as understood by Mehedi A. Ali. Note: As of July 2021, The WordPress article is updated, but the PDF is an old, incomplete draft.
Introduction and Methodology
Nahida S. Nisa, writer and exegete, has readily accepted the invitation from the Quran itself, to study It. Her work uncovered that Lut (a.s). clarifies homosexuality was not the sin of his townsfolk first and foremost in explicit Qur’an verses. This Qur’an-centric argument, staying true to Arabic grammar as its primary strength, is fortified by supporting context, and tested for consistency with all other remaining verses of the scripture through a semantic and thematic analysis. It was veiled only to those who did not allow the Qur’an to speak for itself but permitted egregious and excessive insertions unscreened by relevant verses, subthemes, and the entire Book. As a result, revisionist theories and misguided interpretation were forced into the verses.
Because the message of Lut (a.s.) can be applied to graphic real world events, such events can be referenced for better understanding. I aim to minimize this here because the focus is to stay Qur’an-centric, so examples are brief. Links for further reading are provided to the reader to pursue at their own discretion. Classical and modern Arabic dictionaries and popular English translations are used to study the verses, not to introduce bold, non-Qur’anic details of the narrative.
Ironically, there might be a litany of accusations of “twisting verses to suit desires,” a common agitated projection by deniers, as opposed to sincere disagreement. Again, this presentation of the Nahida S. Nisa tafsir does not lean on such unwarranted insertions for such accusations. The argument and methodology is presented; now Allah SWT allows the understanding of it to those sincere.
بل “Bal” is a retractive particle of digression; traditional scholars have glossed over it when interpreting the three pairs of verses (26:165-166), (27:54-55), and (7:80-81) which traditional scholars claim as solid proof that homosexuality is a sin. The role of this word—“bal”—is extremely crucial and its significance cannot be understated in those three pairs, and throughout the Qur’an in other verses beyond Prophet Lut (a.s). It is critical that this is established.
We find later, that only in 29:28-29 the charge of “committing an immorality no nation preceding you has done” along with the descriptors of an “immorality,” “transgression,” and “exceeding” behavior referenced repeatedly is finally described in detail and associated with that charge and its characterizations. This place in the verse is the only time Lut’s (a.s) townsfolk’s reply is provided. We address the role of بل “bal” in the first three pairs, followed by 29:28-29. A few examples solidifying its function in other places in the Qur’an are also provided. This is to illustrate the role it plays outside of Lut’s (a.s.) story and to confirm dictionary definitions. It consistently performs the exact same role over one hundred times in the Book. It is highly recommended that one become familiar with verses regarding Lut’s (a.s.) story for better context before continuing. They can be accessed at the Alphabetical Index of the Holy Qur’an by Syed Ammar Shah.
I am not affiliated with any references in this argument and may not share the views of the sources.
1. Role of Bal and the Two-Part Format: To Clarify Misconceptions
Edward Lane Lexicon
Lane defines بل “bal” as a particle of digression in great length. We see it is used in the Qur’an for pairs of opposing verses, or a verse with two opposing thoughts, to negate or amend the preceding misconception or false idea presented in the first part, and then correcting it in the second part. The Book is replete with numerous examples that follow this basic structure:
1) The first part features a misconception, or an incorrect thought, or idea.
2) It is then followed with a contrasting statement, affirmed by بل “bal”, which disavows and amends the preceding erroneous idea, thus emphasizing the correct conclusion or thought.
Lane, Penrise and Omar provide very helpful and detailed entries in their respective works by defining its role rather than just providing synonyms. Their definitions are confirmed repeatedly (six more times) in other, more concise works cited. Edward Lane’s work is by far the grandest endeavor undertaken, and his full, detail-rich entry of the word can be found in a cleaner text version in the Appendices. The works of Penrise, Omar, Wright, Wehr, Wortabet, Haywood, Steingass, and Al-Mawrid displayed throughout are all immense in their own right as well. Any highlights, underlines, italicize, and bolding of dictionary entries and English translations of the Qur’an is of my emphasis for illustrative purposes only unless noted otherwise. In the PDF, translations will either be blue text, or have a blue main heading for sections with many translations within the body.
Abdul Mannan Omar
In English translations بل “bal” is often translated as “Rather”, “But rather” or “No/Nay, but rather” and so on to negate, and then correct to prevent misdirection. Since the word doesn’t exactly translate to “no” but does serve to negate and clarify in a two-part format, it is also often translated simply “no” or “nay” in English. Because it simultaneously affirms the truth of what comes after, sometimes the fifth or sixth synonym listed is “certainly” or the more archaic “verily” in some entries. However that alone is underwhelming because without provided explanation or Qur’anic context, the negation is not always clear; rather, it would appear to confirm what came previously, which is incorrect. Or, as seen in Steingass’ entry, “sometimes” which neither registers as total negation or even the incorrect affirmation, albeit it comes last in his list after the more accurate renditions. This is why seeking its role in the Qur’an is tackled next for consistent patterns after reviewing other works. Any word or phrase that only verifies the latter but does not force the reader’s attention into noticing the departure from what came before is not grasping the word’s true power.
In general, it seems that the English phrase “But on the contrary” best encapsulates the meaning. That exact phrase is included in the definitions provided by Wright, Wortabet, Omar, as well as Steingass, and correctly adheres to the description provided by Lane, Penrise, and Omar, and how the Qur’an utilizes it every time. For example The Sahih International translation example below uses “on the contrary” to reinforce “but” on at least one occasion in brackets, and “but” solely is used in the other. Exact English translations may vary depending on the grammar and structure of the sentence. No matter what exact word or phrase is chosen, it should capture the essence.
Three of MANY Examples of Qur’anic Usage of بل “bal”
The Qur’an verifies the meaning of this word and confirms the definitions when we look at how it is used in context. The idea is introduced in the preceding verse:
Qur’an 21:43 – Or do they have gods to defend them other than Us? They are unable [even] to help themselves, nor can they be protected from Us. (Sahih International)
Then this is negated with بل “bal” and continues with the contrast provided:
But, [on the contrary], (Arabic: بل bal) We have provided good things for these [disbelievers] and their fathers until life was prolonged for them. Then do they not see that We set upon the land, reducing it from its borders? So it is they who will overcome? Sahih International (21:44)
Here it is clarified that despite their shortcomings, their lives have been prolonged and with good tidings even though Allah is capable and might be expected to decrease their protection or good tidings. “On the contrary” is provided in brackets to assist translation. Here is another example; this time they are within single verses with two opposing thoughts.
they say, “You, [O Muhammad], are but an inventor [of lies].” But (Arabic: بل bal)most of them do not know. Sahih International 16:101 (part)
Or do they say, “In him is madness?” Rather (Arabic: بل bal), he brought them the truth, but most of them, to the truth, are averse. Sahih International (23:70)
بل “bal” is used here to negate the preceding idea by saying the disbelieving accusers are not aware of the truth, rectifying the false notion of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ being a liar. Obviously if we had inserted “certainly” or “verily” one could see the negation but this is despite the word, not because of it. It is not as apparent elsewhere, so we will maintain “but on the contrary”.
And lastly, as my personal favorite, this deserves a block quote.
They say, “Allah has taken a son.” Exalted is He! Rather (Arabic: بل bal), to Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and the earth. All are devoutly obedient to Him“Quran 2:116
Prefixed Interrogative Alif
The prefixed interrogative alif is used at the beginning of Qur’an 26:1655; 27:54; and 29:28-9. Source: Free Comprehensive Resource of Arabic Grammar © Hani Deek 2005-2018
As we begin to look at the verses in question, it is helpful to note that some of these verses start with a prefixed interrogative alif. Much like the French phrase “est-ce que” (is it that/is it true that?) which is also used to form certain questions, this particle of interrogation literally translates to “is it true that…?”. Because it seems the flow in English becomes a bit awkward when forming sentences in that manner, it is sometimes translated in English as “do you?”
However, “do you?” in English is more general and does not seek that level of specificity as the literal translation (“Is it that?”). For better emphasis, the phrase “Do you actually”, “Do you truly”, Do you really?” might be more suitable. Regardless, the point being made with بل “bal” can still be seen. Inserting the more accurate “is it that” on the other hand truly shows how complementary it is with “but on the contrary” in the original Arabic.
2. Lut (a.s.) And the Two Misconceptions
As we see in the Qur’anic examples above, what may be perceived on the surface is not so. There are two misconceptions being addressed in regard to what the townsfolk of Lut a.s. used to do with newcomers that passed by their town. One is of adultery, the other is of homosexuality.
Misconception: Is this adultery?
Do you approach males among the worlds –
And leave what your Lord has created for you as mates? But (Arabic: بل bal) you are a people transgressing.”
As stated here the people of Lut a.s have spouses (azwaj) that they are leaving aside. (This will be addressed again when Lut’s (a.s.) daughters are discussed toward the end). The misconception here is that adultery is being committed. Although on the surface we see that a sexual act is being performed outside of wedlock, directed towards to travelers from other regions (“from among the worlds”) passing through, this misconception is corrected by saying بل bal , or “but on the contrary” their crime transgresses the aforementioned adultery (which requires at least two consensual partners) to that of something else. That risk of associating the two is thrown out. The next one to address is homosexuality. There is a danger of conflating their crime to homosexuality, since their victims are passersby who are men. Multiple popular translations are provided by Qur’an Corpus.
Misconception: Is this Homosexuality?
Sahih International: And [mention] Lot, when he said to his people, “Do you commit immorality while you are seeing?
The misconception is paired with ↓↓ clarification. Key words italicized or bolded.
Sahih International: Do you indeed approach men with desire instead of women? Rather, you are a people behaving ignorantly.
Pickthall: Must ye needs lust after men instead of women? Nay, but ye are folk who act senselessly.
Yusuf Ali: Would ye really approach men in your lusts rather than women? Nay, ye are a people (grossly) ignorant!
Shakir: What! do you indeed approach men lustfully rather than women? Nay, you are a people who act ignorantly.
Muhammad Sarwar: Do you have carnal relations with men rather than women? You are ignorant people”.
Mohsin Khan: “Do you approach men in your lusts rather than women? Nay, but you are a people who behave senselessly.”
Arberry: What, do you approach men lustfully instead of women? No, you are a people that are ignorant.’
For the average reader that has the concept of homosexuality being a sin well-engrained in their mind, there is a risk of an unintentional “reading-into” the Qur’an, therefore the distinction here will be quite difficult to notice. The retractive particle will simply be passed over (it does not even factor into Sarwar’s translation!), even though it creates a hiccup in the flow of the verse if homosexuality is the sin being referred to. Translating the Qur’an is a mammoth task which deserves appreciation, but sometimes preconceived notions are a worse barrier than a lackluster translation. In reality, the verse is actually saying the opposite of what most people believe.
Perhaps Shakir’s and Mohsin Khan’s rendering of 27:55 really convey that distinction best – while the people are indeed “acting ignorantly”, that characteristic is disassociated lusting for men rather than women:
“What! do you indeed approach men lustfully rather than women? Nay, (Arabic: بل bal) you are a people who act ignorantly. (Shakir)
“Do you approach men in your lusts rather than women? Nay, but (Arabic: بل bal) you are a people who behave senselessly.” (Mohsin Khan)
It can be discerned with more clarity if again we see the complementary role played with بل “bal” (But on the contrary) when the prefixed interrogative alif is read as literally as “Is it that?” Shakir translates it as “do you indeed” which is closer to the literal meaning. “Would ye really?” from Yusuf Ali comes close too.
Mohsin Khan on the other hand does a slightly better job at translating بل “bal” as “Nay, but” rather than just “Nay”. Though this apparently is not as strong as “but/no, on the contrary” to best fit Lane’s, Penrise’s, and Omar’s description of the role in amending whatever was previously expressed, which is how the Qur’an employs it; readers tend to miss it. Combining their translations with their strong points would paint a better picture. Ideally, the translation of this verse would read better as,
“Is it that (pref. int. alif) you [really] approach men in your lusts rather than women? On the contrary (Arabic: بل bal) you are a people who act senselessly.”
And [We had sent] Lot when he said to his people, “Do you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds?
Now comes the misconception paired with clarification in the same verse.
Sahih International: Indeed, you approach men with desire, instead of women. Rather, you are a transgressing people.”
Pickthall: Lo! ye come with lust unto men instead of women. Nay, but ye are wanton folk.
