting place. This is Allah’s statement: ‘And the Sun runs on to its place of settlement. That is the determination of the Mighty the Knowing. [Sûrah YâSîn: 38]’.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (3199, 7424)]

It is also found in. Its text, as related by Abû Dharr al-Ghifârî, is as follows:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said one day: “Do you know where the Sun goes when it sets?”

They said: “Allah and His Messenger know best.”

He said: “It goes until it arrives at its place of settlement beneath the Throne. Then it falls down in prostration and remains like that until it is said to it: ‘Arise! Go back from whence you came.’ Then it goes back and rises from its place of rising. Then it goes until it arrives at its place of settlement beneath the Throne. Then it falls down in prostration and remains like that until it is said to it: ‘Arise! Go back from whence you came.’ Then it goes back and rises from its place of rising. Then it goes without people finding anything wrong with it until it arrives at that place of settlement it has beneath the throne. Then it will be told: ‘Arise! Enter upon the morning rising from your setting place’.”

Then Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Do you know when that will be? It will be when ‘its faith will not avail a soul which had not believed before or earned some good from its faith. [Sûrah al-Anâm: 157]’.” [Sahîh Muslim (159,205) ]

The hadîth is also found in Sahîh al-Bukhârî in a highly abridged form (4803, 7433). Its text reads:

I asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) about Allah’s statement: “And the Sun runs on to its place of settlement… [Sûrah YâSîn: 38]”.

He said: “Its place of settlement is beneath the throne.”

Ibn Hajar al-Asqalânî, in Fath al-Bârî, his commentary on Sahîh al-Bukhârî, writes:

This was how Wakî related it from al-Amash in an abbreviated form. It is a narration by meaning. In the previous narration of the hadîth, the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked Abû Dharr: “Do you know where the Sun goes when it sets?” [Fath al-Bârî(8/688)]

What about the fact that the Earth goes around the Sun?

Some people have wondered how these texts should be understood in relation to the Earth’s movement around the Sun and the fact that sunrise and sunset are a consequence of the Earth revolving around its axis. What they fail to realize is that these texts talk about the Sun’s relationship to the Throne of Allah, not its relationship to the Earth.

The first point that we need to consider is that nowhere in any of these texts is it mentioned that the Sun is revolving around the Earth. The word used for the Sun’s motion in all of these texts is the verb “tajrî” meaning “to go, flow, proceed”. This verb is not qualified by any other words indicating a spherical motion of any kind or any specific type of motion relative to the Earth.

The second point that we must consider is that nowhere does the hadîth discuss the mechanics of the Sun’s motion in any way. Likewise, it says nothing about the mechanics of the motions of the Sun and the Earth on that fateful day when the Sun will rise from the West.

Thirdly, the place of settlement mentioned in the hadîth is beneath the throne and not under the Earth.

What we know scientifically about the Sun is that it is indeed in motion. It is traveling around the center of the galaxy at roughly 220 km/s in an orbit that takes about 230 million years to complete.

It may be interesting to take note of the fact that the Qur’ân mentions an orbital motion for the Sun. Allah says: “It is not for the Sun to overtake the Moon, nor does the night outstrip the day. They float each in an orbit.” [Sûrah YâSîn: 40]

However, we must caution that the verse says nothing about the nature or placement of the Sun’s orbit. It states only that the Sun has one.

As for the Sun’s relationship to the Throne, which is what the hadîth is discussing, this is something that we cannot speculate about. The Throne is part of the Unseen and we know nothing about it except what Allah and His Messenger tell us about it. It follows that the Sun’s behavior in relationship to the throne, both spatially and temporally, is also a matter of the Unseen.

We must believe whatever Allah and His Messenger inform us about the Sun’s relationship to Allah’s Throne and not speculate any further on the subject.

We can, therefore, safely conclude that these texts are not taking about the Sun’s relationship to the Earth at all. They certainly do not indicate that the Sun orbits the Earth.

# Third rebuttal: Unreliable Hadith about Sunset in the Spring of Warm Water

There is a Hadith from Sunan Abu Dawud that has been brought up by some anti-Islamic polemicists.

The narration:

The narration along with the chain of narrators goes as;

Yazid bin Harun- Sufyan bin Husain- Al-Hakam bin ‘Utaybah- Ibrahim (b. Yazid al-Taymi)- Yazid al-Taymi- Abu Dharr said: I was sitting behind the Apostle of Allah who was riding a donkey while the sun was setting. He asked: Do you know where this sets? I replied: Allah and his Apostle know best. He said: It sets in a spring of warm water. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Hadith 3991)

Related narrations:

In Musnad Ahmad these words are part of a longer narration reported through same chain of narrators;

Abu Dharr narrated, “Once I was with the Prophet riding a donkey on which there was a saddle or a (piece of) velvet. That was at sunset. He said to me, ‘O Abu Dharr, do you know where this (sun) sets?’ I said, ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said, ‘It sets in a spring of murky water, (then) it goes and prostrates before its Lord, the Exalted in Might and the Ever-Majestic, under the Throne. And when it is time to go out, Allah allows it to go out and thus it rises. But, when He wants to make it rise where it sets, He locks it up. The sun will then say, “O my Lord, I have a long distance to run.” Allah will say, “Rise where you have set.” That (will take place) when no (disbelieving) soul will get any good by believing then.’” (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith 21459 al-Risala ed.)

This narration is quite similar to the narration found in many hadith works including Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim etc. except the words “It sets in a spring of warm water.”

In Sahih Bukhari it goes as;

Sufyan (al-Thawri)- Al-A’mash- Ibrahim (b. Yazid al-Taymi)- Yazid al-Taymi- Narrated Abu Dharr: The Prophet asked me at sunset, “Do you know where the sun goes (at the time of sunset)?” I replied, “Allah and His Messenger know better.” He said, “It goes (i.e. travels) till it prostrates Itself underneath the Throne and takes the permission to rise again, and it is permitted and then (a time will come when) it will be about to prostrate itself but its prostration will not be accepted, and it will ask permission to go on its course but it will not be permitted, but it will be ordered to return whence it has come and so it will rise in the west. And that is the interpretation of the Statement of Allah: “And the sun is quickly proceeding towards its destination. That is the designing of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing. ” (36.38) (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Hadith 421)

The significant difference is of the words “it sets in a spring of warm/murky water.”

Analysis of the chains of narrators:

From Abu Darr, it both ways i.e. with and without the words under consideration, it narrated by Yazid al-Taymi and from him by his son Ibrahim bin Yazid al-Taymi. From Ibrahim it is narrated by six different narrators;

1- Al-A’mash: And from him at least five people narrate it. See Sahih Bukhari etc.

2- Yunus bin ‘Ubaid: And from him at least three narrators report this narration. See Sahih Muslim etc.

3- Musa bin al-Musayyab al-Thaqafi: From him it is narrated by Abdah bin Sulayman, See Al-‘Uzmah of Abu al-Shaykh al-Asbahani 4/1189

4- Abdul A’la al-Taymi: The narrator down from him is Mis’ar, See Hilyah al-Awliya 5/89

5- Harun bin Sa’d: Abdul Ghaffar bin al-Qasim narrates from him. See Al-‘Uzmah of Abu al-Shaykh al-Asbahani 4/1191 and Al-Tabarani’s Mu’jam Al-Awst, Hadith 4470

6- Al-Hakam bin ‘Utaybah: The sole narrator down from him is Sufyan bin Husain, See Sunan Abu Dawud, Musnad Ahmad, Mustadrak al-Hakim, Musnad al-Bazzar etc.

Of all these various routes from Ibrahim bin Yazid al-Taymi, it is only through Al-Hakam bin ‘Utaybah that these words “It sets in a spring of warm water” are narrated.

In short, there are six narrators reporting the hadith from Ibrahim bin Yazid, and only one of them i.e. Al-Hakam bin ‘Utaybah quotes the particular words. And to add to the trouble there is again only one narrator down from him and he is Sufyan bin Husain whereas parallel to Sufyan there are at least eleven people narrating the hadith without these words on the authority of five different people narrating from Ibrahim bin Yazid.

Following flow diagram for the above detail gives the pictorial display the strangeness of these words. Down from Ibrahim bin Yazid al-Taymi only the narrators with red outline for their names give the words under consideration against loads of other narrators who do not report these words.

The narration is anomalous (shaadh) and defective (mu’allal):

This fact alone is enough to make the narration dubious. No doubt both Al-Hakam and Sufyan are per setrustworthy narrators but because on their respective levels they go against much reliable and numerous narrators. Such a narration reported this way is termed as “shaadh” i.e. anomalous.

