The Quran on Clouds
Scientists have studied cloud types and have realized that
rain clouds are formed and shaped according to definite systems and certain
steps connected with certain types of wind and clouds.
One kind of rain cloud is the cumulonimbus cloud.
Meteorologists have studied how cumulonimbus clouds are formed and how they
produce rain, hail, and lightning.
They have found that cumulonimbus clouds go through the
following steps to produce rain:
1) The clouds are pushed by the wind: Cumulonimbus clouds
begin to form when wind pushes some small pieces of clouds (cumulus clouds) to
an area where these clouds converge (see figures 17 and 18).
Figure 17: Satellite photo showing the
clouds moving towards the convergence areas B, C, and D. The arrows indicate
the directions of the wind. (The Use of Satellite Pictures in Weather Analysis
and Forecasting, Anderson and others, p. 188.)
Figure 18: Small pieces of clouds
(cumulus clouds) moving towards a convergence zone near the horizon, where we
can see a large cumulonimbus cloud. (Clouds and Storms, Ludlam, plate 7.4.)
2) Joining: Then the small clouds join together forming a
(see figures 18 and 19).
Figure 19: (A) Isolated small pieces
of clouds (cumulus clouds). (B) When the small clouds join together, updrafts
within the larger cloud increase, so the cloud is stacked up. Water drops are
indicated by ·. (The Atmosphere, Anthes and others, p. 269.)
3) Stacking: When the small clouds join together, updrafts
within the larger cloud increase. The updrafts near the center of the cloud are
stronger than those near the edges.2
These updrafts cause the cloud body to grow vertically, so the cloud is stacked
up (see figures 19 (B), 20, and 21). This vertical growth causes the cloud body
to stretch into cooler regions of the atmosphere, where drops of water and hail
formulate and begin to grow larger and larger. When these drops of water and
hail become too heavy for the updrafts to support them, they begin to fall from
the cloud as rain, hail, etc.3
Figure 20: A cumulonimbus cloud.
After the cloud is stacked up, rain comes out of it. (Weather and Climate, Bodin,
Figure 21: A cumulonimbus cloud. (A
Colour Guide to Clouds, Scorer and Wexler, p. 23.)
Allah has said in the Quran:
Have you not seen how Allah makes the
clouds move gently, then joins them together, then makes them into a stack, and
then you see the rain come out of it.... (Quran, 24:43)
Meteorologists have only recently come to know these details
of cloud formation, structure, and function by using advanced equipment like
planes, satellites, computers, balloons, and other equipment, to study wind and
its direction, to measure humidity and its variations, and to determine the
levels and variations of atmospheric pressure.4
The preceding verse, after mentioning clouds and rain,
speaks about hail and lightning:
....And He sends down hail from
mountains (clouds) in the sky, and He strikes with it whomever He wills, and
turns it from whomever He wills. The vivid flash of its lightning nearly blinds
the sight. (Quran, 24:43)
Meteorologists have found that these cumulonimbus clouds,
that shower hail, reach a height of 25,000 to 30,000 ft (4.7 to 5.7 miles),5
like mountains, as the Quran said, “...And He sends down
hail from mountains (clouds) in the sky...” (see figure 21 above).
This verse may raise a question. Why does the verse say
“its lightning” in a reference to the hail? Does this mean that hail is the
major factor in producing lightning? Let us see what the book entitled
Meteorology Today says about this. It says that a cloud becomes electrified as
hail falls through a region in the cloud of supercooled droplets and ice
liquid droplets collide with a hailstone, they freeze on contact and release
latent heat. This keeps the surface of the hailstone warmer than that of the
surrounding ice crystals. When the hailstone comes in contact with an ice
crystal, an important phenomenon occurs: electrons flow from the colder object
toward the warmer object. Hence, the hailstone becomes negatively charged. The
same effect occurs when supercooled droplets come in contact with a hailstone
and tiny splinters of positively charged ice break off. These lighter
positively charged particles are then carried to the upper part of the cloud by
updrafts. The hail, left with a negative charge, falls towards the bottom of
the cloud, thus the lower part of the cloud becomes negatively charged. These
negative charges are then discharged as lightning.6
We conclude from this that hail is the major factor in producing lightning.
This information on lightning was discovered recently.
Until 1600 AD, Aristotle’s ideas on meteorology were dominant. For example, he
said that the atmosphere contains two kinds of exhalation, moist and dry. He
also said that thunder is the sound of the collision of the dry exhalation with
the neighboring clouds, and lightning is the inflaming and burning of the dry
exhalation with a thin and faint fire.7
These are some of the ideas on meteorology that were dominant at the time of the
Quran’s revelation, fourteen centuries ago.
(1) See The Atmosphere, Anthes and
others, pp. 268-269, and Elements of Meteorology, Miller and Thompson, p. 141.
(2) The updrafts near the center are
stronger, because they are protected from the cooling effects by the outer
portion of the cloud.
(3) See The Atmosphere, Anthes and
others, p. 269, and Elements of Meteorology, Miller and Thompson, pp. 141-142.
(4) See Ee’jaz al-Quran al-Kareem
fee Wasf Anwa’ al-Riyah, al-Sohob, al-Matar, Makky and others, p. 55.
(5) Elements of Meteorology, Miller
and Thompson, p. 141.
(6) Meteorology Today, Ahrens, p.
(7) The Works of Aristotle
Translated into English: Meteorologica, vol. 3, Ross and others, pp. 369a-369b.