Prophet Lot ('alaihissalam)
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
We gave right judgment and knowledge to Lot, and rescued him from the city that committed disgusting acts; they were evil people who were deviators. We admitted him into Our mercy. He was one of the believers. [Al-Anbiya', 21:74-75]
Prophet Lot's Life
The Qur'an informs us that a number of prophets lived during the same period. For example, Prophet Aaron (pbuh) supported his brother, Prophet Moses (pbuh), in his struggle with Pharaoh and in relaying the divine message to the Children of Israel. Prophet Jacob (pbuh) and Prophet Joseph (pbuh) also were honored by God with prophethood during the same period.
Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and Prophet Lot (pbuh) lived in the same region. Although they lived among different people, they still supported one another. Our Lord reveals that:
He [Abraham] said: "You have adopted idols apart from God as tokens of mutual affection in this world. But then, on the Day of Resurrection, you will reject one another and curse one another. The Fire will be your shelter. You will have no helpers." And Lot had believed in him. He said: "I will emigrate to [the service of] my Lord. He is the Almighty, the All Wise." [Al-Ankabut, 29:25-26]
Immigration [hijrah] means to submit to God willingly, knowing that He is your only friend and guardian, and taking refuge in His protection. Prophet Lot migrated to our Lord by moving away from his unbelieving tribe. Like all of the prophets, he was a chosen individual who left an example for all people of sincerity and submission to God. Prophet Lot and Prophet Abraham (pbuh) were sent to different tribes. The Qur'an reveals that the society to which Prophet Lot relayed the divine message was steeped in homosexuality, a practice cursed by God.
Prophet Lot's Misguided People
To those who do not believe, the life of this world is painted in glowing colors and they laugh at those who believe. But on the Day of Resurrection those who fear (and respect) God will be over them. God provides for whoever He wills without any reckoning. [Al-Baqarah, 2:212]
In the Qur'an, God states "So set your face firmly toward the Religion, as a pure natural believer, God's natural pattern on which He made humanity" [Al-Rum, 30:30] and that He has created human beings with a specific disposition. Satan, on the other hand, asserts "… I will command them, and they will change God's creation…" [Al-Nisa', 4:119]. He seeks to turn people away from that disposition and to lead them into various prohibited practices.
One of the prohibited practices to which Satan incites human beings is homosexuality. Indeed, God describes the situation of those who follow Satan's urgings and live an immoral lifestyle: "If they see every Sign, they will not believe in it. If they see the way of right guidance, they will not take it as a way. But if they see the way of error, they will take that as a way" [Al-A'raf, 7:146]. As another verse states "God desires to turn toward you, but those who pursue their lower appetites desire to make you deviate completely" [Al-Nisa', 4:27], these people wish to draw everyone away from the true path. The Qur'an mentions the reward that such people will receive:
An evil generation succeeded those who neglected the prayer and followed their appetites. They will plunge into the Valley of Evil. [Maryam, 19:59]
This prohibited practice has appeared in many societies throughout history. The Qur'an specifically mentions Prophet Lot's (pbuh) tribe, who was well known for this custom. Prophet Lot (pbuh), an esteemed prophet who believed fully in our Lord and possessed the proper moral values and resignation to God, called on his tribe to fear (and respect) God, abandon their homosexuality, and live a life that would please Him. But they responded to his words with hostility. Due to their monstrous temerity and immorality, they fully merited our Lord's chastisement. As the Qur'an tells us, they met the following fate:
And Lot, when he said to his tribe: "Do you commit an obscenity not perpetrated before you by anyone in all the worlds? You come with lust to men instead of women. You are indeed a depraved tribe." The only answer of his tribe was to say: "Expel them from your city! They are people who keep themselves pure!" So We rescued him and his family-except for his wife. She was one of those who stayed behind. We rained down a rain upon them. See the final fate of the evildoers! [Al-A'raf, 7:80-84]
And Ishmael, Elisha, Jonah and Lot. All of them We favored over all beings. [Al-An'am, 6:86]
These people, who refused to abandon their sin despite being warned, threatened Prophet Lot (pbuh) and the believers with exile. Saying "They are people who keep themselves pure!" [Al-A'raf, 7:82], they imagined that they were mocking the believers. Despite their sinful lifestyle and excesses, however, Prophet Lot (pbuh) continued to relay His message in order to earn God's good pleasure.