Yusuf Ali: “For ye practise your lusts on men in preference to women : ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds.”
Shakir: Most surely you come to males in lust besides females; nay you are an extravagant people.
Muhammad Sarwar: You engage in lustful activities with people instead of women. You have become transgressing people.
Mohsin Khan: “Verily, you practise your lusts on men instead of women. Nay, but you are a people transgressing beyond bounds (by committing great sins).”
Arberry: See, you approach men lustfully instead of women; no, you are a people that do exceed.
This pair is usually the one of the three that is most often cited. This variant being written in the affirmative makes no difference in the false notion being debunked. Our good friend Lane writes (bolded for emphasis),
…and if preceded by a command or an affirmation, (Mughnee, Ḳ,) as in..[Beat thou Zeyd: no, ʼAmr]….and [Zeyd stood: no, ʼAmr], or…[Thy brother came to me: no, thy father], it makes what precedes it to be as though nothing were said respecting it…and similar to these cases is the case in which it is preceded by an interrogation.Lane Lexicon: بل “bal”
This brand new immorality that the town is being known for which to the clueless person looks like homosexuality due to the misleading optics of the situation. To say that this town en masse invented homosexuality, a trait is less frequent than heterosexuality among individuals, would be bizzare. Here Lut a.s. confirms the difference between homosexual disposition and a male-on-male act, which can be done by married heterosexual men (26:165). Because Surah 26 specifies “males of the worlds” and “azwaj”, this dispels the notion of homosexuality and adultery with travelers simultaneously. If this was unaccounted for and were considered generalized terms, it is dismissed by بل “bal” regardless. This time Mohsin Khan does a good translation, but Arberry’s seems to convey it the best of the bunch:
“See, you approach men lustfully instead of women; no, (Arabic: بل bal) you are a people that do exceed.” (Arberry 7:81)
While the act in and of itself is there as with acts of infidelity, the intention is something altogether, “exceeding” what constitutes the aforementioned notion. Here بل “bal” corrects the conflation, and explains that what they do goes beyond the realm of that.
If there was any doubt, the Surah 27 pair explicitly reinforces the argument. This is why related Qur’an verses have to be accounted for in totality and not read in isolation. More explicit ones will define the implicit ones to narrow down interpretations in verses of the same story, larger themes, and the entire Book.
The two motives that appear on the surface (but are not so) here are:
- Approaching travelers and leaving spouses ≠ adultery
- Approaching men and leaving aside women ≠ homosexuality
Although 26:165 uses the word “males” it is referring to a specific party (the travelers) rather than gender, as this description is linked to “of the worlds”, not local males within the town. This is a critical detail which we will see again in 29:28-29. Had the identifying descriptor been “travelers” instead of “males”, the point of the verse (question of adultery) would be intact, as it specifically refers to leaving aside spouses. When 54:37 later on summarizes the mob incident, Lut’s (a.s.) visitors are simply referred to as “guests” rather than making it a point they are men.
Rather, it is the other set of verses (7:80-81; 27:54-55) that deals with the question of homosexuality as now they are asked about generally leaving aside women for men (travelers or otherwise), and not the spouses they are bound to by the institution of marriage in 26:165-166. The ‘transgressing’ and ‘excessive’ attributes are beyond the realm of what constitutes adultery and homosexuality.
To be clear, the misconception to be clarified is not that the people of Lut (a.s.) think they haven’t done any wrong and that he is pointing out new information to prove otherwise. They already know what they are doing is wrong despite having open eyes, as kufr has veiled them. He has already told them to desist many times before. The Qur’an points out that they have done this in the past, and also Allah SWT does not destroy a community without several warnings.
The next section clarifies through Qur’an 29:28-9, written in the affirmative, shows us what exactly is going on, if not adultery or homosexuality. And here “approaching men” is listed without “besides women”, and instead is linked to a criminal process featuring no retractive particle this time, which is the key difference in its structure when compared to Qur’an 7:80-1
3. The Actual CRIME of 29:29
Sahih International 29:28: And [mention] Lot, when he said to his people, “Indeed, you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds.
This time, there is no بل “bal”in the next verse as this is no misconception.
Sahih International: 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.”
Pickthall: For come ye not in unto males, and cut ye not the road (for travellers), and commit ye not abomination in your meetings? But the answer of his folk was only that they said: Bring Allah’s doom upon us if thou art a truthteller!
Yusuf Ali: “Do ye indeed approach men, and cut off the highway?- and practise wickedness (even) in your councils?” But his people gave no answer but this: they said: “Bring us the Wrath of Allah if thou tellest the truth.”
Shakir: What! do you come to the males and commit robbery on the highway, and you commit evil deeds in your assemblies? But nothing was the answer of his people except that they said: Bring on us Allah’s punishment, if you are one of the truthful.
Muhammad Sarwar: Do you engage in carnal relations with men, rob the travellers, and commit evil in your gatherings? His people had no answer but to say, “Bring upon us the torment of God if you are truthful”.
Mohsin Khan: “Verily, you do sodomy with men, and rob the wayfarer (travellers, etc.)! and practise Al-Munkar (disbelief and polytheism and every kind of evil wicked deed) in your meetings.” But his people gave no answer except, that they said: “Bring Allah’s Torment upon us if you are one of the truthful.”
Arberry: What, do you approach men, and cut the way, and commit in your assembly dishonour?’ But the only answer of his people was that they said, ‘Then bring us the chastisement of God, if thou speakest truly.’
The Conjunction “Wa”
The acts being described here are sequential and associated with each other as a larger collective crime, and not totally isolated actions that are separated by time or intent. It becomes clear that his people ambush the traveling males, which would in fact quite literally interrupt the path they travel on, and subjugation would have to be done in large numbers (a gathering of the town) to project the superior force required to dominate. These are being carried out in quick succession.
In Joseph A. Islam’s article, “Does the Qur’an Really Sanction Beating of Wives”, he discusses that it does not with a more accurate rendering of the Arabic word, ‘idribohunna’. Here he explains the function of “wa” in verse 4:34 where corrective steps are listed, with his emphasis:
“the Arabic word ‘wa’ does not necessarily indicate a separation in time but an action that can be performed simultaneously or indeed in a relatively short sequence (not separated by any significant time spans).”Joseph A. Islam, Quransmessage.com.
In another article, “The Seven Oft-Repeated”, J. Islam explains the meaning of the phrase “saba’an minal-mathani” (the namesake of the article) that is associated with the Qur’an, and discusses whether it refers to seven or a multiplicity of verses (several) that is not separate from the Qur’an itself. Here, he writes again about how the Qur’an employs “wa”:
Some Muslims understand the conjunction ‘wa’ (and) as an indication to imply something separate from the main Qur’an. Such an assertion takes little account of the Qur’anic style of dialogue which clearly uses the conjunction ‘wa’ in different ways….
….Not only is ‘wa’ used in the Qur’an to denote something separate or additional, it is also used to elucidate an existing statement by defining it or clarifying it.
For example, in the following verse, we note:
‘In both of them (are) fruits (Arabic: fakihatun) and (wa) date-palms and (wa) pomegranates’.
Here the conjunction ‘wa’ (and) when used with date-palms and pomegranates only clarifies the ‘fruits’ and is not read as separate from the category of fruits (fakihatun)”.Joseph A. Islam, Quransmessage.com.
If this variant was applied, then “approaching men” would also entail cutting off the highway (to ambush and trap), and to do evil to them, in one swoop. It is a tactic in part of the grander effort, the “immorality no one else has done” in the previous verse, to ambush and gang rape victims, close the escape route, and overpower them with superior numbers in a large group, altogether constituting in “approaching men” to commit “the immorality none preceded with”. The fact that the township is on an established route (Qur’an 15:76) means they could have laid in waiting for new victims. This sinister communal crime, done altogether, is indeed something “no nation has preceded you with.”
The Charge is Made, and the Accused Answer
Sahih International 29:29: Indeed, you approach men and obstruct the road and commit in your meetings [every] evil.”
- Notice here“besides women” is no longer the issue in a more detailed verse explaining the crime, and is now immediately associated with cutting the path and evil in groups.
- This malicious act of “approaching men” et cetera with the complete picture, is quite different from the “men besides women” that one may feel out of their innate disposition, that of which was listed alone in the other verses and subsequently nullified with بل “bal”.
- Furthermore, indeed links these two together and is not contrasted like in the Surah 7 pair as there is no بل “bal” here. That is the key difference between the set-up in the Surah 29 and Surah 7 pairs: “Approaching men besides women” has been filtered out in the Surah 7 pair, which is accentuated by the Surah 27 pair.
“Is it that you’re actually doing this…?”
Now, it is asking if they are actually (indeed) considering this with the interrogative alif and “indeed” combination in the 29th, because there is no more retraction بل “bal” where the crime is specified. Just like in 7:80-1, “indeed” in the 29th refers back to the charge in the previous verse, the “immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds” but with no cancellation this time.
Now it’s a statement or exclamation of incredulity and confirmation. It would be akin to “Is it that you’re actually doing this?!” This fits the overall incredulous tone well especially when he asks them if they “…commit immorality while you are seeing?” (Qur’an 27:54). It points out the madness of doing something of this nature especially while sober and perceptive. The only “khamr” here blinding their judgement is the sheer intoxication of their kufr which drove them to act madly, so much so that Allah (SWT) swore by Muhammad’s ﷺ life. This is the new immorality no one has done before them. The act is confirmed and comes with an explanation that needs no correction.
Notably this is also the only time the charge receives a challenge from the criminals. They mocked or challenged him to bring Allah’s punishment, essentially affirming the charge with “Go ahead and stop us”.
Why بل “bal” Was Necessary: Not Knowing Components Spurs Damaging Conflation
Sadly rape, even in recent times in many Muslim countries, has been reduced to adultery – an outrageous comparison. Punishments are meted out to rape victims that are typically associated with adultery (i.e. flogging, stoning). Similarly, homosexuality has also been attributed to Lut’s (a.s.) community, which is also crudely reductionist and thus wildly inaccurate as is equating adultery to rape. This is done because extremely pertinent nuance between all these actions are unjustly stripped away and reduced to make damaging conflations.
This is what happens when all context is devoid and such things are not discussed or challenged in traditional and conservative societies. These two misconceptions continue to this day, which could explain why of the three components listed in 29:29, it is explained that the first component (approaching the male travelers) that exceeds beyond the limits of lusting for males besides the females (7:80-81; 27:54-55) and of course transgressed beyond leaving the spouse for an extramarital sexual act (26:165-166) to cover all bases. It is بل “bal” that takes the two main misleading interpretations being read into the Qur’an and puts a cap on it, and allows the rest of the story to provide the context for what is happening, unhindered.
What appears on the surface is not so, and important distinctions need to be made. Similar to that of 7:80-81 which states the literal act with a retractive particle to clarify, note how the format of this excerpt from a news article regarding a case from Pakistan has a qualifier to explain what happened. Emphasis added:
“Furthermore, he said, in accusing her brother-in-law of raping her, Ms. Zafran had confessed to her crime.
‘The lady stated before this court that, yes, she had committed sexual intercourse, but with the brother of her husband,’ Judge Khan said. ‘This left no option to the court but to impose the highest penalty.’”
The court fails to recognize this extra-marital sexual contact is rape, as readers do when they read verses typically believed to condemn homosexuality in the Qur’an. Zafran Bibi clarifying that it was rape seems to have no bearing here, sadly. It is still clearly expressed that she “confessed” to a crime.
For the matter of sexual orientation especially this leads to further nonsensical comparisons to bestiality, necrophilia, incest, being prone to anger or inclining to theft, and conjecture about afflictions affecting LGBT people.
Misconceptions or conflations occur when two things have a superficial component in common, and are thus erroneously lumped together based upon that component due to shallow understanding – like apples and oranges on the basis of being fruit. You have to know the composition, constitution, the elements, etc. of what you’re talking about in order to firmly oppose or endorse an idea, and to prevent conflations and conjecture originating from those misconceptions. This is why fallacious positions comparing incest and whatnot arise. In other words, you need to recognize the scope, or upper and lower limits of it.
