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Qur’an: The Sun Sets in Muddy Pool

January 6, 2014

The Qur’an says here (Muhsin Khan translation):

“And they ask you about Dhul-Qarnain. Say: “I shall recite to you something of his story.”

Verily, We established him in the earth, and We gave him the means of everything. And he followed a way until, when he reached the setting place of the sun, he found it setting in a spring of black muddy (or hot) water. And he found near it a people. We (Allah) said (by inspiration): “O Dhul-Qarnain! Either you punish them, or treat them with kindness. He said: “As for him (a disbeliever in the Oneness of Allah) who does wrong, we shall punish him; and then he will be brought back unto his Lord; Who will punish him with a terrible torment (Hell).

But as for him who believes (in Allah’s Oneness) and works righteousness, he shall have the best reward, (Paradise), and we (Dhul-Qarnain) shall speak unto him mild words (as instructions)

Then he followed another way Until, when he came to the rising place of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We (Allah) had provided no shelter against the sun So (it was)! And We knew all about him (Dhul-Qarnain).” Qur’an 18:83-91 (Muhsin Khan)

Any of the other translations say pretty much the same thing. And for those that want to hide behind the Arabic, it also says the same thing and has the same meaning.

Allah is telling the story in these verses, so the literal meaning of these verses is that this is NOT what Dhu’l Qarnain “thought” he saw. No, this is what Allah said was actually there! What did Allah say? Dhu’l Qarnain rode so far (on the flat earth) that he reached the place where the sun rises and the sun sets. Then, he rode in the other direction and reached the rising place of the sun and found it rising on a people for whom Allah appointed no shelter from the sun (it was really hot for them)

Do we really have to explain that there is no setting “place” of the sun or the rising “place” of the sun? Do we really have to explain that the sun does not set in a muddy pool.

There is a hadith narrated by Abu Dharr quoted as follows:

  • “Abu Dharr was with The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) during the sunset.  The Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) asked him: ‘Do you know, O Abu Dharr where this sun sets?’  He answered; ‘Allah and His messenger know best.’  The Messenger said:  ‘It sets in a spring of slimy water’” – al-Zamakhshari, The Kahshaf (3rd Edition, Vol. 2, p. 743, 1987)

If this was “figurative”, then Muhammad clearly did not get the message. And this was also not clear to the early Muslim scholars such as Ibn Abaas, Al-Tabari and Al-Baydawi who interpreted this literally.

Also consider the following hadith from Sahih Bukhari:

Allah’s Messenger (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Every night when it is the last third of the night, our Lord, the Exalted, the Blessed, descends to the lower heavens and says, ‘Is there anyone to invoke Me that I may respond to his invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone asking My forgiveness so that I may forgive him?’”

The fact that Allah descends into the “lower heaven” in the “last third of the night” are not comprehensible to a modern human being who knows that the earth is round and thus it is ALWAYS the last third of the night in some place on earth. However, this hadith makes perfect when one looks at this in light of a person who has no concept of a round earth, much less of time zones. To this person, there is only one “last third of the night”.

Finally, consider this hadith from Sahih Muslim:

It is narrated on the authority of Abu Dharr that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) one day said: Do you know where the sun goes? They replied: Allah and His Apostle know best. He (the Prophet) observed: Verily it (the sun) glides till it reaches its resting place under the throne. Then it falls prostrate and remains there until it is asked: Rise up and go to the place whence you came. And it goes back and continues emerging out from its rising place and then glides till it reaches its place of rest under the throne, and falls prostrate and remains in that state until it is asked: Rise up and return to the place whence you came. And it returns and emerges out from its rising place and then it glides (in such a normal way) that the people do not discern anything (unusual in it) till it reaches its resting place under the throne. Then it would be said to it: Rise up and emerge out from the place of your setting, and it will rise from the place of its setting. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Do you know when it would happen? It would happen at the time when faith will not benefit one who has not previously believed or has derived no good from the faith. (Muslim)

It becomes clear at this point given all of the different texts that Muhammad believed:

– In a flat earth

– that the sun revolves around a fixed, flat land mass (earth) and this is why scholars such as Ibn Kathir interpreted it as such. They were simply reading the literal texts.

– that day and night could not happen simultaneously

– that the sun sets in mud and goes underneath the flat land mass, prostrates to Allah’s throne until it is given permission to rise again.

Now, clearly modern Muslims are either unaware of such texts or flat ignore them. Like most people they simply compartmentalize religious issues – especially the ridiculous ones. For many of them Islam is simply a cultural tradition and they enjoy celebrating the holidays with their families just like everyone else. Being Muslim is just a part of their identity irrespective of their beliefs. It’s no more complex than that.

From → The Ridiculous

3 Comments
  1. Athiest permalink

    good article

  2. Abu Dharr permalink

    Good article, nice summary of relevant hadiths. Muslim apologists say the 1st Abu Dharr hadith is weak, but the reason given by the hadith scholars is that there is different version (the longer, 2nd one from Abu Dharr which you quote) which they prefer! As though there couldn’t be two separate occasions! Even if fake it shows what the words in the verse really meant to speakers back then.

    Even that 2nd Abu Dharr one is problematic for Islam if you look at the Arabic where it says “it’s [the sun’s] rising place” and “your [the sun’s] setting place. Anyone interested should read about it here in this article about Dhul Qarnayn and the sun setting in a muddy spring

    In fact that article exposes all the Muslim apologetics by looking at the Arabic words in 18:86

    Btw, you have a quality website here! Maybe you could contact the guy at similarly named rationalislam blog for a plug.

  3. Some Guy permalink

    It is clear from Islamic texts (quran hadith) that the earth is flat and there is a solid sky held from falling by god. The writers of the texts had no more an idea of the nature of the firmament than any one living at the time. CERTAINLY not written by a god or anyone with access to ghaib (unknown information.

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