Prophet Lot (pbuh), who was a patient, determined, and courageous servant, manifested his joyous faith in and respect for God. His tribe's mockery and attacks only reinforced his enthusiasm and determination. Like all of the other prophets, he continued to command what is good and forbid what is evil, thus scrupulously fulfilling his God-given duty. In the Qur'an, God reveals the following:
O Prophet. We have sent you as a witness, a bringer of good news and a warner, a caller to God by His permission and a light-giving lamp. Give good news to the believers that they will receive immense favor from God. Do not obey the unbelievers and hypocrites, and disregard their abuse of you. Put your trust in God. God suffices as a Protector. [Al-Ahzab, 33:45-48]
Then We sent Our messengers, one after another, at intervals. Each time its messenger came to a community, they called him a liar. So, We made them follow one another too and turned them into myths and legends. Away with the people who do not believe! [Al-Mu'minun, 23:44]
Believers must take Prophet Lot's (pbuh) superior moral values as models for themselves, always behave patiently when presenting His message, and explain religion's moral values to people in the most appropriate and effective way.
Prophet Lot Warns His Tribe
The people of Lot denied the messengers, when their brother Lot said to them: "Will you not guard against evil? I am a faithful Messenger to you. So fear [and respect] God and obey me." [Al-Shua'ra, 26:160-63]
Prophet Lot (pbuh) wished that his tribe would abandon their indecent acts and join him in worshipping God. Immediately after relaying the divine message, he made it clear that he expected nothing from them but their willingness to gain God's good pleasure:
"I do not ask you for any wage for it. My wage is the responsibility of no one but the Lord of all the worlds." [Al-Shu'ara, 26:164]
He then described his tribe's gross immorality:
"Of all beings, do you lie with males, leaving the wives God has created for you? You are a people who have overstepped the limits." They said: "Lot, if you do not desist, you will be expelled." He said: "I am someone who detests the deed you perpetrate." [Al-Shu'ara, 26:165-68]
Just like some people today, his tribe sought to portray the sin of homosexuality as acceptable and justified. In fact, such an attitude is one of the causes for the present moral degeneration all over the world. Muslims, however, live according to God's decrees and thus must adopt Prophet Lot's (pbuh) attitude toward this sin.
The Qur'an reveals that these unbelieving and immoral people, who responded to Prophet Lot's (pbuh) warnings with threats and attacks, felt secure due to their large numbers. People who live far removed from religion often have this erroneous perspective.
However, our Lord reveals that believers have always formed a small minority of people. As for the number of believers among Prophet Lot's (pbuh) tribe, God says: "But [We] found in it only one house of Muslims" (Al-Dhariyat, 51:36). However, God's support and help are always with believers, for our Lord promises that those who believe with a sincere heart, seek only His good pleasure, strive for the Hereafter, and spread religion's moral values will always be victorious. As the Qur'an states:
God has promised those of you who believe and do right actions that He will make them successors in the land, just as He made those before them successors; will firmly establish for them their religion with which He is pleased; and give them, in place of their fear, security. "They worship Me, not associating anything with Me." Any who do not believe after that, such people are deviators. [Al-Nur, 24:55]
Our Lord has always implemented this divine law, and small numbers of believers have always achieved enormous success against their far more numerous peoples. God gives the faithful the following glad tidings:
... How many a small force has triumphed over a much greater one, by God's permission! God is with the steadfast. [Al-Baqarah, 2:249].
The Angels Who Came to Prophet Lot
The angels who came to Prophet Abraham (pbuh) gave him the glad news of a righteous child and told him something about Prophet Lot's (pbuh) people.
When Our angels came with the good news to Abraham, they said: "We are going to destroy the people of this city. Truly its inhabitants are wrongdoers." [Al-'Ankabut, 29:31]
The Qur'an describes this visit in the following terms:
When Our angles came to Lot, he was distressed for them, very concerned for them, and said: "This is a dreadful day." [Hud, 11:77]
When his people learned that messengers had come to Prophet Lot (pbuh), they came running towards him and, as revealed in the Qur'an:
They even wanted to seduce his guests!... [Al-Qamar, 54:37]
Prophet Lot (pbuh) warned his tribe in these terms:
His tribe came running to him excitedly-they were long used to committing evil acts. He said: "My people, here are my daughters. They are purer for you. So fear God and do not shame me with my guests. Is there not one rightly-guided man among you?" They said: "You know we have no claim on your daughters. You know very well what we want." [Hud, 11:78-79]
Prophet Lot's (pbuh) reference to his daughters may mean his own daughters or else the tribe's young women. (God knows best.) In other words, he was recommending that his tribe to marry those women, as this is the type of relationship of which God approves. The expression "is there not one rightly-guided man among you?" shows that his entire tribe was caught up in this sinful behavior and excess. As an honorable and moral man chosen by God, Prophet Lot (pbuh) wished to depart from his immoral people:
He said: "If only I had the strength to combat you or could take refuge in some powerful support!" [Hud, 11:80].
