Will you explain the hadith: The sun goes to prostrate and one day rises in the place where it sets?

Details of the Question
Will you explain the hadith: The sun goes to prostrate and one day rises in the place where it sets?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

“I entered the mosque while the sun was setting. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was sitting. He said to me, “O Abu Dharr! Do you know where the sun is going?” I said, ‘Allah and His Messenger knows’. He said, ‘It is going in order to take permission for prostration, and it is given permission. One day, it will be commanded, ‘Rise from here’ and it will rise in the place where it sets." Then, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) read this verse: ‘And the Sun runs his course for a period determined for him.’(Ya Seen, 36:38).”(Tirmidhi, Fitan, 22.


1. That hadith makes an explanation about an issue that has occupied people’s minds since old times: “Where does the sun go in the evening?”

That question is no longer interesting for today’s people. Here, Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) asks Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) the question and gives answers. In some narrations, Abu Dharr asks and the Messenger of Allah answers.

2. Scholars have different interpretations regarding the answer of the Messenger of Allah. It is possible to understand the hadith as follows: While stating that all beings declare Allah’s glory (al-Isra, 17/44), the Quran mentions the name of the sun among those that prostrate (al-Hajj, 22/18). Some scholars answered the question, “What is the worshipping of beings?” as follows: ”It is their natural actions; that is, when they do what they are created for, they are regarded to be worshipping.” Then, when the sun carries out the duty of giving light every moment, it is regarded to be worshipping and prostrating. When the sun sets, it stops giving light to us; however, it goes on fulfilling its duty (prostrating) in other continents of the world.

Going under the arsh (throne) can be understood as follows: Since the throne surrounds the whole universe, it is out of question for the sun to go out of it. The sun, which we see above us in the horizon, disappears at night but it is a relative remoteness and disappearance. Then, that must be the most correct and satisfactory answer to be given to those who do not have any knowledge about cosmography.

3. That the sun will rise in the place where it sets is an indication of the sun’s rising in the west, which is a sign of the Doomsday. Some scholars interpret the sun’s rising in the west metaphorically and think that Islam will come that way. That opinion might not be wrong but we do not find it appropriate to ignore its literal meaning. A hadith may have more than one meaning.

When the sun rises in the west, everybody will believe. However, since the will and preference will not have any meaning then, the door of repentance will be closed. The belief and worshipping of those who have not believed before and their charities will not be accepted and they will have no value. (Muslim, Iman, 248; Ibn Majah, Fitan, 32.) It will be too late.

When the sun rises in the place where it sets, worshipping and testing will end; man’s will will disappear. The door of repentance that is open until then (Ibn Majah, Fitan, 32.) will be closed and repenting will be of no use after that. Pointing out the issue, Badiüzzaman says when the sun rises in the west, there will be no will and preference in man and adds: “If there is no will, there is no accountability. It is because of this mystery and wisdom that miracles are displayed only rarely, and in this realm of accountability, like some allegorical verses of the Qur’an, the signs of the end of the world, which will be visible and seen, are obscure and open to interpretation. Since when the sun rises in the west it will be so clear everyone will be compelled to affirm it, the door of repentance will be closed and repentance and belief will no longer be accepted. For the Abu Bakr’s and the Abu Jahl’s will be equal in their affirmation of it.”(Şuâlar: Rays, 884)

In the hadiths, the issue of “the sun’s rising in the west” is dealt with in its real sense, and it was mentioned in the hadith reported by Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) and in the hadith mentioned above.

Badiuzzaman, whose interpretations we refer to, says that the sun’s rising in the west is stated in its literal sense and that there is no need for interpretations. However, he adds the following: “God knows best, its apparent cause will be this: with the disappearance from the head of the earth of the Qur’an, which is like its intelligence, the earth will go mad. With Divine permission, on another planet colliding with it, its rotation will be reversed. Through Divine will, its journeying from west to east will be reversed to from east to west, and the sun will start to rise in the west. Yes, the Qur’an is ‘the firm cord of God’ which binds the earth to the sun, and the ground to the Divine Throne. If its gravity is broken, the string holding the earth would be undone, it would become dizzy and deranged, and with its reversed uncontrolled motion, the sun would rise in the west. Due to a collision, Doomsday would break forth at the Divine command.”(Şualar: Rays, 496-497)

There will be little time between the sun’s rising in the west and the break of Doomsday. That issue is dealt with in the hadith and it is informed that two people will roll fabrics for shopping but they will not be able to finish shopping and unroll them, that a man will milk his camel but he will not be able to drink it, that another man will prepare the trough to give water to his animals but the animals will not be able to drink water and that a man will take a piece of food to his mouth but Doomsday will break before he eats it.(Bukhari, Fitan, 25; Musnad, II, 313.) However, it should not be thought that they will all take place in a few hours. It is metaphorical like some other issues and it is used in order to state that the time interval is short.

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