Narrated Abu Dhar:

The Prophet asked me at sunset, "Do you know where the sun goes (at the time of sunset)?" I replied, "Allah and His Apostle know better." He said, "It goes (i.e. travels) till it prostrates Itself underneath the Throne and takes the permission to rise again, and it is permitted and then (a time will come when) it will be about to prostrate itself but its prostration will not be accepted, and it will ask permission to go on its course but it will not be permitted, but it will be ordered to return whence it has come and so it will rise in the west. And that is the interpretation of the Statement of Allah: "And the sun Runs its fixed course For a term (decreed). that is The Decree of (Allah) The Exalted in Might, The All-Knowing."

[Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 54, Number 421]

Can someone please explain the bold part? As far as I know, day and night are the result of earth's rotation around it's axis?

  • 1
    Our Messenger (peace be upon him) was not a scientist, so the explanation he gave is build on faith and believe in Allah, Why are you expecting a scientific statement from Hadith or even Quran? I found Verses in Quran with a more or less scientific touch which have been explained by sahaba, in a way which is wrong and maybe even the opposite of what science say!
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 2:51

7 Answers 7


The simplest answer is that what the Prophet (saws) may be describing is not something that we can observe in the dimensions that we live in. There are plenty of phenomena that the Qur'an and the Prophet (saws) talk about that are more "unscientific" than this. Take, for example, the hadith about sins causing black spots on our heart. Or the verse 83:14 in the Qur'an about hearts getting "rusted." Or whatever else. Clearly, there is something going on that we can't observe physically. The methodology of the Prophet (saws) and the early generations was to affirm what we know to be true, either from reason or from revelation. If there appears to be a contradiction, then it just means we haven't fully got to the bottom of the matter yet.

  • 2
    it's says crystal clear that sun rises and sits,how much else you want to go down to the matter???
    – user4147
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 13:38
  • So technically speaking Quran cannot have any scientific error cause when it does we can always say it's talking about another dimension.... but if what it was saying about another dimension turns out to be true we would be first one to claim Quran has a scientific miracle ... ? feels like a very apologetic attitude toward preserving a flawed book. Commented May 1, 2020 at 9:07

As a student who is studying physics, I can say you that; we have Relative and absolute motion. For example I am sitting behind my PC so my velocity is zero, this is true if we disregard this point, that the Earth and solar system and milky way and all the world has a velocity. So I am static relative to the Earth. Still we use relative motion to solve some of physics problems.

So I think the Prophet (pbuh) is speaking about relative motion of sun.

  • Frames of reference is not relevant here.
    – user921
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 6:20

What does the Qur'an say about the prostration of the sun:

If you search in the Qur'an you will find a lots of Verses who tell us that the sun does prostrate and some who tell/indicate us "how":

  • In Surat al-Hajj (22:18) the prostration of the sun is clearly mentioned!
  • In other suwar (surahs) it's mentioned that all creations do prostrate like in Surat an-Nahl(16:49) and Surat al-Hashr (59:24).
  • In other places we find that they do prostrate but in their own way like in Suart al-Isra' (17:44) and Surat an-Nur (24:41).

so we have to believe that the sun does prostrate but we don't know how, and asking how would be considered (by most scholars) as inappropriate!

Is this Hadith a contradiction to science?

The Verse mentioned above are the reason why all scholars who read the Hadith you mentioned accepted it, even if they knew that day and night are the result of earth's rotation around it's axis. And here's a fatwa showing that this hadith is no contradiction to science! (By the Way there are many Versions of this hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari and other Hadith collections, some of them have been regarded as less reliable then others)

Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

The heavenly bodies are round, according to the Muslim scholars among the Sahaabah and those who followed them in guidance; that was also proven from them with isnaads mentioned in the appropriate places. In fact, more than one of the Muslim scholars narrated that there was consensus among the Muslims on that point.

