Does the Qur’an say that the Sun sets in Murky water?? An analysis

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.

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- We 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.)(rahimahumullah), 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.”

Before them Ibn Kathir (d. 774 A.H.) (rahimahullah) 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.”

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


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 liar evil missionaries divorce with the common sense when they speak about Islamic texts?? Because they are jealous of Islam and our Holy Book, just because it upholds the truth and calls them towards the truth?? Seems so!

Don’t they follow or heed the words of Prophet Jesus(‘Eesa Maseeh alaihissalaam)which can be quoted from their own books??:

“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)

Sure they don’t heed it!

Indeed Allah knows the best!


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