Sun sets in the murky water as per Qur’an?

๐’๐ฎ๐ง ๐ฌ๐ž๐ญ๐ฌ ๐ข๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฆ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ค๐ฒ ๐ฐ๐š๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐š๐ฌ ๐ฉ๐ž๐ซ ๐๐ฎ๐ซ’๐š๐ง?

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar


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

ุญูŽุชูŽู‘ู‰ ุฅูุฐูŽุง ุจูŽู„ูŽุบูŽ ู…ูŽุบู’ุฑูุจูŽ ุงู„ุดูŽู‘ู…ู’ุณู ูˆูŽุฌูŽุฏูŽู‡ูŽุง ุชูŽุบู’ุฑูุจู ูููŠ ุนูŽูŠู’ู†ู ุญูŽู…ูุฆูŽุฉู

โ€œUntil, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found (wajada) it set in a spring of murky water: โ€œ(Qurโ€™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 Qurโ€™an is not the word of God

What does the Qurโ€™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 Qurโ€™an:

I have given the translation of Abdullah Yusuf Ali above. The word he translated as โ€œfoundโ€ is ูˆุฌุฏ i.e. โ€˜wajada.โ€™ This word is used to describe the perception. See the proof from the Edward William Laneโ€™s Lexicon.

Edward William Laneโ€™s Arabic-English Lexicon p. 2924

And further he writes;

So the word โ€˜wajadaโ€™ refers to perception through any one of the five senses.

2- Qurโ€™an uses the wording from Zulqarnainโ€™s perspective:

What we find is that Qurโ€™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;

ูˆุบุฑูˆุจู‡ุง ููŠ ุงู„ุนูŠู† ููŠ ุฑุฃูŠ ุงู„ุนูŠู†
โ€œโ€ฆ its setting in a spring is [described as seen] from the perspective of the eye.โ€ (ONLINE SOURCE)

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

ุฑูŽุฃูŽู‰ ุงู„ุดูŽู‘ู…ู’ุณูŽ ูููŠ ู…ูŽู†ู’ุธูŽุฑูู‡ู ุชูŽุบู’ุฑูุจู ูููŠ ุงู„ู’ุจูŽุญู’ุฑู ุงู„ู’ู…ูุญููŠุทูุŒ ูˆูŽู‡ูŽุฐูŽุง ุดูŽุฃู’ู†ู ูƒูู„ูู‘ ู…ูŽู†ู ุงู†ู’ุชูŽู‡ูŽู‰ ุฅูู„ูŽู‰ ุณูŽุงุญูู„ูู‡ูุŒ ูŠูŽุฑูŽุงู‡ูŽุง ูƒูŽุฃูŽู†ูŽู‘ู‡ูŽุง ุชูŽุบู’ุฑูุจู ูููŠู‡ูุŒ ูˆูŽู‡ููŠูŽ ู„ูŽุง ุชูููŽุงุฑูู‚ู ุงู„ู’ููŽู„ูŽูƒูŽ ุงู„ุฑูŽู‘ุงุจูุนูŽ ุงู„ูŽู‘ุฐููŠ ู‡ููŠูŽ ู…ูุซูŽุจูŽู‘ุชูŽุฉูŒ ูููŠู‡ู ู„ูŽุง ุชูููŽุงุฑูู‚ูู‡ู
โ€œโ€ฆ 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.โ€ (ONLINE SOURCE)

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

ูˆู„ุนู„ู‡ ุจู„ุบ ุณุงุญู„ ุงู„ู…ุญูŠุท ูุฑุขู‡ุง ูƒุฐู„ูƒ ุฅุฐ ู„ู… ูŠูƒู† ููŠ ู…ุทู…ุญ ุจุตุฑู‡ ุบูŠุฑ ุงู„ู…ุงุก ูˆู„ุฐู„ูƒ ู‚ุงู„ { ูˆูŽุฌูŽุฏูŽู‡ูŽุง ุชูŽุบู’ุฑูุจู } ูˆู„ู… ูŠู‚ู„ ูƒุงู†ุช ุชุบุฑุจ
โ€œPerhaps 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, โ€œand he perceived it to setโ€, and not that it actually sets.โ€ (Anwar al-Tanzil wa Asrar al-Tawil 4/14)

I hope all this detail leaves no ambiguity.


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

โ€œAre 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?โ€ (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?

โ€œJudge 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.โ€ (KJV, Matthew 7: 1-2)

Indeed Allah knows the best!

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