How do we know that verse 86 of the chapter of al-Kahf is described through the eyes of Dhul-Qarnayn?

The Details of the Question

When I read the tafsirs of verse 86 of the chapter of al-Kahf and the answer to the question you gave, a question naturally arises in my mind.
"Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water." We add words such as “like” and “as if” in parentheses in the verse.  
-How can the part ‘when he reached the setting of the sun’ mean the view from the eye of the Prophet Dhul-Qarnayn?.
- Do we interpret it like that? Or, is there a word that leads to such interpretation in the Arabic text?
- It is a question that has been bothering me for hours. May Allah be pleased with you a thousand times if you can contribute even a little to removing that big question mark in my mind...

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

a) In the phrase “wajadaha taghrubu- He (Dhul-Qarnayn) found/saw it (the sun) was setting”, in the verse, the verb “wajada=seeing” is used to indicate that this image was according to Dhul-Qarnayn’s point of view by being attributed to Dhul-Qarnayn.

b) After Dhul-Qarnayn’s expression in the verse stating that “he found it set in a spring of murky water/black mud” in the verse, it becomes evident based on the  statement “wa wajada indaha qawman=and he found a nation/people/community there” in the verse that this water that is seen is not a small spring or water source because it is not possible for a large community/tribe to settle around a small water source and lead a life there - in terms of the large population and the small size of the geography.

So, as all tafsir scholars say, it is the Atlantic Ocean.

Accordingly, as the sun set, it disappeared as if it were sinking into the sea from afar. Sometimes it sets behind a mountain, sometimes it sets at the end of a sea.

All these settings are according to people’s point of view.

c) Although some interpretations of the Quran are not explicitly included in the verse, they must generally be made in accordance with the spirit of Islam and the facts shown by the expressions in other verses of the Quran. “It is not permitted to the Sun to catch up the Moon, nor can the Night outstrip the Day: Each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit (according to Law)...” (Yasin, 36/40) It is stated in the verse that the sun rotates in its own special orbit like other celestial bodies.

When this fact is considered, it is neither scientifically nor intellectually possible for the sun to leave its orbit in the sky and enter a muddy place in the ground and disappear. So, in the verse in question, a description made according to Dhul-Qarnayn’s point of view is in question.

d) It is known that the Quran is a miracle in forty ways. It is the duty of the just people when they see an ambiguous expression of the Quran, which is known to be the word of Allah with its universal ethical lessons, the facts confirmed by scientific discoveries, and similar aspects, along with many ghayb (unknown/unseen) news that turned out to be true, to interpret it according to a possible meaning.

e) The rhetoric of the Quran is based on literary arts such as metaphor, simile and metonymy. Therefore, it is necessary to look at this aspect of the verse as well.

Let’s quote this point of view from Badiuzzaman Said Nursi:

“... Yes, the All-Wise Qur’an’s miraculously eloquent expression teaches many matters with this sentence.”

“Firstly, it explains that Dhul-Qarnayn’s journey to the west coincided with the intense heat of summer, the area of a swamp, sunset, and the time of a volcanic eruption, and so alludes to many instructive matters, such as the complete conquest of Africa.”

“It is well-known that the sun’s motion is apparent, indicating the hidden movement of the earth and giving news of it. What it intends is not the actual setting of the sun.”

Also the spring is a metaphor. From the distance a large sea appears to be a small pool.”

“It is most meaningful and apt according to the mysteries of eloquence to liken a sea appearing beyond swamps with mists and vapors rising from it due to the heat to a muddy spring, with word عَيْنٍ, which in Arabic means both spring, and sun, and eye.” (Lem’alar, 107-108)

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