Description of the People of Sodom
Prophet Ibrahim (A.S.) left Egypt accompanied by his nephew Loot (A.S.), who then went to the city of Sodom (Sadum), which was on the western shore of the Dead Sea. This city was filled with evil. Its residents waylaid, robbed and killed travelers. Another common evil among them was that men had sex with men instead of with women. This unnatural act later became known as sodomy (after the city of Sodom). It was practiced openly and unashamedly.
Loot’s (A.S.) Message
It was at the height of these crimes and sins that Allah revealed to Prophet Loot (A.S.) that he (A.S.) should summon the people to give up their indecent behavior, but they were so deeply sunk in their immoral habits that they were deaf to Loot’s (A.S.) preaching. Swamped in their unnatural desires, they refused to listen, even when Loot (A.S.) warned them of Allah’s punishment. Instead, they threatened to drive him out of the city if he (A.S.) kept on preaching.
Almighty Allah revealed: The people of Loot (those dwelt in the towns of Sodom in Palestine) belied the Messengers when their brother Loot said to them: ‘Will you not fear Allah and obey Him? Verily! I am a trustworthy Messenger to you. So fear Allah, keep your duty to Him, and obey me. No reward do I ask of you for it (my Message of Islamic Monotheism), my reward is only from the Lord of the Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists). Go you in unto the males of the Alamin (mankind), and leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your wives? Nay, you are a trespassing people!”
They said: “If you cease not, 0 Loot! Verily, you will be one of those who are driven out!” He said: “I am, indeed, of those who disapprove with severe anger and fury your (this evil) action (of sodomy). My Lord! Save me and my family from what they do.” So We saved him and his family, all, – except an old woman (his wife) among those who remained behind. Surah 26:160-171
Loot’s (A.S.) Wife
The doings of Loot’s (A.S.) people saddened his heart. Their unwholesome reputation spread throughout the land, while he (A.S.) struggled against them. As the years passed, he (A.S.) persisted in his mission but to no avail. No one responded to his call and believed except for the members of his family, and even in his household, not all the members believed. Loot’s (A.S.) wife, like Nuh’s (A.S.) wife, was a disbeliever. Allah the Almighty declared: Allah sets forth an example for those who disbelieve the wife of Nuh and the wife of Loot. They were under two of Our righteous slaves, but they both betrayed their (husbands by rejecting their doctrine) so they (Nuh and Loot (A.S.)) benefited them (their respective wives) not, against Allah, and it was said: “Enter the Fire along with those who enter!” Surah 66:10
Angels Come to Meet Loot (A.S.)
If home is the place of comfort and rest, then Loot (A.S.) found none, for he (A.S.) was tormented both inside and outside his home. His life was continuous torture and he (A.S.) suffered greatly, but he (A.S.) remained patient and steadfast with his people. The years rolled by, and still not one believed in him. Instead, they belittled his message and mockingly challenged him: “Bring Allah’s Torment upon us if you are one of the truthful.” Surah 29:29
Overwhelmed with despair, Loot (A.S.) prayed to Allah to grant him victory and destroy the corrupt. Therefore, the angels left Ibrahim and headed for Sodom the town of Loot (A.S.). They reached the walls of the town in the afternoon. The first person who caught sight of them was Loot’s (A.S.) daughter, who was sitting beside the river, filling her jug with water. When she lifted her face and saw them, she was stunned that there could be men of such magnificent beauty on earth.
One of the three men (angels) asked her: “Oh maiden, is there a place to rest?” Remembering the character of her people, she replied: “Stay here and do not enter until I inform my father and return.” Leaving her jug by the river, she swiftly ran home. “Oh father!” she cried. ‘You are wanted by young men at the town gate and I have never before seen the like of their faces!”
Loot (A.S.) felt distressed as he (A.S.) quickly ran to his guests. He (A.S.) asked them where they came from and where they were going.
They did not answer his questions. Instead, they asked if he (A.S.) could host them. He (A.S.) started talking with them and impressed upon them the subject of his people’s nature. Loot (A.S.) was filled with turmoil; he (A.S.) wanted to convince his guests, without offending them, not to spend the night there, yet at the same time he (A.S.) wanted to extend to them the expected hospitality normally accorded to guests. In vain he (A.S.) tried to make them understand the perilous situation. At last, therefore, he (A.S.) requested them to wait until the night fell, for then no one would see them.
The Mob at Loot’s (A.S.) House
When darkness fell on the town, Loot (A.S.) escorted his guests to his home. No one was aware of their presence. However, as soon as Loot’s (A.S.) wife saw them, she slipped out of the house quietly so that no one noticed her. Quickly, she ran to her people with the news and it spread to all the inhabitants like wildfire. The people rushed towards Loot (A.S.) quickly and excitedly. Loot (A.S.) was surprised by their discovery of his guests, and he (A.S.) wondered who could have informed them. The matter became clear, however, when he (A.S.) could not find his wife anywhere, thus adding grief to his sorrow.