Rape is not on the extreme limits or same scale or trajectory as sexual orientation, gay or straight. Despite being a sexual ACT (which is the culprit for the conflation), it is not as if rape is on the same ladder of a sexual orientation, but on a different rung. It is a different beast entirely. This is why the Quran constantly says it is “exceeding [limits]” and “transgressing [bounds]”. When traditional Muslims read “exceeds” or “transgresses” they do not realize it refers to what was literally stated in the text beforehand, of homosexual inclination and the lust associated with it, and adultery, and instead think it refers to an imaginary line drawn in the Quran somewhere, when no ban on homosexuality is found elsewhere to support their view. Ask them, “Transgressing WHAT? Exceeding WHAT?”
Qur’an verses 29:28-9 reveal the larger scope and scale of the crime being committed. Foreigners who pass by the town are “approached”, the pathway is simultaneously blocked off, and “evil” is then committed in the gatherings, which based on the power being projected here [through superior strength in numbers of the townspeople], appears to be an ambush with the intent of gang rape directed towards unsuspecting travelers. This “evil” is related to the “immorality” and “ignorant/senseless behavior” inquired about in the verses where homosexuality is dismissed and an “exceeding” transgression is attributed to them. This is an act that no nation preceding them had done, and is highly unlikely to refer to accepting homosexuality as an invented practice of the townspeople in all of humanity.
Moreover, rape is a crime that requires power to subdue the victim, and can happen to either men or women and is reprehensible either way, regardless of the genders of victims or perpetrators. It is also very plausible that you would need a large gathering to “cut-off the path” as well. These three are occurring in continuum. They are not an isolated list of faults occurring out of sequence. These three, altogether, share the characterization of “indeed, committing an act no one has done” provided in the preceding verse, 29:28, shown below and therefore are grouped together in a sequence.
‘Immorality no one before them has done’
4. Additional Qur’anic Context
Power Projection and Lut’s Fear
Additional Qur’anic context paints the picture. This is important for a few reasons. Despite the abundance of references, valid points, and explanation for بل bal above, some may have doubts surrounding the usage of the word even if a possible negation-affirmation role is acknowledged. Even if there was another definition for بل bal which does the complete opposite function (there is not), studying the context will allow one to see which candidate of interpretation creates the most coherent reading. Doing this only strengthens our position further as we read about the threatening aura of Lut’s a.s. community, if skepticism remains.
A coercive crime such as sexual assault or rape requires power to subdue the victim by overriding their ability to resist. One way to project strength or power is through numbers. It appears that most of the townspeople were involved in this crime, and 29:29 indicates that this was done in gatherings which again, may be needed to effectively cut the path as well as forcefully subdue the travelers.
Furthermore, Lut a.s. himself wishes for more power to resist his townspeople. It becomes abundantly clear that these are not a bunch of curious gay lovers inquiring all at once at his doorstep to whom one would offer to reacquaint with wives as an alternative, or general women to marry and/or rape to prioritize fighting casual homosexuality.
Sahih International: He said, “If only I had against you some power or could take refuge in a strong support.” (11:80)
The above sentiment can be expressed by anyone in an oppressed or compromised state. They had also warned him from providing any sort of relief or even association with travelers in the past in Qur’an 15:70. Translations vary. Note Sahih International and Mohsin Khan especially hint at protection, which appropriately fits the context of a threat.
Sahih International: They said, “Have we not forbidden you from [protecting] people?
Pickthall: They said; Have we not forbidden you from (entertaining) anyone?
Yusuf Ali: They said: “Did we not forbid thee (to speak) for all and sundry?”
Mohsin Khan: They (people of the city) said: “Did we not forbid you to entertain (or protect) any of the ‘Alamin (people, foreigners, strangers, etc. from us)?”
Before Lut a.s. is informed by his guests that they are in fact angelic messengers (Qur’an 11:81) ready to smite the aggressors into the pages of history, he grieves at the sight of newcomers; his townspeople have done fearful acts in the past that would violate their safety.
Qur’an 29:33 : And when Our messengers came to Lot,he was distressed for them and felt for them great discomfort. They said, “Fear not, nor grieve. Indeed, we will save you and your family, except your wife; she is to be of those who remain behind. (Sahih International)
Lack of Clear Punishment for Alleged Sin of Homosexuality
In mainstream Muslim thought, it is solely the crime of homosexuality that is referred to when discussing Prophet Lut a.s. The other two components are regarded as separate to that, and is almost an after-thought. If cutting the path refers to highway robbery, there is at least punishment prescribed for exemplary theft. The same is true for adultery. For the “evil in gatherings”, literally no one recognizes this as an associated step, and thus takes shots in the dark as to what this involves rather than sourcing from the Qur’an. Wild guesses range from a spectrum of faults, including farting and laughing out loud together about it; a ridiculous assessment and an embarrassment to exegesis of a severe message. Anything that uses baseless conjecture as opposed to the Qur’an-centric methodology should be waived aside.
On a serious note, for a crime which the town is often referred to as having been turned upside down, there is an interesting absence of a punishment for homosexuality, their highlighted sin. This is another subtle hint of many that the mainstream interpretation is incorrect. Outside the narratives of Lut a.s., there is no general mention of a punishment for an act described as “approaching males besides females” and “approaching females besides males”. بل “bal” has already divorced the former phrase from the umbrella term “fahisha” and there is utter silence on the latter.
Especially when the Qur’an specifies the rewards of good work for believing males and females, sins for disbelieving males and females, one would expect a crime where gender is the focus of the sin to mention it as such. Even the punishment of exemplary robbery mentions male and female thieves.
Qur’an 5:38: [As for] the thief, the male and the female…
Alleged ‘Punishment’ in Surah 4 – Homosexuality in the middle of financial and inheritance disputes?
Qur’an 4:15: Those who commit unlawful sexual intercourse of your women – bring against them four [witnesses] from among you. And if they testify, confine the guilty women to houses until death takes them or Allah ordains for them [another] way. (Sahih International)
Pickthall, Yusuf Ali: lewdness;
Shakir, Arberry: indecency;
M. Khan: unlawful sexual intercourse.
Qur’an 4:16: And the two who commit it among you, dishonor them both. But if they repent and correct themselves, leave them alone. Indeed, Allah is ever Accepting of repentance and Merciful. (Sahih International)
Mohsin Khan (part) : And the two persons (man and woman) among you who commit illegal sexual intercourse, punish them both. And if they repent (promise Allah that they will never repeat, i.e. commit illegal sexual intercourse and other similar sins)…
Punishment for adultery is already described in Surah 24. These verses are about financial issues in the family, particularly dowries and inheritance and safeguarding it for the entitled in the surrounding context. Although Lane mentions discord in the family in regards to going out, and using a sharp tongue against one’s relatives, the entry here seems to single out women. Whereas, the Qur’an specifies the fahisha here in Surah 4 for three or more women, and then the dual form for two men, or man with a woman. Mohsin Khan for instance specifies man with woman.
Given the context of finances and safeguarding money for those who are entitled, the very last definition provided by Lane here seems to be the most appropriate. That particular rendition of the word is specifically for those who are miserly, and would fit best as a candidate under the general umbrella term “fahisha” given the context. It likely speaks about a domestic situation where conniving family members are conspiring to hoard wealth from rightful inheritors who are being denied what is rightful theirs. Once proven with four witnesses, the culprits are banished to the home unless they repent. Because women historically were shunned in financial matters, the Qur’an does allow for a female witness to have support when giving her testimony in case she is manipulated or intimidated in such disputes should one arise. This possibly explains why a plurality of women (three or more) are grouped in one verse and then two men, or a man and woman in the latter verse. There is nothing here to indict lesbians of three or more, or gay men, especially smack-dab in the middle of inheritance and financial issues!
Regarding other definitions provided – addressing women that go out without permission or wives engaging in verbal altercations against her husband’s relatives, the link to being on house arrest due to unlawful financial wrangling is apparent. Leaving the abode without permission would be in violation of the house arrest imposed as punishment and using a ‘sharp tongue’ against a husband’s relatives could very well happen over inheritance issues, both of which would extend the initial fahisha.
As already mentioned these either single out female relatives, or in the following definition – the wife. Not surprising in the patriarchal setting, these would be understood to be levied against women or the wife, despite these violations having nothing inherently tied to gender. This would possibly explain why the first verse 4:15 starts us off with a frame of reference the Arabs would understand, with the mentioning of women paired with an actual description of the punishment. Then within the same verse, it reinforces the Quranic protections accused women have by first mentioning that it is a group of women three or more, along with four witnesses to testify.
After that, it then simply associates the punishment to the two men, or a man and woman and although aforementioned protections are not repeated, it still explicitly mentions “punish them both”. Now, the point of the latter verse is to extend this to the involvement of a male, so that women are not singled out. Furthermore, 4:15 does not restrict the female party to just the wife.
Double Standard: Marriage Is Only Between Man and Woman – But Zina Applies to All?
Many Muslims will commonly maintain that marriage is only between a man and a woman. Following that logic, the penalty for zina can also only delivered to a man and a woman, considering that they had an already exisiting institution now with new regulations introduced explicitly in the Qur’an (including the obvious, such as direct incest prohibitions). The concept of zina is dependent on that of marriage. We cannot have one without the other.
It’s Either Marriage…
For the sake of consistent logic, it makes absolutely no sense that certain standards apply for marriage of two mature adults, that which would also apply to those relations that are supposedly invalid for marriage. Such a marriage or civil union would appear to be permissible as it is not expressly prohibited when discussing new and introduced explicit regulations (again, incestuos unions). When Lut’s (a.s) daughters visit this discussion, marital regulations will be quite noteworthy and extremely relevant.
Or no Zina Charge
If for whatever reason such unions do not seem feasible, then the rules of zina cannot be applied to those of homosexual disposition that have no marital outlet to begin with. If extramarital homosexual relations are to sit under the same umbrella of punishment that heterosexual couples face, one should ponder as to why, they do not fall under the umbrella of what is permissible when even incestous unions have not been untouched. And there is no such punishment specifically for gay or lesbian Muslims as already noted. Given that we are instructed to guard our private parts, the position should lean towards allowing marriage.
Scope and Scale: Fasaad fil’ard- spreading corruption throughout the land
“Fasaad fil’ard”, or spreading corruption throughout the land is a term appropriate for this town as they do not just practice evil, they do it en masse as a larger community when they extend their oppression onto those who travel on the pathways from among the worlds to their city. The term is used in comparison to murder and those that ignite the flame of war among other things:
And the Jews say, “The hand of Allah is chained.” Chained are their hands, and cursed are they for what they say. Rather (Arabic: بل bal) both His hands are extended; He spends however He wills. And that which has been revealed to you from your Lord will surely increase many of them in transgression and disbelief. And We have cast among them animosity and hatred until the Day of Resurrection. Every time they kindled the fire of war [against you], Allah extinguished it. And they strive throughout the land [causing] corruption (Arabic: fil ardi fasaadaa), and Allah does not like corrupters. (Sahih International)
Considering scope and scale, and also attempting to project force and making an effort to wander maliciously and restlessly to and fro trying (Arabic: raawduuhu’an – see Lane’s entry) to shake Lut a.s. into surrender his guests (54:37 below) and other wayfarers through their intimidation- they are quite literally striving throughout the land, like pacing predators.
Sahih International: And they had demanded from him his guests, but We obliterated their eyes, [saying], “Taste My punishment and warning.”
Yusuf Ali: And they even sought to snatch away his guests from him…
Muhammad Sarwar: They demanded that he turn over his guests to them.
Mohsin Khan: And they indeed sought to shame his guest…
Notice the phrasing of this verse, and how it narrates what his people were essentially doing with no mention of gender or same-sex romance. As Lane notes, the word includes general restlessness and constant to-and-fro movement driven by something maddening, as if to seek something. This fits their behavior on the mark:
“Verily, by thy life (O Prophet), in their wild intoxication, they wander in distraction, to and fro.”Quran 15:72 (Abdullah Yusuf Ali)
Qur’an 5:32 allows the punishment for such a crime to be executed as a possibility, likely at the discretion of an authoritative body with mutual consultation to see if a fahisha falls under the scope and scale of “corruption throughout the land” (or among the worlds in this case) with murder and incitement of war as guiding references. It is one of the few times the Qur’an mentions an earthly punishment. For roving rapist gangs attacking the vulnerable travels, this is fitting.
We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely.(Sahih International)
5. Sacrificing Lut’s (a.s.) Daughters (15:71) – A Heterosexual Alternative?
Sahih International: [Lot] said, “These are my daughters – if you would be doers [of lawful marriage].”
