Duluk of the sun (17:78)


I am confused as to the correct meaning of "dulook al-shams" in 17:78. Some translators say it is the "declining" of the sun from it's highest point? Yet others interpret these words as sunset. Can you please shed some light on this issue?


As usual, God gives us the explanations of all things in the Quran:

We brought the Book down to you providing explanations for all things, guidance, mercy, and good news for the Submitters.

The proof of the correct meaning of
"duluk Al-Shams" is given in the same verse, so let us first read the words:

Observe the Salat from the duluk of the sun until the darkness of the night, as well as the Quran at dawn; the Quran at dawn is witnessed.

Let us first look at the words
"darkness of the night" (ghasaq al-layl). These words mark the end of this Salat.
When exactly does the "darkness of the night" occur?
For this point in time to be fulfilled, two conditions must be present:

There must be darkness in the sky
2- It must also be night.

With regards to the darkness, we know that the darkness starts to creep in a little bit before sunset. During the hour or so before sunset and the hour or so after sunset we see the night and the day merging into one another. In other words, the darkness and the light merge into one another:

That is because God 'yulig' (merges) the night into the day, and merges the day into the night.

Thus we have a bit of darkness (merging into the light) even before sunset.

As for the "night", it is defined in the Quran as the time between sunset and sunrise, see "Quranic definition of the Night".

The first point in time when we have both
"darkness" and also "night" is as soon as the sun has set. Before sunset there is a bit of darkness creeping in, but the night has not started yet, but any time as soon as the sun has set, we have darkness and it is also night time.
In the above analysis of "darkness of the night" we have the proof of the correct meaning of "duluk" of the sun. The word "duluk" of the sun marks the start of this Salat. As a result it must be a point in time before sunset (which as we have seen is the end of this Salat).

It follows that those who say that the
"duluk" of the sun is sunset itself are saying that both the start and end of this Salat are sunset! This obviously cannot be possible and that is their wrong definition of "duluk" is exposed. The "duluk" of the sun must be a time before sunset.
When we observe the apparent movement of the sun in our sky, we find only three changes in this movement.

1- The sun rises above the horizon
2- The sun declines from its highest point in the sky
3- The Sun sets below the horizon.

It follows that the
"duluk" (decline) of the sun can only be the decline of the sun from its highest point in the sky which happens at midday.
The words in 17:78 give us the time for the Wusta Salat (2:238). The word Wusta means ‘Middle’. This Salat is called the “Middle” Salat because it starts when the sun is exactly half way in its movement across our sky.