Carefully read the definition of anomalous (shaadh) hadith given by Ibn al-Salah (d. 643 A.H.) in hismagnus opus, “Kitab Ma’rifat ‘anwa’ ‘ilm al-Hadith” translated under the title “An Introduction to the Science of Hadith”;

“… the anomalous hadith is the one which a reliable transmitter relates and which is in conflict with what other people relate.” (An Introduction to the Science of Hadith, Translated by Dr. Eerik Dickinson, Garnet Publishing Ltd. Berkshire 2006 p.57)

Also see the definition of defective (mu’allal) hadith given by Ibn Salah;

“A defective hadith is one in which a defect impugning its soundness is detected, although it outwardly appears to be free of the defect. That may apply to an isnad made up of reliable transmitters which outwardly seems to fulfill the conditions of soundness. Someone being alone in transmitting the hadith as well as others contradicting him aid in catching the defect.” (An Introduction to the Science of Hadith, p.67)

And when a report or a part of it becomes “shaadh” it ceases to be a sahih (sound) report. For this the definition of a “Sahih hadith” will help.

Hafiz Ibn Salah writes;

“The sahih (sound) hadith is a “supported” hadith (al-hadith al-musnad), the isnad of which coheres continuously through the transmission of one upright and accurate person from another up to its point of termination. The sound hadith can be neither anomalous (shaadh) nor defective (mu’allal),” (An Introduction to the Science of Hadith, p.5)

So merely being “sahih al-isnaad” is not enough for the report itself to be sahih.

Therefore, the very fact that Al-Hakam bin ‘Utaybah’s narrates differently from five other narrators reporting it on the authority of Ibrahim bin Yazid al-Taymi, makes the narration “shaadh” (anomalous) which is a kind of weak (da’if) reports.

But the trouble with the narration does not end here. Down from Al-Hakam bin ‘Utaybah, Sufyan bin Husain is also unique in narrating these words whereas the number of narrators down from narrators other than Al-Hakam narrating it from Ibrahim al-Taymi is at least eleven. There is not a single supporting narrator for Sufyan either.

Hafiz Al-Bazzar (d. 292 A.H.) after giving this narration writes;

“We do not know anyone other than Sufyan bin Husain reporting it through the chain: Al-Hakam bin ‘Utayba –Ibrahim- his father- Abu Dharr, while Yunus bin ‘Ubayd, Suleman Al-A’mash and Harun bin Sa’d have also narrated it from Ibrahim.”
(Musnad Al-Bazzar- Bahr al-Zakhkhar, under Hadith 4010)

And this is important, not only because it adds more to the oddity of the narration, but also because Sufyan bin Husain though generally considered authentic was also criticized by few scholars. This criticism does not harm his general narrations but becomes significant when he goes out of the way and narrates what other narrators from the same original source do not.

Muhammad ibn Sa’d said about him: “He was reliable (but) he made many mistakes in his narrations.” (Tabaqat al-Kubra, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyya, Beirut, 1990, vol.7 p.227 No. 3417)

Conclusion:

These details make it quite clear that according to rules of reporting it is not right to attribute these words to the Messenger of Allah- on him be the peace and blessings of Allah.

Apparently, the words from Qur’an 18:86 were confused and appended to the hadith that had no link to the ayah whatsoever. The narrator failed to understand the real significance of the verse and the hadith and for apparent semblance he confused the two.

The verse from the Holy Qur’an i.e. surah 18 ayah 86 is simply about how the sunset appeared to Zulqarnain and even the classical Muslim scholars understood it like that. The detailed explanation of it is found HERE.

As to the meanings of the Hadith of Abu Dharr- may Allah be pleased with him- about the sun prostrating under the Throne (‘arsh) of Allah, visit THIS PAGE for explanation.

So the excitement of the missionaries is in vain. Pity!

Indeed Allah knows the best!

# Fourth rebuttal: Where Does the Sun Set, Hadith Error?

Question

Assalaamu alaikum

Some critics of Islam use the following hadith to prove that the Quran teaches that the Sun sets in the murky water.
Sunan Abu Dawud 3991—Abu Dharr said: I was sitting behind the Apostle of Allah who was riding a donkey while the sun was setting. He asked: Do you know where this sets? I replied: Allah and his Apostle know best. He said: It sets in a spring of warm water.

There reference might be approximate but can you please provide your scholarly opinion on this hadith and whether it is reliable or not.

Thanking you.

Wa AlaikumuSalam,

The matter of where the sun sets has been sufficiently answered in our response titled, Regarding Al-Kahf 18:86 – A Scientific Error?

As to the hadith in question, there are several hadiths worded similarly but without the words, “sets in a spring of warm water.” If all the hadiths that are related are read, it can easily be appreciated that the quoted part is an error. The evidence is that each of the other hadiths end the with reference to the Qu’ranic verse from Surah Al Kahf 36:38, which notes the sun’s path (from the human perspective and from which we benefit) as a sign of God. Instead, in the hadith in question someone has erroneously managed to substitute one verse for another. In other words, instead of ending the hadith with the verse from Surah Al Kahf 18:86 the narrator replaced it with a verse from Surah Ya-Sin 36:38.

In analyzing the two hadiths (found in Abu Dawood #3991 and Musnad Ahmad #20933) that have this mistake – as opposed to the multiple hadiths that do not transfer the mistake – it becomes clear that the first source to report the hadith in the incorrect form is Al Hakam Al ‘Utaybah. His version is clearly a deviation from the multiple hadiths cited by other narrators. Additionally, he has only one person, Sufyan bin Hussain, narrating from him. While both narrators are generally considered reliable, there are a few scholars that voice some reservations about them. Following are the observations of the scholars about the two narrators:

Al Hakam Al ‘Utaybah

• Abu Hatim bin Hibban Al Yasti said: “He used to engage in Tadlees (i.e. implying that a hadith comes from someone when it didn’t or being ambiguous about the source or omitting a weak narrator who was in between two reliable narrators who have met each other).”
• Abdul Rahman bin Mahdi said: “Steadfast reliability but vary meanings of hadith.”
• Ibn Hajar said: “Steadfast trustworthiness, jurist, except he may have committed Tadlees.”

Sufyan bin Hussain

• Muhammad Ibn Sa’d said: “He was reliable but made many mistakes in [transmitting] hadiths.
• Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani said: “Yaqoub bin Sheebah said, ‘honest, reliable and in his hadiths there are weaknesses.’ ‘Uthman bin Abi Sheebah declared him, ‘reliable except he used to be a bit confused/disorderly.’”

So while Al Albani (ra) certifies that the chain of narrators is solid, its contents come into question along with any potential flaws contributing to the problem. The point here is not to shed a negative light upon these narrators but to put in perspective that an error was made and because of their noted flaws this may have been the reason this version of the hadith developed. Keep in mind, there are multiple versions of this hadith but without the words “the sun sets in a warm spring.” When one seeks this hadith in Muslim (ra) and Bukhari (ra) there is no mention of the phrase. These two sources are the most authentic books of hadith and must be given proper consideration.

Lastly, it is clear that with the number of hadiths that report it differently than the one cited above combined with the fact that they come from only one narrator who was also criticized, makes the case that this hadith has been reported wrongly. Thus, the “critics” of Islam have no basis to their argument if they have not appreciated the actual statement of the hadith. Had they attempted to understand better they may have realized that the hadith in question is unreliable.

I hope this helps.

God knows best.

# Fifth rebuttal: AntiMuslim Sun Set Arguments Refuted by That Muslim Guy

This was recommended by AC so I’ve reproduced it here. I have not had time to check it.
http://quran-errors.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/did-sun-set-in-muddy-pool-according-to.html

Did the Sun set in a Muddy Spring according to the Quran? (Quran 18:86) [Detailed]

A number of Critics of the Quran put forth that there is a verse in the Quran that states that the Sun sets into a Muddy or Murky body of water. They claim it is a clear Scientific Error.

Verses in Question

The verses in question are found in chapter 18 verses 83-90 of the Quran. Here, Dhul-Qarnayn is described as rightous ruler who travelled to spread the message of God. Please read these verses before reading the following.

The specific verse in question Chapter 18:86 says:

{حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغَ مَغْرِبَ الشَّمْسِ وَجَدَهَا تَغْرُبُ فِي عَيْنٍ حَمِئَةٍ}

When taking a look through varyious translations we gather what the verse is actually saying:

Until, when he reached the setting of the sun,he found it [as if] setting in a spring of dark mud… [Saheeh International]

Until, when he reached the setting of the sun,he found it set in a spring of murky water… [Yusuf Ali]

[And he marched westwards] till, when he came to the setting of the sun, it appeared to him that it was setting in a dark, turbid sea [Muhammad Asad]

Until when he reached the place where the sun set, he found it going down into a black sea… [Shakir]

Until when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he perceived it setting in a miry spring… [Abdul Majid Daryabadi]

Until, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he saw it setting in a spring of hot and black muddy water… [Ali Unal]

Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring… [Pickthall]

until, when he reached the setting of the sun,he found it setting in a muddy spring… [Arthur John Arberry]

until he reached the West and saw the sun setting in a pool of black mud… [N J Dawood]

After looking at a few translation of the verse it becomes clear what the verse is saying. The verse clearly says Dhul-Qarnayn travelled to the end of the land (i.e. until he reached the sea), as far west as he could travel. When he travelled west and reached the coast, there was no more land in this direction (on is route to travel westward), there was only the ocean, and the sun was setting. And as he looked across the murky body of water he saw the sun setting at the horizon.

