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Monday, April 02, 2012

How the Sun Sets in Islam

Jack Kemp

From "Winning the War Against Radical Islam" by Dr. Robert Morely, pages 160-161:

The Setting of the Sun

One of the questions that puzzled the ancient Arabs was, "Where did the sun go when night time came?' The Qur'an gave them Allah's answer:

He [i.e. Zul-gamaim] followed, until he reached the setting of the sun. he found it set in a spring of murky water (Kahf Surah XVIII, vs. 85-86).

We agree with Muslim scholars that Zul-gamain refers to Alexander the Great (see Yusef Ali's appendix on this subject in his translation of the Qur'an). According to this surah, Alexander the Great traveled west until he found out what happened to the sun. It went down into and under the murky waters of a pond. When it was completely covered by the water, darkness fell upon the earth.

To the early Muslims, this surah gave the divine answer as to why darkness fell when the sun set in the West. They assumed that the sun like the moon was the size perceived by the human eye, about the size of a basketball. Darkness came when with a mighty hissing roar it went down under the dark waters of a pond. They boldly and proudly proclaimed that this marvelous answer proved that the Qur'an was indeed the Word of God.

Today, modern Muslims are quite embarrassed by this passage and try to ignore it or to quickly dismiss it as poetry. But the passage is not part of a poem. Thus it cannot be dismissed as figurative language or poetic license. In the context, it is part of a historical narrative that relates several historical incidents in the life of Alexander the Great.


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