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ḥattā
حَتَّىٰٓ
Until,
idhā
إِذَا
when
balagha
بَلَغَ
he reached
maghriba
مَغْرِبَ
(the) setting place
l-shamsi
ٱلشَّمْسِ
(of) the sun,
wajadahā
وَجَدَهَا
he found it
taghrubu
تَغْرُبُ
setting
فِى
in
ʿaynin
عَيْنٍ
a spring
ḥami-atin
حَمِئَةٍ
(of) dark mud,
wawajada
وَوَجَدَ
and he found
ʿindahā
عِندَهَا
near it
qawman
قَوْمًاۗ
a community.
qul'nā
قُلْنَا
We said,
yādhā
يَٰذَا
"O Dhul-qarnain!
l-qarnayni
ٱلْقَرْنَيْنِ
"O Dhul-qarnain!
immā
إِمَّآ
Either
an
أَن
[that]
tuʿadhiba
تُعَذِّبَ
you punish
wa-immā
وَإِمَّآ
or
an
أَن
[that]
tattakhidha
تَتَّخِذَ
you take
fīhim
فِيهِمْ
[in] them
ḥus'nan
حُسْنًا
(with) goodness."

Hattaaa izaa balagha maghribash shamsi wajadahaaa taghrubu fee 'aynin hami'a tinw wa wajada 'indahaa qawmaa; qulnaa yaa Zal Qarnaini immaaa an tu'az ziba wa immaaa an tattakhiza feehim husnaa

Sahih International:

Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it [as if] setting in a spring of dark mud, and he found near it a people. Allah said, "O Dhul-Qarnayn, either you punish [them] or else adopt among them [a way of] goodness."

1 A. J. Arberry

until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and he found nearby a people. We said, 'O Dhool Karnain, either thou shalt chastise them, or thou shalt take towards them a way of kindness.'

2 Abdul Haleem

then, when he came to the setting of the sun, he found it [seemed to be] setting into a muddy spring. Nearby he found some people and We said, ‘Dhu ’l-Qarnayn, you may choose [which of them] to punish or show kindness to.’

3 Abdul Majid Daryabadi

Until when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he perceived it setting in a miry spring, and he found beside it a nation. We said: Zul Qarnian! either chastise them or take in respect of them the way of kindness.

4 Abdullah Yusuf Ali

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."

5 Abul Ala Maududi

until when he reached the very limits where the sun sets, he saw it setting in dark turbid waters; and nearby he met a people. We said: "O Dhu al-Qarnayn, you have the power to punish or to treat them with kindness."

6 Ahmed Ali

Till he reached the point of the setting sun, and saw it set behind a muddy lake, and near it found a people. We said: "O Dhu'l-Qarnain, you may either punish them or treat them with kindness."

7 Ahmed Raza Khan

To the extent that when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a nation there; We said, “O Zul-Qarnain – either punish them or choose kindness for them.”

8 Ali Quli Qarai

When he reached the place where the sun sets, he found it setting over a warm sea, and by it he found a people. We said, ‘O Dhul Qarnayn! You will either punish them, or treat them with kindness.’

9 Ali Ünal

Until, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he saw it setting in a spring of hot and black muddy water, and nearby he found a people. We said: "O Dhu’l-Qarnayn! You can either punish them or you can treat them with kindness. (Which way will you choose?)"

10 Amatul Rahman Omar

So that when he reached (the land of) the setting of the sun, (the western most part of his empire,) he found it (- the sun) disappearing (as if) in a vast muddy pool of murky water (- the Black Sea), and close to it he found a certain people. We said, `Dhul-Qarnain! you may either punish (them) or treat them with kindness. (They being at your disposal.)´

11 English Literal

Until when he reached the sun`s sunset/west , he found it departing/declining (setting) in (at a) water well/spring mixed with black (foul) mud, and he found at it a nation, We said: "You (owner) of the two horns/powers/glories, either that you torture, and either you take in them a goodness/beauty."

12 Faridul Haque

To the extent that when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a nation there; We said, "O Zul-Qarnain – either punish them or choose kindness for them."

