How were the people of Sodom and Gomorrah punished?


Someone wrote to Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa and asked whether Muslims believed that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, the two cities of Lot’s people, were burned down as a punishment for their sins of adultery and homosexuality, etc. He asked whether this was supported by the Holy Quran. 

In his letter, dated 26 April 2021, Huzooraa replied as follows: 

“The Holy Quran does not say anywhere that Hazrat Lot’sas people were burned; rather, this is a biblical statement. Hence, the Bible states:

“‘Then the LORD rained upon Sodome & upon Gomorrah, brimstone and fire, from the LORD out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the plaine, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.’ (Genesis 19:24-27, KJV 1611)

“Similarly, it states:

“‘And that the whole land thereof is brimstone and salt, and burning, that it is not sowen, nor beareth, nor any grasse groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodome, and Gomorah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the Lord overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath.’ (Deuteronomy 29:23, KJV 1611)

“Thus, according to the Bible, those people were burned and turned into sulphur and salt. On the other hand, according to the statement of the Holy Quran, Allah the Exalted punished them for their transgressions, including harassing prophets in various ways, abusing them verbally, rejecting them, threatening to expel them from their lands, looking at the prophets’ companions with disdain, robbing wayfarers, mistreating neighbours and guests extremely badly, harassing vulnerable people and committing fornication and homosexuality etc. As a punishment for these sins, they were destroyed by an earthquake in such a way that their settlements were turned upside down and gravel rained down upon them. Thus, Allah says in Surah Al-Hijr:

وَجَاءَ‭ ‬أَهْلُ‭ ‬الْمَدِينَةِ‭ ‬يَسْتَبْشِرُونَ۔‭ ‬قَالَ‭ ‬إِنَّ‭ ‬هَؤُلَاءِ‭ ‬ضَيْفِي‭ ‬فَلَا‭ ‬تَفْضَحُونِ۔‭ ‬وَاتَّقُوا‭ ‬اللّٰهَ‭ ‬وَلَا‭ ‬تُخْزُونِ۔‭ ‬قَالُوا‭ ‬أَوَلَمْ‭ ‬نَنْهَكَ‭ ‬عَنِ‭ ‬الْعَالَمِينَ۔‭ ‬قَالَ‭ ‬هَؤُلَاءِ‭ ‬بَنَاتِي‭ ‬إِنْ‭ ‬كُنْتُمْ‭ ‬فَاعِلِينَ۔‭ ‬لَعَمْرُكَ‭ ‬إِنَّهُمْ‭ ‬لَفِي‭ ‬سَكْرَتِهِمْ‭ ‬يَعْمَهُونَ۔‭ ‬فَأَخَذَتْهُمُ‭ ‬الصَّيْحَةُ‭ ‬مُشْرِقِينَ۔‭ ‬فَجَعَلْنَا‭ ‬عَالِيَهَا‭ ‬سَافِلَهَا‭ ‬وَأَمْطَرْنَا‭ ‬عَلَيْهِمْ‭ ‬حِجَارَةً‭ ‬مِنْ‭ ‬سِجِّيلٍ۔

“‘And the people of the city came [to Lot] rejoicing [thinking that they now had a good opportunity to seize him]. [Upon this] he said [to them], ‘These are my guests, so put me not to shame [by threatening them]; ‘And fear Allah and disgrace me not.’ They said, ‘Did we not forbid thee [to entertain] all sorts of people?’ He said, ‘These are my daughters [among you, who are guarantee enough] if you must do [something against me].’ [O Our prophet!] By thy life, these [enemies of yours too] in their [mad] intoxication are wandering in distraction [like them] — Then the [promised] punishment seized them [the people of Lot] at sunrise. We turned [their town] upside down, and We rained upon them stones of clay.’ (Surah al-Hijr, Ch.15: V.68-75)

“Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra explained the wisdom behind the punishment and elaborated on the rain of pebbles mentioned in this verse as follows:

“‘Because the people of Lotas abandoned high morals and replaced them with lowly morals; in a similar manner, God turned the highest parts of the city into the lowest and [in a manner of speaking] said to them, ‘Go forth thence, live in the lowest part!’ Some people wonder how stones rained upon them. The answer to this is that a severe earthquake may sometimes cause parts of the land to rise and then fall. That is also what happened then. The ground, which was rocky, rose and then dropped down causing them to be crushed under the rocks. It may also mean that the walls of their houses fell down upon them since it is said that they used to build their houses out of stones. Stones that are mixed with mud are also called sijjil. This term accurately describes walls that are made of rocks and mud.’ (Tafsir-e-Kabir [Urdu], Vol. IV, p. 99)

