What was the reality of polytheism (Shirk) for the nation of Lot?

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[The title image is a depiction of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by the dramatic artist John Martin (1789-1854)]

Executive Summary


Many people are of the view that the idea of ‘worshipping Allah’, cannot be understood as being anything other than undertaking a set limited number of rituals.  Others maintain that monotheism (Tawḥeed) and polytheism (Shirk) solely concern graves, amulets, pictures and wizardry.

Yet the truth of the matter is far from being such a naïve or simplistic one.  Neither can it be one that is riddled with flaws, a complete misreading of the revelatory sources, or even be inherently inconsistent.

As a case in point, the story of the Prophet Lot (Luṭ) peace be upon him is quite exemplary.   While some of the actions his people undertook are well understood and infamous, others are not so.  The Qur’ān unequivocally confirms that Lot (Luṭ) peace be upon him was indeed from amongst the apostles.  Yet the precise nature of the call that he gave to his people seems to have been obscured.  Often this is to the extent that the actual text of the Qur’ān – its use of words and phrasing – is either completely overlooked or not even pondered over.

Allah the exalted succinctly states:

وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولًا أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ

And certainly, we raised in every nation a messenger saying: worship Allah and disavow the Ṭāghut [16: 36]

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا نُوحِي إِلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدُونِ

And we did not send before you any messenger except that we revealed to him that there is no god but me, therefore worship me [21: 25]

[The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, by the renaissance painter Joachim Patinir, 1520]

Given the generality of the wording in these two verses, how are they to be understood in the context of the Prophet Lot peace be upon him?  To answer this substantively and address the question of the nature of polytheism that the people he was sent to were partaking in, we have translated chapter 18 from Part 9 (Taweed al-Tashree’ wal-Ḥākimiyah) of Kitāb al-Tawḥeed by Professor Muḥammad ibn Abdullah al-Mas’ari.

The chapter provides an in-depth analysis of the Qur’ānic text as it relates to the Prophet Lot, as well as considering a plethora of other evidences.  Following perusal, one should be left in no doubt as to the answers to the questions that have been mentioned here.


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