The Prophet-King Suleyman (Solomon) had God-given power over winds:
So We subjected to him the wind blowing by his command (Quran 38:36).
At times, Suleyman commanded the wind to blow “gently” (Quran 38:36) and at times he commanded it to blow “forcefully”. (Quran 21:81)
Winds are not accidental occurrences. They flow by the decree of the Creator.
And in His directing of the winds are signs for a people who reason. (Quran 45:5)
Storms are produced for many reasons, amongst them:
Winds bring with them rain clouds that benefit mankind.
And of His signs is that He sends the winds as bringers of good tidings…and perhaps you will be grateful. (Quran 30:46)
Rainwater rehydrates the air and land, it makes its way into the Earth’s crust to saturate the soil, it provides water to keep the rivers and streams filled, it cools the air, it nourishes plants, it quenches the thirst of man and animal, it provides humans an energy resource through hydropower.
The benefits of rain are innumerable such that Ibn Abbas chose to draw an analogy of the Prophet’s immense generosity:
The Prophet used to recite the Qur’an to Jibril. When Jibril met him, he used to be more generous than a wind that drives rain clouds. (Al-Bukhari)
The rumble of a monstrous storm and the howling of its wind can make one introspect and evaluate their purpose of life. What kind of life am I leading? Are my actions genuinely for the Creator? Are they pleasing to Him? God sends storms as a warning to remind people that they still have an opportunity to change for the better:
It is He who enables you to travel on land and sea until, when you are in ships and they sail with them by a good wind and they rejoice therein, there comes a storm wind and the waves come upon them from everywhere and they assume that they are surrounded, supplicating Allah, sincere to Him in religion, “If You should save us from this, we will surely be among the thankful. (Quran 10:22)
While few take heed from such warnings, most dismiss them as an “act of nature” and continue in their old ways if they are saved from the storm wind.
But when He saves them, at once they commit injustice upon the earth without right. (Quran 10:23)
Storms are also sent as a punishment. When God’s message has been repeatedly rejected, after it was explained and ample opportunity was given to the people for making a change, the punishment of God descends.
These punishing storms are not incidental acts of nature because all forms of winds and storms are decreed by the Creator. History reminds us of these punishing storms– the flood of Noah, the winds of ‘Aad, and the thunderbolt of Thamud. God called them a punishment:
So We sent upon them a screaming wind during days of misfortune to make them taste the punishment of disgrace in the worldly life…
And as for Thamud, We guided them, but they preferred blindness over guidance, so the thunderbolt of humiliating punishment seized them for what they used to earn. (Quran 41:16-17)
The punishments can be categorized into two categories. Pharaoh and his people received both of them:
Partial punishment doesn’t put an end to a community. Its purpose is to encourage those who have rejected God’s Message to return to it, allowing them more opportunities for change. When Pharaoh and his followers rejected Moses and his message, God sent a partial punishment to them:
And We showed them not a sign except that it was greater than its sister, and We seized them with punishment that perhaps they might return [to faith]. (Quran 43:48)
The punishment that God sent is described in detail in another verse:
So We sent upon them the flood, locusts, lice, frogs, and blood as distinct signs, but they were arrogant and were a criminal people. (Quran 7:133)
When Pharaoh and his people witnessed the punishment, they promised to become amongst the guided:
And they said [to Moses], “O magician, invoke for us your Lord by what He has promised you. Indeed, we will be guided.” (Quran 43:49)
However, when the punishment was lifted, they recanted.
But when We removed from them the punishment, at once they broke their word. (Quran 43:50)
Not taking heed from partial punishments leads to the next kind of punishment.
When clear signs and guidance are knowingly rejected, when partial punishments are ignored and forgotten, the community enters into a very dangerous situation. They make themselves prime candidates for the final punishment which leaves them no opportunity for change. It would be their capital punishment.
After many neglected opportunities for change, God sent Pharaoh the final punishment:
So he intended to drive them from the land, but We drowned him and those with him altogether. (Quran 17:103)
What is the purpose of this final punishment? Life has been created as a test to determine who would be the best in deeds. When a community is determined to always reject God’s Love, Mercy, and Message after multiple warnings and opportunities have been given to them, there is no point for the test to continue. Even if they were granted an opportunity to return to the earth and be retested they would still not change:
If you could but see when they are made to stand before the Fire and will say, “Oh, would that we could be returned [to life on earth] and not deny the signs of our Lord and be among the believers.
And even if they were returned, they would return to that which they were forbidden; and indeed, they are liars. (Quran 6:27-28)
It is for this reason that every person that enters the hellfire, enters it justly, and they themselves confess to it:
If you could but see when they will be made to stand before their Lord. He will say, “Is this not the truth?” They will say, “Yes, by our Lord.” He will [then] say, “So taste the punishment because you used to disbelieve.” (Quran 6:30)
Test vs. Punishment
A punishment can be a test, but not every test is a punishment. A righteous person can be placed under a test so they can reap rewards, or so their status in the hereafter can be raised, or so their sins can be removed. As a result, Prophets receive the most severe tests so their rewards can be the most in the hereafter:
“Mus’ab ibn Sa’eed reported: His father asked:
“O Messenger of Allah, which people are tested most severely?”
The Prophet said:
“They are the Prophets, then the next best, then the next best.” (At-Tirmidhi- Sahih)
Winds and storms are powerful forms of creation that can either be a form of mercy or punishment. Climatic conditions should remind us of our purpose and our relationship with our Creator.