Pickthall: He said: Here are my daughters, if ye must be doing (so).
Yusuf Ali: He said: “There are my daughters (to marry), if ye must act (so).”
Shakir: He said: These are my daughters, if you will do (aught).
Muhammad Sarwar: Lot said, “These are my daughters if you want them.”
Mohsin Khan: [Lout (Lot)] said: “These (the girls of the nation) are my daughters (to marry lawfully), if you must act (so).”
Arberry: He said, ‘These are my daughters, if you would be doing.’
Already we can see in many translations there are phrases about marriage enclosed in parentheses to alert the reader of implied meanings. These however, are not to assist in defining Arabic terms into English as one would see elsewhere. These seem to be an attempt to soften the blow of what would have been implied otherwise. One example of softening the blow would be the infamous 4:34, where Yusuf Ali is known to have included “lightly” in parentheses after one is instructed to daraba (commonly translated to ‘strike’) a troublesome wife. These are coming more so from the translators’ train of thought than from the linguistic aspect.
Because his children here are female, it is generally believed by Muslims that Lut a.s. is providing a heterosexual alternative to the male victims. Some do not think that these are his offspring, and instead believe “daughters” is an expression referring to the women of Lut’s a.s. town as the heterosexual alternative.
Are Prophets Symbolic Fathers?
Nisa notes in another piece, citing Asma Barlas, that Allah (SWT) commanded the Arabs to not regard Prophet Muhammad ﷺ as the patriarch of not just Zaid, but of his entire people, and in the same verse (33:40) that rather he is the Messenger for all, ruling out the literal and symbolic encompassing our Ummah, save his real daughters. His Prophetic authority is not to be blindly followed the way the patriarchal Meccans traditionally followed their errant forefathers. Logic and rational thinking is the basis of falling under Prophetic guidance towards Islam, not blind, cult-like patriarchal norms. We saw this with the woman who disputed with him. So these norms were constantly disavowed throughout the lineage of the Prophets as the kuffar recycled the same lines through the ages regarding their fathers.
Qur’an 2:170 And when it is said to them, “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they say, “Rather (Arabic: بل bal) , we will follow that which we found our fathers doing.” Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided?
Aside from that:
- The Qur’an says that Lut (a.s.) was a brother to them (Qur’an 26:161), not a father. In that vein, he would have endorsed his sisters of the community, not daughters.
- He uses a plural demonstrative pronoun referring to his daughters Quran 15:68-71, translated as “here” or “these”. This indicates he is referring to a party within the vicinity of his house, not out and among the town.
- Lastly, “…and give not your daughters/women in marriage to idolaters…” (Qur’an 2:221)
Note: Idolatry is not limited to worship of statues or other deities. Quranic examples include: unlawful reverence of religious leaders, extreme arrogance or ego, of property or assets etc. These can regress to the point where they interfere with monotheism.
Holes in the Standard Narrative
At this point, claiming that these “daughters” are women of Lut’s (a.s.) town amounts to academic laziness or dishonest interpolation for damage-control to reduce awkward interpretations by accommodating anti-gay beliefs. As the Qur’an blows this stance into oblivion, we scrutinize the false notion that Lut (a.s) is offering a heterosexual alternative to a homosexual sin through marriage with literal daughters. We run into some problems with these common narratives:
- It does not seem that Lut (a.s) is offering them in marriage. People assume he’s offering them up to be had “done to” (as it reads in the verse) what they had planned for his guests. This also implies that a rape between different genders is preferable to one with the same gender, and would at least avoid Lut’s (a.s) immediate scorn otherwise. Even casual homosexuality takes priority over heterosexual rape. Hence, the damage control.
- Once more, if he’s wanting to divert them back to heterosexual relations, they have azwaj. But we know this isn’t about adultery, nor is he not telling them to rape their wives (or general unmarried women).
- The Qur’an does not specify how many literal daughters he does have, though the Bible mentions at least two are present during the final escape; Allah knows best. Still, how will they marry these awful men? Again: “…and give not your daughters/women in marriage to idolaters…”. There is no exception saying, “unless it is to stop idolater men from being gay”.
- Also: “Let no man guilty of adultery or fornication marry but a woman similarly guilty…” (Qur’an 24:3) His daughters were not similarly guilty. (Though the point was made earlier that rape should not be conflated with adultery/fornication, some attempt to include it with rape as an aside. This is for those people: his daughters were not similarly guilty, so this is another Quranic verse opposing the idea of pairing his daughters with the mob).
He does appear to be outnumbered by a force of men he cannot project power against, a force that would be sufficient in cutting off the path. So unless his daughters, assuming there are a few, (who were among his loyal followers that fled the town with him) are each ready to marry a superior number of men (polyandry is generally not accepted in the mainstream), who are also grave sinners to boot, this ransom doesn’t seem plausible. In fact, it’s tragic whether it was a sacrificial rape offering or some hetero marital configuration of one daughter to many (horrible) men.
The Exchange at the Doorstep
During the exchange Lut (a.s.) has with the mob at the doorstep, Nisa points out that his daughters are not even there, as he had no support in his protest. (It would also have been quite awkward to make the offer with them standing there). There was no direct presence of them until they fled the town with their literal father. His townsfolk were apparently tipped off that there were visitors, which caused the initial frenzy. No one had actually caught sight of these visitors entering his house. Perhaps a treacherous insider informed the townsfolk (his wife- Qur’an 66:10)? So, Lut a.s. attempts to appeal to their own logic and say that these guests are actually his daughters, and therefore not low enough (‘purer for you’, unlike outsiders) to be raped, if they were to do so.
Because they appear to have wicked lust for power and a penchant for attacking victims ‘from among the worlds’ to establish social hierarchy through rape, Nisa makes it a point here that his local daughters are of higher status than to be subjected to the punishment of what normally is reserved for outsiders. The mob have no claim per their tradition (which Lut a.s. knows to his advantage) for locals, which is why despite his annoying preaching, there is no mention of an attack of such nature on him. Rather he is the one who protects victims with his residential privilege. Thinking quickly, he tries to dissuade them by saying those rumored guests are just visiting daughters.
“These guests are my [visiting] daughters!” (No travelers here!)
He makes the connection between his daughters being his guests when he says:
Qur’an 11:78 And his people came hastening to him, and before [this] they had been doing evil deeds. He said, “O my people, these are my daughters; they are purer for you. So fear Allah and do not disgrace me concerning my guests. Is there not among you a man of reason?”
Rather than differentiating daughters and guests, he is using the term interchangeably to soundly reinforce the idea that these guests are in fact, his visiting girls from within the township. This is reinforced once again when the same exact plural demonstrative pronoun is used for both guests and daughters in Qur’an 15:68-71. He urges them to refrain:
Qur’an 15:68 He said: Surely these are my guests, therefore do not disgrace me (Sarwar)
They bluntly remind him that they have told him before to not protect strangers, (demanding he should turn them over to him) to which he replies:
Qur’an 15:70 Lot said, “These are my daughters if you want them.” (Sarwar)
He was not offering a swap. He is not breaking the flow of the conversation by shifting to a different party, his daughters, but rather he maintains that the daughters are actually the unseen guests. He is warning them that they are violating their own custom by encroaching upon a purer party that cannot be raped like foreigners, who are impure (speaking in their perspective). It is similar to how “travelers” and “males” were one and the same. There is a separation of time between the mob being struck in the eyes that night, and then the final shriek at dawn (Qur’an 54:38), which would buy him enough time to safely collect his daughters from their homes.
Purer for you: Appealing through their own reasoning
Keep in mind, he is attempting to reach them through their own twisted logic that his daughters are not eligible to be raped, and if they act (“these are my daughters if ye must do so.” Qur’an 15:71) as they do with foreign men, they would violate their own customs. “If you do so” is not an invitation, it is to stop the mob by appealing to their norms.
Those targeted foreign men who wish to be “pure” are not actually considered worthy of respect in their eyes. To them they are actually the untermenschen, the lower class to dominate. The foreign men that come into their territory are actually impure, inferior prey. If they want to stay “pure” like their own native class that does not get raped, they better stay out, and Lut (a.s.) better not protect them if they arrive (Qur’an 15:70). His people would opt for expelling them outside the town’s boundaries if they cannot rape them. The clue to what they mean is in the first part of the verse which reveals how they feel about those who are foreign: “Evict them from your city!”
Qur’an 7:82 “But the answer of his people was only that they said, “Evict them from your city! Indeed, they are men who keep themselves pure.” (Sahih International)
Since they do not rape native residents either, they also opt for expelling the righteous residents outside the town’s boundaries, just like the former group. Since Lut a.s. himself is irritating but indigenous, it would appear they opted to expel him since the town specifically targets travelers from among the worlds, not their own. Notice again the common theme of expulsion for those that cannot be touched:
Qur’an 26:162 “They said: If thou cease not, O Lot, thou wilt soon be of the outcast.”
This is why he attempts to sway the mob and claim the alleged newcomers are just his visiting daughters. They are purer for them as opposed to their normal prime targets and in their system this has no haqq.
If the traditional, anti-gay view towards the “pure” and “purer” remarks was taken, then one would have to believe that the townspeople are admitting they are in the wrong when they say, “Indeed, they are men who keep themselves pure.” No kuffar community has ever admitted that they are impure, astray or evil. In this dialogue with the townsfolk, this is not the “pure” traditional Muslims think the Quran typically refers to; this is from the perspective of the town. Otherwise this cartoonishly evil depiction would suggest they go around saying, “Yes we ARE the bad guys!” Even traditional Muslims have noted this was an unusual reply, and this is because they do not understand what the townspeople are saying. Prophets ranging from Noah to Hud a.s., to Muhammad ﷺ were called liars; the people never admitted to their own flaws. On the contrary, the rapists are not admitting to being in the wrong.
While he reminds them that this xenophobic syle of attack is not legitimate, the men recognized his tactic and relay this back to him. In their backwards thinking of who is “pure”, and what is “haqq” (claimed) for them, they call him out for anticipating it for his plan.
Qur’an 11:79: They said, “You have already known that we have not concerning your daughters any claim, and indeed, you know what we want.” (Sahih International)
His ruse ultimately fails, and then the whole town spectacularly fails. Far removed from the typical and inherently unsteady homophobic hermeneutic, the Nisa tafsir reveals that Lut (a.s.) is actively discouraging rape for all parties, heterosexual and homosexual. He is thus redeemed from the compromised judgement Muslims have attributed to him. They jam their revisionist views into the text by opting for either oppressive and polyandrous marriages or heterosexual rape offerings of his daughters. She also notes that since his story is interwoven with that of Ibrahim (a.s.), the prevention of child sacrifice should be fresh on the mind when interpreting the verse to even further eliminate wrong ideas. All the connections and disassocations for the correct reading of this story have been laid out perfectly in the Qur’an.
Lut a.s.: “Guys, these guests you heard about *glares at wife* are just my daughters visiting. So please, do not humiliate me or my guests like this when I have my daughters over. Oh, did I mention my guests are just my daughters? So if you are going to do what you do, to my guests – (my LOCAL daughters, mind you), you’re doing it to those who are ABOVE [purer] than the lesser class, if you insist on doing so [thereby breaking your own rape standards]. Just letting you know! One of you has to be reasonable, yes?”
His town: “You know why we’re here, and You KNEW we couldn’t claim your daughters. Ha, nice try.”
His daughters are not at all “eligible” to be raped per their standards, if they truly will commit the act (“if ye must do so”), because they aren’t the foreign men the mob heard news about, so the mission should have been aborted. The exchange at the doorstep is just verbal, not a material ransom. This, Lut a.s. Is vindicated of the homophobic interpretations that were willing to sacrifice his quick wit and moral compass alongside his daughter’s well-being, because Muslims themselves did not realize his plan. Do they sacrifice his daughters while they are seeing?
6. Final Thoughts, Rape to Humiliate; Emasculation; Shaming Hosts and Guests
Rape is often used as a weapon in war, feuds, conflicts, impacting both physically and psychologically towards their victims. It can be used to shame, humiliate, embarrass, dominate, or even send a message of intimidation to the enemy’s loved ones or those under one’s protection. The raped end up feeling more shame than the rapists.
Prison rape and emasculation (men being “demoted” [misogyny] to woman status), female rape victims as collateral damage in feuds between individuals or nations; the rape of Rohingya women, U.S. forces of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and the Pakistan army in Bangladesh etc. History provides endless tragic case studies.