So what does the Quran actually say, does it state the sun enters the murky spring as the critics claim? The Quran was revealed in Arabic so to answer this we need to do a linguistic analysis of the verse.

Linguistic Analysis

{حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغَ مَغْرِبَ الشَّمْسِ وَجَدَهَا تَغْرُبُ فِي عَيْنٍ حَمِئَةٍ}

Until, when he reached the setting of the sun (maghrib), he found (wajada) it set (taghrubu) in a spring of murky water…

The main words in question in this verse are:

مَغْرِبَ (Maghrib)

تَغْرُبُ (Taghrubu)

Meaning of  مَغْرِبَ (Maghrib)

The word “maghrib” [مغرب] is literally meaning something that is doing غرب, or loosely (but commonly): “west” or “sunset”.

According to Almu’jam Alwaseet المعجمالوسيط( Arabic dictionary published by Academy_of_the_Arabic_Language ):

المغرب
مكان غروب الشمس
وزمان غروبها
وجهة غروبها
وبلاد المغرب البلاد الواقعة في شمال إفريقية في غربي مصر وهي ليبيا وتونس والجزائر ومراكش
ومملكة المغرب اليوم الجزء الواقع في أقصى بلاد المغرب في غربي الجزائر ويحدها البحر
المغرب

So, it’s :

1. Place of sunset
2. Time of sunset
3. Point of sunset
4. Countries located in North Africa in the west of Egypt ( Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco)
5. The Kingdom of Morocco ( Called Maghrib in arabic )

[Source]

According to Vocabulary of the Holy Qur’an page 447:

According to Arabic-English Dictionary of Quranic Usage page 661:

According to Al-Mawrid Arabic-English Dictionary page 1077 Maghrib means:

According to Hans Wehr Arabic-English Dictionary, 3rd Edition Page 669 Maghrib means:

The words used in this verse are مَغْرِبَ الشَّمْسِ. The author of Hans Wehr defines مَغْرِبَ الشَّمْسِ as:

Maghrib is used in other verses of the Quran where the word does indeed mean “west”, such as {رَبُّ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ} in Chapter 26:28 meaning “Lord of the east and the west”.

So according to:

1. Almu’jam Alwaseet المعجمالوسيط
2. Vocabulary of the Holy Qur’an page 447
3. Arabic-English Dictionary of Quranic Usage page 661
4. Al-Mawrid Arabic-English Dictionary page 1077
5. Hans Wehr Arabic-English Dictionary, 3rd Edition page 669

مَغْرِبَ (Maghrib) means:

1. Place of Sunset, i,e west as the sun sets in the west
2. Time of Sunset
3. West
4. Sunset

According to:

1. Arabic-English Dictionary of Quranic Usage page 661
2. Hans Wehr Arabic-English Dictionary, 3rd Edition Page 669

مَغْرِبَ الشَّمْسِ used in Surah 18:86 should be understood to mean:

1. Time of Sunset
2. Place of Sunset, i.e. west as the sun sets in the west.

So when Allah says “Until, when he reached the setting of the sun (maghrib)” it can either mean:

1. He reached the time of Sunset.
2. Or Dhul-Qarnayn reached the western part of his empire where there was no longer any land.

Meaning of  وَجَدَ (Wajada)

وَجَدَ (Wajada) can mean to find/perceive/see/discover/experience.

According to Mini English-Arabic & Arabic-English Dictionary, Wagdi Rizk Ghali, Librairie du Liban Publishers, Page 340:

According to Al-Mawrid Arabic-English Dictionary page 1223:

According to Hans Wehr Arabic-English Dictionary, 3rd Edition, page 1049:

According to A Dictionary and Glossary of the Koran by John Penrice p.158:

According to H. Anthony Salmoné. An Advanced Learner’s Arabic-English Dictionary. Beirut. Librairie du Liban. 1889:

وَجَدَ

a. يَجِدُ ] ( n. ac. جِدَة [ 2t ] , وُجْد 3 , وُجُوْد 27 , وِجْدَاْن 34 , إِِجْدَان وِجْدَاْن 34I ]), Found; met with, came upon; perceived.

According to Arabic-English Dictionary by J.G.Hava p.884:

According to Dictionary Of The Holy Quran, by Malik Ghulam Farid, M.A p.817:

According to Arabic-English Dictionary of Quranic Usage page 1012:

The author says about the verse in question:

According to Edward William Lane’s Arabic-English Lexicon p. 2924:

He further writes:

Also according to the authoritative lexicon of Qur’anic terms Mufradat al-Quran of Imam Raghib Isfahani:

وجود بإحدى الحواس الخمس

Perceiving something using one of the five senses

So according to:

1. Mini English-Arabic & Arabic-English Dictionary, Wagdi Rizk Ghali, Librairie du Liban Publishers, Page 340
2. Al-Mawrid Arabic-English Dictionary page 1223
3. Hans Wehr Arabic-English Dictionary, 3rd Edition, page 1049
4. A Dictionary and Glossary of the Koran by John Penrice p.158
5. H. Anthony Salmoné. An Advanced Learner’s Arabic-English Dictionary. Beirut. Librairie du Liban. 1889.
6. Arabic-English Dictionary by J.G.Hava p.884
7. Dictionary Of The Holy Quran, by Malik Ghulam Farid, M.A p.817
8. Arabic-English Dictionary of Quranic Usage page 1012
9. Edward William Lane’s Arabic-English Lexicon p. 2924
10. Mufradat al-Quran of Imam Raghib Isfahani

1. To find.
2. To discover.
3. To perceive.
4. To see.
5. To experience.
6. Finding by means of any one of the five senses.

Also this action of Wajada is done with a strong emotion.

So when Allah says “wajada it set (taghrubu) in a spring of murky water” it can mean:

he found/discovered/perceived/saw the sun set in a spring of murky water.

This means it is from Dhul-Qarnayn perspective, where he saw or perceived the sun setting in murky water. This can be easily seen when one travels to a shore whilst it is sun set and he will find it setting in the sea:

It is important to note that if the Quran wished to give the implication that the sun entered the body of water it wouldn’t of said:

Until, when he reached the setting of the sun (maghrib), he found/perceived/saw (wajada) it set (taghrubu) in a spring of murky water…

It would of said:

Until, when he reached the setting of the sun (maghrib), it set in a spring of murky water…

The usage of wajada shows that it is from Dhul-Qarnayn’s perspective.

Meaning of  تَغْرُبُ (Taghrubu)

The word used to describe the setting of the sun ‘in the murky spring’ is تَغْرُبُ [stemming from the word غرب – meaning to leave, be absent, be hidden, to depart, to be distant].  تَغْرُبُ  just means setting or disappearing. Meaning Dhul-Qarnayn found/saw/perceived the sun setting/disappearing.

It is important to note that the word used doesn’t mean to enter [دخل], neither to sink in/be swallowed up [خسف]. If the Quran wished to say the Sun entered the water it wouldn’t have used تَغْرُبُ (taghrubu) as تَغْرُبُ (taghrubu) doesn’t mean entering. It would of used  دخل meaning to enter.

Everything mentioned above is summarised in the following video:

Summary of Linguistic Analysis

So the verse says that Dhul-Qarnayn reached maghrib – the time of Sunset or the place of sunset (west) – and he found/saw/perceived (wajada) it setting/disappearing (taghrubu) into a body of murky water.

This verse doesn’t state the sun goes into a body of water, there are no implications of this at all. What the verse states is that Dhul-Qarnayn found/saw/perceived the sun setting in a body of water, which would obviously be the case when he travelled as far west as possible until there was no more land to travel on. Just as one can easily do if they visit the sea-side and watch the sunset.

Tafsir and Opinions of classical scholars

How did Classical Tafsirs and Scholars understand this verse? Did they support the understanding above? Undoubtedly yes:

Tafseer al-Jalalayn co-authored by al-Suyuti (d. 911 A.H.) and al-Mahalli (d. 864 A.H.):

until, when he reached the setting of the sun, the place where it sets, he found it setting in a muddy spring (‘ayn hami’a: [a spring] containing ham’a, which is black clay): its setting in a spring is [described as seen] from the perspective of the eye, for otherwise it is far larger [in size] than this world; and he found by it, that is, [by] the spring, a folk, of disbelievers. We said, ‘O Dhū’l-Qarnayn — by [means of] inspiration — either chastise, the folk, by slaying [them], or treat them kindly’, by [merely] taking them captive. [Source]

Tafseer ibn Katheer (d. 774 A.H.):

Until, when he reached the setting place of the sun,) means, he followed a route until he reached the furthest point that could be reached in the direction of the sun’s setting, which is the west of the earth. As for the idea of his reaching the place in the sky where the sun sets, this is something impossible, and the tales told by storytellers that he travelled so far to the west that the sun set behind him are not true at all. Most of these stories come from the myths of the People of the Book and the fabrications and lies of their heretics.

