DIFFERENT POINTS IN THE RISING AND SETTING OF THE
No! I swear by the Lord of the Easts and Wests
that We have the power. (Qur'an, 70:40)
Lord of the heavens and the earth and everything
between them; Lord of the Easts. (Qur'an, 37:5)
The Lord of the two Easts and the Lord of the
two Wests. (Qur'an, 55:17)
As can be discerned, the words east and west are used in the plural
sense in the above verses. For instance, the word "mashariq,"
used in the first verse for "east," and the word "magharib"
used for "west," are in plural form, indicating that there are two
of each. The words "mashriqayn" and "maghribayn"
in the last verse are used for two easts and two wests. "Mashariq"
and "magharib" also mean the place where the Sun rises
and sets. The above verses are therefore referring to different
sites of the dawning and closing of the day. It is also worthy of
note that the vow is taken by the Lord of "the easts and wests"
in the first verse.
The axis around which the earth revolves itself is at an angle
of 23° 27'. Due to that angle, and the spherical shape of the Earth,
the light rays from the Sun do not always strike it at the same
angle. This means that since the Sun's rays fall on that area at
different angles, someone far away from the equator will observe
the Sun rising at different points in the east and setting at different
points in the west. The further away from the equator that person
is the more different points he will identify for the dawning and
closing of the day.
Someone at the equator, however, will always observe that the Sun
rises exactly in the east and sets exactly in the west, since the
Sun's rays always fall perpendicularly there. Bearing in mind that
the Arabian peninsula is not that far from the equator, it would
appear impossible for such an observation to be made there. That
is because someone in that region would see that the Sun always
rises at the same point, and always sets at the same point. The
expression regarding east and west in the above verses may be indicating
the Sun rising and setting at different points. (Allah knows best.)