When Loot (A.S.) saw the mob approaching his house, he (A.S.) shut the door, but they kept on banging on it. He (A.S.) pleaded with them to leave the visitors alone and fear Allah’s punishment. He (A.S.) urged them to seek sexual fulfillment with their wives, for that is what Allah had made lawful.
Loot’s (A.S.) people waited until he (A.S.) had finished his short sermon, and then they roared with laughter. Blinded by passion, they broke down the door. Loot (A.S.) became very angry, but he (A.S.) stood powerless before these violent people. He (A.S.) was unable to prevent the abuse of his guests, but he (A.S.) firmly stood his ground and continued to plead with the mob.
At that terrible moment, he (A.S.) wished he (A.S.) had the power to push them away from his guests. Seeing him in a state of helplessness and grief, the guests said: “Do not be anxious or frightened, Loot, for we are angels, and these people will not harm you.”
On hearing this, the mob was terrified and fled from Loot’s (A.S.) house, hurling threats at him as they left. The angels warned Prophet Loot (A.S.) to leave his house before sunrise, taking with him all his family except his wife.
Allah had decreed that the city of Sodom should perish. An earthquake rocked the town. It was as if a mighty power had lifted the entire city and flung it down in one jolt. A storm of stones rained on the city. Everyone and everything was destroyed, including Loot’s (A.S.) wife.
The Angels Meet Ibrahim (A.S.)
Allah the Almighty recounted this story: And tell them about the guests (angels) of Ibrahim (A.S.). When they entered unto him, and said: “Salaaman (peace)!” (Ibrahim (A.S.)) said: “Indeed! We are afraid of you.”
They (the angels) said: “Do not be afraid! We give you glad tidings of a boy (son) possessing much knowledge and wisdom.” Ibrahim (A.S.) said: “Do you give me glad tidings (of a son) when old age has overtaken me? Of what then is your news?” They (the angels) said: “We give you glad tidings in truth. So be not of the despairing.” (Ibrahim) said: “And who despairs of the Mercy of his Lord except those who are astray?” Ibrahim (A.S.) again said: “What then is the business on which you have come, 0 Messengers?”
They (the angels) said: “We have been sent to a people who are Mujrimeen (criminals, disbelievers, polytheists, sinners). (All) except the family of Loot. Them all we are surely going to save (from destruction).”
Except his wife, of whom We have decreed that she shall be of those who remain behind (i.e. she will be destroyed).
Condensed Version of Loot’s (A.S.) Story
Then, when the Messengers (the angels) came unto the family of Loot, he said: “Verily! You are people unknown to me.” They said: “Nay, we have come to you with that (torment) which they have been doubting. And we have brought to you the truth (the news of the destruction of your nation) and certainly, we tell the truth. Then travel in a part of the night with your family, and you go behind them in the rear, and let no one amongst you look back, but go on to where you are ordered.”
And We made known this decree to him, that the root of those (sinners) was to be cut off in the early morning.
And the inhabitants of the city came rejoicing (at the news of the young men’s arrival). (Loot) said: “Verily! These are my guests, so shame me not. And fear Allah and disgrace me not.” They (people of the city) said: ‘Did we not forbid you to entertain (or protect) any of the Alamin (people, foreigners, strangers, etc.) from us?” (Loot) said: “These (the girls of the nation) are my daughters (to marry lawfully), if you must act (so).”
Verily, by your life (0 Muhammad), in their wild intoxication they were wandering blindly. So As-Saiha (torment – awful cry, etc.) overtook them at the time of sunrise; and We turned (the towns of Sodom in Palestine) upside down and rained down on them stones of baked clay. Surely! In this are signs for those who see (or understand or learn the lessons from the Signs of Allah). And verily! They (the cities) are right on the highroad (from Makkah to Syria, i.e. the place where the Dead Sea is now). Surely! Therein is indeed a sign for the believers. Surah 15:61-77
Allah the Exalted also declared: So We saved him and his family, all, except an old woman (his wife) among those who remained behind. Then afterward We destroyed the others. And We rained on them a rain (of torment). And how evil was the rain of those who had been warned. Verily, in this is indeed a sign, yet most of them are not believers. And verily! Your Lord, He is indeed the All-Mighty, the Most Merciful. Surah 26:170-175
Loot’s (A.S.) Life after Sodom
The book was closed on the people of Loot (A.S.). Their towns and names have been erased from the face of the earth. Gone are they from memory. One book was closed of the books of corruption.
Loot (A.S.) proceeded towards Ibrahim (A.S.). He (A.S.) visited him, and when he (A.S.) recounted the story of his people, he (A.S.) was surprised to learn that Ibrahim (A.S.) already knew. And so Loot (A.S.) continued to invite people to Allah, as did Ibrahim (A.S.), the patient one who turned to Allah repentantly, and the two held firm to their mission.