(7:80) Self Evident

وَلُوطًا إِذْ قَالَ لِقَوْمِهِۦٓ أَتَأْتُونَ ٱلْفَـٰحِشَةَ مَا سَبَقَكُم بِهَا مِنْ أَحَدٍۢ مِّنَ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ ٨٠

And ˹remember˺ when Lot scolded ˹the men of˺ his people, ˹saying,˺ “Do you commit a shameful deed that no man has ever done before?

إِنَّكُمْ لَتَأْتُونَ ٱلرِّجَالَ شَهْوَةًۭ مِّن دُونِ ٱلنِّسَآءِ ۚ بَلْ أَنتُمْ قَوْمٌۭ مُّسْرِفُونَ ٨١

You lust after men instead of women! You are certainly transgressors.”

(7:80-81)

This podcast is a tough one. Some topics are taboo to discuss, and none more so than this. So I’ve decided to take a different approach. Rather than outline my own reflection, I invite you to consider the evidence yourself and ask; how would you interpret them? If you read the verses yourself, what would you conclude they say?

In the last podcast I wrote, I spoke about the scope for difference; the need to set out the parameters for the discussion, then allow for a scope for difference within them. This podcast is here to ask; what do you do if all interpretations and opinions say the same thing? What if you know definitively this is what God said and meant? What do you do if there is no scope for difference, as the parameters given are self evident?

The verse I recited is one of a handful within the Quran discussing the story of Prophet Lut. Other verses are found in surah An-Naml, Ash-shu’araa, Al-Ankabut, Hud and Al-Hijr (I’ve included these in the appendix to this podcast). Like all prophets, Lut was sent by Allah ﷻ to guide his people, addressing the issues within his society that prevented them from returning to God. Whilst every prophet shared common threads in their message around the belief in one God, judgment day, etc, each of them was also tasked with addressing the unique issues plaguing their people. Prophet Shuaib addressed the corruption in trade. Prophet Hud addressed the oppression of a dominant superpower. Prophet Musa addressed the magic that perforated the pharaonic society. Reading these verses, what issue do you think Prophet Lut is addressing? Can you authentically interpret them to mean something else?

As a Muslim, our decision framework is built on the belief in Allah ﷻ, His words within the Quran, and the example of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Muslims reach this belief not through blind faith, but a conviction that is built on investigating the Quran and religion. Whilst most of what we are taught sits in accordance with what we desire, there will always be issues we do not naturally conform to. However, because they come from God – because we know He exists and the majority of what we are told makes sense – we submit. We submit to God’s will over our own, and we trust, given the overall truth we see in Islam, that this is the best way for us. This framework – one I will discuss more in other podcasts – is what Muslims live by:

  1. Does God exist? Yes
  2. Is the Quran His words? Yes
  3. Is what is being said clear and agreed upon? Yes
  4. Then it is binding for me to follow

Once you have accepted this, you are bound to follow its commands regardless of whether or not it conforms to your desires or popular opinion. Muslims do not control or set the law; Allah does. We are obliged to follow that which was revealed regardless of how uncomfortable or inconvenient it may be. We believe it is better for us to submit to it, yet we are encouraged to understand why through conversation, research and experience. We are commanded to be sympathetic and supportive to those struggling, yet firm on our principles of what is and is not allowed. From the 5 daily prayers and charity, to alcohol and fornication, Allah ﷻ has outlined a set of rules He wishes us to abide by, and as a Muslims – a submitter to His will – we obey.

With all the media focusing on the LGBT laws within Qatar, I thought to open this week’s reflection to you. When you read the verses above, how would you authentically interpret the words you hear? When everyone is calling upon the Qatari government to change their law, I ask, how would you change a law given to us by God in the Quran? Our resistance as a community is not from our own desires – it would be far more convenient to conform to what everyone else is asking. But as Muslims, our hands are tied; we are bound to follow the commands we are given regardless of how difficult we find them, and we believe they are better for us. We do not force this belief on non-adherents; if you are not a Muslim, you are not bound to follow its rules. But we cannot deny that a Muslim – a submitter to God’s will – must follow them. This podcast isn’t to ask you to agree; that only comes from a shared knowledge that a creator exists and that He has spoken to us through the Quran. My task is only to show you the words He said and ask, would you interpret them any differently?

