31 July 2008

The Story of Lut - (Lot) - لوط

According to Islamic tradition, Lut (لوط ) lived in Ur and was a nephew of Ibrahim (Abraham). His story is often used as a reference by traditional Muslim scholars to show that homosexuality is forbidden. He was commanded by God to go to the land of Sodom and Gomorrah to preach to his people on monotheism (the belief that there is only one God) and to stop them from their sinful acts.

Such acts include practicing all acts of indecency (aggression) in their public places of assembly and meetings. He was sent to a nation where homosexuality was widespread. He was sent to guide them out of this evil act. Islam prohibits homosexuality very strongly. They also used to kill and rob travelers, cheat their friends and cut off the highway.

As mentioned in the Qur'an Lut's messages are ignored by his people, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed and his wife also was left behind to be destroyed. However, this does not mean that his wife used to practice homosexuality but worshiped what her people used to worship (i.e she was a polytheist).

And Lot, who said to his nation: 'Do you commit such indecency (sodomy) in a way that no one has preceded you in the worlds? You approach men lustfully instead of women. Truly, you are a nation who exceed (in sin).' The only answer of his nation was: 'Expel them from your village. They are people who keep themselves purified.' We saved him and all his family, except his wife, who was made to remain, and We rained down upon them a rain. So look how was the end of the evildoers.

Qur'an 7:80-84
Messengers came to Abraham with glad tidings. They said: 'Peace!' He replied 'Peace!' and in a while brought them a roasted calf.

But when he saw that their hands did not reach towards it, he was wary and became fearful of them, but they said: 'Do not be afraid. We are sent to the nation of Lot.' His wife (Sarah), who was standing nearby, laughed. Thereupon, We gave her the good news of Isaac, and after Isaac of Jacob. She replied: 'Alas for me! Shall I bear (a child) when I am old woman and my husband is advanced in years? This is indeed a strange thing.' They said: 'What, do you marvel at the command of God? The Mercy of God and His Blessings be upon you, O people of the House. Indeed, He is Praised, Exalted.' And when the wonderment departed from Abraham and the glad tidings reached him, he pleaded with Us for the nation of Lot; indeed, Abraham was forbearing, tenderhearted and penitent. (It was said:) 'Abraham, turn away from this; your Lord's command has indeed come, and there is coming upon them a punishment that will not be turned back.' And when Our messengers came to Lot, he was troubled and distressed for them, and said: 'This is a harsh day.' His nation came running towards him; whilst they were doing evil deeds. 'My nation,' he said: 'here are my daughters (take them in marriage), they are cleaner for you. Fear God and do not humiliate me by my guests. Is there not one man amongst you of right mind?' They replied: 'You know we have no right for your daughters. You know very well what we desire.' He said: 'Would that I were powerful over you, or might take refuge in a strong pillar!' They (the angels) said: 'Lot, we are the Messengers of your Lord, they shall not touch you. Depart with your family in the watch of the night and let none of you turn round, except your wife. She shall be struck by that which strikes them. Their appointed time is the morning. Is it not that the morning is near?' And when Our command came, We turned it upside down, and rained on it, stone after stone of baked clay, marked with your Lord, and never far from the evildoers.

Qur'an 11:69-83
Your Lord, He is the Almighty, the Most Merciful.

Lot's nation, belied their Messengers. When their brother Lot said to them: 'Will you not be cautious? I am for you an honest Messenger. So fear God, and obey me. ask of you no wage for this; my wage is only with the Lord of the Worlds. What, do you come to the males of the world, and leave your wives whom your Lord has created for you? No, but you are a transgressing nation.' 'Lot,' they replied, 'if you do not desist, you shall be thrown out.' He said: 'Truly, I am a detester of what you do.' 'My Lord, save me and my people from that they are doing.' So We saved him and all his people, except an old woman who stayed behind, then We destroyed the others. We rained upon them a rain, and evil is the rain (of stones) on those that are warned. Surely, in that there is a sign. Yet most of them do not believe. Your Lord, He is the Almighty, the Most Merciful.

Qur'an 26:159-175

The Qur'an makes a more explicit scriptural connection between homosexual aggression and Sodom. The city name ‘Sodom’ does not appear there, but the Sodomites are referred to as “the people of Lut (Lot).” Lot is the nephew of the Hebrew/Arabic patriarch Abraham and, in the Judaic Sodom stories, is head of the only family allowed by God to survive Sodom's destruction. In the Qur'an, he is also the divinely appointed national prophet to his people. Since their national name was unrecorded and “people of Lot” was the only available designation, the Islamic equivalent of ‘sodomy’ has become ‘liwat,’ which could be roughly translated as “lottishness”.

According to Islamic view, homosexuality is not a natural activity and it was initiated under the influence of Satan among the people who dwell in Sodom and Gomorrah. In order that they should abandon this immorality, Allah had sent to them Lut as a Prophet.

It is evident from this verse that the sin of the Sodomites was indeed homosexuality (specifically, amongst men) in the Islamic context.

In Islam sodomy (Anal sex) is forbidden whether done with a man or a woman.

Historicity and Archaeological remains of Sodom and Gomorrah

The historical existence of Sodom and Gomorrah is still in dispute by archaeologists. Some say they were located near the Dead Sea.

An Akkadian poem describing cities that were destroyed in a rain of fire, written from the view of a person who escaped the destruction, however the names of the cities are not given.