“While explaining the rain of stones in another place, Huzoorra says:

“It was actually a shower of rocks, which was the result of a terrible earthquake. That is, the surface of the earth was overturned and the soil went up hundreds of feet and then fell down and it was as if soil and rocks rained down upon them. (Tafsir-e-Kabir [Urdu], Vol. VII, p. 408)

“Then Allah says in Surah Al-Shu‘ara:

كَذَّبَتْ‭ ‬قَوْمُ‭ ‬لُوطٍ‭ ‬الْمُرْسَلِينَ‭ ‬۔إِذْ‭ ‬قَالَ‭ ‬لَهُمْ‭ ‬أَخُوهُمْ‭ ‬لُوطٌ‭ ‬أَلَا‭ ‬تَتَّقُونَ‭ ‬۔‭ ‬إِنِّيْ‭ ‬لَكُمْ‭ ‬رَسُولٌ‭ ‬أَمِينٌ۔‭ ‬فَاتَّقُوا‭ ‬اللّٰهَ‭ ‬وَأَطِيْعُونِ۔‭ ‬وَمَا‭ ‬أَسْأَلُكُمْ‭ ‬عَلَيْهِ‭ ‬مِنْ‭ ‬أَجْرٍ‭ ‬إِنْ‭ ‬أَجْرِيَ‭ ‬إِلَّا‭ ‬عَلَى‭ ‬رَبِّ‭ ‬الْعَالَمِينَ۔‭ ‬أَتَأْتُونَ‭ ‬الذُّكْرَانَ‭ ‬مِنَ‭ ‬الْعَالَمِيْنَ۔‭ ‬وَتَذَرُوْنَ‭ ‬مَا‭ ‬خَلَقَ‭ ‬لَكُمْ‭ ‬رَبُّكُمْ‭ ‬مِنْ‭ ‬أَزْوَاجِكُمْ‭ ‬بَلْ‭ ‬أَنْتُمْ‭ ‬قَوْمٌ‭ ‬عَادُونَ۔‭ ‬قَالُوا‭ ‬لَئِنْ‭ ‬لَمْ‭ ‬تَنْتَهِ‭ ‬يَا‭ ‬لُوطُ‭ ‬لَتَكُوْنَنَّ‭ ‬مِنَ‭ ‬الْمُخْرَجِيْنَ۔‭ ‬قَالَ‭ ‬إِنِّي‭ ‬لِعَمَلِكُمْ‭ ‬مِنَ‭ ‬الْقَالِيْنَ۔رَبِّ‭ ‬نَجِّنِيْ‭ ‬وَأَهْلِيْ‭ ‬مِمَّا‭ ‬يَعْمَلُوْنَ۔فَنَجَّيْنَاهُ‭ ‬وَأَهْلَهُ‭ ‬أَجْمَعِيْنَ۔إِلَّا‭ ‬عَجُوزًا‭ ‬فِي‭ ‬الْغَابِرِيْنَ۔ثُمَّ‭ ‬دَمَّرْنَا‭ ‬الْآَخَرِيْنَ۔‭ ‬وَأَمْطَرْنَا‭ ‬عَلَيْهِمْ‭ ‬مَطَرًا‭ ‬فَسَاءَ‭ ‬مَطَرُ‭ ‬الْمُنْذَرِيْنَ۔

“‘The people of Lot rejected the Messengers. When their brother Lot said to them, ‘Will you not become righteous? ‘Surely, I am unto you a Messenger, faithful to [my] trust. So fear Allah, and obey me. ‘And I ask of you no reward for it. My reward is only with the Lord of the worlds. ‘Do you, of all peoples, approach males, ‘And leave your wives whom your Lord has created for you? Nay, [not only do you commit this act, but the truth is that] you are a people who transgress [against the dictates of human nature in every way].’ They said, ‘If thou desist not, O Lot, thou wilt surely be [one] of the banished ones.’ He said, ‘Certainly I hate your practice. ‘My Lord, save me and my family from what they do.’ So We saved him and his family, all [of them], Save an old woman among those who stayed behind. Then [after having saved Lot] We destroyed the others. And We rained upon them a rain [of stones]; and evil was the rain for those who were warned [by God but did not desist.]’ (Surah al-Shu‘ara, Ch.26: V.161-174)

“Moreover, Surah al-A‘raf, Surah al-Taubah, Surah Hud, Surah al-Naml, Surah al-Ankabut, Surah Qaf and Surah al-Qamar also mention the sins of this nation and the divine punishment that befell them.

“Therefore, a study of all these Quranic verses proves that this nation was destroyed by an earthquake and a storm of mud and stones as a punishment for their sins. They were not burned by fire.”

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