🧵 People of Lut; Was their civilization destroyed because of homosexuality?
Historical perspective & inclusive interpretation to the story of the People of Lut in the Holy Quran, People of the Book sources and in historical context and in archeological evidence.
"Diversity of opinion is Allah’s gift to the ummah."
-Malik ibn Anas (d. 795), under threat of persecution & imprisonment for his opinion-
This is not my interpretation. I relay what I've read & believe to be true from imam Muhsin Hendricks, Scott Siraj Al-Haqq Kugle & others, who draw their interpretation from Ibn Hazm (d. 1064) & other early scholars as well as from logical thinking & from archeological evidence.
This inclusive interpretation is for people who are left out by common Quran interpretations. I pray it gives some hope despite those interpretations that exclude you & many other people. Quran was meant for all humankind not just for some. Quran must be interpreted inclusively.
"The Quran was revealed as a healing & mercy for all. What about the 10-15% that does not see the interpretation of the Quran as healing & mercy? Is the Quran wrong? Or are we going to look for interpretations that bring healing & mercy for everyone?"
-Imam Muhsin Hendricks-
"Islam does give leeway to think. We can never change the Quran. We can change interpretations. We live in a different world than thousand years ago. We have to look at the Quran again & see how Islam can become a mercy for those that are suffering now."
-Imam Muhsin Hendricks-
People of Lut lived in the cities of Sodom & Gomorrah. These were located under or adjacent to the waters south of Al-Lisān, a former peninsula in central part of the Dead Sea in the current border area of Israel & Jordan. The cities were destroyed about 1900 BC by an earthquake.
The cities were located next to a busy road which is still there busy as ever. Sources tell us, that the civilization living here were involved in highway robbery on this important road. They kidnapped people, molested & undressed them & finally sent them to the desert naked.
"Indeed, you approach men & obstruct the road & commit in your meetings every evil."
When the catastrophic destruction of the cities occurred, the petroleum & gases existing in the area resulted to the brimstone & fire that accompanied the geological upheaval. This brimstone and fire still scars the stones in Al-Lisān and ash covers the earth.
"And We rained upon them a rain of stones. Then see how was the end of the criminals."
"So when Our command came, We made the highest part of the city its lowest and rained upon them stones of layered hard clay, which were marked from your Lord."
But what does the Quran mean in 29:29 with "commit in your meetings every evil"?
For this, we need to go to the Mesopotamia and look at their religions.
The civilizations in Mesopotamia were polytheistic. We need to look only one goddess. That is Inanna from Sumer and city of Uruk. Inanna was worshiped in Sumer at least as early as around 4000 BC to 3100 BC.
Inanna became one of the most widely venerated deities in the Sumerian pantheon with temples across Mesopotamia. Later she was worshiped with the name Ishtar by Akkadians, Babylonians and Assyrians.
Ishtar was the goddess of fertility & sex. The belief, which was important part of their religion of Ishtar was that if they would smear the goddess with sperm, then Ishtar would keep their lands fertile.
Obviously, the more men & sex there was, then more sperm there would be to honor the goddess & make sure that their lands stayed fertile. By all accounts the area of Sodom & Gomorrah was very fertile before the cities were destroyed. They had a reason to practise their religion.
Worshiping Ishtar extended far from Mesopotamia. With different variations she was known by the Phoenicians, Greeks & is mentioned in the Bible as the Queen of Heaven. Worshiping her continued until its decline between the first & sixth centuries AD in the wake of Christianity.
Worshiping Ishtar survived in parts of Upper Mesopotamia among Assyrian communities as late as the 18th century AD. Ishtar was also worshiped in Canaan which covered the area where the cities of Sodom & Gomorrah were located.
Another religious decree was that every woman needed to offer her virginity to Ishtar. A woman would go into the temple & men would pay for the priest to have sex with a virgin & after that the woman was free to marry. This to appease Ishtar via sex & sperm & have fertile lands.
"The foulest Babylonian custom is that which compels every woman of the land to sit in the temple and have intercourse with some stranger at least once in her life."
-Greek historian Herodotus in the 5th century BC-
"A woman could not refuse payment. Once a stranger had made his choice & cast money into her lap she would be forced to have intercourse outside the temple. Ugly women might have to wait for years."
-Greek historian Herodotus in the 5th century BC-
"In Cyprus, Babylon, Byblos, Baalbek and in both Armenia and Turkey it appears that before marriage all women were formerly obliged by custom to prostitute themselves to strangers at the sanctuary of the goddess Ishtar."
-The Golden Bough by James Frazer-
Origin of Ishtar was in Sumer and in the city of Uruk, but as it spread there was variations with also boys, men and transgender people prostituting themselves. By some accounts this seems to have been most widespread in Assyria and Canaan.