13 Hamid S. Aziz

And he followed a way,

14 Hilali & Khan

Until, when he reached the setting place of the sun, he found it setting in a spring of black muddy (or hot) water. And he found near it a people. We (Allah) said (by inspiration): "O Dhul-Qarnain! Either you punish them, or treat them with kindness."

15 Maulana Mohammad Ali

So he followed a course.

16 Mohammad Habib Shakir

Until when he reached the place where the sun set, he found it going down into a black sea, and found by it a people. We said: O Zulqarnain! either give them a chastisement or do them a benefit.

17 Mohammed Marmaduke William Pickthall

Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout. We said: O Dhu'l-Qarneyn! Either punish or show them kindness.

18 Muhammad Sarwar

to the West where he found the sun setting into a warm source (spring) of water and a people living near by. We asked him, "Dhu 'l-Qarnayn, you may punish them or treat them with kindness?"

19 Qaribullah & Darwish

until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and nearby he found a nation. 'ThulKarnain' We said, 'you must either punish them or show them kindness'

20 Safi-ur-Rahman al-Mubarakpuri

Until, when he reached the setting place of the sun, he found it setting in a spring of Hami'ah. And he found near it a people. We said: "O Dhul-Qarnayn! Either you punish them or treat them with kindness."

21 Wahiduddin Khan

until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it setting in a spring of murky water and near it he found some people. We said, "Dhu'l-Qarnayn! You can either punish them or else you can treat them with gentleness."

22 Talal Itani

Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it setting in a murky spring, and found a people in its vicinity. We said, “O Zul-Qarnain, you may either inflict a penalty, or else treat them kindly.”

23 Tafsir jalalayn

until, when he reached the setting of the sun, the place where it sets, he found it setting in a muddy spring (`ayn hami'a; [a spring] containing ham'a, which is black clay); its setting in a spring is [described as seen] from the perspective of the eye, for otherwise it is far larger [in size] than this world; and he found by it, that is, [by] the spring, a folk, of disbelievers. We said, `O Dh'l-Qarnayn -- by [means of] inspiration -- either chastise, the folk, by slaying [them], or treat them kindly', by [merely] taking them captive.

24 Tafseer Ibn Kathir

حَتَّى إِذَا بَلَغَ مَغْرِبَ الشَّمْسِ



Until, when he reached the setting place of the sun,

means, he followed a route until he reached the furthest point that could be reached in the direction of the sun's setting, which is the west of the earth.

As for the idea of his reaching the place in the sky where the sun sets, this is something impossible, and the tales told by storytellers that he traveled so far to the west that the sun set behind him are not true at all. Most of these stories come from the myths of the People of the Book and the fabrications and lies of their heretics.

وَجَدَهَا تَغْرُبُ فِي عَيْنٍ حَمِيَةٍ

he found it setting in a spring of Hami'ah,

meaning, he saw the sun as if it were setting in the ocean. This is something which everyone who goes to the coast can see;it looks as if the sun is setting into the sea but in fact it never leaves its path in which it is fixed.
Hami'ah is, according to one of the two views, derived from the word Hama'ah, which means mud.

This is like the Ayah;

إِنِّى خَـلِقٌ بَشَرًا مِّن صَلْصَـلٍ مِّنْ حَمَإٍ مَّسْنُونٍ

"I am going to create a man (Adam) from dried clay of altered Hama'h (mud). (15;28),

which means smooth mud, as we have discussed above.

وَوَجَدَ عِندَهَا قَوْمًا

And he found near it a people.

meaning a nation.

They mentioned that they were a great nation from among the sons of Adam.

قُلْنَا يَا ذَا الْقَرْنَيْنِ إِمَّا أَن تُعَذِّبَ وَإِمَّا أَن تَتَّخِذَ فِيهِمْ حُسْنًا



We (Allah) said (by inspiration);"O Dhul-Qarnayn! Either you punish them or treat them with kindness."

means, Allah gave him power over them and gave him the choice;if he wanted to, he could kill the men and take the women and children captive, or if he wanted to, he could set them free, with or without a ransom. His justice and faith became apparent in the ruling he pronounced