(he found it setting in a spring of Hami’ah) meaning, he saw the sun as if it were setting in the ocean. This is something which everyone who goes to the coast can see: it looks as if the sun is setting into the sea but in fact it never leaves its path in which it is fixed… [Source]

Abu Hayyan al-Andalusi (d. 745 A.H) said in his Tafsir al-Bahr al-Muhit:

“And the meaning of setting in a spring is thatit is according what the eye sees, not that it it actually does so, just as we see it (the sun)on the smooth earth (land) as if it as if it goes into the earth. It is also permissible (possible) that this spring a part of the sea”

(Abu Hayyan al-Andalusi, Muhammad bin Yusuf,Tafsir al-bahr al-muhit, 1993, First print, Dar al-kutub al-”ilmiyya, vol.6, p. 151)

Imam Al-Baidawi (d. 691 A.H.):

He probably reached shore of the ocean and saw it like that because there was but water at the furthest of his sight that’s why He says “he found it set” and does not say “it sets”. (Al-Baidawi, Anwar-ut-Tanzil wa Asrar-ut-Taw’il, Volume 3, page 394. Published by Dar-ul-Ashraf, Cairo, Egypt)

Imam Al-Qurtubi (d. 651 A.H.):

Al-Qaffal said: It is not meant by reaching the rising or setting of the sun that he reached its body and touched it because it runs in the sky around the earth without touching it and it is too great to enter any spring on earth. It is so much larger than earth. But it is meant that he reached the end of populated land east and west, so he found it – according to his vision – setting in a spring of a murky water like we watch it in smooth land as if it enters inside the land. That is why He said, “he found it rising on a people for whom we had provided no covering protection against the sun.” (Holy Qur’ân 18:90) and did not mean that it touches or adheres to them; but they are the first to rise on. (Al-Qurtubi, Al-Game’ le Ahkam-el-Qur’an, Volume 16, page 47. Published by Dar-ul-Hadith, Cairo, Egypt.)

Imam Fakhr-ud-Deen Ar-Razi (d. 587 A.H.) in At-Tafsir-ul-Kabir:

When Zul-Qarnain reached the furthest west and no populated land was left, he found the sun as if it sets in a dark spring, but it is not in reality. The same when sea traveller sees the sun as if it sets in the sea if he cannot see the shore while in reality it sets behind the sea. (Ar-Razi, At-Tafsir-ul-Kabir, Volume 21, page 166)

According to Al-Mawardi (d.450 A.H) in his tasir (al-Nukat wa al-‘uyun) the verse can be understood as:

That He (Dhul Qarnayn) wajadaha (found it, saw it) setting behind the spring (‘ayn) AS IFit was setting in the very spring”

:فيه وجهان

الثاني انه وجدها تغرب وراء العين حتى كانها تغرب في نفس العين

(Al-Mawardi, ‘Ali bin Muhammad bin Habib, Al-Nukat wa al-‘Uyun, Unknown year, Dar al-kutub al-‘ilmiyya, vol 3, p. 450)

According to Al-Qutaybi (Ibn Qutayba , the famous scholar of Arabic language, d. 276 A.H):

it is permissible for the verse to mean from the perspective of the eye (في راي العين)

و قال القتيبي: يجوز ان يكون معنى قوله(( في عين حمئة)) اي عندها عين حمئة او في راي العين

(Al-Baghawi, Al-Hussayn bin Mas’ud, Ma’alim al-tanzil, Dar Ibn Hazm, First print, 2002, p. 795)

What about the hadeeth in Sunan Abu Dawud?

There is a narration reported in the Sunan of Abu Dawud and in other sources that reads:

Yazid bin Harun- Sufyan bin Husain- Al-Hakam bin ‘Utaybah- Ibrahim (b. Yazid al-Taymi)- Yazid al-Taymi- Abu Dharr said: I was sitting behind the Apostle of Allah who was riding a donkey while the sun was setting. He asked: Do you know where this sets? I replied: Allah and his Apostle know best. He said: It sets in a spring of warm water. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Hadith 3991)

So the question is – Is this hadeeth authentic?

The answer is no. The hadeeth is Shadh (anonymolous) and Mu’allal (defective), rendering the hadeeth da’if, as has been demonstrated here

The defintion of a Shadh hadeeth is the following:

“… the anomalous hadith is the one which a reliable transmitter relates and which is in conflict with what other people relate.” (An Introduction to the Science of Hadith, Translated by Dr. Eerik Dickinson, Garnet Publishing Ltd. Berkshire 2006 p.57)

The definition of a Mu’allal hadeeth is the following:

“A defective hadith is one in which a defect impugning its soundness is detected, although it outwardly appears to be free of the defect. That may apply to an isnad made up of reliable transmitters which outwardly seems to fulfill the conditions of soundness. Someone being alone in transmitting the hadith as well as others contradicting him aid in catching the defect.” (An Introduction to the Science of Hadith, p.67)

The Shadh and Mu’allal narrations are rejected by the Muhadditheen and cannot be attributed to the Prophet.

Conclusion

The allegation put forth against the Quran is utterly baseless and is simply refuted by the Arabic language. The verse contains no reference at all of the sun literally setting or entering or going down into a muddy pool of water.

It simply tells the story of righteous servant of God – Dhul-Qarnayn – who traveled on a journey until he reached the time of sunset or the western part of his empire and saw the sun setting, from his perspective, in a body of water. As anyone is able to do if they visit the sea side.

# Sixth rebuttal: The correct way to describe the sun is that it “prostrates beneath the Throne” and not that it “sets in a spring of warm water”

The correct way to describe the sun is that it “prostrates beneath the Throne” and not that it “sets in a spring of warm water”

It is narrated by Abu Dawood in as-Sunan (3991) that Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) said: I was with the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), riding a donkey, and the sun was setting. He said: “Do you know where this (sun) goes?” I said: Allah and His Messenger know best. He said: “It sets in a spring of warm water (innaha taghrubu fi ‘aynin hami’ah).” Is this hadeeth saheeh? If it is, then what does it mean? I have heard some non-Muslims using this to stir up doubts about Islam and cast aspersions on it.

Published Date: 2014-08-04

Praise be to Allah.

Firstly:

The hadeeth of Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) which describes the place where the sun goes was narrated via Ibraaheem ibn Yazeed at-Taymi, from his father, from Abu Dharr, from the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him.

It was narrated from Ibraaheem at-Taymi by al-Hakam ibn ‘Utaybah, al-A‘mash, Fudayl ibn Ghazwaan, Haroon ibn Sa‘d, and Moosa ibn al-Musayyab, as was stated by Ibn Mandah in al-Eemaan (2/926)

They narrated it via two isnaads:

It was narrated by al-A‘mash, Yoonus ibn ‘Ubayd, Moosa ibn al-Musayyab and Haroon ibn Sa‘d. In this report it says that the sun goes and prostrates beneath the Throne or before its Lord; there is no mention of a spring of warm water. It appears in several versions, of which we will mention one here:

It was narrated that Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said to Abu Dharr when the sun set: “Do you know where it goes?” I said: Allah and His Messenger know best. He said: “It goes and prostrates beneath the Throne, then it asks for permission (to rise) and permission is given to it. Soon it will prostrate, but it will not be accepted from it, and it will ask for permission (to rise) but permission will not be given to it; it will be said to it: “Go back to where you came from.’ So it will rise from its place of setting, and that is what Allah, may He be glorified, refers to in the verse (interpretation of the meaning): “And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term (appointed). That is the Decree of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing” [Yaa-Seen 36:38]

It was narrated via A‘mash by al-Bukhaari in his Saheeh (no. 3199, 4802 and 7424); Muslim in hisSaheeh (no. 159); Abu Dawood at-Tayaalisi in al-Musnad (1/368); Ahmad in al-Musnad (35/282, 429); at-Tirmidhi in as-Sunan (no. 2186, 3227 – he said: It is hasan saheeh; an-Nasaa’i in as-Sunan al-Kubra(10/229); at-Tabari in Jaami‘ al-Bayaan, 20/516); al-Bazzaar in al-Bahr al-Zukhaar (9/409); Abu ‘Awaanah in al-Mustakhraj (1/100-101); at-Tahhaawi in Sharh Mushkil al-Athaar (1/254); Ibn Hibbaan in his Saheeh (14/24); al-Qutay‘i in Juz’ al-Alf Dinar (p. 183); Abu Nu‘aym in al-Musnad al-Mustakhraj ‘ala Saheeh Muslim (1/222); al-Baghawi in at-Tafseer (4/14); Abu ash-Shaykh in al-‘Azamah (4/1192); Ibn Mandah in al-Eemaan (2/924) and at-Tawheed (1/134, 135); Ibn Bashraan in al-Amaali (p. 159); al-Bayhaqi in al-Asma wa as-Sifaat (2/273); Ibn ‘Asaakir in al-Mu‘jam (2/1015); Abu Nu‘aym in Hilyat al-Awliya’ (4/216) and others.

