Lot/Lut and the Destruction of Sodom

In addition to good tidings about the birth of Isaac, the angels also had some bad tidings for Abraham. They came to warn him about the destruction of Sodom, a city notorious for its many crimes. The Biblical Abraham could not understand how God could allow the innocent to suffer with the guilty. He negotiated with God and was promised that the city would be saved if 10 righteous people could be found inside its walls.

The story continues with Abraham’s cousin Lot, a righteous man, who lived in the sinful city of Sodom. Just like other prophets, Lot attempted to warn his people of God’s punishments for a godless life. The people of Sodom refused to listen and threatened to drive him and his followers out of the city.

Lot was visited by the angels that Abraham had hosted. He also welcomed them to his house. At that moment, a crowd of angry men came to his door, demanding he hand over his male guests for their sexual pleasure. Lot refused to do so but instead offered his two daughters to the men. Lot was afraid of the men, but the angels reassured him that the mob would not triumph.

This incident is open to various interpretations. It is about the importance of hospitality: guests take priority over everything else, especially when they are angels. It is also regarded as a rejection of (mass) rape, regardless of the genders involved.
In Christian and Islamic circles, the story of Lot and the lustful mob has been interpreted as a rejection of homosexual relations, even if they involve two loving adults. In the Bible, this interpretation is supported by an explicit ban on homosexual relations in Leviticus 20:13 and a rejection by Paul of Greek/Roman habits. Jude explains the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as a punishment for unnatural sex. Whether this is the word of God, or the opinion of writers in a specific historical context, is undecided. However, Christians and Jews oppose now support capital punishment for homosexuals, as contradicting the concept of a loving God.

The story of Lot is the only context in which homosexuality is discussed in the Qur’an. In 7 The Heights, 80-81, the Prophet Lot describes men who are attracted to men instead of women as immoderate people. Except for this type of statement by the prophet Lot, – in the context of a threatening situation – the Qur’an contains no explicit ban on homosexuality, while other aspects of sexual relations are explicitly dealt with. This very vacuum inspires some Muslims to reach out to the Bible for guidance. Thus, the killing of homosexuals, which occasionally takes place in one or two countries, seems ultimately based on the Bible rather than on the Qur’an. In spite of the lack of clear guidance in the Qur’an, many Muslims feel that homosexuality goes against the natural destiny of men, to whom God has given wives. Therefore, they respect the choice of others but will not make such a choice themselves. On the other hand, homosexual Muslims maintain that homosexual love relations between equals are not condemned in the Qur’an.

Another question open to interpretation is the meaning behind Lot’s offer to give his daughters to the mob. The term ‘daughters’ is often interpreted figuratively in Islamic circles. Offering daughters in Arabic means offering in marriage, not for unmarried sex. Lot counsels the lewd men to return to the daughters of the people, in other words, to their own wives and to renounce sex with Lot’s male guests. But the men insist on sex with Lot’s male guests. The city is subsequently destroyed because of the idolatry and wrong-doings of its citizens, not, or at least not only, because of homosexuality.

Having been warned by angels, Lot escaped. But his wife hesitated. Genesis tells us she looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. In the Qur’an, Lot’s wife remained behind in the sinful city. A comparison is made between the wives of Noah and Lot. Both are the wives of prophets, but in the end that does not save them. Ultimately, it is not ancestry or marrying into the right family that matters, but taking responsibility as an individual.


Ten righteous people?
Then the men (angels ed.)…looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on the way.

And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing?…the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave…”

And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You…not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? Far be it from You… to slay the righteous with the wicked… Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

So the LORD said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.”

And he spoke to Him yet again and said, “Suppose there should be forty found there?”
So He said, “I will not do it for the sake of forty.”

Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?”

And He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.”

Genesis 18:16-17, 20, 23-26, 29, 32

Men who lie with men

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying… If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Leviticus 20,13

Therefore, God also gave them (Greeks and

Jews ed.) up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves…

For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. (Letter of Paul to the) Romans 1:24-27

…Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Jude 1:7

Angels arrive at Sodom

… the two angels came to Sodom in the evening… When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. And he said, “Here now, my Lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.”
…so they…entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
Now before they lay down, the men of Sodom, both old and young… surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.”

