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Archive for January, 2011

The People of Lut

Once upon a time, there was a village that was populated with bad people. God sent them a prophet, named Lut, but the villagers ignore his message.

One day, three young men came to the village in search for Lut. The town’s men were elated for they had their eyes on the youthful pieces of meat. Lut felt distressed that he couldn’t protect the visitors, so he hid the young men, but his wife let the villagers know of their hiding place. As it turns out, the young men were angels sent from God and warned Lut to leave town because God was about to send his wrath in a form “of shower of stones of clay” that would kill the inhibitors of Sodom and Gomorrah/ known in the  Qur’an as People of Lut. In one version of the interpretation of the Quran, Lut asked his family not to look back, as they fled town, but his wife did in agony and turned into pillars of salt. In another version, she decided to stay in the village and meet her doom with the rest of the people.

The end… but not for the millions of people came afterwards and heard the story with all its versions. Many believe that people of Lut were bad people solely because they were homosexuals.

Today, it is believed that what hit the villages was a natural catastrophe, some claim an earthquake, others claim it was an asteroid. Either way, this helped form the Dead Sea.

Here are points I find puzzling:

1. God’s prophet is supposed to be GOOD… homosexuality is supposed to be BAD…yet, in Arabic; homosexuality is known as “Luwaat” –derived from the word Lut. Doesn’t this give something godly a negative connotation?

2. The story of people of Lut is mentioned in several verses in the Quran. But two verses “ayas” in particular have mentioned that people of Lut, committed a sin/ crime that “no people in Creation (ever) committed before..”:

And Lut, when he said to his people, “Do you commit an obscenity not perpetrated before you by anyone in all the worlds? You come with lust to men instead of women. You are indeed a depraved people.” (Qur’an, 7:80-81)

Do you approach males among the worlds? And leave what your Lord has created for you as mates? But you are a people transgressing. (Qur’an 26:165-166)

And [mention] Lut, when he said to his people, “Indeed, you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds. Indeed, you approach men and obstruct the road and commit in your meetings [every] evil.” And the answer of his people was not but they said, “Bring us the punishment of Allah, if you should be of the truthful.” (Qur’an, 29:28-29)

Most jumped into the conclusion that this never before done crime was homosexuality, but then, why would the last verse mention other evil doings if homosexuality was indeed the sole cause for God’s punishment?

Also, archeology and science have found proof that People of Lut lived around 1800 BC.  However, drawings in caves suggests that people have been practicing homosexuality way before that time. These drawings are estimated to go back as far as 10,000 BC. So, how does this fit with the homosexuality being a crime “no people in Creation (ever) committed before you”? It would be interesting to further study the cultural life of Sodom and Gomorrah and see what other crimes could be added to the list.

3. People of Lut don’t sound like nice people. Aside from the “crime” of homosexuality, they were murderers, rapists and bandits. They mistreated their wives, and were unfaithful to them. They ignored their wives, who had sexual urges of their own, and had sex with men instead. Yet, all this was ignored and focus was on homosexuality as a cause for punishment. More so,  Why isn’t there a distinction made between consensual sex and rape , which is what the villagers had in mind towards the three young men/ angels? But then we live in a world that takes matters as rape, both genders, and act of violence very lightly. Wouldn’t rape , and covering it up, be a far more sever crime than homosexuality?

4. The most important point: Does all this matter? Whether homosexuality is a sin or not, or a disease or not is not important. But what is important is how we, whether Muslims or not, deal with it. Do we let our holier than thou attitude manifest into hatred or do we follow the attitude that Islam first and for most is about the “treatment of others. “deen al-mo’aamalah” –this highly ignored concept believes that how we treat others is as important as our acts of worship.  Why can’t homosexuality simply be a test of our level of tolerance? If we actually have any? Or to test our claim that we love God. if so, how could we then  be consumed with so much hate toward those who do things differently when one of God’s many attributes is mercy.

 Sadly, we humans act too quickly in judging others, and act too slowly in loving and having mercy and tolerance towards others.