In the following verse, however, attention is drawn to the link between rain clouds and lightning, and to the order of formation, information that parallels that discovered by science:
Or [their likeness is] that of a storm-cloud in the sky, full of darkness, thunder and lightning. They put their fingers in their ears against the thunderclaps, fearful of death… (Qur'an, 2:19)
Rain clouds are tremendous masses covering 20 to 260 square metres (10 to 100 square miles) and reaching great vertical heights of 9,000 to 12,000 metres (30,000 to 40,000 ft.). Due to these extraordinary dimensions, the lower part of these clouds are dark. It is impossible for the Sun's rays to pass through them, because of the large quantities of water and ice particles they contain. Very little solar energy therefore reaches the Earth through the clouds, which is why the clouds appear dark to someone looking up at them.58
The stages of the formation of thunder and lightning after that darkness, mentioned in the verse, are as follows: An electrical charge forms inside the rain cloud. This comes about as a result of such processes as freezing, the division of raindrops and charge formation during contact. The accumulation of such electrical charges, when the air between becomes unable to insulate them, leads to a great spark, a discharge between the positive and negative fields. The voltage between two oppositely charged areas can reach 1 billion volts. The spark can also form within the cloud, can cross between two clouds, from a positively charged area to a negative one, or be discharged from the cloud to the ground. These sparks form dazzling lightning strikes. This sudden increase in the electrical charge along the line of lightning causes intense heat (10,000 degrees Centigrade). As a result, there is a sudden expansion of the air, which in turn causes the loud noise associated with thunder.59
The thunder glorifies His praise, as do the angels, out of fear of Him. He discharges the thunderbolts, striking with them anyone He wills. Yet still they argue about Allah when He is inexorable in His power! (Qur’an, 13:13)
As has been discussed, dark layers, followed by the electrically charged sparks known as lightning, and then the loud noise called thunder, form within a rain cloud. Everything modern science has established about clouds, and has to say about the causes of thunder and lightning, is in complete accord with the descriptions in the Qur'an.
57. C. Donald Ahrens, Meteorology Today: An Introduction to Weather, Climate and Environment, 3rd ed. (St. Paul: West Publishing Company: 1988), 437.58. Athar Lila, “The Quran and Modern Physics,” 10 December 1998, http://webhome.idirect.com/~alila/Writings/Physics.htm.59. Ibid.