However, our Lord used these angels to reveal to Prophet Lot (pbuh) that his tribe would be punished severely for their excesses:
He said: "You are people we do not know." They said: "We have come to you with what they had doubts about. We have brought you the truth, and we are certainly truthful men. Travel with your family in the dead of night, following behind with them in front of you. None of you must look back. Go to where you are ordered." We revealed to him the command We had decreed: that on the following morning the last remnant of those people would be cut off. [Al-Hijir, 15:62-66].
They said: "Lot, we are messengers from your Lord. They will not be able to get at you. Set out with your family-except for your wife-in the middle of the night and none of you should look back. What strikes them will strike her as well. Their promised appointment is the morning. Is the morning not close at hand?" [Hud, 11:81].
And Mary, the daughter of ‘Imran, Who guarded her chastity- We breathed Our Spirit into her and she confirmed the Words of her Lord and His Book and was one of the obedient. [Al-Tahrim, 66:12]
This verse reveals that Prophet Lot's (pbuh) wife would be destroyed, despite her position as a prophet's wife. Although God had honored and elevated her husband with prophethood, this blessing and honor gained her nothing because of her insincerity and denial.
Her death shows that such connections as being related to or descended from the prophets of God will be of no benefit in the Hereafter. Only one's deep faith, submission and obedience, and strong fear and respect of God will be of any benefit. If one's heart contains no sincere faith, one will find no salvation, regardless of his or her physical or familial closeness to God's prophets. Indeed, such proximity may well increase one's responsibility in God's sight, for God reveals this about the wives of the prophets:
O wives of the Prophet. If any of you commits an obvious act of indecency, she will receive double the punishment. That is an easy matter for God. But those of you who are obedient to God and His Messenger and act rightly will be given their reward twice over; and We have prepared a generous provision for them. O wives of the Prophet. You are not like other women, provided you guard against evil. Do not be too soft-spoken in your speech, lest someone with sickness in his heart becomes desirous. Speak correct and courteous words. Remain in your houses and do not display your beauty, as it was previously displayed in the Time of Ignorance. Perform [the prescribed] prayers and give alms, and obey God and His Messenger. God desires to remove all impurity from you, O People of the House, and to purify you completely. [Al-Ahzab, 33:30-33].
Our Lord cites the wives of Prophet Lot (pbuh) and Prophet Noah (pbuh) to serve as a deterrent in this matter. The verses also refer to Pharaoh's wife, who is a fine model of sincerity, fear and respect of God, and heartfelt prayer:
God has made an example for those who do not believe: the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. They were married to two of Our servants who were righteous, but they betrayed them and were not helped at all against God. They were told: "Enter the Fire along with all who enter it." God has made an example for those who believe: the wife of Pharaoh when she said: "My Lord, build a house in the Garden for me in Your presence, rescue me from Pharaoh and his deeds, and rescue me from this wrongdoing people." [Al-Tahrim, 66:10-11].
The Destruction Is Sent
Prophet Lot (pbuh) first informed Prophet Abraham (pbuh) of the news he had received from the angels:
He [Abraham] inquired: "What, then, is your business, messengers?" They said: "We have been sent to a people of evildoers to unleash upon them lumps of clay earmarked by your Lord for the profligate." We brought out all the believers who were there, but found in it only one house of Muslims. [Al-Dhariyat, 51:31-36]
After they had fulfilled their mission to Prophet Abraham (pbuh), the angels visited Prophet Lot (pbuh) and told him that his tribe would be destroyed. A Muslim society, however, will be protected from such destruction. According to the Qur'an:
They even wanted to seduce his guests! So We put out their eyes: "Taste My punishment and warnings!" [Al-Qamar, 54:37].
When Our command came, We turned their cities upside down and rained down on them stones of hard baked clay, piled on top of one another in layers, each one earmarked by your Lord. And they are never far from the wrongdoers. [Hud, 11:82-83]
The expression turning upside down may be describing how the region was destroyed in a violent earthquake. Indeed, the Dead Sea (Lake Lot) is located in an active seismic region.