Appendix

Here are the other verses found across the Quran on the same topic

Surah Al-Araaf (7:80-81)

وَلُوطًا إِذْ قَالَ لِقَوْمِهِۦٓ أَتَأْتُونَ ٱلْفَـٰحِشَةَ مَا سَبَقَكُم بِهَا مِنْ أَحَدٍۢ مِّنَ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ ٨٠

And ˹remember˺ when Lot scolded ˹the men of˺ his people, ˹saying,˺ “Do you commit a shameful deed that no man has ever done before?

إِنَّكُمْ لَتَأْتُونَ ٱلرِّجَالَ شَهْوَةًۭ مِّن دُونِ ٱلنِّسَآءِ ۚ بَلْ أَنتُمْ قَوْمٌۭ مُّسْرِفُونَ ٨١

You lust after men instead of women! You are certainly transgressors.”

Surah Shu’araa (26:161-166)

إِذْ قَالَ لَهُمْ أَخُوهُمْ لُوطٌ أَلَا تَتَّقُونَ ١٦١

when their brother Lot said to them, “Will you not fear ˹Allah˺?

إِنِّى لَكُمْ رَسُولٌ أَمِينٌۭ ١٦٢

I am truly a trustworthy messenger to you.

فَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ ١٦٣

So fear Allah, and obey me.

وَمَآ أَسْـَٔلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ أَجْرٍ ۖ إِنْ أَجْرِىَ إِلَّا عَلَىٰ رَبِّ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ ١٦٤

I do not ask you for any reward for this ˹message˺. My reward is only from the Lord of all worlds.

أَتَأْتُونَ ٱلذُّكْرَانَ مِنَ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ ١٦٥

Why do you ˹men˺ lust after fellow men,

وَتَذَرُونَ مَا خَلَقَ لَكُمْ رَبُّكُم مِّنْ أَزْوَٰجِكُم ۚ بَلْ أَنتُمْ قَوْمٌ عَادُونَ ١٦٦

leaving the wives that your Lord has created for you? In fact, you are a transgressing people.”

An-Naml (27:54-56)

وَلُوطًا إِذْ قَالَ لِقَوْمِهِۦٓ أَتَأْتُونَ ٱلْفَـٰحِشَةَ وَأَنتُمْ تُبْصِرُونَ ٥٤

And ˹remember˺ Lot, when he rebuked ˹the men of˺ his people, “Do you commit that shameful deed while you can see ˹one another˺?

أَئِنَّكُمْ لَتَأْتُونَ ٱلرِّجَالَ شَهْوَةًۭ مِّن دُونِ ٱلنِّسَآءِ ۚ بَلْ أَنتُمْ قَوْمٌۭ تَجْهَلُونَ ٥٥

Do you really lust after men instead of women? In fact, you are ˹only˺ a people acting ignorantly.”

۞ فَمَا كَانَ جَوَابَ قَوْمِهِۦٓ إِلَّآ أَن قَالُوٓا۟ أَخْرِجُوٓا۟ ءَالَ لُوطٍۢ مِّن قَرْيَتِكُمْ ۖ إِنَّهُمْ أُنَاسٌۭ يَتَطَهَّرُونَ ٥٦

But his people’s only response was to say, “Expel Lot’s followers from your land! They are a people who wish to remain chaste!”

Al-Ankabut (29:28-29)

وَلُوطًا إِذْ قَالَ لِقَوْمِهِۦٓ إِنَّكُمْ لَتَأْتُونَ ٱلْفَـٰحِشَةَ مَا سَبَقَكُم بِهَا مِنْ أَحَدٍۢ مِّنَ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ ٢٨

And ˹remember˺ when Lot rebuked ˹the men of˺ his people: “You certainly commit a shameful deed that no man has ever done before you.