The name “Sodom” is probably related to the Arabic sadama meaning 'fasten,' 'fortify,' 'strengthen' and Gomorrah is based on the root gh m r which means 'be deep,' 'copious (water)'.

The cities may have been destroyed as the result of a natural cataclysm. Geologists have confirmed that no volcanic activity occurred within the last 4000 years, but it is possible that the towns were destroyed by an earthquake in the region, especially if the towns lie along a major fault, the Jordan Rift Valley, the northernmost extension of the Great Rift Valley of the Red Sea and East Africa.

Possible candidates for Sodom or Gomorrah are the sites discovered or visited by Walter E. Rast and R. Thomas Schaub in 1973, including Bab edh-Dhra, which was originally excavated in 1965 by archaeologist Paul Lapp, only to have his work continued by Rast and Schuab following his death by accidental drowning in the waters off of Cyprus in 1970. All sites were located near the Dead Sea, with evidence of burning and traces of sulphur on many of the stones and a sudden stop of inhabitation towards the end of the Early Bronze Age. Archaeological remains excavated from Bab edh-Dhra are currently displayed in Karak Archaeological Museum (Karak Castle) and Amman Citadel Museum.

The site of the present Dead Sea Works, a large operation for the extraction of Dead Sea minerals, is called "Sdom" according to its traditional Arab name, Khirbet Usdum. Nearby is unique Mount Sdom or Jabal Usdum in Arabic, consisting mainly of salt. In the Plain of Sdom to the south there are a few springs and two small agricultural villages.

Still others insist that the cities are located under the Southern most portions of the Dead Sea. In 1924 an Expedition found five Oases at the southeast corder of the Dad Sea, all made by fresh water streams. Also in the area, on a plain 500 feet above the level of the Dad Sea, they found the remains of a great fortified enclosure, evidently a high place for religious festivals. Just downstream from this site is thought to be the locations of Sodom and Gomorrah. However another quote from Josephus said "The traces or shadows of the ...cities are still to be seen", and the level of the Dead Sea has actually dropped since Josephus' time. So, one could reason, that if Josephus could see the ruins of the cities, we should be able to as well.

The most interesting theory found is that the two cities are above ground and easily researched and they have some pretty convincing evidence.

In areas just to the South/Southwest of the Dead Sea are rock structures which have an amazing resemblance to man made structures. The walls of a city, standalone buildings, even some sort of a sphinx formation which may have been an ancient place of worship. Many of the cuts in the rock are perfect 90 degree angles and symmetrical - which rarely happens in the wild.

The Qur'an says "We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): And evil was the shower on those who were admonished (but heeded not)! - 26:174" and wouldn't you know it, they've found sulfur (brimstone) balls. Lots of them. Some of them are actually embedded in the walls (see right) which would seem to indicate that they were moving at an incredible rate of speed.

Salt and Mineral encrusted wood around the Dead Sea (8k) A sign points the way to the Mt. Sodom towards the south end of the Dead Sea (5k)

You can see the rectangular outline of the city walls. The white colored ash of the cities stands in stark contrast to the grayish brown of the surrounding desert.

Jonathan Gray points to the city of Sodom (4k) One can clearly see the walls outlining the city (5k)

The walls of the city in the picture below are quite evident. No speculation needed. The houses and buildings were actually quite substantial in size, suggesting a people of great stature once inhabited these cities. The walls and everything in the cities were turned completely to ash!

The walls of the city are large and imposing (6k) These buildings may be 30-40 feet tall (5k)

Here is a mound that looks as if it had been a ziggurat (a pagan pyramidal temple). Outside of some of the cities were large shapes that were very similar in shape to the Great Sphinx of Egypt.

The mound with scallops looks like it had been a ziggurat (5k) Here we superimpose a sketch of what it might have looked like (6k)

The presence of scorpions made for a heightened awareness as one entered some of the houses turned to ash.

Many of the buildings are still standing (5k) A scorpion (7k)

A worker picks up a chunk of wall and easily crushes it.

A worker picks up a piece of ash (5k) and crushes it in his hand (5k)

Hundreds of sulfur balls were found and collected. On two occasions, the investigation teams entered the cities after a rain fall. The glass surrounding the balls glistened in the light, the rain having exposed millions of the balls.

Measuring part of the wall of ash (7K) A collection of sulfur balls (8k)

The balls themselves were composed of pressed pure powder sulfur. Checking with volcanic experts around the world confirmed that no where else in the world, even around volcanic activity, were any balls of this composition found.
When the balls had fallen from heaven, they were estimated to be around 5,000 degrees Celsius (or around 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit). After consuming everything that was around them, the heat continue to melt the ash that had formed around them, vitrifying (turning to glass) the ash. Thus the balls were surrounded by a glassy casing of melted and re-solidified ash.

Here's one sitting on the edge of a wall (7k) The heat from the sulfur balls discolored the ash around them (5k)

Some what were thought to be gold coins were found. However, upon analysis, it was found that the coins had been turned into gold salts. The heat had literally burned up the gold in the coins turning them to gold ash.

The following photographs show the explorers finding some of the sulfur balls inside a house turned to ash, and then burning a sample.

Upon entering a house of ash, we pick up a sulfur ball (4k) And light it with a match (4k)

One of the many sulfur ball sample collected by the verification teams. Independent laboratory testing confirmed that the balls had a high (95+%) sulfur content.

Here's another piece of ash with a large sulfur ball (7k) A printout of a chemical analysis of a sulfur ball (5k)

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