It was narrated via Yoonus ibn ‘Ubayd by Imam Muslim in his Saheeh (no. 159); an-Nasaa’i in as-Sunan al-Kubra (10/96); at-Tabari in Jaami‘ al-Bayaan (12/249); Abu ‘Awaanah in al-Mustakhraj (1/100); Abu al-‘Abbaas as-Siraaj in Hadeeth as-Siraaj (3/258); Ibn Hibbaan  in his Saheeh (14/21); Abu ash-Shaykh in al-‘Azamah (4/1189); Ibn Mandah in al-Eemaan (2/925, 926) and in at-Tawheed (1/136); Abu Nu‘aym in al-Mustakhraj (1/221).

It was narrated via Moosa ibn al-Musayyab by: Abu ash-Shaykh al-Asbahaani in al-‘Azamah (4/1188);

And via Haroon ibn Sa‘d by at-Tabaraani in al-Mu‘jam al-Kabeer (4/373); Abu ash-Shaykh al-Asbahaani in al-‘Azamah (4/1190).

Abu Nu‘aym (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

This is a saheeh hadeeth on which they (the hadeeth scholars) are agreed, from the hadeeth of al-A‘mash from Sufyaan ath-Thawri and others. It was narrated from at-Taymi al-Hakam ibn ‘Utaybah, Fudayl ibn ‘Umayr, Haaroon ibn Sa‘d, Moosa ibn al-Musayyab, Habeeb ibn Abi al-Ashras, and from Yoonus ibn ‘Umayd among the Basris.

End quote from Hilyat al-Awliya’ (4/216)

It was narrated by al-Hakam ibn ‘Utaybah only, from Ibraaheem at-Taymi; in this report it says that the sun sets in a spring of warm water.

It was narrated that Abu Dharr said: I was riding behind the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) when he was on a donkey and the sun was setting. He said: “Do you know where this (sun) sets?” I said: Allah and His Messenger know best. He said: “It sets in a spring of warm water (innaha taghrubu fi ‘aynin haamiyah).”

Narrated by Ahmad in al-Musnad (35/363); Abu Dawood in as-Sunan (no. 4002); Hafs ad-Doori in Juz’ Qiraa’aat an-Nabi sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (p. 123); al-Bazzaar in al-Bahr al-Zakhaar (9/407); as-Siraaj in his Hadeeth (3/258); al-Haakim in al-Mustadrak (2/267) – he said: This is a hadeeth with a saheeh isnaad, although they (al-Bukhaari and Muslim) did not narrate it. All of them narrated it via Yazeed ibn Haaroon, from Sufyaan ibn Husayn, from al-Hakam.

Al-Bazzaar said: We do not know that anyone narrated it from al-Hakam ibn ‘Utaybah, from Ibraaheem, from his father, from Abu Dharr except Sufyaan ibn Husayn. Yoonus ibn ‘Ubayd narrated it from Ibraaheem at-Taymi, Sulayman al-A‘mash and Haroon ibn Sa‘d. End quote.

Secondly:

From the above it is clear that the version of the hadeeth of Abu Dharr which is most likely to be correct is the first one, in which it says: “It goes and prostrates beneath the Throne”, in which it makes no mention of it setting “in a spring of warm water (innaha taghrubu fi ‘aynin haamiyah).” This is based on several factors:

~1~

This wording is that on which the majority of narrators and those with the best memories agreed upon, in the report from Ibraaheem at-Taymi.

~2~

The second version (“in a spring of warm water”) was narrated only by al-Hakam ibn ‘Utaybah from Ibraahem, and al-Hakam – although he was trustworthy – was described by an-Nasaa’i as mudallis [i.e., he used vague wording to give a wrong impression] in Dhikr al-Mudalliseen (no. 11). Ibn Hibbaan said: He used to engage in tadlees. End quote from ath-Thiqaat (4/144). None of those who narrated his hadeeth said that he clearly stated that he heard it from the previous narrator; rather they all said that his report included the word ‘an (from – instead of ‘I heard’, etc). Ibn Hajar mentioned him in Maraatib al-Mudalliseen in the second rank of mudalliseen (p. 30), who are the ones whose tadlees the imams (leading scholars) tolerated and from whom they narrated reports that they regarded as sound, because of their prominence and because they rarely engaged in tadlees  compared to others, such as ath-Thawri; or (it was tolerated) because they did not use engage in tadlees except when narrating from a trustworthy source, such as Ibn ‘Uyaynah. The fact that this report is contrary to the report narrated by the trustworthy narrators confirms the possibility that tadlees occurred in this hadeeth in particular.

~3~

The first version was narrated by both al-Bukhaari and Muslim, whereas the second version was not narrated by these two shaykhs. That is because they thought the first version was more likely to be correct than any other. Undoubtedly the reports in the books of al-Bukhaari and Muslim take precedence, according to the critics and scholars, than those in other books and Musnads

~4~

There is a great difference between the two versions. The first one describes the sun as prostrating beneath the Throne, whether at the time of sunset or at any other time, according to different versions of the hadeeth. Prostration beneath the Throne is a matter of the unseen, and no one knows how it is except Allah, may He be glorified and exalted. He, may He be glorified and exalted, has told us that all created things prostrate to Him, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):

“See you not that to Allah prostrates whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and the mountains, and the trees, and Ad-Dawab (moving living creatures, beasts, etc.), and many of mankind? But there are many (men) on whom the punishment is justified”

[al-Hajj 22:18].

No one knows how this prostration is or when it happens or its real nature except Allah, may He be glorified and exalted. Similarly, the hadeeth of Abu Dharr is no different from this verse at all, and there is nothing objectionable in it.

Al-Khattaabi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

It cannot be denied that it halts beneath the Throne, in a manner that we cannot see or comprehend; rather this is speaking about a matter of the unseen. So we should not disbelieve in it or ask how it happens, because our knowledge cannot comprehend it.

End quote from A‘laam al-Hadeeth Sharh Saheeh al-Bukhaari (p. 1893)

With regard to the second version, “It sets in a spring of warm water”, this is problematic, because the setting of the sun occurs when its disc disappears below the horizon, and it sets on some people and rises on others because of the movement of the earth around it. So it is not possible that the sun, which is of immense size, could disappear into a spring of warm water. With regard to the words of Allah, may He be exalted, in the story of Dhu’l-Qarnayn (interpretation of the meaning): “Until, when he reached the setting place of the sun, he found it setting in a spring of black muddy (or hot) water” [al-Kahf 18:86], the commentators said that what is meant is to depict the scene that appeared before him, for he saw it on the horizon of the sea, as if it were sinking into it at the time of setting. The Holy Qur’an does not tell us that this was something that happnened in a real sense; hence Allah, may He be glorified, said “he found it setting” and He did not say “it was setting in a spring of black muddy (or hot) water.”

Al-Haafiz Ibn Katheer (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

That is, he way he saw the sun was as if it was setting in the ocean, which is something that happens to everyone who stands on the shore: he sees the sun as if it is setting into the sea, when in fact it does not leave the celestial path on which it is firmly established.

End quote from Tafseer al-Qur’an al-Kareem (5/191)

To sum up: whoever casts aspersions on the Sunnah because of this wording is ignorant of the precision of the hadeeth scholars in examining different versions of the hadeeth and distinguishing between the reports which are proven and those which are not proven. The fact that some scholars regarded this report as saheeh is problematic; rather what they intended was to class as saheeh the basis of the hadeeth, not to suggest that this version is more correct than that which is proven in as-Saheehayn: “It goes and prostrates beneath the Throne.”

In order to refute this specious argument, it is sufficient to note that the scholars of Islam were unanimously agreed that the earth is round and that all the celestial bodies are also round. It is on that basis that night and day alternate, because of the movements and rotation of these heavenly bodies. This is clear from many texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

The heavenly bodies are round, according to the Muslim scholars among the Sahaabah and those who followed them in guidance; that was also proven from them with isnaads mentioned in the appropriate places. In fact, more than one of the Muslim scholars narrated that there was consensus among the Muslims on that point.

End quote from Minhaaj as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah (5/442)

The Muslims were ahead of others in knowledge of astronomy; if the apparent meaning of this hadeeth contradicts that, then there would not have been consensus on the contrary; but the correct view is that the hadeeth does not contradict the scientific, astronomical facts.

# Seventh rebuttal: Meaning of Prostration of the Sun under the Throne

Meaning of the Hadith about the Prostration of Sun underneath the Throne of Allah, in the light of the context and significance of the verse of the Holy Qur’an (36:38) that is explained by the Hadith and the purpose of the prophetic teachings.

Following Hadith narrations are used by haters of Islam from amongst the Christians missionaries to attack Islam and by Hadith rejecters to question the divine origin of Hadith. Further it raises queries in the minds of general readers as well.

