What Does the Sun Going Back to Where It Came from Mean?

Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel


I wanted to ask a unique question about [Bukhari, 3199,7424,4802] and [Muslim, 159].

O Abu Dharr! Do you know where this (sun) goes? I said Allah and His Apostle know best. He said, It goes and asks permission to prostrate, and it is allowed, and (one day) it, as if being ordered to return whence it came, will rise from the west..”

What does the sun going back to where it came from mean?

Doesn’t this support geocentrism, as Earth’s rotation causes sunset? Why is the Sun ordered to return for it to rise from the west? Some versions include “as if.” Should we cherrypick, or could this phrase refer to the sun going under the throne (supernaturally or metaphorically) instead of the West being where it came from?


I pray you are in good faith and health.

Abu Dhar (Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (Allah be pleased with him) asked me at sunset, “Do you know where the sun goes (at the time of sunset)?” I replied, “Allah and His Messenger 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.” [Quran, 36.38]

Sun is Under the Obedience of Allah

The sun is under the command and obedience of Allah Most High. This is what prostrating means, not in the physical sense like all of Allah’s creation is under His throne and His command.

Commentators have taken the word: لِمُسْتَقَرّ (mustaqarr) at this place as a time-oriented destination, that is when the sun reaches the end of its movement already determined – and that time is the Day of Judgement. In light of this commentary, the verse would mean that the sun is moving in its orbit supported by such a precise and perfect system that never betrays the difference of even a minute or second. Thousands of years have passed over this orbit. But, all this is not everlasting. There is a particular point in time and space for it. When that is arrived at, this solar system and the movement will stop and end – and that is the Day of Judgement. This has been reported by Qatada, as mentioned by Ibn Kathir.

There is a hadith bearing on the same subject reported by Abdullah Ibn Masud (Allah be pleased with him). It has some additions to the effect that, every day, when the sun reaches beneath the Throne, it performs a prostration and seeks permission for the next orbit. After permission, it starts the next orbit – until the day when it does not have permission to start the next orbit. Instead, it will be commanded to return to where it came from. In other words, it would be asked to go beneath the earth from the side of the West, then return from the same side of the West and rise from the West. The day it happens, it will be the sign of the Day of Judgement, and after that, the doors of faith and repentance will be closed. That will be a time when the repentance of anyone sunk in sin or the repentance of anyone soaked in associating a partner (shirk) or having disbelief (kufr) will not be accepted.

[Shaf’i, Ma’rif al-Quran]

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[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Mawlana Ilyas Patel has received traditional education in various countries. He started his schooling in the UK and completed his hifz of the Quran in India. After that, he joined an Islamic seminary in the UK, where he studied secular and Aalimiyya sciences. Later, he traveled to Karachi, Pakistan, and other Middle Eastern countries to further his education. Mawlana has served as an Imam in the Republic of Ireland for several years and taught the Quran and other Islamic sciences to both children and adults. He also worked as a teacher and librarian at a local Islamic seminary in the UK for 12 years. Presently, he lives in the UK with his wife and is interested in books and gardening.