In the same verse, God reveals that He rained down on them stones of hard baked clay. Keller explains: “The subsidence released volcanic forces that had been lying dormant deep down along the whole length of the fracture. In the upper valley of the Jordan near Bashan there are still towering craters of extinct volcanoes; great stretches of lava and deep layers of basalt have been deposited of the limestone surface.” (Werner Keller, Und die Bibel hat doch recht [The Bible as History; a Conformation of the Book of Books], William Morrow, [New York: 1956, 76.])
“Do you come with lust to men instead of women? You are a people who are deeply ignorant.” The only response of his people was to say: “Drive the family of Lot out of your city! They are people who keep themselves pure!” [Al-Naml, 27:55-56]
Has the news of those who came before them not reached them, the people o Noah and ‘Ad and Thamud and the people of Abraham and the Inhabitants of Midian and the overturned cities? Their messengers brought them the Clear Signs. God did not wrong them; rather they wronged themselves. [Al-An'am, 9:70]
Perhaps turning upside down signifies the region's destruction by a powerful earthquake. The expression rained down on them stones of hard baked clay may indicate a volcanic eruption and the hard baked lava and stones thrown up by it. The same event is described elsewhere: "and made a rain come pouring down upon them. How evil is the rain of those who are warned!" [Al-Shu'ara, 26:173]. In other words, the tribe may have been destroyed by an earthquake followed by a volcanic eruption. (God knows best.)
Historians opine that the site of this great disaster is the shore of the Dead Sea, also known as Lake Lut. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, located alongside the Dead Sea, between the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Jordan, are regarded as the cities of Prophet Lot's (pbuh) mainly homosexual people. Archaeological research shows that these cities collapsed after a powerful earthquake. According to researchers, one area, shallower than the rest of the Dead Sea, houses the remains of these people, who entered the deep parts of the sea. (For further details, see Harun Yahya, The Perished Nations [Istanbul: 2002]).
The Fate of Pompeii
Pompeii was the symbol of Rome's moral degeneration. Just like Prophet Lot's (pbuh) tribe, the inhabitants of Pompeii, who had also strayed far from religious morality, chose a lifestyle contrary to the morals and life commanded by God. And so God punished them, just as He punished Prophet Lot's (pbuh) tribe. Every society that rebels against God inevitably is punished, either in this world or the next, for this is one of God's laws. As the Qur'an reveals:
... You will not find any changing in the pattern of God. You will not find any alteration in the pattern of God. [Fatir, 35:43]
Pompeii was destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 CE. Mount Vesuvius is the symbol of Italy, particularly the city of Naples. Dormant now for some 2,000 years, it is also known as the Mountain of Misfortune. Naples stands on the mount's western slopes, and Pompeii stands on its eastern slopes. This disaster struck Pompeii so suddenly that everything seems to have been frozen in time.
There are important lessons to be learned from Pompeii's fate. Historical sources reveal that before its destruction, Pompeii was a hotbed of vice and debauchery and was known for its widespread prostitution. Yet Mount Vesuvius wiped the city from the map in a single moment. Interestingly, despite its terrible eruption, nobody fled. It seems that the people were rooted to the spot, as if unaware of the tragedy. A number of couples have been found, among which are same-sex couples and young boys and girls. Some of the petrified human remains contain perfectly preserved facial features. Their general expression is one of surprise, for Pompeii was destroyed suddenly. God gives an example of the people of a city:
It was but one Great Blast, and [then] they were extinct. [Ya Sin, 36:29]
“My Lord, rescue me and my family from what they are doing.” Therefore We rescued him and all his family – except for an old woman who remained behind. Then We utterly destroyed the rest. [Al-Shu'ara, 26:169-172]
The Immigration [Hijrah] of Prophet Lot and Prophet Abraham
Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and Prophet Lot (pbuh), along with the believers, migrated at God's command and settled in a delightful new land. In the Qur'an, our Lord reveals their blessed fate:
We delivered both him [Abraham] and Lot to the land that We had blessed for all beings. And in addition to that, We gave him Isaac and Jacob and made both of them righteous. We made them leaders, guiding [them] by Our command, and revealed to them how to do good actions, perform prayer, and give alms. And they worshipped Us. We gave right judgment and knowledge to Lot, and rescued him from the city that committed disgusting acts. They were evil people who were deviators. We admitted him into Our mercy. He was one of the righteous. [Al-Anbiya', 21:71-75]
Hijrah is a religious observation that only devout believers can perform. People who live far removed from religion can never agree to suddenly leave behind everything they own and emigrate to an unknown destination. Their homes, goods, and property are most important to them. Yet wherever believers may go, since they know that God will meet all of their needs, they have no hesitation about leaving everything behind and emigrating for God's good pleasure.
Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and Prophet Lot (pbuh) demonstrated their submission to God in the finest possible manner. They renounced their material possessions and homelands to gain His good pleasure. In return, our Lord settled them in a good land and endowed them with the infinite blessings of Paradise in the Hereafter.
Believers, who trust in God and know that He will meet all of their needs at every moment, must follow the prophets' model of complete submission to God. That is because people who are attached to the world and are concerned about the future are far removed from religion's moral values. Our Lord gives believers the glad tidings that as a reward for not indulging in material interests, believers will receive matchless blessings in both worlds.
In addition, the Qur'an refers to the prophets' vast property as a blessing from God. Prophet David (pbuh) had a great deal of property, and Prophet Solomon (pbuh) possessed so much power and wealth that nobody could match them. God reveals that He gave Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and his line a lot of property:
Or do they, in fact, envy other people for the bounty God has granted them? We gave the family of Abraham the Book and wisdom, and We gave them an immense kingdom. [Al-Nisa', 4:54]
If only the people of the cities had believed and guarded against evil, We would have opened up to them blessings from heaven and Earth. But they denied the truth so We seized them for what they earned. (Al-A'raf, 7:96)
Anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being a believer, We will give them a good life and We will recompense them according to the best of what they did. [Al-Nahl, 16:97]
Goods, property, and power are always causes of arrogance and self-love among those who do not believe and are heedless. On the other hand, the prophets and the believers who follow them use their God-given goods and property to spread His religion, earn His good pleasure, and achieve their abode in the Hereafter. Furthermore, believers also know that all of their property belongs to God. When sincere Muslims are given blessings in this world, they thank our Lord. More importantly, when such blessings diminish they still thank God with all of their hearts and display the proper patience, for they know that this life is a test and that God will reward them in Paradise:
Those who believe and emigrate and strive in the way of God with their wealth and their selves have a higher rank with God. They are the ones who are victorious. Their Lord gives them the good news of His mercy and good pleasure, and Gardens where they will enjoy everlasting delight, remaining in them timelessly, forever and ever. Truly, there is an immense reward with God. [Al-Tawbah, 9:20-22]
In this book, we have described the joyous faith in God manifested by Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and Prophet Lot (pbuh), how they turned to our Lord in all of their actions, their superior moral values, and their difficult struggles against their pagan and sinful peoples. Prophet Abraham (pbuh) relayed the divine message to his tribe with great determination and, thanks to his submission to God, was patient and steady in all circumstances. Prophet Lot (pbuh) struggled patiently with his tribe, calling on them to believe in God and abandon their immorality. These prophets, made superior to the worlds by God, won His good pleasure due to the deep faith and superior moral values they exhibited throughout their lives. In the end, they achieved their true abode in Paradise, with its infinite blessings.
The greatest aim of each believer's life is to follow in the footsteps of the prophets, each of whom was a guide to the true way, and thus become servants with whom God is pleased. God gives the glad tidings of the reward awaiting such believers:
Whoever obeys God and the messenger will be with those whom God has blessed: the prophets, the steadfast affirmers of truth, the martyrs, and the righteous. What excellent company such people are! [Al-Nisa', 4:69].
In order to become God's friend and be with the prophets in the Hereafter, believers must live in accord with God's good pleasure, always trust in Him, and hold Him and His religion above everything else. Whoever demonstrates these virtues and thus lives according to Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) words that "I have submitted to the Lord of the worlds," can expect the greatest happiness from God and to reach salvation.
The fact that many people remain heedless of His existence must not deceive anyone. Prophet Abraham (pbuh) called on his pagan tribe to believe, even though he was alone, and our Lord praised this moral virtue: "Abraham was a community in himself…" [Al-An'am, 16:120]. Prophet Lot (pbuh), together with a very few believers, displayed his very superior submission to God and called on his largely homosexual tribe to abandon their immoral lifestyles and to believe [Al-Dhariyat, 51:36]. Those very few believing people, however, were much stronger than all of their people, for they had God's help and support.
The important thing is to understand that God controls everything that exists, all of which has submitted to Him, and to live accordingly. Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and Prophet Lot (pbuh) understood this truth and became His friends. Like them, all believers must seek to achieve the same level of deep faith and spirituality and make a serious effort to become His friend.