Narrated Abu Dharr: The Prophet asked me at sunset, “Do you know where the sun goes (at the time of sunset)?” I replied, “Allah and His Messenger know better.” He said, “It goes (i.e. travels) till it prostrates Itself underneath the Throne and takes the permission to rise again, and it is permitted and then (a time will come when) it will be about to prostrate itself but its prostration will not be accepted, and it will ask permission to go on its course but it will not be permitted, but it will be ordered to return whence it has come and so it will rise in the west. And that is the interpretation of the Statement of Allah: “And the sun is quickly proceeding towards its destination. That is the designing of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing. ” (36.38)
(Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Hadith 421)

In a narration, again from Sayyidina Abu Dharr, there appear the additional words to the effect:

“I asked the Prophet about the Statement of Allah: — ‘And the sun is quickly proceeding towards its destination. That is the designing of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing ‘ (36.38) He said, ‘Its course is underneath “Allah’s Throne.’” (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Hadith 327)

Following is the explanation given by Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ after quoting the above narrations in his commentary (tafsir) to Qur’an 36:38.1

The Prostration of the Sun: A look into the phenomenon of the sun performing sajdah(prostration) beneath the ‘arsh (the Divine Throne)

From these narrations of Hadith, we learn that mustaqar means a spatial destination, that is, a place where on orbit of the movement of the sun stands completed- and they also tell us that this place is beneath the‘arsh (the Throne of Allah). Hence, the verse would mean that, everyday, the sun moves towards a particular destination, and once it has reached there, it performs prostration before Allah and seeks His permission for the next orbit. Once permission is given, it begins the next orbit.

But, when seen outwardly, several strong difficulties arise on the basis of principles laid down by experiments, observations and astronomy.

1. The state of the ‘arsh of Allah (generally referred to as Divine Throne) as understood from the Qur’an and Sunnah is that it surrounds all that we know as the masses of the land and expanses of the sky. All these masses and expanses along with planets and stars, without any exceptions, are enclosed within the‘arsh– and the ‘arsh of Allah holds the entire cosmic universe inside itself. If seen from this angle, the sun is, in all conditions and all the times, simply under the ‘arsh. What, then, would be the sense of going beneath the ‘arsh after it sets?

2. It is common observation that the sun, after it sets at someplace, does rise elsewhere. Therefore, its rising and setting is an ongoing phenomenon, what then is the meaning of going beneath the ‘arsh after setting and doing prostration?

3. From the apparent sense of the Hadith mentioned above, we learn that the sun, after having reached its destination (mustaqar), pauses within which it offers sajdah (prostration) before Allah and seeks the permission for the next orbit- although, there being no break in the movement of the sun at any time is an open observation. And since this rising and setting of the sun keeps taking place all the time in terms of different locations, therefore, this pause should also be there all the time as result of which sun should not have any movement any time.

Some clarifications and reminders before the actual explanation

To understand its answer, it must be borne in mind that to the extent the explanation of the cited verse (i.e. Qur’an 36:38 for itself) is concerned, no difficulty out of the doubts and difficulties mentioned above relates to the Qur’an. The sense it carries is no more than that Allah Almighty has commissioned the sun to move in such an organized and steady was that it keeps moving continuously in a single state towards its destination (mustaqar). I

Any doubts, out of the doubts mentioned above, does not apply to what has been said in the cited verse. However, all these doubts and difficulties in comprehension do arise from the Hadith statement about the sun that soon after its setting, it goes beneath the ‘arsh (Divine Throne), performs sajdah (prostration) and seeks permission to start the next orbit. And this debate sprung up in relation to this verse for the reason that, in some words of the hadith, reference has been made to this verse. Answers to these doubts given by experts of the Hadith and commentators of the Qur’an differ. From the apparent connotation of the words there, it is generally gathered that this sajdah of the sun takes effect only once in day-night span after its setting.

The clear cut, and cloudless rejoinder seems to be that which Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani has given in his treatise (Sujud al-Shams: The Prostration of the Sun) which finds support in the statement of several leading commentators.

Before one proceeds to understand the presentation … It should be borne in mind that the argument of the Qur’an and the noble prophets through the creations in the heavens and the earth and the major changes that occur therein is limited to the extent that could be rationalized by every human being by virtue of bare observation and elementary deliberation. Technical refinements of philosophy and mathematics that can be resolved by experts in the field alone are not the material on which argument of this nature is based; nor are people invited to deliberate on these. The reason is simple. Believing in Allah the Almighty and acting in accordance with His message is the duty of every human being- learned or illiterate, man or woman, urbanite or villager, dweller of some mountain or island. Therefore, prophetic teachings are synchronized with the level of perception, reason and understanding of common people that need no technical expertise.

Take the example of knowing the time of salah (daily ritual prayers), fixing the orientation of qiblah (the Holy Ka’ba in Makkah), and knowing the months, years and dates. The knowledge of all these things can also be acquired through mathematical computations. But the shariah (Law) of Islam has, rather than rely on high-tech mathematical calculations to determine any of these things, placed reliance on common observations. Months and years and theirs dates were set in accordance with the lunar calendars. The basis of determining whether the new moon has or has not appeared was declared to be physical observation alone, the seeing of the new moon. The days of fasting and the hajj were fixed on that very basis. When some people asked the Holy Prophet about the secret behind the waning, waxing and disappearing of the moon and then its rising again, the answer to it was given by the Qur’an on his behalf: “Say: They are indicative of time for the people, and of the Hajj”– (Al-Baqarah, 2:189) In other words, the Holy Prophet was asked to tell people that all those changes occurring in the life of the moon are there so that they could find out when the month begins and ends and then find out its dates and determine the days of the Hajj. The answer served them with a warning against their unnecessary and ineffectual question, because no business of theirs, in this world or in the next, hinges on finding the reality behind it. Therefore, they were supposed to ask only about something that related to either their worldly or other worldly need.

The context of the verse quoted in the hadith

After these initial remarks, let us give a little though to the essential matter before us. Is it not that, in the cited verses, Allah the Almighty has, after having mentioned some manifestations of His perfect power and infinite wisdom, invited human beings to believe?2 Of these mentioned first was the land that is before us all the time:

“And a sign for them is the dead LAND.” (36:33)

Then mention was made of how rains made it come alive and the growth of trees and other produce became possible- something everyone sees and knows:

“We GAVE IT LIFE and BROUGHT FORTH GRAIN from it; so from it they eat.” (36:33)

Mentioned first after that was the daily alternation of the night and day:

“And a sign for them is the night. We strip (the cover of) the day from it, and they are suddenly in darkness.” (36:37)

Mentioned thereafter were planets and stars. Out of these, about the sun it was said:

“And the sun is quickly proceeding towards its destination. That is the designing of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing.” (36:38)

Think about it. The purpose here is to tell that the sun is not moving on its own, not of its volition or power. Instead, it is moving in subservience to the One who is Mighty and Knowing, and moving under the predetermined system originated by an entity with great power and knowledge.

The Holy Prophet, close to the time of one sunset, had alerted Sayyidina Abu Dharr al-Ghifari to the reality behind it during a question answer interlude with him. He has told him that the sun, at the time of its setting, performs a prostration before Allah the Almighty beneath the ‘arsh and seeks the permission to start the next orbit. When it has the permission, it moves as usual and rises from the east in the morning. Its outcome is no more than that the atmosphere of the world goes through a new transformation at the time of the setting and rising of the sun, something that depends on the sun. The Holy Prophet, took this moment as suitable to teach human beings their essential lesson that they should not take the sun to be an independent entity moving of its own volition and power. It moves only under the permission and will of Allah the Almighty. Every time it rises and every time it sets has to be with His permission, for it is subservient to His permission. This very act of moving under the command of Allah the Almighty has been declared to be its prostration, the act of prostration before its creator. The reason is that a prostration made by anything happens to be appropriate to its state of being as the Qur’an has itself clearly said:

“Did you not realize that the greatness of Allah is proclaimed by all those in the heavens and the earth, and by the birds with their wings spread out? Everyone knows one‘s own (way of) praying (to Allah) and one‘s own (way of) proclaiming Allah‘s greatness.” (24:41)

It means that the entire creation of Allah is engaged in worshipping and glorifying Allah, but each has its own separate way of doing it that has already been taught to it just like human beings who have been told how to do their salah and tasbih. Therefore, taking the prostration (sajdah) of the sun to mean that it can take effect only when it places its forehead on some floor like a human being would not be correct.

And when it stands clarified from the statements of the Qur’an and Sunnah that the Divine Throne, the ‘arshof the Allah, surrounds all heavens and stars and surfaces, it is already obvious that the sun is nowhere but under the ‘arsh, at all times and at every place. And when experience bears out that the time the sun is setting at one place, it is also rising at another. Therefore, no moment of the sun is free of either rising or setting. Thus, the being of the sun under the ‘arsh is also perennial under all states and so is its setting and rising. Therefore, the outcome of the subject mentioned in the Hadith is that the sun, in its entire orbit, remains in the state of prostration before Allah under the ‘arsh, that is, it moves under His permission and command. And this cycle will stay activated right through the proximity of the last Day of Resurrection until comes the time for the emergence of the sign that the Day of Resurrection is very close. When this happens, the sun will, rather than start its next orbit, be commanded to turn back – and then, it will rise from the west. At that time, the door of repentance will be closed and no declaration of faith or repentance from anyone shall remain acceptable at that hour.

