The Society of Lut AS
Prophet Lut (Lot) AS was the nephew of Ibrahim AS. After parting ways with Ibrahim AS, Sarah and Hajr, he went to the city of Sodom. It was from here that homosexuality originated, for no one on earth had indulged in this act previously.
We see from the first few stories of the Prophets involved them inviting their community towards monotheism to Allah. Lut's AS prophetic mission had another dimension, which was to specifically prohibit the deviant sexual acts that his people were practising.
The community of Lut AS was bankrupt of morals and ethics. The men formed their own private clubs and societies from which they exercised their lustful practices with each other, leaving the women neglected and unable to find a spouse. Apart from their rampant homosexuality, they also used to be highway robbers (due to the strategic position of their towns on the highway), cheat their friends, and perform numerous acts of indecency in public assemblies and meetings. As usual, Shaitan had made them forget about the fate of Ad and Thamud, who were not too far from them, geographically and chronologically, and they became heedless of Allah in their decadent behaviour.
The Da'wah of Lut AS
Lut's AS message was the same as his predecessors in Prophethood, which was to lead them towards Allah and to remind them to fear Allah. In addition, he tried to persuade them to marry in the manner ordained by Allah instead of engaging with those of the same gender for sexual satisfaction.
However, being too caught up with their own perverse inclinations, the people disliked Lut's AS da'wah. To them, his purity had no place in their society.
The more he persuaded them to goodness, the more they despised and shunned him. Like the previous communities of the Prophets, they accused him of being a liar and tried to silence him with bribes. When this did not work, they became hostile and threatened to expel him from their midst. As with the majority of men who have deviated far from the right path, instead of wanting to emulate his purity, they loathed him for it.
The Quran makes various mentions of Lut's AS prophetic mission:
"And [We had sent] Lot when he said to his people, 'Do you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds? Indeed, you approach men with desire, instead of women. Rather, you are a transgressing people.' But the answer of his people was only that they said, 'Evict them from your city! Indeed, they are men who keep themselves pure.' So We saved him and his family, except for his wife; she was of those who remained [with the evildoers]." [7:80 – 7:83]
It is also mentioned in the Qur'an that:
"The people of Lot denied the messengers, When their brother Lot said to them, 'Will you not fear Allah ? Indeed, I am to you a trustworthy messenger. So fear Allah and obey me. And I do not ask you for it any payment. My payment is only from the Lord of the worlds. Do you approach males among the worlds. And leave what your Lord has created for you as mates? But you are a people transgressing.' He said, "Indeed, I am, toward your deed, of those who detest [it]. [26:160-168]
His community, blinded by their lust and desire, became increasingly insolent towards him. They remained unrepentant and neither accepted the call of Lut AS to believe in Allah and worship Him, nor cease from their indecent activities.
The Mysterious Guests
When it became apparent that his people would not budge from their ways, Lut AS cried out in distress for Allah: "My Lord, save me and my family from [the consequence of] what they do." [26:169] Supplications from Prophets and Messengers are powerful, and Allah responded by sending angels to destroy the townsfolk.
Here, the story is intertwined with that of Ibrahim's AS. Allah had dispatched angels to destroy Lut's AS community. One their way, they visited Ibrahim AS and his wife Sara, to give the couple glad tidings of a child (Ishaq AS), and informed them of the imminent punishment that was going to befall the people of Lut AS – [Abraham] said, "Then what is your business [here], O messengers?" They said, "Indeed, we have been sent to a people of criminals. To send down upon them stones of clay, marked in the presence of your Lord for the transgressors." 51:31-34). In another passage, Ibrahim AS said "Indeed, within it is Lut." They said, "We are more knowing of who is within it. We will surely save him and his family, except his wife. She is to be of those who remain behind." (29:32)
The angels, under the guise of handsome young men, then proceeded to of Lut AS in the evening, and asked him to house them for the night.
Naturally Lut AS was perturbed at the appearance of these mysterious guests. Knowing his townspeople's inclinations, these strangers would have been unsafe if anyone else in town had hosted them, yet if the townspeople heard about these men, he also knew that he would be physically defenceless to protect them from their advances. "And when Our angels came to Lut, he was grieved and felt unable to protect them, and he said: 'This is a distressful day.'" (11:77)
He took them in discreetly, careful to keep these handsome men hidden. However, unknown to him, Lut's AS wife went out to the townspeople behind his back, and informed them of the arrival of the men, whose beautiful faces she had never seen before.
Not long after, the people went to his house and besieged it, for they wanted to lay their hands on these guests, in other words to sexually assault them. From the other side of the door, Lut AS tried to defend his guests and said 'O my people! Here are my daughters, they are purer for you (if you marry them)' (11:78) He was not referring to his daughters literally, but to the womenfolk of the town, for a Prophet is deemed as a father to his people. He appealed to them to take the purer path, saying that they should turn to their wives, or get married, instead of indulging in homosexuality.
While trying to fend them off, he also appealed to them: 'So fear Allah and do not disgrace me about my guests. Is there not a single man among you right minded?' (11:78) However, the men were too fuelled by desire that it obliterated all common decency from their actions. They replied to him: "You know that we have no desire towards your daughters, and you know what we desire." (11:79) They were heedless of the consequences, and did not fear Allah's punishment. Being intoxicated by lust, they became increasingly daring as they tried to enter the house in order to force themselves upon the guests. Lut AS was both outnumbered and feeble with old age, his guests were in peril and the situation was critical. "And when Our messengers came to Lot, he was distressed for them and felt for them great discomfort. They said, "Fear not, nor grieve. Indeed, we will save you and your family, except your wife; she is to be of those who remain behind." (29:33)