The need of sex & sperm for Ishtar was endless & there wasn't enough willing virgins, men & boys to honour the goddess & guarantee that the land remained fertile. Due to this strangers got kidnapped & forced into the Ishtar temples against their will as the Quran states in 29:29.
"Do you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds."
Common interpretation is that this means homosexuality. That they were first to engage in this.
But this is clearly wrong interpretation when we look at archeological evidence.
Quran clearly states that the People of Lut did something that none before had done. This can't mean homosexuality as there is plenty of archeological evidence depicting same-sex acts before the time of the People of Lut.
Ancient religious Assyrian texts contain prayers for divine blessings on homosexual relationships. There is also pictured art of anal intercourse dating from the 3rd millennium BC.
Ancient Egyptian history has as at least one surviving image of two men kissing dated to 2494–2345 BC.
Clearly Quran doesn't mean homosexuality when it says that People of Lut did something that no other had done before.
"Indeed, you approach men with desire, instead of women. Rather, you are a transgressing people."
There's no question that they did have anal intercourse with men, women, girls & boys, with children, as part of their religious worshiping of Ishtar.
"You have already known that we have not concerning your daughters any claim, desire & indeed, you know what we want."
They came to take away the guests of the Prophet. The angels of Allah. They went too far in trying to take guests to Ishtar against their will.
"And they had demanded from him his guests."
"O my people, these are my daughters; they are purer for you. So fear Allah & do not disgrace me concerning my guests. Is there not among you a man of reason?"
Prophet Lut went as far as offering his daughters to the Ishtar to save his guests, the angels of Allah.
The sin of the People of Lut that none before them had done was their violent sexual abuse disguised as religion, lack of hospitality to strangers & guests, highway robbery, total lack of morality & hostility towards a Prophet & Allah.
None before them had transgressed that far.
The above cannot be said to apply to LGBT+ people. On the contrary. They face much the same as the victims of the People of Lut. Mental & physical violence in the hands of society, so-called religious people & even family. They are humiliated like victims of the People of Lut.
Ibn Hazm (d. 1064) says that the principle that Lut's Tribe violated & for which they were punished was rejecting Prophet & ethical guidance he brought. They rejected him in a variety ways & sexual assault of his guest was only one expression of this.
Ibn Hazm (d. 1064) asserted that the Tribe of Lut was destroyed for their infidelity (kufr) & their violent rejection of the Prophet sent & that this rejection was expressed in their whole range of criminal deeds, only some which were sexual in nature.
Ibn Hazm (d. 1064) notes that it is impossible that Lut's Tribe was destroyed solely or primarily because of male-to-male sex, because Lut's wife along with all other women & children were destroyed as well.
"We saved him from the city that was committing wicked deeds. Indeed, they were a people of evil, defiantly disobedient."
Emphasis on the plural form of the word deed. The lesson of the story is not about one thing. You miss the teaching if you look one thing only.
There's additional verses for the story of the People of Lut, but they repeat what is already said;
Their sin was violent sexual abuse as a religion, lack of hospitality to strangers, highway robbery, total lack of morality & hostility towards a Prophet, angels of Allah & Allah.
Earliest Christians read the Sodom story as a parable about inhospitality, arrogance & violence not about same-sex behavior.
Isaiah 1 equates the sin of Sodom with oppressing marginalized groups, murder & theft.
Jeremiah 23:14 links it with adultery, idolatry & power abuses.
Amos 4:1-11 & Zephaniah 2:8-11 compare it to the oppression of poor & prideful & mocking behavior.
Jewish writings say God loathed the people of Sodom "on account of their arrogance" (Sirach 16:8) & punished them "for having received strangers with hostility" (Wisdom 19:15).
The term "sodomy" was not coined until the 11th century and even then, it was widely used to refer to all non-procreative sexual acts including heterosexual acts as well. It was not tied to same-sex relations specifically.
The arabic term of "liwat " is a non-quranic term & was coined through interpretations of the People of Lut story. This term is not in the Quran nor is any word mentioning homosexuality, but the word was created by the interpreters of the Quran.
Muslims have much to do to improve non-heteronormative interpretations of scriptural texts such as the story of Lut in the service of a liberation theology for LGBT+ believers such that these interpretations do not end up reinscribing male privilege.
-Franz Volker Greifenhagen-
I pray that this interpretation helps you & helps to really think of what you read from the Quran & to interpret the texts with open eyes, heart and with inclusivity in mind. As a healing & mercy for each and everyone on this planet. Not just for certain people, but for everyone.
"We know this is one opinion, and it is the best we can arrive at, but if someone arrives at a different view, then he adopts what he believes is best and we adopt what we believe is best."
-Abu Hanifa (d. 767)-
To @threadreaderapp please unroll.
Share this Scrolly Tale with your friends.
A Scrolly Tale is a new way to read Twitter threads with a more visually immersive experience.
Discover more beautiful Scrolly Tales like this.