In short, this particularity of the setting of the sun, its passing under the ‘arsh, the making of prostration there and the incidence of seeking permission for the next orbit mentioned in the narration being studied is simply a similitude in consonance with the mores of effective prophetic teaching and in terms of common perception. Neither does it make it necessary that it performs prostration (sajdah) on some land surface like a human being, nor does it make it necessary that there be some pause in the movement of the sun at the time of making a prostration, nor does it mean that it goes to some particular place doing only one prostration during a day and night, and nor that it goes beneath the ‘arsh after setting only. But, at this time of great alternation, when people are seeing that the sun is receding away from them, what has been done is that they have been appraised of the truth of what is happening in the manner of a similitude while the reality is that this whole thing is happening because of the sun moving beneath the ‘arsh in subservience to the Divine command – the sun does not have any capability or power of its own. So, the way, at this time, the people of Madinah were convinced that the sun would now make its prostration and seek permission for the next orbit, similarly, the message was relayed onwards to every place where the sun would be setting and everyone there would stand advised of the lesson thereof.

Thus, the truth of the matter turns out to be that the sun at every moment while moving on its orbit keeps offering prostration before Allah the Almighty and keeps seeking permission to move ahead – and it needs no pause or break to make prostration or seek permission. Following this submission, there remains no doubt concerning the Hadith quoted, neither in terms of observations, nor in terms of the rules of astronomy.

(See, Maariful Qur’an, English Translation by Muhammad Shamim, vol.6 pp.388-395)

One may say that the hadith suggests it is the sun that revolves around the Earth and not the other way round.

As stressed above, one must remember that the prophets do not come to teach astronomy. Their sole aim is to make people understand that everything in the universe obeys Allah and so should the humans. For this reason they allude to how humans perceive the things and it actually does appear that sun moves across the horizon. Had the Prophet –peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- through divine guidance made the point in a way that could not be comprehended by his immediate listeners, it would have killed the purpose of it, because their guidance and instruction into righteousness was certainly the sole way message could reach us in this age. Looking back, we can now easily understand the proverbial sense of it and appreciate it, but it wouldn’t have been anyway possible for the people in the seventh century to look ahead into the future. For us the message remains as great and relevant as ever because even though we have the knowledge that it is rather the Earth that revolves around sun, we know the grand design and the fine-tuning of the whole celestial system including the sun is such that it speaks of an Ultimate Power which is obeyed by the whole Universe. And this is what the essence of the message is.

(See, Abu Al-A’la Maududi, Rasail wa Masail, Islamic Publications, Lahore, 2000 pp.21-22)

Further elucidation:

The following two verses are also about the topic at hand;

“The seven heavens and the earth and whatever is in them exalt Him. And there is not a thing except that it exalts [Allah] by His praise, but you do not understand their [way of] exalting. Indeed, He is ever Forbearing and Forgiving.” (Qur’an 17:44)

“Do you not see that to Allah prostrates whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth and the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, the moving creatures and many of the people?” (Qur’an 22:18)

Maulana Daryabadi in his commentary note to Qur’an 22:18 reproduces what Edward William Lane’s quotes with reference to Lisan al-‘Arab, the well known and voluminous Arabic lexicon;

“The primary significance of السجود is تذلل … The سجود of inanimate things to God, we understand, in the Qur’an as denoting as obedience to that whereto they are made subservient.” (Tafsir-ul-Quran- Translation and Commentary of the Holy Qur’an by Abdul Majid Daryabadi, Academy of Islamic Research and Publications, Lucknow, 2007 vol.3 pp.178)

Shah Wali Ullah (d. 1176 A.H./1762 C.E.) sums up the essence of the whole issue beautifully;

“In their conduct (the prophets) did not occupy themselves with what had no relevance for refining the soul and the governing of the community. They did not explain the events of the atmosphere like rain, eclipses, rings around the sun or moon, the wonders of plants and animals, the measurement of the paths of the sun and moon, the causes of daily events, and the stories of the prophets, kings, countries and so on, unless they used simple words with which their audience was familiar, and that their minds would accept if these were used to remind them of the blessings of God and the requital of God, unless this was by way of digression into a general discussion which is permitted in cases like this, through introducing metaphors and similes. This was basically the case when they asked the Prophet about the reasons for the waxing and waning of the moon, and God the Exalted turned from that to the explanation of the benefits of that waning and waxing, and said, “They ask you about the new moons, say they are times appointed for the people and the pilgrimages.” (Qur’an 2:189) You may see many people whose taste is corrupted because of familiarity with these (technical) fields, or due to other causes, so that they apply the words of the prophets to things to which they did not refer, and God knows better.” (Hujjat Allah al-Baligha- The Conclusive Argument from God, Translated by Marcia K. Hermansen, Islamic Research Institute, Islamabad, 2003 p.256)

LET ME TURN THE TABLES

While Christians missionaries are hell bent on finding issues with such hadith narrations, what they often forget is that the scripture they consider “holy” is not only riddled top class absurdities but also such classical expressions of the kind they take exception to when it comes to Islamic sources.

The following is from the Bible:

“The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.” (Ecclesiastes 1:5)

The readers should wait for explanation to this verse which does not show the cunning approach and double standards of these anti-Islamic polemicists – the Rivals of the Truth.

Indeed Allah knows the best!

1 Only relevant parts of his explanation are quoted for the sake of brevity and some changes have been made in the translation

2 The point is; the context of the verse mentioned in the hadith is about the phenomena under common human observation, therefore, appears expedient that the significance of the meanings of the hadith explaining the verse must also be about what is observable by all humans. This leads to metaphorical explanation of the hadith.

# Eight rebuttal: The prostration of the sun before its Lord

### Question

##### Assalaamu ‘Alaykum Warahmatullaahi Wabarakaatuh, Please explain these Ahadith and the meaning of the sun setting in a spring of water. Yazid bin Harun- Sufyan bin Husain- Al-Hakam bin ‘Utaybah- Ibrahim (b. Yazid al-Taymi)- Yazid al-Taymi- Abu Dharr said: I was sitting behind the Apostle of Allah who was riding a donkey while the sun was setting. He asked: Do you know where this sets? I replied: Allah and his Apostle know best. He said: It sets in a spring of warm water. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Hadith 3991) Abu Dharr narrated, “Once I was with the Prophet riding a donkey on which there was a saddle or a (piece of) velvet. That was at sunset. He said to me, ‘O Abu Dharr, do you know where this (sun) sets?’ I said, ‘Allah  and His Messenger know better.’ He said, ‘It sets in a spring of murky water, (then) it goes and prostrates before its Lord, the Exalted in Might and the Ever-Majestic, under the Throne. And when it is time to go out, Allah allows it to go out and thus it rises. But, when He wants to make it rise where it sets, He locks it up. The sun will then say, “O my Lord, I have a long distance to run.” Allah will say, “Rise where you have set.” That (will take place) when no (disbelieving) soul will get any good by believing then.’” (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith 21459 al-Risala ed.) Sahih in chain (Al Albani) Jazaakallaahu khayran

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship
except Allaah, and that Muhammad  , is His slave and messenger.

These two Ahaadeeth include two points:

The first point: The setting of the sun in a spring of black muddy water (or a spring of hot water). Before talking about the meaning of this statement, we must establish a fact that the sun does not set at a specific tangible place; rather, it sets in a specific direction which is what has been defined by the people by the term: the west. When the sun sets in relation to some people, it rises upon some other people and so on. This indicates that what is meant is not the literal meaning of the Hadeeth.

In his interpretation of the story of Thul-Qarnayn, and the verse in which Allaah says (what means): {Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it [as if] setting in a spring of dark mud,…} [Quran 18:86], Al-Qurtubi   quoted Al-Qaffaal as saying: “Some scholars said: what is meant is not that Thul-Qarnayn reached the west where the sun itself sets or the east where the sun itself rises, because it revolves in the sky around the earth without touching the earth. The sun is much bigger than the earth, so how can it enter at a place of the places of the earth? Rather, what is meant is that he reached the farthest point of the west, and the farthest point of the east, and he found it, according to what the eye can see, as if it sets in a spring of black muddy water, in the same manner that we see it in the desert as if it enters into the inside of the earth.” [End of quote] This means in relation to how the eye sees it.”

The second point: Its prostration under the Throne. This was interpreted by the scholars in many ways. For instance, Ibn Hajar   said: “It is likely that what is meant by prostration is the prostration of the angels that are in charge of it, or that it itself prostrates, which means showing more submission and humility at that time.”

The most preponderant opinion is that it is a real prostration and we do not know how it is done. Shaykh Muhammad Saalih Al-Munajjid said: “Its prostration is real in a manner befitting the sun, but how does it fall prostrate before Allaah under the Throne? Only Allaah knows how this prostration takes place. The apparent meaning of the Hadeeth does not suggest that prostration refers to mere submission to the order of Allaah and being subjugated to His Obedience. Rather, it is submission, humiliation and compliance with a real prostration but we do not know how it is done. The same thing is said about the moon, trees, animals and all other beings, as each of them has its own manner of prostration that suits it. Therefore, a Muslim should not let his ignorance of how all these creations prostrate prevent him from believing in what Allaah informed us about the prostration of created beings to Him.”

Allaah Knows best.