Because this requires acknowledging graphic practices of a variety of case studies and real situations outside of what the Qur’an has cared to unravel, I will not be going in depth here as this aims to be strictly Qur’an-centric. Some links are provided for further understanding. It is this lack of awareness that again, leads to conflation when looking at adultery and homosexuality in such scenarios. False associations or fallacious comparisons with other practices should not be made. Even if one were sheltered and not aware, the Qur’an does clarify with بل “bal”. All else is tied together if you allow yourself to see.
“And the people of Lot, they are not far from you”.
Points needed to address for contention with this view
- Why is the retractive particle used in all other verses outside of Surah 29:28-29, (the only time the crime is specified and receives an affirmative reply via a challenge from his people)?
- If the role of bal as a retractive particle is denied in this case (for whatever reason), what of the multiple times it is used? Does this not open up the possibility?
- Just as above, why is the linkage through “wa” being denied in 29:28-29?
- Is the power struggle inherent to rape going into your consideration? If so, is heterosexual rape secondary to casual homosexuality?
- Being gay is the sin no one before them had done? They invented this trait that became dominant in a community when heterosexuality is far more frequent in average populations?
- Or, do you think it’s because it was out in the open? So is it okay indoors?
- No? Still a general sin? Just like adultery is even when no one sees it? Then where is the condemnation?
- Why is there no punishment for “approaching men besides women” in general?
- Why is there total silence of “women approaching men besides women” when gender has been specified for other aspects?
- Why do 4:15 and 4:16 apply to three or more women, and then a man with another man or woman? And in the midst of financial issues?
- Why consider 4:15 and 4:16 when we already have punishment for zina?
- Is there not a double standard for marriage and zina for those that have a legal path and those that do not?
- Did the Qur’an introduce the concept of marriage, or just seek to regulate an existing institution? This would be the place to include it as a general rule.
- Why is something as explicit as incest mentioned in marriage rules but not same sex marriages?
- Why did Lut (a.s.) say Here or These are my daughters, referring to the immediate vicinity of his doorstep, if he’s talking about women from among the town?
- Why is Lut (a.s.) considered the father of his community when the Qur’an explicitly says he is their brother, and he did not offer his “sisters?”
- Why offer them wives when they have azwaj? Even if they were to newly marry, they disobeyed his orders before. Would they not go back to just attacking the traveling men, thus repeating the same charge but with specific azwaj this time?
- Logistically, how is he going to marry off his few daughters to all these men? Are you willing to accept polyandry? Other than that, isn’t this an insincere marriage?
- If you acknowledge rape in this story, is he going to allow his daughters to marry such awful men? This strictly violates Qur’an 24:3 and Qur’an 2:221. Or offer to be raped for the sake of hetero relations.
- Are you willing to compromise the judgement and character of Lut a.s. and the happiness of his daughters to “reform” those who obviously could not be reformed?
The following are not counter arguments:
- “This is not found in the opinions of any jurist or scholar!”
We know, that’s why this is radical and enlightening. Your scholars thought they were farting in group circles.
- “You’re twisting verses to suit desires!”
This is a strictly Qur’an-centric view. It can be tested and proven through this methodology. The standard view cannot.
- “This is not in the Hadith and Sunnah!”
If it contradicts, inserts, or alters the Qur’anic purview then it holds no significance. Qur’an reigns supreme, full stop.
- What aboutism’ and false associations with anger, gluttonous urges, etc.
Insert “How many times must I teach you this lesson old man?!” meme
- “You don’t know Arabic!”
Then neither do the linguistic scholars that dedicated their entire lives to completing their lexicons. It was just a coincidence that the Qur’an itself consistently verifies their definitions.
- “You’re using ENGLISH translations. Classical Arabic is the most beautiful language whose meaning only XYZ can understand the true meaning of!”
You don’t seem to have a problem in using English translations to prove YOUR points. Why the different rules for us?
- “Well you’re not a scholar, you have no training in usul al fiqh!”
Then bring forth all your ulema. They should refute ALL the above easily in an honest academic way for you rather than confirm your bias.
- “This is a part of a Western, Zionist, LGBT liberal conspiracy!”
Citation needed. Also, suspicion is a sin. If you are proven wrong, you will be lashed for false testimony.
- “Homosexuality will destroy the familal institution. It will spread and the human race will end reproduction! Gay gene is a hoax!!!”
Again? What did we say about knowing what and what doesn’t constitute homosexuality?
- “KAFFIR! MURTAD! QUR’ANIYOON! LIAR! You yourself are a GAY!”
You finally got to this point. This is literally the same style of arguing the kuffar used. Oh well, you tried.
- The Fatal Feminist. https://thefatalfeminist.com/?s=same+sex+love
- LANE. E.W, “بل”, in Edward Lanes Lexicon, Williams and Norgate 1863; Librairie du Liban Beirut-Lebanon 1968, Volume 1, Page 31. PDF scans retrieved from: http://www.tyndalearchive.com/TABS/Lane//
- LANE. E.W, “بل” in Edward Lanes Lexicon, Williams and Norgate 1863; Librairie du Liban Beirut-Lebanon 1968, Volume 1, Page 31. Text format retrieved from: http://lexicon.qur’anic-research.net/data/02_b/168_bl.html
- Wright. “بل”, in A Grammar of the Arabic Language 1896 3rd Ed; Librairie du Liban Beirut-Lebanon 1974 or 1996?, Volume 1, Page 285. Retrieved: http://www.ghazali.org/arabic/WrightArabicGrammarVol1.pdf
- Wehr Hans, and J Milton Cowan, ed. 1976; “بل”, in A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, Spoken Language Services Inc., page 71. Retrieved from: http://www.ghazali.org/books/wehr-cowan-76.pdf
- Wortabet; “بل”, in Wortabet’s Arabic English Dictionary 1984 4th ed.; University of Lebanon(?) 1984 http://www.ghazali.org/books/wortbat-porter-4thed.pdf page 37; pdf page 43
- PENRICE. J, A. “بل”, in Dictionary and Glossary of the Koran, Adam Publishers & Distributors, First Edition 1873, Page 19. Retrieved from: https://www.ghazali.org/books/penrise-1873.pdf
- Mannan, Abdullah Omar. “بل”, in Dictionary of the Holy Qur’an: Arabic Words – English Meanings. Feb 26, 2010. Noor Foundation International Inc. Page 62. Retrieved from: http://islamusa.org/dictionary.pdf
- Dr. Rohi Baalbaki. “بل”, in Al Mawrid: A Modern Arabic-English. 1995 7th ed. Dar El-ilm-Lilmalayin. p 245. Retrieved from: https://archive.org/details/AlMawridAModernArabicEnglishDictionary/page/n243/mode/2up
- Haywood, J. A. and H. M. Nahmad. “بل” in A new Arabic grammar. 1965 2nd ed. Lund Humphries, London. p. 523 Retrieved from:https://www.ghazali.org/books/haywood-65.pdf
- Steingass, Francis Joseph (1884) , “بل”, in The Student’s Arabic–English Dictionary, London: W.H. Allen p. 137. Retrieved from: https://ia800200.us.archive.org/35/items/cu31924026873194/cu31924026873194.pdf
- © Hani Deek 2005-2018. http://arabic.tripod.com/Interrogation1.htm
Joseph A. Islam, Quransmessage.com. “Does the Quran Really Sanction Beating of Wives?” http://quransmessage.com/articles/does%20the%20quran%20sanction%20wife%20beating%20FM3.htm
Joseph A. Islam, Quransmessage.com. “The Seven Oft-Repeated.” http://quransmessage.com/articles/oft-repeated%20FM3.htm
Seth Mydans. 2002. “In Pakistan, Rape Victims are the ‘Criminals’”. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/17/world/in-pakistan-rape-victims-are-the-criminals.html
Dr. Mustafa Khattab. “The Clear Quran: A Thematic English Translation Of The Message Of The Final Revelation.” Books of Signs Foundation, 2016. Page ix.
The Qur’an: Arabic Text with Corresponding English Meanings (Sahih International) Almunatada Alislami, Abul Qasim Publishing House (1997).
The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall) Reprinted by Plume (1997). First published 1930.
The Holy Qur’an: Translation and Commentary (Yusuf Ali) Reprinted by Islamic Vision (2001). First published 1934.
The Holy Qur’an Translated (M. H. Shakir) Published by Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an (1999).
The Holy Qur’an: Arabic Text and English Translation (Muhammad Sarwar) Published by Elmhurst (1981).
The Noble Qur’an in the English Language (Mohsin Khan) King Fahd Printing Complex, Madinah, Saudi Arabia (1996).
The Koran Interpreted: A Translation (Arthur John Arberry) Reprinted by Touchstone (1996). First published 1955.
All Verses With Lut a.s. Story
A more legible looking text version of Lane’s complete entry provided in case of dead link
بَلْ is a particle of digression: (Mughnee, Ḳ:) or, accord. to Mbr, it denotes emendation, wherever it occurs, in the case of a negation or an affirmation: (T, TA:) or it is a word of emendation, and denoting digression from that which precedes; as also بَنْ, in which the ن is a substitute for the ل, because بل is of frequent occurrence, and بن is rare; or, as IJ says, the latter may be an independent dial. var. (M.) When it is followed by a proposition, the meaning of the digression is either the cancelling of what precedes, as in وَقَالُوا ٱتَّخَذَ ٱلرَّحْمٰنُ وَلَدًا سُبْحَانَهُ بَلْ عِبَادٌ مُكْرَمُونَ [And they said, “The Compassionate hath gotten offspring:” extolled be his freedom from that which is derogatory from his glory! nay, or nay rather, or nay but, they are honoured servants (Ḳur xxi. 26)], or transition from one object of discourse to another, as in قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَنْ تَزَكَّى وَذَكَرَ ٱسْمَ رَبِّهِ فَصَلَّى بَلْ تُؤْثِرُونَ ٱلْحَيَاةَ ٱلدُّنْيَا [He hath attained felicity who hath purified himself, and celebrated the name of his Lord, and prayed: but ye prefer the present life (Ḳur lxxxvii. 14-16)]: (Mughnee, Ḳ:*) and in all such cases it is an inceptive particle; not a conjunctive. (Mughnee.) When it is followed by a single word, it is a conjunction, (Ṣ,* Mṣb,* Mughnee, Ḳ,) and requires that word to be in the same case as the word before it: (Ṣ:) and if preceded by a command or an affirmation, (Mughnee, Ḳ,) as in اِضْرَبْ زَيْدًا بَلْ عَمْرًا [Beat thou Zeyd: no, ʼAmr], (Mṣb, Mughnee, Ḳ,) and قَامَ زَيْدٌ بَلْ عَمْرٌو [Zeyd stood: no, ʼAmr], (M, Mughnee, Ḳ,) or جَآءَنِى أَخُوكَ بَلْ أَبُوكَ [Thy brother came to me: no, thy father], (Ṣ,) it makes what precedes it to be as though nothing were said respecting it, (Ṣ,* Mṣb,* Mughnee, Ḳ,) making the command or affirmation to relate to what follows it: (Ṣ,* Mṣb,* Mughnee:) [and similar to these cases is the case in which it is preceded by an interrogation: see أَمْ as syn. with this particle:] but when it is preceded by a negation or a prohibition, it is used to confirm the meaning of what precedes it and to assign the contrary of that meaning to what follows it, (Mughnee, Ḳ,) as in مَا قَامَ زَيْدٌ عَمْرٌو [Zeyd stood not, but ʼAmr stood], (Mughnee,) or مَا رَأَيْتُ زَيْدًا بَلْ عَمْرًا, [I saw not Zeyd, but I saw ʼAmr], (Ṣ,) and لَا يَقُمْ زَيْدٌ بَلْ عَمْرٌو [Let not Zeyd stand, but let ʼAmr stand]. (Mughnee.) Mbr and ʼAbd-El-Wárith allow its being used to transfer the meaning of the negation and the prohibition to what follows it; so that, accord. to them, one may say, مَازَيْدٌ قَائِمًا بَلْ قَاعِدًا [as meaning Zeyd is not standing: no, is not sitting], and بَلْ قَاعِدٌ [but is sitting]; the meaning being different [in the two cases]. (Mughnee, Ḳ.*) The Koofees disallow its being used as a conjunction after anything but a negation [so in the Mughnee, but in the Ḳ a prohibition,] or the like thereof; so that one should not say, ضَرَبْتُ زَيْدًا بَلْ إِيَّاكَ [I beat Zeyd: no, thee]. (Mughnee, Ḳ.) Sometimes لَا is added before it, to corroborate the meaning of digression, after an affirmation, as in the saying,
* وَجْهُكَ البَدْرُ لَا بَلِ الشَّمْسُ لَوْ لَمْ *
* يُقْضَ لِلشَّمْسِ كَسْفَةٌ وَأُفُولُ *
[Thy face is the full moon: no, but it would be the sun, were it not that eclipse and setting are appointed to happen to the sun]: and to corroborate what precedes it, after a negation, as in
* وَمَا هَجَرْتُكَ لَا بَلْ زَادَنِى شَغَفًا *
* هَجْرٌ وَبَعْدٌ تَرَاخَى لَا إِلَى أَجَلِ *
[And I did not abandon thee, or have not abandoned thee: no, but abandonment and distance, protracted, not to an appointed period, increased, or have increased, my heart-felt love]. (Mughnee, Ḳ.*)
Root: بل – Entry: بَلْ―Signification: A2
Sometimes it is used to denote the passing from one subject to another without cancelling [what precedes it], and is syn. with وَ, as in the saying in the Ḳur [lxxxv. 20 and 21], وَٱللّٰهُ مِنْ وَرَائِهِمْ مُحِيطٌ بَلْ هُوَ قُرْآنٌ مَجِيدٌ [And God from behind them is encompassing: and it is a glorious Ḳur-án: or here it may mean إِنَّ, as in an ex. below]: and to this meaning it is made to accord in the saying, لَهُ عَلَىَّ دِينَارٌ بَلْ دِرْهَمٌ [I owe him a deenár and a dirhem]. (Mṣb.)