أَئِنَّكُمْ لَتَأْتُونَ ٱلرِّجَالَ وَتَقْطَعُونَ ٱلسَّبِيلَ وَتَأْتُونَ فِى نَادِيكُمُ ٱلْمُنكَرَ ۖ فَمَا كَانَ جَوَابَ قَوْمِهِۦٓ إِلَّآ أَن قَالُوا۟ ٱئْتِنَا بِعَذَابِ ٱللَّهِ إِن كُنتَ مِنَ ٱلصَّـٰدِقِينَ ٢٩

Do you really lust after ˹other˺ men, abuse the travellers, and practice immorality ˹openly˺ in your gatherings?” His people’s only response was to say ˹mockingly˺: “Bring Allah’s punishment upon us, if what you say is true.”

Hud (11:77-78)

وَلَمَّا جَآءَتْ رُسُلُنَا لُوطًۭا سِىٓءَ بِهِمْ وَضَاقَ بِهِمْ ذَرْعًۭا وَقَالَ هَـٰذَا يَوْمٌ عَصِيبٌۭ ٧٧

When Our messenger-angels came to Lot, he was distressed and worried by their arrival. He said, “This is a terrible day.”

وَجَآءَهُۥ قَوْمُهُۥ يُهْرَعُونَ إِلَيْهِ وَمِن قَبْلُ كَانُوا۟ يَعْمَلُونَ ٱلسَّيِّـَٔاتِ ۚ قَالَ يَـٰقَوْمِ هَـٰٓؤُلَآءِ بَنَاتِى هُنَّ أَطْهَرُ لَكُمْ ۖ فَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَلَا تُخْزُونِ فِى ضَيْفِىٓ ۖ أَلَيْسَ مِنكُمْ رَجُلٌۭ رَّشِيدٌۭ ٧٨

And ˹the men of˺ his people—who were used to shameful deeds—came to him rushing. He pleaded, “O my people! Here are my daughters ˹for marriage˺—they are pure for you. So fear Allah, and do not humiliate me by disrespecting my guests. Is there not ˹even˺ a single right-minded man among you?”

Al-Hijr (15:67)

وَجَآءَ أَهْلُ ٱلْمَدِينَةِ يَسْتَبْشِرُونَ ٦٧

And there came the men of the city, rejoicing.

قَالَ إِنَّ هَـٰٓؤُلَآءِ ضَيْفِى فَلَا تَفْضَحُونِ ٦٨

Lot pleaded, “Indeed, these are my guests, so do not embarrass me.

وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَلَا تُخْزُونِ ٦٩

Fear Allah and do not humiliate me.”

قَالُوٓا۟ أَوَلَمْ نَنْهَكَ عَنِ ٱلْعَـٰلَمِينَ ٧٠

They responded, “Have we not forbidden you from protecting anyone?”

قَالَ هَـٰٓؤُلَآءِ بَنَاتِىٓ إِن كُنتُمْ فَـٰعِلِينَ ٧١

He said, “O my people! Here are my daughters ˹so marry them˺ if you wish to do so.”

لَعَمْرُكَ إِنَّهُمْ لَفِى سَكْرَتِهِمْ يَعْمَهُونَ ٧٢

By your life ˹O Prophet˺, they certainly wandered blindly, intoxicated ˹by lust˺.

فَأَخَذَتْهُمُ ٱلصَّيْحَةُ مُشْرِقِينَ ٧٣

So the ˹mighty˺ blast overtook them at sunrise.

فَجَعَلْنَا عَـٰلِيَهَا سَافِلَهَا وَأَمْطَرْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ حِجَارَةًۭ مِّن سِجِّيلٍ ٧٤

And We turned the cities ˹of Sodom and Gomorrah˺ upside down and rained upon them stones of baked clay.

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