# Ninth rebuttal: And the Sun runs on to its place of settlement…

Allah says: “And the Sun runs on to its place of settlement. That is the determination of the Mighty the Knowing.” [Sûrah YâSîn: 38]

What does it mean that the “Sun runs on to its place of settlement?” When is this? How is this?

Abû Dharr al-Ghifârî, one of the Prophet Muhammad’s Companions, relates the following:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to me: “O Abû Dharr! Do you know where the Sun goes when it sets?”

I said: “Allah and His Messenger know best.”

He said: “It goes until it prostrates beneath the Throne. Then it seeks permission and permission is granted to it. Soon it will prostrate and it will not be accepted from it, and seek permission and will not be granted permission. It will be said to it: ‘Go back where you came from.’ Then it will rise from its setting place. This is Allah’s statement: ‘And the Sun runs on to its place of settlement. That is the determination of the Mighty the Knowing. [Sûrah YâSîn: 38]’.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (3199, 7424)]

It is also found in. Its text, as related by Abû Dharr al-Ghifârî, is as follows:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said one day: “Do you know where the Sun goes when it sets?”

They said: “Allah and His Messenger know best.”

He said: “It goes until it arrives at its place of settlement beneath the Throne. Then it falls down in prostration and remains like that until it is said to it: ‘Arise! Go back from whence you came.’ Then it goes back and rises from its place of rising. Then it goes until it arrives at its place of settlement beneath the Throne. Then it falls down in prostration and remains like that until it is said to it: ‘Arise! Go back from whence you came.’ Then it goes back and rises from its place of rising. Then it goes without people finding anything wrong with it until it arrives at that place of settlement it has beneath the throne. Then it will be told: ‘Arise! Enter upon the morning rising from your setting place’.”

Then Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Do you know when that will be? It will be when ‘its faith will not avail a soul which had not believed before or earned some good from its faith. [Sûrah al-Anâm: 157]’.” [Sahîh Muslim (159,205) ]

The hadîth is also found in Sahîh al-Bukhârî in a highly abridged form (4803, 7433). Its text reads:

I asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) about Allah’s statement: “And the Sun runs on to its place of settlement… [Sûrah YâSîn: 38]”.

He said: “Its place of settlement is beneath the throne.”

Ibn Hajar al-Asqalânî, in Fath al-Bârî, his commentary on Sahîh al-Bukhârî, writes:

This was how Wakî related it from al-Amash in an abbreviated form. It is a narration by meaning. In the previous narration of the hadîth, the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked Abû Dharr: “Do you know where the Sun goes when it sets?” [Fath al-Bârî(8/688)]

What about the fact that the Earth goes around the Sun?

Some people have wondered how these texts should be understood in relation to the Earth’s movement around the Sun and the fact that sunrise and sunset are a consequence of the Earth revolving around its axis. What they fail to realize is that these texts talk about the Sun’s relationship to the Throne of Allah, not its relationship to the Earth.

The first point that we need to consider is that nowhere in any of these texts is it mentioned that the Sun is revolving around the Earth. The word used for the Sun’s motion in all of these texts is the verb “tajrî” meaning “to go, flow, proceed”. This verb is not qualified by any other words indicating a spherical motion of any kind or any specific type of motion relative to the Earth.

The second point that we must consider is that nowhere does the hadîth discuss the mechanics of the Sun’s motion in any way. Likewise, it says nothing about the mechanics of the motions of the Sun and the Earth on that fateful day when the Sun will rise from the West.

Thirdly, the place of settlement mentioned in the hadîth is beneath the throne and not under the Earth.

What we know scientifically about the Sun is that it is indeed in motion. It is traveling around the center of the galaxy at roughly 220 km/s in an orbit that takes about 230 million years to complete.

It may be interesting to take note of the fact that the Qur’ân mentions an orbital motion for the Sun. Allah says: “It is not for the Sun to overtake the Moon, nor does the night outstrip the day. They float each in an orbit.” [Sûrah YâSîn: 40]

However, we must caution that the verse says nothing about the nature or placement of the Sun’s orbit. It states only that the Sun has one.

As for the Sun’s relationship to the Throne, which is what the hadîth is discussing, this is something that we cannot speculate about. The Throne is part of the Unseen and we know nothing about it except what Allah and His Messenger tell us about it. It follows that the Sun’s behavior in relationship to the throne, both spatially and temporally, is also a matter of the Unseen.

We must believe whatever Allah and His Messenger inform us about the Sun’s relationship to Allah’s Throne and not speculate any further on the subject.

We can, therefore, safely conclude that these texts are not taking about the Sun’s relationship to the Earth at all. They certainly do not indicate that the Sun orbits the Earth.

# Tenth rebuttal: Misunderstanding of a verse of the Quran and hadith regarding the sun and moon

Question: As-Salamu ‘Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh:

And He has made the sun and the moon, both constantly pursuing their courses, to be of service to you; and He has made the night and the day, to be of service to you. ( سورة إبراهيم , Ibrahim, Chapter #14, Verse #33) Qur’an.

Narrated Abu Dharr: Once I was with the Prophet in the mosque at the time of Sunset. The Prophet said, “O Abu Dharr! Do you know where the Sun sets?” I replied, “Allah and His Apostle know best.” He said, “It goes and prostrates underneath (Allah’s) Throne; and that is Allah’s Statement:– ‘And the Sun runs on its fixed course for a term (decreed). And that is the decree of All-Mighty, the All-Knowing….’ (36.38) (Book #60, Hadith #326) Bukhari.

It seems that in both the Qur’an and Hadith the Sun is being said to move around the Earth. This seems unscientific because we know that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Why is the sun being said to do the motion around the earth? Was-Salamu ‘Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

Country: USA

Wa alaykum salam wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakatuHu,

Regarding the first verse:

وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ الشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ دَائِبَيْنِ ۖ وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ

Arabic dictionaries mention that the word الدائبان ad-daa’ibaan means day and night. While the word’s trilateral root preserves other meanings too, like persistence, habitually. (Lisan al-Arab v. 16, p. 1310) Wherefore, according to the Quran expert of the Sahabah, Abd Allah b. Abbas, it implies, “Their untiring persistence in obedience to Allah.” (Tafsir al-Baghawi v. 4, p. 353) The main lexical reference works do not describe the word to denote one thing orbiting another.

Allah is telling us that, day in and day out, the sun and the moon provide us with a “service” that is indubitably in our best interests. Many services we probably have not even realized, but just the moon’s influence on the tides and the sun’s influence on maintaining a gravitational central force for the earth’s solar system keep a balance and harmony, only possible with Allah’s will and power. It seems like Allah is calling our attention to one of the many blessings that He bestows on us all, that He subjugated the sun and moon that they continually function thereby favoring us with the blessing and sustenance of day and night. Allah continues in the 34th verse of Surah Ibrahim, “And He gave you all that you asked Him for, if you try to enumerate Allah’s blessings, you will not be able to enumerate them…”

Regarding the hadith, it is in Sahih al-Bukhari v. 2, p. 382 #3199. This text does not contain explicit mention that the sun orbits the earth.

The hadith mentions the sun prostrating beneath the Arsh. To this detail, many ulama, for instance Khattabi as related by Hafiz Zayn al-Din al-‘Iraqi in Tarh al-Tathrib v. 8, p. 259, maintained that this is from the knowledge of the unseen, and thus we accept it, while knowledge of it is only with Allah. Therefore, we accept the hadith just as it is, while much of its meaning is beyond the scope of our understanding.

In both the 37th and 38th verses of Surah Yasin, Allah draws one’s attention again to the day and night, “And a sign for them is the night; it removes by it the day, so then they are in darkness (37) along with the sun proceeding on its fixed course (38)…” In Mafatih al-Ghayb v. 26, p. 62-63, al-Fakhr al-Razi discussed that the particle lam may indicate time. The sun is proceeding on its course, both in respect to each day, from its rising to its setting. Likewise, in respect to how we observe the sun’s fixity in movement during the yearly cycle, from one month to the next. By this all, it proceeds to a fixed time, the Final Hour, the Day of Judgment. Allah says in the 13th verse of Surah Fatir, “He merges the night into day, and merges the day into night, and subjugates the sun and the moon, all proceeding on to an appointed time.” The major books of tafsir consider the phrase in this verse لأجل مسمى to be the end of the world and the coming of the Last Hour.

Allah has given many blessings to us; He has given us the days of our lives, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, to get ready for when these fleeting worldly moments end. The Quran shows us in so many places how temporary things really are. At times, we are reminded of this very straightforwardly. Additionally, we are given examples from the world around us to sit and ponder upon. If something awe-inspiring like the sun is counting down to its last, then what about us?

Allah continues in Surah Yasin, “And the trumpet will again be blown and they will come quickly from their graves to their Lord. (51) They will say, ‘Woe is to us! Who raised us from our resting places!?’ [It will be said to them], ‘This is what the Merciful promised, and the Messengers spoke the truth.’ (52) It will be only a single shout, behold they shall all be brought before Us! (53) This Day, none shall be wronged in anything, nor will you be requited except in what you used to do. (54)” Truly, Allah is great.