Does This Verse Disprove The Quran?

22 April, 2017
Q Is verse 18:86 {Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it [as if] setting in a spring of dark mud, and he found near it a people. Allah said, "O Dhul-Qarnayn, either you punish [them] or else adopt among them [a way of] goodness."}, a proof that the Quran is false since it says the suns sets in "a spring of dark mud"?


Asalamu Alaikum,

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question.

Dr. Shabir Ally addresses this question in the video below:


Safiyyah Ally: OK Dr. Shabir Ally, here’s a question about a particular verse from the Quran. So, it’s verse 86 from chapter 18.

So, the person is saying, can you please explain this verse about the sun setting in the murky sea.

That’s just the extent of the question. So, maybe you can expand on that?

Dr. Shabir Ally: Yeah well, the Quran describes, say a figure, a person who travels far and wide. And then he comes … this person is referred to in the Quran Dhul Qarnayn, “the two-horned one”.

He comes eventually to a place where he finds the Sun setting: {Quoting Quran in Arabic} and the translation roughly is as you read from the question: in a murky sea or muddy spring.

So, what is meant by this? Some will criticize the Quran on this basis and say, well it looks like the Quran is talking about a flat earth here, and then the sun actually descends into a sea in some place.

But that’s not what the Quran seems to mean. In fact when we look at the Quran, we have to see the narrative within its context. And when the statement is given in the Quran that this person found the sun, he saw, he found the sun setting in the murky sea.

This means that is describing it from his perspective. It’s like we ask somebody how do you find Toronto? Well, it’s not asking how Toronto is in fact. It’s asking about this person’s opinion, this person’s viewpoint.  

So, from this person’s viewpoint, from Dhul Qarnayn’s viewpoint, the Quran is [saying Dhul Qarnayn sees the sun] setting in a muddy spring. That’s how he sees it. If we see a sunset, that’s how it appears to us. So, it’s not describing this as a matter of scientific fact that this is how it is.

Because of course, it is a matter of scientific fact we would object from a scientific point of view and say that this is not how, what we know in science. The earth is a sphere and the sun does not go down into any spring.

Safiyyah Ally: So, what’s the best way to interpret verses like this? I mean, we come across this verse, and we say this doesn’t really make sense at first viewing. So, what is your advice for an individual [who] comes across the verse like this?

Dr. Shabir Ally: Well, this is one strategy for understanding the verse within the context, to see what specifically is being said.

A second point in this regard is to think about the social context of the Quran as a whole because the Quran is addressing a large audience here, an audience mainly consisting of 7th century Arabs, at least in the initial impact.

And the Quran had to make sense to them. So, naturally the terminology, the expressions used had to be something that they would understand immediately. Especially since the Quran is one long argument.

It is referred to in the Quran itself as {Quoting in Arabic} it is the effective argument of God.

Safiyyah Ally: I had never heard of that before. 

Dr. Shabir Ally: Yeah, the Quran, it does not have as its purpose the description of the stars and planets and galaxies and what we would describe and discuss in physics or any of the sciences we can study. The Quran encourages us to study. But the Quran is using what people already know as a basis for an argument.

The Quran is saying, look at what you already know, think about what it means now or what it implies. Here is what you need to know.

I hope this helps answer your question. Please keep in touch.

Walaikum Asalam.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

How Quran Is Ahead Of Science

Quran’s Miraculous Treatment of Science

9 Astonishing Facts in the Quran that will Surprise You