This article is to answer Sam Shamoun allegation of contradiction in the Quran on “The place of sunrise and sunset” at Surah 18:86 and Surah 18:90 and on Zulqarnain being Alexander the Great..
Surah 18:86 Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it he found a people: We said: “O Zul-qarnain! (thou hast authority,) either to punish them, or to treat them with kindness.” And Surah 18:90 Until, when he came to the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people for hom We had provided no covering protection against the sun.
First the alleged contradiction above was made that it is scientifically proven that the sun does not go down in a muddy spring. Second: This seems to presuppose a flat earth, otherwise how can there be an extreme point in the West or in the East? It does not say, he went as far as possible on land in these directions and then observed the sun-rise or sun-set while standing at this shore. A sunrise there would be basically just the same as at any other place on this earth, at land or sea. It would still look as if it is setting “far away”. It does say, that he reached THE PLACE where the sun sets and in his second journey the place where it rises. Since the earth is a globe, and the sun millions of miles away from the earth (150 million kilometers on average over the year), the setting of the sun always appears to take place far away, somewhere on or behind the horizon. In phenomenological language it may still be acceptable to speak of “the place where the sun sets” when it is done from the view point of someone who is far away from this place. For example, a traveler could say that he was moving in direction of “where the sun is setting.” However, the Quran goes beyond what is possible in phenomenological language when it states that Zul-Qarnain reached the place where the sun sets, i.e. the Quran is speaking of a human being who traveled to the place of the setting of the sun. Such a statement is wrong in any kind of language, since such a place does not exist on this earth. This is a serious error that was introduced into the Quran because the author mistook a legend to be literal and historical truth.
Furthermore: Yusuf Ali in his commentary reports that Zul-qarnain is thought to be Alexander the Great. And so does the “Concise Dictionary of Islam.” Looking at verses 98-101, this would make Alexander the Great a Muslim — 1000 years before Muhammad. Yet that is for sure not true. The history does not relate that Alexander the Great had any other religion than the pagan Greeks he came from and ruled over. This is historically blatantly false.
It is common knowledge when one speaks of sunset or sunrise it is just an expression of speech there is nothing scientific attached to it. It is known universally from ancient time until the modern time the expression is still the same the sun rise in the east and set in the west. When the sun set it will becomes dark and when it rises the day will become brighter. As a matter of speech in the case of Zulqarnain at Surah 18:86 “when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water” can be taken as a parable that he had travelled deep and far into the west until darkness catch with him and he met with a people at a spring of murky water. Similarly he went far and deep into the east very early in the morning as stated in Surah 18:90 “and Until, when he came to the rising of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had provided no covering protection against the sun.” This is just a simple expression of speech to show Zulqurnain travelled deep west until darkness and started his travel to the east very early. Thus if the Quran is unscientific for using these kind of expression of speech about sunset and sunrise then the Bible is no less being unscientific for using the same expression of speech as stated in the following verses when Jacob face to face with God and sun rose upon him in Genesis 32:30-31 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh And in another example the use of the word sunset on the prophets at Micah 3:6 Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them.
On the claim Zulqurnain being Alexander the Great if made by any Muslim scholar there is no basis as in the Quran Zulqurnain first went deep into the west then only he moved deep into the east whereas Alexander went east never deep into the west of his kingdom.