Quran 18:86 [Sun Setting Into a Pond]

Until when he reached the place where the sun set, he found it going down into a black sea, and found by it a people. We said: O Zulqarnain! either give them a chastisement or do them a benefit [Quran 18:86]


The verse says that Zulqarnain saw the sun setting into a black sea, which is the same expression that we would use to describe our experience.  Once I traveled to San Diego, spent the whole day on the beach. When I got back, I told my friends that this was the first time that I had seen the sun setting into the Pacific Ocean, which is the same that Quran is reporting about Zulqarnain’s
experience. The verse doesn’t say that the sun goes down into a black sea. It simply says that it was Zulqarnain who found the Sun setting into a black sea. Verse 18:90 says:”[18.90] Until when he reached the land of the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people to whom We had given no shelter from It.” Still talking about Zulqarnain, the Quran is describing his experiences, not what the scientific reality is. In our own times, Japan is called the Land of the Rising Sun.

If the Quran actually meant that the sun sets into a pond,  why is it no companion of Prophet Muhammad ever tried to find that place?


5 thoughts on “Quran 18:86 [Sun Setting Into a Pond]

  1. sam September 24, 2013 at 3:58 pm Reply

    quran ‘and the disbelievers take the facts of the quran [heavens and earth were one then were seperated big bang as a parable….and take the parables of the book [sun sets in pond] as a fact’….

  2. ibnester January 8, 2014 at 5:56 pm Reply

    it might saying something else which you are not able to understand, it may have some other meaning because it is not a book of science it is a book of reality and it is a word of God; Science changes daily but not the words of God,,

    • sincereadvisor January 9, 2014 at 9:38 pm Reply

      What other meaning is there? As I mentioned on my web page, in just about every language, the movement of the sun is always described as sun “rising” or “setting.” So, since Quran was using standard Arabic, it described it in the same way but correctly attributed it Zulqarnain’s own experience: “he saw…,” not what God saw. This is just commonsense, and there is no need to argue over such a trivial matter.

  3. Melanie Dodge February 21, 2014 at 7:34 pm Reply

    What is it about the Arab tendency to take absolutely everything literally? Anyone who has read the rest of scripture (the Hebrew and Greek testaments) seems perfectly able to not go nuts interpreting the Quran. But those who haven’t seem uneducated about their own scripture, which is written in much the same way as the previous two testaments. While each subsequent testament includes an increasing amount of very direct and literal material (mostly clarifications and corrections), that doesn’t mean that they don’t also maintain a degree of poetry, analogy, metaphor, and other literary styling. Isn’t there other Arabic literature that educates people as to how to read such fundamental material? Even just reading the three testaments in English (without the influence of commentary) is sufficient to get the basics down. I am getting the impression that true Islam is going to be in the hands of Quranic Christians.

    • sincereadvisor March 5, 2014 at 4:31 am Reply

      It’s not the “Arab tendency.” Muslims have no problem with what is written in Quran. It’s the tendency of anti-Islam propagandists to find so-called “errors” in Quran to create some kind of equivalency with Biblical errancy.

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