Prophet Lut (Alayhis salaam)
Lut (Alayhis salaam) was the nephew of Ibrahim (Alayhis salaam). His father’s name was Haraan. Lut (Alayhis salaam) was brought up by Ibrahim (Alayhis salaam). Therefore, he and Sarah were the first believers of Ibrahim’s religion.
Lut believed in him (Ibrahim) and said, “I am migrating to my Sustainer.” (29:26)
He and his wife were always with Ibrahim (Alayhis salaam) during his journeys of migration. When Ibrahim (Alayhis salaam) was in Egypt, Lut (Alayhis salaam) was a companion during his journey. It is narrated in the Torah that during their stay in Egypt, they both had plenty of provisions and cattle. A strife arose between the herdsmen of Ibrahim’s cattle and the herdsmen of Lut’s cattle. Ibrahim and Lut (Alayhimas salaam) consulted and decided to separate in order to maintain their love and prevent further strife. Lut (Alaihis salaam) migrated to Jordan and settled in Sodom and Gomorrah. Ibrahim (Alayhis salaam) left for Palestine.
Sodom and Gomorrah are situated in Jordan on the shores of the Dead Sea. The people that lived around this area believed that the land presently submerged in water was originally dry land and was occupied by a city. When the wrath of Allah descended on this place, the land was submerged by the sea-water. This sea was then called the Dead Sea or the Sea of Lut. These facts may be true or false, but it is an accepted historical fact that the punishment which descended on the nation of Lut (Alaihis salaam) occurred on the banks of the Dead Sea.
The nation of Lut (Alayhis salaam)
When Lut (Alaihis salaam) arrived at Sodom, he saw that the inhabitants of this land were involved in all kinds of vice. They lacked all attributes of virtue. Besides the sins which other nations also perpetrate, this nation initiated the shameless act of homosexuality. Instead of satisfying their passions with women, they would fulfil their lust with beardless youth.
This vile act was never in existence anywhere else. Furthermore, they did not regard it a sin. When Lut (Alaihis salaam) said to his people: “Do you commit such a shameless act which no one ever committed before you on earth? You are fulfilling your desires with males instead of females. Nay, indeed you have exceeded the bounds.” (7:80-81)
Lut (Alaihis salaam) reproached them for their vices and encouraged them to lead a life of nobility. He used all possible means of addressing them with gentleness and eloquence. He warned them about the consequences which befell the previous nations. His advice had no effect on them. On the contrary their answer was: “Expel Lut and his family from your city. Indeed they are very pure people.” (27:56). They said this in a mocking tone. They felt that if he was very pure, what work did he have in their city? He should leave them.
Lut (Alaihis salaam) once again addressed them in a large gathering: “Indeed you are committing homosexuality, robbing people and committing shameless sins in the presence of your gatherings.” (29:29)
When the people heard this advice, they were infuriated. They demanded Lut (Alaihis salaam) to terminate his admonitions and immediately show them the punishment which he so often spoke about.
The answer of his nation was only: “Bring the punishment of Allah if you are truthful”. (29:29)
Ibrahim (Alayhis salaam) and the angels
While all this was occurring, Ibrahim (Alaihis salaam) was taking a walk in the forest when he came upon three people. Ibrahim (Alaihis salaam) was very hospitable and his table always had visitors. He was very pleased to see these people and took them home. He slaughtered a heifer, roasted it and presented it to the visitors. They refused to partake of it. Ibrahim (Alaihis salaam) became perturbed at their refusal and feared them to be enemies. The visitors perceived his anxiety and consoled him. They informed him that they were angels that were deputed to annihilate the nation of Lut (Alaihis salaam).
When the fear dissipated from Ibrahim (Alaihis salaam) and he received the glad tidings (of Ishaq’s birth), he began disputing with Us regarding the nation of Lut (Alaihis salaam). Indeed Ibrahim was forbearing, compassionate and merciful. We said to him: “Refrain from this matter for verily the command of your Lord has arrived. A punishment that cannot be turned back will afflict them.” (11:74-76)
He asked them: “O messengers, for what have you come?” They replied: “We have been sent to a criminal nation to punish them with pebbles that have been marked by your Lord for a transgressing nation.” (51:31-34)
When the angels came to give glad tidings to Ibrahim (Alaihis salaam), they said they would destroy the people of this city (Sodom) because of their oppression. Ibrahim (Alaihis salaam) said: “Verily Lut is among them.” They said: “We know very well who is in it. We will rescue him and his family except his wife. She will be with those who remain behind.” (29:31-32)
The nation of Lut (Alaihis salaam) rejected the messengers. Remember when their brother Lut said to them: “Do you not fear? Undoubtedly I am a trustworthy messenger to you. Fear Allah and obey me. I do not ask you for any recompense. No one besides the Lord of the worlds will repay me.” (26:160-164) – This advice also had no effect on them. When they persisted in their disobedience, the wrath of the Almighty descended. The angels left Ibrahim (Alaihis salaam) and reached Sodom. They were the guests of Lut (Alaihis salaam). They were youthful and handsome in appearance. When Lut (Alaihis salaam) saw them, he became perturbed and feared what his nation would do to them. At this stage he was unaware that they were angels.
In the meanwhile the people came to know about the visitors. They stormed Lut’s house and demanded him to hand them over to him. Lut (Alaihis salaam) tried to explain to them not to commit any evil act. Was there no uprighteous person among them who could understand the truth? Why were they becoming the victims of this curse? Lut (Alaihis salaam) wished he could have the support of strong force.
The angels saw the dilemma of Lut (Alaihis salaam) and revealed their identity to him. They informed him of their mission to annihilate the nation and rescue him and his family.