So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.”
And they said, “Stand back! …They came near to break down the door. But the men (angels ed.) reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness…Genesis 19:1-11

Sodom destroyed

Then the men (angels ed.) said to Lot, “…we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.”

When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.” And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he (the angel ed.) said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.”

Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah…So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

And Abraham…looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and… he saw… the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace.

And it came to pass…that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt.

Genesis 19: 12-13, 15-17, 24-29


Ibrahim’s plea
Tell them about the guests of Abraham. When they entered his presence and said: “Peace!” He said: “We feel afraid of you!”

15 The Rocky Tract, 51-52
They said: “We give you glad tidings in truth: be not then in despair!” He said: “And who despairs of the mercy of his Lord, but such as go astray?” Abraham said: “What then is the business on which you (have come), O you messengers (of Allah)?”

They said: “We have been sent to a people (deep) in sin.”

15 The Rocky Tract, 55-58
They said: “Fear not: we have been sent against the people of Lut.”

11 Hud, 70
Excepting the adherents of Lut: we are certainly (charged) to save them (from harm), – all – “except his wife, who, We have ascertained, will be among those who will lag behind.”

15 The Rocky Tract, 59-60
When fear had passed from (the mind of) Abraham… he began to plead with Us for Lut’s people. For Abraham was, without doubt, forbearing (of faults), compassionate, and given to look to Allah. O Abraham! Do not seek this. The decree of your Lord has gone forth: for them there comes a Penalty that cannot be turned back!

11 Hud, 74-76

Lut warns his people
Behold, their brother Lut said to them: “Will you not fear (Allah)? I am to you a Messenger worthy of all trust. So fear Allah and obey me. No reward do I ask of you for it: my reward is only from the Lord of the Worlds. Of all the creatures in the world, will you approach males, and leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay, you are a people transgressing (all limits)!”

They said: “If you desist not, O Lut! you will assuredly be cast out!”

26 The Poets, 161-167
(We also sent) Lut (as a Messenger): behold, he said to his people: “Do you do what is shameful though you see (its iniquity)? Would you really approach men in your lusts rather than women?”

But his people gave no other answer but this: they said: “Drive out the followers of Lut from your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!”

27 The Ants, 54-56

Lut protects his guests
When Our messengers came to Lut, he was grieved on their account and felt himself powerless (to protect) them.

He said: “This is a distressful day.”

And his people came rushing towards him, and they had been long in the habit of practising abominations. 11 The Prophet Hud, 77-78

We also (sent) Lut: he said to his people: “Do you commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For you practise your lusts on men in preference to women: you are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds.” 7 The Heights, 80-81

He said: “O my people! Here are my daughters: they are purer for you (if you marry)! Now fear Allah, and do not cover me with shame about my guests! Isn’t there among you a single right-minded man?”

They said: “You know well we have no need of your daughters: indeed you know quite well what we want!”

He said: “Would that I had power to suppress you or that I could betake myself to some powerful support.”

(The angels ed.) said: “O Lut!

We are Messengers from your Lord!

By no means they shall reach you!”

11 The Prophet Hud, 78-81

Lut escapes destruction
(The Angels ed.) said: “O Lut! We are Messengers from your Lord!..Now travel with your family while yet a part of the night remains, and let not any of you look back: but your wife (will remain behind): to her will happen what happens to the people. Morning is their appointed time: Is not the morning near?”

When Our decree issued, We turned (the cities) upside down, and rained down on them brimstones hard as baked clay, spread layer on layer. 11 Hud, 81-82
And We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): then see what was the end of those who indulged in sin and crime!7 The Heights, 84
But we saved him and his family, except his wife: she was of those who lagged behind. 7 The Heights, 83
Allah sets forth, for an example to the Unbelievers, the wife of Noah and the wife of Lut: they were (respectively) under two of our righteous Servants, but they were false to their (husbands), and they profited nothing before Allah on their account, but were told: “You enter the Fire along with (others) that enter!” 66 Forbidden, 10
And to Lut, too, We gave Judgment and Knowledge, and We saved him from the town which practised abominations: truly they were a people given to Evil, a rebellious people. And We admitted him to Our Mercy: for he was one of the Righteous. 21 The Prophets, 74-75
But We delivered him (Abraham ed.) and (his nephew) Lut (and directed them) to the land which We have blessed for the nations.

21 The Prophets, 71

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