Lut (or Lot in the Taurat/Bible) was the nephew of Ibrahim (PBUH). He had chosen to live in a city full of wicked people. Allah used this situation as prophetic signs for all people. But what are the signs? To answer this we need to pay close attention to the different people in this account. Click here to read the account in both Taurat and Qur’an.
In the Taurat and Qur’an we can see that there are three groups of people, as well as the angels (or messengers) of Allah. Let us think about each in turn.
The men of Sodom
These men were extremely perverse. These men were hoping to rape other men (that really were angels but since the men of Sodom thought they were men they were planning to gang-rape them). This kind of sin was so evil that Allah determined to judge the entire city. The judgment was consistent with the judgment given to Adam. Back in the beginning Allah had warned Adam that the judgment for sin was death. No other kind of punishment (like beating, imprisonment etc.) was enough. Allah had said to Adam
“…but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:17)
Similarly, the punishment for the sins of the men of Sodom was that they also had to die. In fact the entire city and everyone living in it was going to be destroyed by fire from heaven. This is an example of a pattern that was later explained in the Injil:
For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)
In the account of Noah, Allah judged the entire world, and consistent with the sign of Adam the judgment was death in a great flood. But the Taurat and Qur’an tell us that the entire world then was ‘evil’. Allah judged the men of Sodom but they too were perversely evil. With only these accounts I might be tempted to think that I am safe from Allah’s judgment, because I am not that evil. After all, I believe in Allah, I do many good things, and I have never committed such evil acts. So am I safe? The sign of Lut with his sons-in-law warns me. They were not part of the gang of men who were trying to commit homosexual rape. However, they did not take the warning of coming Judgment seriously. In fact, the Taurat tells us that they thought ‘he (Lut) was joking’. Was their fate any different from that of the other men of the city? No! They suffered the same fate. There was no difference in outcome between these sons-in-laws and the evil men of Sodom. The sign here is that everyone must take these warnings seriously. They are not only for perverse people.
Lut’s wife is a great sign to us. In both Taurat and Qur’an she also perished along with the other people. She was the wife of a prophet. But her special relationship to Lut did not save her even though she also did not practice homosexuality like the men of Sodom did. The angels had commanded them:
‘let not any of you look back’ (Surat 11:81) The Hud or
‘Don’t look back’ (Genesis 19:17)
The Taurat tells us that
But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:26)
What exactly her ‘looking back’ means is not explained. But evidently she thought she could ignore even a small command from Allah and thought it would not matter. Her fate – with her ‘little’ sin – was the same as the men of Sodom with their ‘big’ sin – death. This is such an important sign for me to keep me from thinking that some ‘little’ sins are exempt from Allah’s judgment – Lut’s wife is our Sign to warn us against this wrong thinking.
Lut, Allah and the Angel Messengers
As we saw in the Sign of Adam, when Allah Judged he also provided Mercy. In that Judgment it was by providing clothes of skin. With Noah, when Allah Judged he again provided Mercy through the ark. Once again Allah, even in His Judgment is careful to also give Mercy. The Taurat described it:
When he (Lut) hesitated, the men (the angels that looked like men) grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. (Genesis 19:16)
What can we learn from this? As in the earlier Signs, the Mercy was universal but was provided only through one way – guiding them out of the city. Allah did not, for example, provide Mercy through also making a shelter in the city that could withstand the Fire from Heaven. There was only one way to receive the Mercy – follow the angels out of the city. Allah did not extend this Mercy to Lut and his family because Lut was perfect. In fact, in both Taurat and Qur’an we see that Lut was willing to offer his daughters to the rapists – not a noble offer. The Taurat tells us even that Lut ‘hesitated’ when the angels warned him. Even in all this, Allah extended Mercy by ‘grasping’ him and leading him out. This is a Sign for us: Allah will extend Mercy to us, and it does not depend on our merit. But we, like Lut before us, need to receive this Mercy in order for it to help us. The sons-in-law did not receive it and so they did not benefit from it.
The Taurat tells us that Allah extended this Mercy to Lut because his uncle, the great Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) had prayed for him (see the passage in Genesis here). The Taurat continues through the signs of Ibrahim with the promise from Allah that ‘all nations on earth will be blessed because you have obeyed me’ (Genesis 22:18). This promise should alert us because no matter who we are, what language we speak, what religion we have, or where we live we can know that both you and I are part of ‘all nations on earth’. If Ibrahim’s intercession moved Allah to extend his Mercy to Lut, even though he did not merit it, how much more will the Signs of Ibrahim extend Mercy to us, who belong to ‘all nations’? With this thought we continue in the Taurat by looking next at the Signs of Ibrahim.