An Introduction to Surat Ar-Ra`d (The Thunder)
Name of the Surah
Ar-Ra`d (the Thunder):
It was named after the word ‘thunder’ that is mentioned in the following verse:
And the thunder exalts [Allah] with praise of Him – and the angels [as well] from fear of Him – and He sends thunderbolts and strikes there with whom He wills… (Ar-Ra`d 13:13)
Period of Revelation
This Surah was revealed in the last stage of the Mission of the Prophet (peace be upon him) at Makkah and during the same period in which the chapters of Yunus, Hud and Al- Al-`Araf were sent down.
Theme of the Surah
The main theme of the surah, like all Makkan revelations, is faith and the main issues which surround it; God’s oneness and Lordship, submission to Him in this world and in the life to come, revelation, resurrection and its correlatives. Yet this single issue with its multiple strands is never presented in the same way in any two surahs, whether revealed in Makkah or Madinah. Every time we find it presented in a new way and new light, generating a different impact and inspiration.
Topics of the Surah
1- The surah takes the human heart on a grand tour, showing it the universe in a variety of spectacular images: the heavens raised without support; the sun and the moon pursuing their courses for a definite time; the night covered by day; the spread of the earth with its firm mountains and running rivers; gardens, plants and date trees with different shapes, tastes and colors yet growing in adjacent land irrigated with the same water.
2- The Surah also shows the spectacular image of the lightning generating fear and hope; the thunder glorifying and praising God; the angels standing in awe; the thunderbolt God hurls against whomever He wishes; the clouds heavy with rain that pours over riverbeds; and the foam that disappears into nothing to allow what is of benefit to stay.
3- The surah pursues the human heart wherever it tries to go. This pursuit is based on God’s absolute knowledge which encompasses every little detail, including what is concealed or moving openly in broad daylight. It is the knowledge that records every fleeting thought occurring to any living thing.
4- The surah gives an impression of the nature of God’s power that encompasses the entire universe: the hidden and the apparent, large and small, present and removed. The part of the universe that human faculties can imagine is great and awesome indeed.
5- The surah includes some parables that are presented in vivid, moving scenes and images. It also adds a scene of the Day of Judgment, with its happiness for some and suffering for others, and people’s reactions to both. There are also brief references to the fate of earlier generations and how they conducted themselves, and were subjected to God’s law and its operation.
Sayyed Abu A`la Maududi’s Tafhim Al-Qur’an.
Sayyid Qutb’s Fi Zhilal Al-Qur’an.