Root: بل – Entry: بَلْ―Signification: A3
In the following saying in the Ḳur [xxxviii. 1], وَٱلْقُرْآنِ ذِى ٱلذِّكْرِبَلِ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فِى عِزَّةٍ وَشِقَاقٍ, it is said to signify إِنَّ; [so that the meaning is, By the Ḳur-án possessed of eminence, verily they who have disbelieved are in a state of pride and opposition;] therefore the oath applies to it. (Akh, Ṣ.)
Root: بل – Entry: بَلْ―Signification: A4
Sometimes the Arabs use it in breaking off a saying and commencing another; and thus a man commences with it a citation, or recitation, of verse; in which case, it does not form any part of the first verse, but is a sign of the breaking off, or ending, of what precedes. (Akh, Ṣ.)
Root: بل – Entry: بَلْ―Signification: A5
Sometimes it is put in the place of رُبَّ, (Ṣ, Mughnee,) as in the saying of the rájiz,
* بَلْ مَهْمَهٍ قَطَعْتُ بَعْدَ مَهْمَهٍ *
[Many a far-extending desert have I traversed, after a far-extending desert]. (Ṣ: [and a similar ex. is given in the Mughnee.])
Root: بل – Entry: بَلْ―Signification: A6
What is deficient in this word [supposing it to be originally of three letters] is unknown; and so in the cases of هَلْ and قَدْ: it may be a final و or ى or they may be originally بَلّ and هَلّ and قَدّ. (Akh, Ṣ.)
Male pride, Misogyny or emasculation in male-to-male rape
His brother keeps asking what’s wrong with him. “I don’t want to tell him,” says Jean Paul. “I fear he will say: ‘Now, my brother is not a man.'”
Modern Examples of Conflating Adultery with Rape
Ms. Zafran in Pakistan
She states sexual intercourse did happen. The other details are however not accounted for. Just like in 7:80 we see that the act of approaching men did indeed happen, but this time other details are elucidated. It is a lack of understanding of what constitutes these different things that causes reckless misunderstandings, and as a result, the innocent suffer.
Myths about Male Rape
“According to Mr Leak, male rape is not confined to the homosexual community and, like female rape, it has more to do with power than sexuality. The effects, he said, can be devastating and long- term, with feelings of frustration, powerlessness and anger experienced by victims.”
Female solider aiding/abetting rape of Iraqi male teen:
Scott Higham; Joe Stephens (May 21, 2004). “New Details of Prison Abuse Emerge”. The Washington Post. p. A01. Archived from the original on August 20, 2011. Retrieved September 19, 2011. Speaks of female participation in male rape.
Excerpt: “This subtheme of rape is when the perpetrators of rape were reported to have been working or walking in flocks in search of victims to rape. The name of this subtheme/subtype is informed by the participants’ utterances. For example, a participant reported that he was raped by a group of men who he met while walking in the street. He reported that the perpetrators behaved like hunters because immediately after seeing him, they came straight up to him and instructed him to go under a bridge, where they raped him.
Another participant reported that he was raped by a group of women who entered his home pretending to be looking for a job. However, they were actually “hunting for someone” with whom they could fulfill their sexual desires.”Note: This searching to and fro is similar to how the community of Lut a.s. were (raawaduuhu)
 This word should not be confused with a similar word, “balay”, which has its separate entry. Although they have the same role of contrasting, “balay” is used to negate a question asked in a negative tense. This can also be seen in the Qur’an for context. “Am I not your Lord? Yes, (balay) you are.” (Q. 7:172) As it negates a negative question, it is translated in the English definitions to include “yes” or “verily”. Penrise specifically includes that caveat that “balay” is not the same as “na’am” (yes), because “balay” negates the preceding question while “na’am” affirms it. “On the contrary” is also found in Penrise’s entry for “balay”.
 Joseph A. Islam. Qur’ansmessage.com “Does the Qur’an Really Sanction Beating of Wives?” http://qur’ansmessage.com/articles/does%20the%20qur’an%20sanction%20wife%20beating%20FM3.htm
 Joseph A. Islam. Qur’ansmessage.com. “The Seven Oft-Repeated”. http://qur’ansmessage.com/articles/oft-repeated%20FM3.htm
 Seth Mydans. 2002. “In Pakistan, Rape Victims are the ‘Criminals’”. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/17/world/in-pakistan-rape-victims-are-the-criminals.html
 Joseph Islam’s daraba article
 The clear Qur’an by khattab
55 thoughts on “Prophet Lut (a.s.) and Bal بل : The Nahida S. Nisa Tafsir”
Well this is certainly momentous.
Quick question though, would you know if mehedi A. Ali have anything else that they have written or where to access them? Just curious.
Sallams Niaz. Sadly I’m not usually motivated enough to write like this more often, so I don’t have any other material (only ideas). Only did it now bc when TFF wrote the first article on “bal”, it was THE concrete missing link I was looking for. So, I scrutinized her claim as rigorously as I could and found more supporting evidence. From there everything clicked and made perfect sense. No other stances, no matter how LGBT-friendly they were (including Kugle), addressed explicit Quran verses directly the way her’s did.
Thanks for replying (to think I’d be addressed by the author themselves…)! It’s great that you decided to take the time out to write this up though. Any opposition against the homophobic mainstream narrative is a plus at this point.
And once again, thanks for writing the article! I’d love to see you write more on whatever other ideas you have, but that’s up to you, not me.
Oh my God. Thank you for this.
Thank you for the exhaustingly comprehensive analysis of the story of People of Lut. It is still lacking the historical background of the civilization of Lut. Their religion that they practiced, and their central goddess Ishtar, Queen of Heaven as she is called in the Bible. When one adds the worship of Ishtar into the story, everything makes sense and it’s unbelievable that mainstream preachers ignore the historical background and their audience seem ignorant or void of anyone who knows anything about history. When you add Ishtar to the equation, this “evil in gatherings” is explained and it opens the whole story of People of Lut. It also then matches the early Christian and Jewish interpretation of the story as well as certain Islamic scholar’s views from the Golden Age.
I have a question about ‘bal’
Why is it that every time they make a covenant, a group of them casts it aside? In fact(Bal), most of them do not believe. 2:100
If ‘Bal’ is used to falsify what came before it and say that the next part is correct, wouldn’t there be a problem in this verse?
Thanks for your question.
In 2:100, its not the fact they disbelieve that is being negated, it is the proportion of how many disbelieve among them. That is the main focus of the negation. Rather than it being a section of them (a group of them), it is “most” of them, which illustrates the severity of failure-rate among the disbelievers, in case one thought otherwise. It is the proportionality being referred to here, a quantitative difference between the former (a group of them) and latter (most of them).
Sometimes in other verses it is more of qualitative difference, such as comparisons between innocent, clueless livestock and the malicious kuffar — based on the shared trait of lacking awareness, in verse 25:44. The shared trait creates the shallow conflation, which again bal remedies. Hope that helps, feel free to ask if you have more questions.
can you explain verse 7:189. Also why is indeed used in the context of bal? Is that correct? And is bal always used to ammend what was said before or are there exceptions?
Can you let me know if bal is ALWAYS used to ammend or correct and if there are any exceptions? Also doesn’t bal also mean yet? So the verse 7:81 would read as “Indeed, you approach men instead of women. Yet you are a transgressing people.” Is bal ever used to affirm what was said before?
Salam alaikum. You asked about 7:189, which does not feature “bal”. Did you mean to say verse 7:179, with the mention of livestock? (FYI this is also similar to 25:44).
Indeed is an adverb and because it is used in certain contexts it is related to words like “truly, actually, really”. It’s not a great translation because “indeed” in English is used in both senses of affirming expectations, or to point out something not previously expected. Here it’s meant to be read as “actually”. But the contrast is missed due to pre-existing ideas about homosexuality, and because how “indeed” is sometimes used to affirm, which is probably why translators might choose that word. As a result it just gets lost in translation, despite not matching contextual verses. Same applies to “yet”, which comes in adverb or conjunction form, often to introduce an addition of a detail that might not be expected or in one’s knowledge, to paint a more accurate picture of expectations. Similar to “despite that” or “even then”, or “still more”. With more vague words like that you really need the context to determine how its being used.
Bal is *always* used in the Quran to cause a break or interruption, and is sandwiched in the middle of two things. It does this in two ways a primary and secondary way. Bal doesn’t always amend, but amendation is one of the primary ways it creates a break in the flow. The secondary way is to change the object of discourse, as Lane also notes. Either way, it causes a break, in both methods. Both ways are found in the Quran. The secondary one isn’t the form of “bal” being used because Lut (a.s.) is not changing the object of discourse – the (immorality that no one before has committed) is being kept the same. Even if the secondary form of bal was (incorrectly) applied, it would still show the former and latter as two different things. See 50:1-4 as a good example of bal in the secondary form. Also notice how it switches between “good” and “bad” distinct parties in that set of 4 verses. You can also do the same with Lane’s example of 85:20-21. Let me know if you have more questions, and if verse 7:179 was the one you were referring to.
I am still a little confused about the purpose of “Inna”. And also yes I meant 179. My apologies.
How do we know that Lot didn’t mean the secondary approach? Can you clarify please? I’d really like to have this argument solidified as much as possible.
No worries. “Inna” to “indeed” is an acceptable translation. But not so much for “bal”. So to translate 7:81 as “Indeed, you approach men instead of women…” is fine, but to then use “indeed” for “bal” in the latter part of the verse is misleading because it would assume the two are in agreement with each other, given that they are using the exact same word. If there was no “bal” in the immediate follow-up and no other contextual verses, then it would mean his people were homosexual. Obviously bal is there, so it nullifies the preceding statement, no matter if its affirmative or an interrogation (see Lane).
We know its not the secondary definition because Lut a.s. is not switching the object of discourse. Example 50:1,2; 4,5:
+) 1: Qaf. By the honored Qur’an.
We start with one object, a good one – the honored Quran. Now we go to:
a) a different object of discourse, which…
b) also happens to be an evil (not good) party.
(-) 2: But (Arabic: BAL) they wonder that there has come to them a Warner from among themselves. So the Unbelievers say: “This is a wonderful thing!”
Also notice how the bal-switch to an evil party allows us to know that “this is a wonderful thing!” is actually not something being said positively. And as we go a bit further down….
(+) 4: We know what the earth diminishes of them, and with Us is a retaining record
Again, we switch back to a positive topic, and here is Allah’s superior knowledge, and the record coming with Allah. But on the other hand….
(-) 5: But (Arabic: BAL) they denied the truth when it came to them, so they are in a confused condition.