Finally the time of punishment arrived. By an indication from the angels, Lut (Alaihis salaam) left the city with his family in the evening. His wife refused to continue with him and returned to Sodom. In the last portion of the night, athundering noise destroyed the nation and the whole city was toppled upside down. A rain of pebbles from the sky removed all traces of them.
And when the messengers (angels) arrived among the adherents of Lut, he remarked, “You appear to be strangers.” They said, “Nay, we have brought to you that which the people doubt (i.e. the news of their destruction). We have brought to you that which is inevitably due and assuredly we speak the truth. Therefore, travel with your family during a portion of the night. You bring up the rear and no one amongst you should look back, but pass on as you are commanded.”
We informed Lut of the reality that his nation will be annihilated by the morning. The inhabitants of the city arrived in joy (at news of the youth).
Lut (Alaihis salaam) said, “These are my guests. Do not disgrace me. Fear Allah and do not humiliate me.”
They retorted, “Did we not prohibit you from making all the people your guests?”
Lut (Alaihis salaam) replied, “These are my daughters (to marry). If you desire, turn towards them.”
The angels told Lut (Alaihis salaam), “Verily by your life, they stray about in their intoxication.”
Alas, the mighty blast overpowered them at sunrise. We turned the cities upside down and rained down on them stones of baked clay. Behold, in this are signs for people who perceive the reality. (15:61-75)
When Our messengers (angels) came to Lut, he became grieved and worried. He commented, “Today is a day of calamity.”
His people came rushing towards him and they had been long in the habit of practising vice.
He said, “O my people, here are my daughters. They are purer for you (to marry). Fear Allah and do not dishonour me regarding my guests. Is there no righteous man among you?”
“We have no need for your daughters and you know quite well what we intend.” they replied.
Lut said, “I wish I had the strength to combat you or take recourse to a powerful support.”
The angels said, “O Lut, we are messengers of your Lord. They will never reach you. Now travel with your family when a part of the night remains. None of you should look back except your wife (who will remain behind). Undoubtedly whatever afflicts the people will come upon her. The morning is their appointed time. Is not the morning in close proximity?”
When Our decree issued, we toppled the cities upside down and rained down on them pebbles of hard baked-clay continuously – marked by your Lord. This kind of punishment is not far from the oppressors. (11:77-83)
Allah explains an example for the disbelievers – the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut. They were under two of our pious servants but they betrayed their husbands. They profited nothing before Allah on their behalf. They were commanded: Enter the fire with those that enter. (66: 10)
Some Important Issues
- Lut (Alaihis salaam) told his nation, “Here are my daughters. They are purer for you.” The question arises as to how he could have offered his chaste daughters to such despicable people? The scholars have differed in answering this question.
- Lut (Alaihis salaam) was a prophet and every prophet is the spiritual father of his nation. Whether they obey his commands or reject him, they are still his subordinates. As a result, they were his spiritual progeny and he was their spiritual father. Therefore, by uttering the above-mentioned statement, he meant to say, “O wretched ones, my daughters are your spouses and they are permissible for you. You are discarding them and persisting in a wicked act. Do not do this.” He never offered his daughters to them.
- It is gleaned from the Torah and other narrations that the angels who brought the glad tidings of Ishaq and who were sent to punish the nation of Lut (Alaihis salaam) were three. Thus it was impossible that the entire nation which consisted of thousands of individuals could have desired three individuals. Actually this nation had two leaders that desired the guests of Lut (alaihis salaam). The remainder of the nation, due to their evil conduct, gathered to support them. Furthermore, Lut (Alaihis salaam) had two virgin daughters which he offered to the two leaders but they refused blankly stating that they had no desire for females.
- Undoubtedly Lut (Alaihis salaam) uttered this statement regarding his own daughters but this statement is similar to that of an elderly person, who, upon witnessing the beating of an innocent person, tells the oppressor to stop beating the innocent soul and beat him instead. However he knows that the oppressor would not have the courage to do this because he is a junior.
Just as the elderly man intended to rebuke the oppressor, similarly Lut (Alaihis salaam) uttered this sentence to indicate their ignominy and shameless intention. Lut (Alaihis salaam) was certain that they would not express any desire for the females.
When Lut (Alaihis salaam) realised that his people were intent on committing evil with his guests and that no amount of shame, modesty and manliness can appeal to them, he became worried and said, “Would that I had power to combat you or I could seek refuge with some powerful force.” What was the powerful force that he sought? Did he not have sufficient trust in Allah? The narration of Sahih Bukhari solves this query. In it is mentioned that Nabi (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “May Allah forgive Lut for he had become so perturbed that he sought recourse in a powerful force which for him was his Sustainer and Creator.” In other words Lut (Alaihis salaam) did not forget Allah and seek refuge in some other force. Although Lut (Alaihis salaam) was a follower and relative of Ibrahim (Alaihis salaam), yet he did not turn to him for assistance during his tribulations. He persevered during all the calamities that befell his people and kept his trust in Allah alone. He obeyed Allah’s orders meticulously. This is a stage of the chosen Messengers of Allah. In the final analysis, Allah, the powerful force assisted him and destroyed the sinners.
Some exegetes have regarded the words ‘power in you’ to refer to the angels, i.e. he (Lut) said that he wished the angels could have been in such a large number to oppose his people that he could have been strengthened by their support or Allah could have provided some other means of punishing them. Therefore the angels, on hearing this said, “O Lut, we are the messengers of your Lord. They will never be able to harm you.”
It is related in the Torah that Lut (Alaihis salaam) migrated with his family to Zo’ar, a place in close proximity to Sodom. (Genesis 19.22) From here he could see the signs of destruction of his nation and left this place also for the mountains where he resided in peace until his demise.