The thunder is an Angel according to islam

Chapter 13 is a chapter called Ar-Ra’d (The thunder). In verse 13, we read the following:

The thunder hymneth His praise and (so do) the angels for awe of Him. He launcheth the thunderbolts and smiteth with them whom He will while they dispute (in doubt) concerning Allah, and He is mighty in wrath.

The Quran says that thunder glorifies Allah. Is this merely a poetic way of describing things, or is there more to this? Let us look further into muslim texts.

(The thunder hymneth His praise) by His command; it is an angel; it is also said: it is the voice of the sky (and (so do) the angels) and also the angels hymn His praise (for awe of Him) the angels have awe towards Allah. (He launcheth the thunder bolts) i.e. fire (and smiteth with them whom He will) He destroys by means of fire whoever He will, referring here to Zayd Ibn Qays whom Allah destroyed by fire, along with his friend ‘Amir Ibn al-Tufayl who was killed as a result of being stabbed in his waist (while they dispute (in doubt) concerning Allah) while they dispute with Muhammad (pbuh) concerning the Religion of Allah, (and He is mighty in wrath) His chastisement is severe. [1]

In the tafsir text above we clearly see that the thunder is actually an angel according to islam! al-Jalalayn also states the same thing, as we see in the following tafsir:

And the thunder — this is an angel, who is in charge of the clouds, driving them, [while he] constantly, proclaims His praise, that is, he says, ‘Glory be to God through His praise’ (subhāna’Llāh wa-bi-hamdihi), and so too the angels, proclaim His praise, in awe of Him, that is, of God. He unleashes the thunderbolts — these are a fire which issues forth from the clouds — and smites with them whom He will, such that it burns [that person]: this was revealed regarding a man to whom the Prophet (s) had sent someone to invite [to Islam] and who said, ‘Who is the Messenger of God? And what is God? Is He [made] of gold, or of silver, or of copper?’, whereupon a thunderbolt came down on him and blew off the top of his head; yet they, that is, the disbelievers, dispute, argue with the Prophet (s), about God, though He is great in might, in power, or in [the severity of His] retribution. [2]

al-Jalalayn further  explains how this supposed angel drives the clouds. According to al-Jalalayn this angel sent his thunderbolt to blow off the head of a person that refused to accept Muhammad as a true prophet of Allah.

A hadith also witness of this fact.

“The Jews came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said: ‘O Abul-Qasim! Inform us about the thunder, what is it?’ He said: ‘An angel among the angels, who is responsible for the clouds. He has a piece of fire wherever that he drives the clouds wherever Allah wills.’ They said: ‘Then what is this noise we hear?’ He said: ‘It is him, striking the clouds when he drives them on, until it goes where it is ordered.’ They said: ‘You have told the truth.’ They said: ‘Then inform us about what Isra’il made unlawful for himself.’ He said: ‘He suffered from sciatica, and he could not find anything agreeable due to it (to consume) except for camel meat and its milk. So for that reason he made it unlawful.’ They said: ‘You have told the truth.'” [3]

So, from these muslim sources, we can conclude:

  1. The thunder is an angel according to islam, not a natural phenomenon
  2. This Angel is also driving the clouds before him
  3. Allah punishes people with thunderbolts

[1] Tafsir Ibn Abbas on Quran 13:13
2] Tafsir al-Jalalayn on Quran 13:13
3] Jami` at-Tirmidhi Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3117

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