Although Allah Knows, the disbelievers are confused. Not only is there an immeasurable gap in knowledge between the two (superior to inferior), Allah is with the truth of the record, whereas disbelievers reject it (hence their confused state).
The Lut a.s. verses don’t follow this dynamic. Plus, some of the Lut a.s. verses start with a prefixed interrogative alif (unlike 7:81), which is used to ask polar yes/no questions, which further demonstrates that its the primary definition of bal being used, as it is more complementary. & I’ll address the 179 one in a different comment.
I’m glad you like the article! Though the PDF is still an olddddd draft that I need the admin (TFF) to swap out =P
Also could you explain the secondary a little more? How it is used in the Quran, how we can recognize it, etc and why the primary is used for Lot’s story?
It would be greatly appreciated!
PS: I love this entire pdf.
7:179 – “….those are like livestock; rather (bal), they are more astray. It is they who are the heedless.”
Bal is sandwiched between two things that only look similar on the surface. That is key. Some people ignore dictionary definitions (talk about confirmation bias!), look at verses like this and see two similar things and think bal, sitting in the middle, links them together when it ironically does the opposite. In reality, bal acts as a red flag to alert the reader to disjoin the two, even if they seem to show a similarity.
The commonality here in 7:179 (&25:44) is between those who don’t reason…they are classed into two groups: the livestock (based on human assumptions of livestock-intelligence, not actual Divine scorn for animals), and the second group (humans), which is worse.
Firstly, this verse in-and-of itself does not berate livestock. Because humans tend to think livestock are fairly dumb, a false notion may arise that the Kuffar are as dumb as a cow but maybe worse on the same spectrum i.e., same ladder, but different rung.
However, the verse explains that while livestock might not reason, like how a Kaffir doesn’t reason, comparing them with livestock is not shallow or underwhelming, it is totally inaccurate. They are not on the same sliding scale, where livestock could progress towards human-like understanding, or a kaffir slip into dumb, innocent animal-like thinking. They are not on the same playing field to begin with. Different “ladder” altogether. There is a qualitative difference between the two; we are talking about two different things. The verse ends with “they are heedless” to justify the difference. Livestock cannot “heed” the Quran to begin with, whereas humans can. Therefore, they are not the same in their non-reasoning. Livestock cannot go to Hell.
If one did not know the difference in the qualities between livestock and kuffar (both being unable to reason), or apples and oranges (both being fruit), they will make similar mistakes between between intragender rape and homosexuality (both being male-to-male here specifically), or rape and adultery (both involving penetration).
I was wondering if I could use these replies for a cumulative ressource word document I am doing for LGBTQ muslims? With full credit of course. I’m not smart enough to see all that lol.
Im interested in seeing Your Resource list if possible!
Im working on one myself and would love to share the knowledge
I was wondering if you could answer a question for me and also refute an argument someone made about this:
The question is about these passages:
[26:161] When their brother Lut said to them: Will you not guard (against evil)?
[26:162] Surely I am a faithful messenger to you;
[26:163] Therefore guard against (the punishment of) Allah and obey me:
[26:164] And I do not ask you any reward for it; my reward is only with the Lord of the worlds;
[26:165] What! Do you come to the males from among the creatures
[26:166] And leave what your Lord has created for you of your wives? Nay, you are a people exceeding limits.
What is Lut telling them to do to “guard against evil”? Is it not approach men?
An argument that someone used was that “bal” is for emphasis instead of contradiction. Does that apply?
Salams, sorry for the late reply. Yes of course you can use this for your resource document, a link to the article should suffice for credit.
1. Yes, he’s simply telling them to abandon their criminal tradition – approaching “men from among the worlds”, specifically.
2. Contradicting has two components here (which is discussed at the beginning of the article). Negation AND affirmation. They are only seeing the affirmation part (calling it emphasis), and ignoring the negation part. They mean to say that it only confirms, and doesn’t negate, I’m assuming? As stated in the article:
“However that alone is underwhelming because without provided explanation or Qur’anic context, the negation is not always clear; rather, it would appear to confirm what came previously, which is incorrect.”
This “emphasis” bit comes up a lot, so if I’m feeling lazy I’d just do what was done in the article; point them to a dictionary. Lane’s is the best. Never does he or the others say its just emphasis. Bal specifically is meant to break the flow by contradicting or switching. There are several here along with several Quranic examples too. Even the translators put “No/Nay” instead of “Yes”. The person that brought up “emphasis” can’t just pretend those don’t exist. Of course, they can contest those if they want, but they better justify it completely. That’s why I included a list of 20 points to address if someone were to dispute bal. They can’t just partially address #2 and ignore 19 other red flags. My favorite one the one with Lut’s a.s. daughters. Are they just going to ignore the fact that Allah said you can’t marry women to evil men? If they say its fine because of the circumstances that is…..problematic to say the least.
“…and give not your daughters/women in marriage to idolaters…” (Qur’an 2:221)
Even if emphasis was the only thing that was noticed, that isn’t much of a counterargument. Why do we emphasize? What is the whole point of emphasis? To make sure there is no possibility of confusion, misdirection, or doubt. You want to strongly clarify something, it has to be emphasized or stressed upon. Maybe I should include that word in with “affirm” at the start of the article to prevent confusion since it does pop up.
what about this then: (26) Is there in their hearts a disease, or have they doubts, or fear they lest Allah and His messenger should wrong them in judgment? Nay, but such are evil-doers.
What is bal contradicting?
Hello, I don’t see a reference for this verse but I’m assuming it is 24:50? Not sure what the “26” in your comment refers to if my assumption is off.
If I have the correct one, then this verse is referring to hypocrites, who are often referred to in the Quran as having “diseased hearts”. A new possibility is introduced right before bal, as verse poses the question…that maybe these people, instead of having sick hearts or being skeptics, are the way that they are perhaps because they are simply afraid of “yahifa” *unfair judgment* (injustice); coming to them from Allah or the Messenger.
With bal this possibility is 1) negated right after the verse introduces it, and 2) on the topic of injustice, bal affirms by saying it is actually *they* that perpetuate injustice (they are “zawlimun”), rather than the idea that preceded; that is, injustice being attributed to Allah or the Messenger.
I noticed something with “wa”. In the verse 16:69, Prophet Lot says “And guard against the punishment of Allah and do not put me to shame”, the AND before ‘do not’ is also “wa”. AND is used two times in this sentence, so what if the “wa” is used to say that you’ll guard against the punishment of allah BY not putting me to shame?
I noticed something.
“Wa” can be used to clarify something right? Well, correct me if I am wrong, but in verse 15:69, Lot says :
“And (wa) guard against the punishment of Allah and (wa) do not put me to shame”
Well, what if in this verse, Lot is saying to guard against by the punishment of Allah BY not putting him to shame? In other words, clarifying?
That is possible since “wa” can be used in different ways. In that specific incident he’s either trying to sway them & associating that with avoiding Allah’s punishment…
or he could just adding that as an extra warning to reinforce the awareness of Allah in them. Either one works and doesn’t alter the core message much.
What if the zina charge is applied, meaning that marriage is only between a man and a woman so anyone who has sex outside of marriage has the zina charge so that is the punishment?
If those who have access to marriage for their desires have sex outside of it, they would committing zina because they can technically marry. Zina and marriage are intertwined and co-dependent, one concept cannot exist without the other. The punishment of zina (100 lashes) cannot be applied if you were never allowed to a martial outlet to begin with. If the zina charge was applied to homosexuals, it would be inconsistent if they are banned from marriage. Allah knows best.
Hello there, i hope i get answer for this.
Does “bal” negate homosexuality being normal and correct it as being a transgression?
Also why the whole crime wasn’t stated in the other verses as will ?
I hope you answer these please.
If “bal” negate, then it negate that homosexuality is normal and correct it with it being transgression ?
If the collective crime is the transgression then why singly mention homosexuality repeatedly ?
Because people will confuse the collective crime (gang rape) with homosexuality. Same for adultery. In Allah’s wisdom this was singled out twice and then adultery once. Why wasn’t the collective crime repeated in other verses as well? Because the other verses you are likely referring to (7:80-81, 27:54-55, and 26:165-166), are there to separate homosexuality and adultery from the collective crime with bal. That is what bal does, it is a particle of digression which is used to amend. This is why in Quran Corpus, it is listed as a retraction particle. That’s why Bal is in those verses, but is missing in the collective crime of 29:29.
Also keep in mind that the correct interpretation of “bal” is supported by the context. We know that his people are violent with outsiders, that Lut a.s. protects them, he fears being caught by the town, the ban of marrying daughters with evil men, and so on. This helps clarify “bal”. Those points should not be ignored. And we know that bal is missing in 29:29 when the collective crime is described in extra detail while also is missing “besides women” or “abandoning spouse”. This cannot be ignored as coincidence, especially when the context of xenophobic rape supports the definition of “bal”.
Now for your question about negating homosexuality being normal to his people,
When Prophet Lut a.s. is introducing the concept of approaching “besides women”, he is not asking them about the normal or abnormal characterization of the act. And he is not asking them if they believe that approaching men besides women is lawful, and is now telling them with “bal” that it is unlawful. Otherwise the verse would have said: You say “approaching men besides women is lawful.” BAL, you are transgressing.
Instead, he is asking them if that is their nature, or motivation, intent, or reasoning. He says,
“Is it that [prefixed interrogative alif], you approach men besides women?”
He is asking if that is really what their true cause is. The first part of the translation with the prefixed interrogative alif in 27:54 is important. This is why the translations write it as,
“Do you INDEED approach…?” (Sahih Int’l)
“Would ye REALLY approach…? (Pickthall)
What! Do you INDEED approach…? (Shakir)
He’s asking them if approaching “besides women” is actually the explanation for their behavior. No commentary on whether it is abnormal or acceptable or not in their perspective. The same is said about adultery in 26:165-166, or “abandoning the spouse”. The verses in 26:165-166 do not introduce adultery as a sin (that is what 24:2 addresses), it is only mentioned to clarify that rape cannot be called adultery because it is beyond that of adultery. Again, with the prefixed interrogative alif, he is asking them if committing adultery is their motivation. He is not asking them if they think adultery is lawful and that now he correctly informs them otherwise.
“**Is it that you** approach the males among the worlds, and leave what your Lord has created you of azwaj?”
He’s interrogating them (that’s why it ends in a question mark) based on the nature of the crime they are committing, not their naivety about what is normal or lawful. Thanks for your questions.
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Thank you very much for your answers. It cleared the questions, i was faced with those questions and couldn’t think clearly while the answers were right there in the verses.
There was also the point of it meaning that Allah says by “my explanation” that Allah prefer rape of women over the rap of men, but “bal” will also negate that with the fact its an interrogation also context is important.
thank you very much the entirety of the blog is an eye opener.
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“They said, “Your omen [i.e., fate] is with yourselves. Is it because you were reminded? Rather, you are a transgressing people.” verse 36:19 what does”bal” negate here ?
“They said, “We consider you a bad omen, you and those with you.” He said, “Your omen [i.e., fate] is with Allah. Rather, you are a people being tested.” verse 27:47 what does bal negate here ?
It negates the accusation made by the disbelieving group that Prophet Salih and his followers are bad omens for them. Rather, their “omens” are only tests given by Allah.
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what does bal negate in these verses
1-They exclaimed, “Which is better: our gods or Jesus?” They cite him only to argue. In fact, they are a people prone to dispute”43:58
2-˹Still˺ they ask ˹mockingly˺, “When we are disintegrated into the earth, will we really be raised as a new creation?” In fact, they are in denial of the meeting with their Lord” 32:10
3-Or do they say, “He has made it up”? Rather, they do not believe”52:33
This set negates the notion that questions are asked by sincere inquirers or genuine people. Rather, they only ask questions just to argue, even though things have been presented clearly to them. Kind of like the questions I get to this article sometimes.
well the same question is always used by disbelievers in the quran
“˹Now,˺ if anything should amaze you ˹O Prophet˺, then it is their question: “When we are reduced to dust, will we really be raised as a new creation?” It is they who have disbelieved in their Lord. It is they who will have shackles around their necks. And it is they who will be the residents of the Fire. They will be there forever.”
so it dosen’t negate that they are sincere or whatever in fact it dosen’t negate anything,and the third verse i cited isn’t acutally a question
If you’re making the point to say bal’s presence is irrelevant, it literally clarifies, “they are a people prone to dispute” in the followed statements. So not only do they cite him to argue, they are actually *prone* to doing this, thus the distinction is made between different askers. “In fact” is often used to negate in a different way. It negates singleness, by adding a secondary, pronounced trait (check any English dictionary), thereby subverting or contrasting initial expectations of having only one trait.
