Comments on Sura ar-Ra’d 13

Ibn Abbas said: The Jews came to Muhammad and said: Tell us about the thunder. What is it? He said: ‘One of the angels who is entrusted with the clouds. He has entwined shreds of fire with which he drives the clouds wherever Allah wills.’ They said: what is this sound then, which is heard? He said: It is his rebuke to the clouds, that they should stop where they have been commanded. They said: you said (or have spoken) the truth. This Hadith has been reported by al-Tirmidhi (Tafsir Sura ar-Ra’d 13:1; Ahmed b.Hanbal I. 274). 

As is commonly known, thunder is the result of the collision of positive and negative ions in clouds. It is also known that animism which holds that every natural force has a spirit that drives it. This belief prevailed in the Eastern religions and in ancient philosophy.

Muhammad was agitated and walked to and fro when he saw a dark cloud in the sky.  

Narrated Ata: ‘Aisha said If the Prophet saw a cloud In the sky, he would walk to and fro in agitation, go out and come in, and the color of his face would change, and if it rained, he would feel relaxed.” So ‘Aisha knew that state of his. So the Prophet said, I don’t know (am afraid), it may be similar to what happened to some people referred to in the Holy Qur’an in the following Verse: — “Then when they saw it as a dense cloud coming towards their valleys, they said, ‘This is a cloud bringing us rain!’ Nay, but, it is that (torment) which you were asking to be hastened a wind wherein is severe torment.” (46.24) Sahih al-Bukhari Volume 4, Book 54, Number 428

‘Ata’ b. Abi Rabah reported that he heard ‘A’isha, the wife of the Apostle of Allah (way peace be upon him), as saying: When there was on any day windstorm or dark cloud (its effects) could be read on the face of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him), and he moved forward and backward (in a state of anxiety) ; and when it rained, he was delighted and it (the state of restlessness) disappeared. ‘A’isha said: I asked him the reason of this anxiety and he said: I was afraid that it might be a calamity that might fall upon my Ummah, and when he saw rainfall he said: It is the mercy (of Allah). Sahih Muslim Book 004, Number 1961

Being superstitious, he thought that angels were the forces behind lightening and thunder. He was anxious over the omen of dark clouds.

May 23, 2001