About the Hadith and it's meaning

  • First be aware that the Hadith doesn't say that the sun is prostrating at sunset but underneath the Throne. So this normally should end the misunderstanding of the day and night matter!
  • Scholars have many opinion on this prostration, some say the sun is prostrating all along in each position that it takes during her rotation. Some say it prostrates once a year... there are also some more or less scientific explanations!
  • Scholars have different opinion on the appointed term:
    • Some say that this ends or will be at the end of dunya.
  • About the Verse (36:38) some scholars quote some Qira-a Shadhah of ibn 'Abas and ibn Masu'd (May Allah be pleased with them) which says it has no appointed term (in dunya)

"والشمس تجري لا مستقر لها"

which differs from the Mushaf

" والشمس تجري لمستقر لها"

Read for example in tafsir al-Qurtubi.

  • The Version of this Hadith in Sahih Muslim is somehow confirming the last statement. As once the permission to go on her course wouldn't be given this would be (lead to) the end of dunya and as mentioned their the appointed term.


From this Hadith we can conclude only that the sun is worshiping/prostrating while rotating. And this has no effect or better relation on day and night or on her rotation!

See also in Arabic

And Allah knows best


Rise and set of the sun is what we humans view daily. The content of hadith talks about viewing the rising of Sun from the west. Even in Bible the language use is rise and set.

The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.

(Ecclesiastes 1:5)

In the hadith it is said if permission is not given after such daily prostration from the Sun, then the Sun would not appear anymore to rise from the east. It will rise from west. What affects the Sun at that time will affect the rotation of Earth thus the appearance of Sun rising from west.

It is mentioned in Quran 17:44 that of how celestial bodies pray/prostrate or in the case of hadith how does sun goes to underneath throne to prostrate is a knowledge unknown for human.

Quran 36:38 speaks about fixed course of Sun until a stopping point. And 36:39 about returning course of Moon. So sun has different orbit. And Moon's orbit returning/revolving around Earth. You don't see Sun mentioned as returning. Followed by next verse 36:40.

It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor does the night outstrip the day. They all float, each in an orbit.

Quran 36:40

We also have hadith about eclipse. So it shows that Moon and Sun have different orbit. So how does day and night happen, there is a verse about Earth moving. So it affirms that Earth, Moon and Sun all have orbits. Only in modern time the path of these orbits are known. Also only in modern time it is known that the movement of cloud being linked with movement of Earth.

Earth is moving as well

Thou seest the mountains and thinkest them firmly fixed: but they pass like the passing of the clouds: (such is) the artistry of God, who disposes of all things in perfect order: for he is well acquainted with all that ye do.

The Noble Quran, 27:88


The sun sits and rises, this is a general statement not a scientific one but everybody can understand it in every age. At the time of Prophet science wasn't that advance so people wouldn't understand the true scientific statement for this phenomenon. That's why Prophet didn't use scientific statement like the earth rotates and then it will rotate in the opposite direction.

  • 2
    how do you elaborate your answer? As far as see is your answer do not give any resource and indicate your opinion as Prophet action, if i am wrong please add resources on your answer. This is better way.
    – nim
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 9:53

It is unscientific. There's no other way around it. Muhammad believed the sun set in a pool of murky water. This is also in the Qur'an itself:

Qur’an 18:83-86—And they ask you about Dhul-Qarnain. Say: “I shall recite to you something of his story.” Verily, We established him in the earth, and We gave him the means of everything. So he followed a way. Until, when he reached the setting place of the sun, he found it setting in a spring of black muddy (or hot) water. And he found near it a people.

  • You are wrong. Perhaps you don't know its interpretation. It doesn't mean that sun sets in the muddy water. Rather it means what we see it happening. This clearly is indicated in the verse "he found" which tells us that this is what he saw. The thing that we see doesn't necessarily mean that it is that. And there is no dispute that we see it setting in the water when we come across any sea. And this is what it says. Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 16:21
  • Moreover, the word "set"and "rise for sun itself is unscientific. Yet we always say, "Sun rises in the East and set in the West" and made it universal truth. This all, is bcz of what we see, not what the actual thing is. Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 16:21

I think my answer is supplementary to the first and second answers,this prostration occurs in a spiritual sense that is not part of our reality ,just like everything prostrates to Allah .i .e rocks but we cannot understand how they do it also note that the quran and authentic hadith talk about things in manner that is complete instead of science which is in development and will never reach at the same level as the quran and hadith since science is knowledge that is being acquired through human experience.you know science says something today but then gets discredited on another day

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .