Surah Ar-Ra’ad or the Thunder, is the 13th chapter of the Quran and the 96th chapter revealed to the Holy Prophet (PBUH). Composed of 43 verses, it is in the 13th Juz of the Holy Book. The goal of the Surah is stressing the power of truth and the weakness of falsehood. There are differences of opinion about whether it is a Makki or Madani Surah (whether it was revealed to the Holy Prophet in Mecca or Medina). Some say it is Makki because of its content while others say that according to the order of revelation it should be Madani.
The name of the Surah refers to the roaring of the sky, which has been referred to as a Tasbeeh (glorification of God) in verse 13 of the chapter: “The thunder exalts His praise, and so are the angels are in awe of Him. He looses the thunderbolts and smites whosoever He will. Yet they dispute about Allah who is Mighty in power.”
In interpreting this verse, some have said that thunder is a sign of God’s greatness and so it invites everyone to Tasbeeh (glorify) God or the thunder itself glorifies God. In another interpretation, it has been said that whoever hears the sound of thunder, he or she would glorify God. There are also supplications to be recited when hearing a thunder.
This chapter talks about Tawheed (monotheism), the power of God, the truthfulness of the Quran and prophethood of the last messenger (PBUH), the Resurrection, and description of the Paradise and hell. The pivotal topics discussed in this Surah are Tawheed, the Resurrection Day, and Wahy (Revelation). It invites mankind to contemplate and reflect on what happened to the people who lived in the past.
Surah Ar-Ra’ad was revealed in response to unbelievers who did not recognize the Quran as a miracle and a sign of God and asked the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to show them a miracle. God, the Almighty, emphasizes in this Surah that the Quran is the truth, one which is not mixed with falsehood.
It contains one of the most important warnings of the Quran to humans and human societies. It is in verse 11: “…Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own condition…” So God does not change the fate of any people and does not punish them unless they take the path of defiance a sins. It is a divine Sunnah (rule) that in any society, if ungratefulness and sin replace thankfulness and obeying God, happiness turns into misery.