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Quran Chapter 13 [part 1] - The Thunder - God Knows the Obvious and the Unseen, God’s Promise

A Medinan sura that takes its title from the thunder that praises God in verse 13. The sura is distinguished by its moving description of God’s power and knowledge. Muhammad’s place is alongside a long tradition of prophets, none of whom could produce miracles on request. His role emphasized: it is only to deliver the message. God is the One who will call people to account for their deeds, and He is the witness for the truth of the message.

In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy

Where is God?

1 Alif Lam Mim Ra

These are the signs of the Scripture. What your Lord has sent down to you [Prophet] is the truth, yet most people do not believe. 2 It is God who raised up the heavens with no visible supports and then established Himself on the throne; He has subjected the sun and the moon each to pursue its course for an appointed time; He regulates all things, and makes the revelations clear so that you may be certain of meeting your Lord; 3 it is He who spread out the earth, placed firm mountains and rivers on it, and made two of every kind of fruit; He draws the veil of night over the day. There truly are signs in this for people who reflect. 4 There are, in the land, neighboring plots, gardens of vineyards, cornfields, palm trees in clusters or otherwise, all watered with the same water, yet We make some of them taste better than others: there truly are signs in this for people who reason.

God Knows the Obvious and the Unseen

5 If anything can amaze you [Prophet], then you should surely be amazed at their asking, ‘What? When we become dust, shall we be created anew?’ These are the ones who deny their Lord, who will wear iron collars around their necks and be the inhabitants of the Fire, there to remain. 6 They ask you to bring on the punishment rather than any promised rewards, though there have been many examples before them––your Lord is full of forgiveness for people, despite their wrongdoing, but He is truly severe in punishment. 7 The disbelievers say, ‘Why has no miracle been sent down to him from his Lord?’ But you are only there to give warning: [earlier] communities each had their guide.

8 God knows what every female bears and how much their wombs shrink or swell– everything has its measure with Him; 9 He knows what is not seen as well as what is seen; He is the Great, the Most High. 10 It makes no difference whether any of you speak secretly or aloud, whether you are hiding under cover of night or walking about in the day: 11 each person has guardian angels before him and behind, watching over him by God’s command. God does not change the condition of a people [for the worse] [a] unless they change what is in themselves, but if He wills harm on a people, no one can ward it off–– apart from Him, they have no protector.

12 It is He who shows you the lightning, inspiring fear and hope; He builds up the clouds heavy with rain; 13 the thunder sounds His praises, as do the angels in awe of Him; He sends thunderbolts to strike whoever He will. Yet still they dispute about God– He has mighty plans. 14 The only true prayer is to Him: those they pray to besides Him give them no answer any more than water reaches the mouth of someone who simply stretches out his hands for it– it cannot do so: the prayers of the disbelievers are all in vain. 15 All that are in heaven and earth submit [b] to God alone, willingly or unwillingly, as do their shadows in the mornings and in the evenings.

Who are the Believers?

16 Say [Prophet], ‘Who is Lord of the heavens and the earth?’ Say, ‘God.’ Say, ‘Why do you take protectors other than Him, who can neither benefit nor harm even themselves?’ Say, ‘Are the blind equal to those who can see? And are the depths of darkness equal to the light?’ Have the partners they assign to God created anything like His creation so that their creation is indistinguishable from His? Say, ‘God is the Creator of all things: He is the One, the All Compelling.’ 17 He sends water from the sky that fills riverbeds to overflowing, each according to its measure. The stream carries on its surface a growing layer of froth, like the froth that appears when people melt metals in the fire to make ornaments and tools: in this way God illustrates truth and falsehood– the froth disappears, but what is of benefit to man stays behind– this is how God makes illustrations. 18 There will be the best of rewards for those who respond to their Lord; those who do not respond would willingly give away the earth’s contents twice over, if they had it, in order to ransom themselves, so terrible will be their reckoning. Hell will be their home, and their bed wretched.

19 Can someone who knows that the revelation from your Lord is the Truth be equal to someone who is blind? Only those with understanding will take it to heart; 20 those who fulfil the agreements they make in God’s name and do not break their pledges; 21 who join together what God commands to be joined; who are in awe of their Lord and fear the harshness of the Reckoning; 22 who remain steadfast through their desire for the face of their Lord; who keep up the prayer; who give secretly and openly from what We have provided for them; who repel evil with good. These will have the reward of the [true] home: 23 they will enter perpetual Gardens, along with their righteous ancestors, spouses, and descendants; the angels will go in to them from every gate, 24 ‘Peace be with you, because you have remained steadfast. What an excellent reward is this home of yours!’ 25 But there will be rejection for those who break their confirmed agreements made in God’s name, who break apart what God has commanded to be joined and who spread corruption on earth: theirs is the dreadful home– 26 God gives abundantly to whoever He will, and sparingly to whoever He will– and though they may revel in the life of this world, it is but a fleeting comfort compared with the Life to come.

God’s Promise

27 The disbelievers say, ‘Why has no miracle been sent down to him from his Lord?’ [Prophet], say, ‘God leaves whoever He will to stray, and guides to Himself those who turn towards Him, 28 those who have faith and whose hearts find peace in the remembrance of God– truly it is in the remembrance of God that hearts find peace– 29 those who believe and do righteous deeds: joy awaits these, and their final homecoming will be excellent.’ 30 So We have sent you [Prophet] to a community– other communities passed away long before them– to recite to them what We reveal to you. Yet they disbelieve in the Lord of Mercy. Say, ‘He is my Lord: there is no god but Him. I put my trust in Him and to Him is my return.’ 31 If there were ever to be a Quran with which mountains could be moved, the earth shattered, or the dead made to speak [it would have been this one], [c] but everything is truly in God’s hands. Do the believers not realize that if God had so willed, He could have guided all mankind? As for the disbelievers, because of their misdeeds, disaster will not cease to afflict them or fall close to their homes until God’s promise is fulfilled: God never fails to keep His promise.


a. Cf. 8: 53; 16: 112.

b. Or ‘prostrate’: shadows submit to God’s laws in nature and also stretch out on the ground as if prostrating. Sajada has both meanings.

c. Or ‘[they still would not believe]’.

The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics)

The Qur'an / a new translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, copyright © 2004 Oxford World's Classics (Oxford University Press). Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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