Does the Sun Set in a Muddy Spring?

First check out this post on Dhul Qarnayn though.

For the first video, here is a summary


These are some really outstanding points.  Put together, they completely smash the idea that this Quranic story is the truth from God.

One interesting snippet I found was in the video on “does the Quran set into a muddy spring” below, The Masked Arab actually goes through all the early tafaseer and shows that even these early masters of the language and scholars of the religion took the setting of the sun literally.


When we look at Tabari (#11 on the list), His tafsir is considered foundational.  Arguably the most credible tafsir in the Quran.  All other major tafsirs like Qurtubi, Jalalayn and Ibn Kathir borrow heavily from Tabari’s tafsir.  What he did is gather all the narrations he could find, and for 18:86 Tabari gathers a 15 narrations from early Islam to describe this single verse.  All Muhammad’s companions took it literally that the sun set to the spring.  The only difference was whether it was warm, muddy, or black.  14 tafaseer later (350 years after Prophet Muhammad’s death) in Tabarani that people started to suggest that it was actually just the perspective of Dhul Qarnayn and the sun didn’t literally set in the sea.  The problem with this Tafsir al-Kabir Imam Tabarani is its controversial and considered a fabrication that was written 500-600 years later.  So on we go, until the 18th tafsir written by at-Thalaby in 427H also has a very interesting point as to where Prophet Muhammad got this idea from! He cites a poem from an ancient Yemeni King Tubba who lived 700 years before Muhammad.

This pre-Islamic poem that Prophet Muhammad surely would have heard said that Dhul Qarnayn reached the west and east… He saw the sun as it was setting into a spring of black mud.

By the 20th tafsir, 440 years after Prophet Muhammad’s death the tafsir  says the meaning of the verse is literal, but it gives a second opinion that says it may be not literal.  450 years later they realized the sun was too big to set in the muddy spring.  Since this book is from God, it surely must contain many signs of it’s divine nature, like facts not known at the time. Rather what see is the opposite, ancient stories that are untrue containing many mistaken ideas written as if they are true stories revealed by God.

What is the point here?  You have someone like Zakir Naik who comes and says we are not understanding the verse correctly, it really means that Dhul Qarnayn saw the sun setting in the sea, it didn’t actually go in there, but when you look and see that is not really what the Quran is saying, its an apologist re-interpretation due to modern scientific knowledge rendering the Quran inaccurate.  So Zakir Naik must understand more Arabic than all these classical scholars combined.


3 thoughts on “Does the Sun Set in a Muddy Spring?

  1. “WAJADA” here is a verb having two-objects, like this sentence: “I find it hard.”. This is mentioning a personal understanding, not an objective fact. Please, refer to Arabic dictionaries and grammar books.

  2. Problem 1: You present the companions’ opinions on a verse whose wording and subject are broad as if they are firmly set and convinced. This is misleading to your readers. For example, in Tabari’s tafseer of this verse, he clearly mentions one narration where Ka3b ala7bar was asked, and he replied, “You know the Qur’an better than me, but I find it …(the same verb that you are taking too literally by the way) … in the Book to set in black mud.” This is hardly the view of someone who is absolutely convinced, and the fact that they are asking one another clearly indicates that they are not on anything that they clearly received from the Prophet (saas).

    Problem 2: The preoccupation with the literal meaning of wajada is unnecessary. I am a native English speaker who has studied classic Arabic for many years, and who finally took a Bachelor’s in Islamic Law in Saudi Arabia. The verb you are mentioning has many shades of meaning, just like “find” in English. It is truly that simple. The Companions leaned toward a literal translation because they had no knowledge to pull their interpretation towards another meaning. This is CLASSIC and their well-known approach: be conservative in understanding the verse UNLESS there is something to pull the meaning to a more secondary and more accurate meaning. Therefore the phrase “I find” on its surface would usually mean “I discovered a physical phenomenon occurring”, but when one says “I find the sun setting in a river”, it is quite natural to understand it as meaning the sun appeared to set there. The Companion’s failure to give that as their primary explanation is no fault of their own: the verse’s subject is broad and far removed from them. They did their best, and it should not shake your faith or anyone else’s faith. The Qur’an warns about this: there are verses whose interpretation can be twisted, and there are verses that are harder to twist, especially the important ones on creed and law. We accept all of them (as Muslims).

    Problem 3: To say that Zakir Naik’s Arabic skills are erroneously better than classic scholars is also misleading: of course his Arabic is not as good. However, any student of Arabic, let alone a scholar, will quickly understand how the Arab companions of the Prophet (saas) approached this verse: take the meaning of the verb literally, and carefully indicate that this verse is not something they can point to authentic inspiration about for its meaning. They basically leave the door open to another interpretation. That is perfectly fine. For us, hundreds of years later, we have more information to open that door wide for another interpretation which still falls within the scope of the Arabic language of that verse, and which does not contradict any creed or law or other established precept in Islam.

    Problem 4: You fail to mention that of the 16 (not 15 as you said) narrations associated with this verse, more than one is weak. My copy of Tabari’s tafseer clearly includes the evaluations of all narrations. In particular the narration that indicates that the Prophet mentioned a literal descent of the sun into a river is weak, and the weak narrators are pointed out based on established narrator histories. Even if you want to disagree with that, it is misleading not to mention that in your post.
    Many people who do not study Arabic hate to hear this… but you need to improve your Arabic.

  3. Dhul Qarnayn = Cyrus the Great!

    The muddy spring is indeed the Black sea. Open up the google map; the only Black sea can be seen as muddy spring today where Cyrus reached with his first campaign; freeing Jews from Babylonians; made them to honor only non-Jew king in their books.

    Eventually; pose this question to Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him through idolaters; look at the source of this story and its background; the Jews knew about Cyrus but not the Arabs; God revealed this whole story in details which is matching with Achaemenid conquest of Babylonia (western part; muddy spring [black sea]), eastern conquest of Ghandhara and the eventually Sogdiana (Gog/Magog [Tatars/Mongols]’s exploited nation).

    Alexander Macedonian is not Dhul-Qarnayn at all; his characteristics are far far worst to be such honorable.

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