English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 13: Al-Rad — The Thunder (Revealed at Makkah: 6 sections, 43 verses)

Section 2 (Verses 13:8–13:18): Fall and Rise of Nations


13:8 Allah knows what every female bears, and what the wombs fall short of completing and what they grow.1 And everything with Him has a measure.
13:9 The Knower of the unseen and the seen, the Great, the Most High.
13:10 Alike (to Him) among you is he who conceals the word and he who speaks openly, and he who hides himself by night and (who) goes forth by day.2
13:11 For him are (angels) guarding the consequences (of his deeds), before him and behind him, who guard him by Allah’s command.3 Surely Allah does not change the condition of a people, until they change their own condition. And when Allah intends harm to a people, there is no averting it, and besides Him they have no protector.
13:12 He it is Who shows you lightning causing fear and hope and (Who) brings up the heavy cloud.
13:13 And thunder celebrates His praise, and the angels too for awe of Him. And He sends thunderbolts and strikes with them whom He pleases, yet they dispute concerning Allah, and He is Mighty in prowess.
13:14 To Him is due the true prayer. And those to whom they pray besides Him give them no answer, but (they are) like one who stretches forth his two hands towards water that it may reach his mouth, but it will not reach it. And the prayer of the disbelievers is only wasted.
13:15 And whoever is in the heavens and the earth makes submission to Allah only, willingly and unwillingly, and their shadows, too, morning and evening.Prostration
13:16 Say: Who is the Lord of the heavens and the earth? Say: Allah. Say: Do you then take besides Him, guardians who control no benefit or harm even for themselves? Say: Are the blind and the seeing alike? Or, are darkness and light equal? Or, have they set up with Allah partners who have created creation like His, so that what is created became confused to them? Say: Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is the One, the Supreme.
13:17 He sends down water from the clouds, then watercourses flow according to their measure, and the torrent bears along the swelling foam. And a scum like it arises from what they melt in the fire for the sake of making ornaments or tools.4 Thus does Allah compare truth and falsehood. Then as for the scum, it passes away as a worthless thing; and as for that which benefits people, it remains behind in the earth. Thus does Allah set forth parables.5
13:18 For those who respond to their Lord is good. And as for those who do not respond to Him, even if they had all that is in the earth and as much again, they would certainly offer it for a ransom. As for those, theirs is an evil reckoning and their abode is hell; and evil is the resting-place.


  1. The physical law of nature is spoken of here with a deeper reference to the spiritual law, according to which some receive a new birth through the Prophet and others do not. The subject is made clearer in the verses that follow.
  2. A general law is given expression to here, with a deeper reference to the secret and open counsels against the Holy Prophet and to enemies seeking his life by day and by night.
  3. While the statement is no doubt general and refers to the guardian angels referred to in 6:61, there is a deeper allusion to the Divine protection specially granted to the Holy Prophet against the numerous enemies among whom he lived day and night. The angels guard the consequences of the deeds of man, and are therefore spoken of here as guarding him, i.e., guarding whatever he does, by Allah’s command.
  4. The word used includes here all kinds of things necessary for the life of man, such as utensils, tools, implements, and instruments of war.
  5. The parable set forth here signifies that the Holy Prophet and his followers will live and prosper, as they work for the good of mankind. On the other hand, evil practices and worthless usages and customs, as well as those who uphold them, will be swept away before the mighty current of Truth, as rubbish is borne away by a torrent.