Thunder and lightning in religions

A Senior Citizen | .

On Monday, March 30 afternoon there was a thunder storm, with strong wind rain, loud thunder and lightning that continued for nearly an hour. My house electricity tripped. Everything was very quiet except for the constant loud sound of thunder, wind and rain.

My first thoughts were about the problem of fetching my grandchildren after school. On a usual rain free day, it is bad enough because most parents with cars have no regard for others. If they can have it their way they would drive straight to the class to fetch their children. The school, with its excellent children friendly guards and volunteers, has tried every mean possible to make thing orderly but failed because a few ‘Kiasu’ parents do not co-operate. A few seconds of delay is life and death matter to them. Shamelessly, they break all the traffic rules with immunity. They forget that their children are learning from them. Sometimes the traffic near the school is at a complete stand-still because someone had left the car unattended in the middle of road.

The mosque near the school has been kind enough to help by opening its gates for parents to park their cars and walk 50metres to the school to fetch their children. The community centre, 200 metres away, is a disgrace to the Selangor government. It is more of a dead white elephant breeding flies and mosquitoes. With proper planning of activities it can boost sports and recreational activities for the residents in Bandar Utama. Even a food court will encourage people to go there.

The thunder storm was a good time to reflect about religions and how helpless everything in nature is. I started referring to the Quran to see what is said about rain, thunder and lightning. Later when electricity was restored, I made more references in the computer.

According to an article by Prof Dr. Ibrahim Khalid of Egypt, in Google search, the word ‘lightning’ is mentioned in the Quran 5 times while it is mentioned 9 times more or 46 times in the Bible. The Prof explains that this difference is proportionate to the total number of words in the Quran (77,473) and the Bible (788,280).

I do not agree with him because one look at the context and meaning of the verses will show that the Quran is a book of knowledge which only the creator of the universe would have known. There is so much unknown and undiscovered knowledge in the Quran waiting for discovery, science and technological progress to invent only to find that the Quran had mentioned them already in the 6th century via the revelation to Prophet Muhammad.

What does the Quran say about ‘Thunder and Lightning’ (T&D)?

In surah 2:  Al Baqarah, verses 8 to 20 useT&L is mentioned twice to describe hypocrites’ attitude towards Allah. The use of T&L as agents of ‘fear and hope’ is really remarkable. The Quran also talks about ‘the rain-laden cloud from the sky: in it are zones of darkness T&L’. Hearing and seeing are two senses involved when T&L happens. Allah has the power over all things.

Surah 30:24:  Lightning is used to show ‘fear and hope’. There is also mention of rain, which give ‘life to the earth after it is dead’. Ref: The Meaning of the Quran by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (AYA)

Surah 24:43: Describes what happens in the clouds. “See you not that Allah makes the clouds move gently, then joins them together, then makes them into a heap?... then will you see rain issue forth from their midst. And He sends down from the sky mountain masses (of clouds) wherein is hail. He strikes therewith whom He pleases and turns it away from whom He pleases. The vivid flashes of His lightning well-nigh blinds the sight. (AYA)

Surah 13:12: It is He Who does show you the lightning by way both of fear and hope: it is He Who does raise up the clouds heavy with (fertilizing) rain. (AYA))

The Prof explains that verse (13:12) describes a vital phenomenon. It is the important role of the winds in fertilizing the negatively charged and the positively charged clouds. The vital phenomenon leads to the formation of Rain.

The 49 references to T&L in the Bible mostly deal with the power of god using T&L as a weapon. Statements like the Lord shooting, striking and destroying using T&L are frequent. The word ‘arrow’ as lightning symbol is used many times.

In Hinduism, the deity Indra controls thunder, lightning, wind and rain. He is one of the protective deities. He is the enemy of Mara. Indra –known as Sakra in the Hindu Vedas is the leader of all Devas or gods. He wields a lightning thunder bolt known as Vajra and rides a white elephant. Indra is the supreme deity.

Mara is mentioned as–Death, the ‘Evil one,the Buddhist Devil or principle of destruction, so called because he takes away the wisdom-life of all living being.Ref:!.Susan Murcott – First Buddhist Women: Poem and stories of Awakening. 2. Wikipedia

Of course, it will requires someone with more knowledge and understanding to dwell in roots or true meanings of what I have written about the other religions. I am only looking at them from the literal understanding of the language and some of the references mentioned above.

I am glad I spent a few days looking up references about T&L. I wish our preachers, imams, JAIS, MAIS and other Islamic bodies will dwell in this kind of research to spread Islam. Let every Friday sermon (khutbah) be a learning experience for the masses. Don’t wait until Nuzul Quran holiday to teach about the Quran. 

During my reference work, many times I found the word ‘FEAR’ being attributed to the existence of religions. In Islam this should not be the case because Al Fatiha teaches us to be just, merciful and seek the right path.These are things to be done with pride not fear. Also, the known and yet to be known facts and knowledge in Quran, which we recite during prayers, stand very well when we compare with other religions.

The dos and don’ts connection with heaven and hell is a guide to a good life in this world and the Hereafter. In the final analysis, we are all answerable for own own deeds. I pray Allah, will give us the strength to spread true knowledge found in the Quran. One way to do this is to pre announce the surah and its meaning, so that the congregation will come prepared. The beauty and joy of praying is enhanced when we know the meaning of what is in the content.

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