Even in the verse you cited which seems to be 13:5, Allah refers to the Prophet’s “amazement”. Why would the Prophet be “amazed”? Because his natural expectations are being subverted. The ones who are asking him those questions, are not genuine at all, and will be bound in Hell. Hence, the “amazement” due to the unexpected fate of these inquirers who on the surface, appear only to be asking basic questions. This is why in the previous verses that do feature bal, after their questions are mentioned, it is stated that they only ask these just to argue.
Similarly, I am also amazed when I get argumentative “bal” questions even though it was proven multiple times to create breaks and distinctions between two ideas presented in Quranic verses. If you’re posing these in an attempt to say “bal” does the opposite of what the article says, despite the clear evidence proving our point, you still would have to contend with the massive contradictions and valid points that are highlighted in the 20 points summary at the end if you take the tradtional anti-gay story to be the correct one. Bal is only the starting point. There’s still the other arguments no one has had a decent, thought-provoking response to, such as the context of power struggle and rape, and the point about sacrificing Lut’s (a.s) daughters. That’s why I included that there because I knew this was going to come up. I would advise you heed the message of the same verses you present here when it comes to citing questions just to argue.
The last one (52:33) not being a question does not matter. I stated in the article that even when a statement is not written as an interrogation, bal still makes a switch when the latter is introduced. And even that clearly shows a contradiction against the notion of the Kuffar. Not sure why you don’t see it. Quite “amazing”.
well i didn’t say that bal function isn’t to negate in the quran it certinally does in some verses,my point is that bal in lut verses isn’t used to negate but is used to cause a break or a switch because it dosen’t actually say something to negate anything
and approaching men isn’t negated because it’s still mentioned aside other crimes in another verse
29:28-29 “And [mention] Lot, 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 that they said, “Bring us the
punishment of Allāh, if you should be of the truthful.”
and approaching men means is aproaching them sexually because the same word used to denote sexualy intercourse in 2:222
“And they ask you about menstruation. Say, “It is harm, so keep away from wives during menstruation. And do not approach them until they are pure. And when they have purified themselves, then come to them from where Allāh has ordained for you”
and you say “wa” is indicating a larger collective crime but failed to provide proof or quranic evidence similiar to this verse, in fact “wa ” is used in the quran to group a number of actions together
“Those who disbelieve in the signs of Allāh and kill the prophets without right and kill those who order justice from among the people – give them tidings of a painful punishment.” 3:21
and these actions can be good or bad and the fact that “you approach men” is mentiond after “you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds” tells you about the kind of action it really is
Thanks for explain your view this time. Now I actually have something to work with.
“it certinally does in some verses,my point is that bal in lut verses isn’t used to negate but is used to cause a break or a switch.”
Glad you see you acknowledge that bal is used for negation, which makes it a valid candidate for interpretation, though you’re suggesting the digression here comes in the form of a break or switch. Reading the verses however, Prophet Lut a.s. is not changing the topic. The topic is their crime. He starts off by describing the uniqueness of their crime. At two verse pairs he asks them (with prefixed interrogative alif) about the nature of the crime to determine true intentions. Pref. Int. Alif is usually for polar yes/no questions, which is why translators write “No” or “Nay” for bal. If he’s switching, he’d be leaving the question unanswered, and also the topic would have changed to something else. That doesn’t happen here.
The shift here is to contradict the false notion that they approach men >>“besides women”<< which brings me to your next point about 29:29. I never said they didn’t approach men sexually. I said they did it to rape, humiliate, and dominate outsiders. But they didn’t do it “besides women” in the general sense of sexual orientation. Notice how bal and its anchor, “besides women”, or “abandoning azwaj” is MISSING in 29:29, even though it is a detailed verse. This is not a coincidence, yes? In my view, I actually explain why this is. If we take the viewpoint of just bal switching topics, it doesn’t explain why bal and “besides women”, etc is missing there all of a sudden. They did approach men in a sexual manner, however because of the misleading optics, people will think they are homosexual inclined, or that they are adulterous. That’s why bal exists, in the other pairs – to clarify this isn’t carnal lust for men, or adultery for leaving their spouses. On to your next point,
“and you say "wa" is indicating a larger collective crime but failed to provide proof or quranic evidence similiar to this verse, in fact "wa " is used in the quran to group a number of actions together”
The article I cited from Joseph Islam of quransmessage.com has more examples. If it's more convenient for you I can include one in the article itself, though I expect readers to check up on my references. “Wa” is also used for wudhu, which is quite literally a process of steps that happen in quick succession without any significant time gaps. Quran 5:6, “…wash your faces AND (wa) your hands as far as the elbows, AND (wa) wipe your heads AND (wa) your feet to the ankles..”
Also keep in mind the further context provided in the power struggle that Lut a.s. experienced, the aggression of his people, his fear, and the ban on marrying mushrik men to his daughters based off 2:221. These also need to factor into your consideration. Once you consider all of this, bal as negation (which is the primary definition) makes the most sense. I remind you again that bal is not the only argument here it is only a starting point. The remaining context explains the rest. Allah knows best. Let me know what you think.
what does bal negate here
“When the chief-envoy came to him, Solomon said, “Do you offer me wealth? What Allah has granted me is far greater than what He has granted you. No! It is you who rejoice in ˹receiving˺ gifts” 27:36
Thanks so much, that was a great article. Interesting to look at the Dr Ghali translation of 26:165-166 in quran.com:
Do you come up to (stout) males of the worlds.
And leave behind what your Lord created for you as spouses? No indeed, (but) you are an aggressive people.”
Like much of Dr Ghali’s translations, it is a little cryptic, but he *seems* to be on the right track vis bal (“no indeed”).
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Thank you! It really is interesting how preconceived notions obscure what even fairly good translations say. Even with “No indeed, (but)…” following a question, Muslims still (maybe even the translators themselves!) think that this is about lustfully approaching males (or infidelity here in Surah 26). And not realizing how disconnected that string of words would be if that were truly the case. Hidden in plain sight.
you say “you’re suggesting the digression here comes in the form of a break or switch. Reading the verses however, Prophet Lut a.s. is not changing the topic”
well in this verse bal is not used to change the topic
“When the chief-envoy came to him, Solomon said, “Do you offer me wealth? What Allah has granted me is far greater than what He has granted you. No! It is you who rejoice in ˹receiving˺ gifts” 27:36
notice that bal was not used to negate that they offered him money or a gift but it was used as a switch to say what should they do with their money instead,and this verse
“They said, Indeed, we consider you a bad omen. If you do not desist, we will surely stone you, and there will surely touch you, from us, a painful punishment.
The messengers said, “Your bad omen lies within yourselves. Are you saying this because you are reminded ˹of the truth˺? In fact, you are a transgressing people.” 36:18-19
what does bal here negate exactly i see that it reaffirms whats before it rather than negate,and if bal in lut verses is used to negate “approaching men besides women” but approaching men is still mentioned in 29:29 which means that having sex with men is a sin regardless of your sexual orientation
about the usage “wa” i didn’t say that you didn’t provide proofs for your understanding i said that you “failed to provide proof or quranic evidence similiar to this verse” which is true because verse 5:6 is not similar at all to 29:29 in the usage of “wa” so we should look for verses that are similar to verse 29:29 like verses that group certain actions together regardless of they are good or bad
“Those who believed, emigrated, and strived with their wealth and lives in the cause of Allah” 8:72
“Those who disbelieve in the signs of Allāh and kill the prophets without right and kill those who order justice from among the people – give them tidings of a painful punishment.” 3:21
and in verse 29:29 you can see that approaching men is mentioned separately as a crime and mentioned after the verse that says “And [mention] Lot, when he said to his people, “Indeed, you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds”
Your example of 27:36 is still showing a subversion of notions. You’re thinking that I would say bal negates that they made the offer to Suleyman a.s.? That goes against how I interpret such verses, as I said in the article, notions are also negated. That’s why I use 2:116 and others as examples. They say, “Allah has taken a son.” Does bal negate the fact that they said Allah has a son? No, they still did that. It just negates the notion of it. The “omen” verses were already addressed in the comments, please see those.
“i see that it reaffirms whats before it rather than negate..”
At your own leisure, please consult any classical or modern Arabic dictionary for your verification. I recommend this to everyone. Bal never does that. It always sits in the middle of unequal, distinct components, whether its contradicting, or showing some kind of departure or switch. If it were read that way to reaffirm, join, link, or not create any sort of break at all, it would be a reader error or an interpretation error.
“and in verse 29:29 you can see that approaching men is mentioned separately as a crime..”
Approach doesn’t mean it has actually happened, being done and finished. Someone is moving towards them with the intention to do so. Hence the word is “approach” is used. It is to initiate the move. Which is why 2:222 it starts off by saying “keep away from them”. So I don’t see why 5:6 couldn’t be used. I also already talked of the possibility of the first component containing the rest of the components, with the fruits example:
‘In both of them (are) fruits (Arabic: fakihatun) and (wa) date-palms and (wa) pomegranates’.
Here the conjunction ‘wa’ (and) when used with date-palms and pomegranates only clarifies the ‘fruits’ and is not read as separate from the category of fruits (fakihatun)”
Another thing, bal’s role would be diminished if you’re implying that it is a mere coincidence that it is present with an anchor in those three verses, but mysteriously gone in 29:29 alongside its anchor “besides women” or “your wives” also being gone. The pairing should indicate something to the reader.
And finally, to better facilitate discussion, it would be best if *all* points were responded to in the replies. I’ll repeat my last paragraph since this wasn’t previously addressed:
“Also keep in mind the further context provided in the power struggle that Lut a.s. experienced, the aggression of his people, his fear, and the ban on marrying mushrik men to his daughters based off 2:221. These also need to factor into your consideration. Once you consider all of this, bal as negation (which is the primary definition) makes the most sense.”
You said that bal negates the notion or the idea before it in this case i agree with you so you see in verse 27:36 that bal negates the notion of offering money to Prophet Suleyman as logical or right thing to do
“Do you offer me wealth? What Allah has granted me is far greater than what He has granted you. No! It is you who rejoice in ˹receiving˺ gifts”
so you could say same about lut verses that it dosen’t negate the notion that they “approached men besides women” but the notion that it’s morally right,but you said that i didn’t take the further context into account, i know that lut’s people are are different from modern day homosexuals and it really shows from their tone in this verse “They responded, “Have we not forbidden you from protecting anyone?”15:70
so the only thing they have in common is that both have sex with men and that is clearly forbidden as i showed you in verse 29:29,and if their crime is only rape the verse wouldn’t mention them approaching men because rape is bad no matter what your sexual orientation
regarding the offering of lut daughters that’s a different topic to discuss for another time we’re only discussing the permissibility of homosexuality here
and regarding you interpretation of wa i think it’s not logical that’s like saying that believing in this verse contains the rest of the “components”
“Indeed, those who believe, do good, establish prayer, and pay alms-tax will receive their reward from their Lord”2:277
but believing in God’s message is a separate action in itself,and know that lut verses isn’t the only argument against homosexuality because there is this verse
“And they who guard their private parts Except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they will not be blamed But whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors”23:5-7
and think about is it a coincidence that same word used “transgressors” is also used in this verse “And leave what your Lord has created for you as mates? But you are a people transgressing.” 26:166
and the word spouses or wives always means spouses from the opposite gender in the quran
“And Allah has made for you spouses of your own kind, and given you through your spouses children and grandchildren And He has granted you good, lawful provisions. Are they then faithful to falsehood and ungrateful for Allah’s favours?”16:72
“He is the One Who created you from a single soul, then from it made its spouse so he may find comfort in her. After he had been united with her, she carried a light burden that developed gradually. When it grew heavy, they prayed to Allah, their Lord, “If you grant us good offspring, we will certainly be grateful.” 7:189
“And He created the pairs males and females”53:45
If you know that homosexuals of today are not like Lut’s a.s. people, because of their violent aggression in the Quranic context, then you should know that it is about their assault, not because their victims were men or that homosexuality versus heterosexuality is the issue.
“Have we not forbidden you from protecting anyone?” The general sentiment of “anyone” can apply to just that, “anyone”. In that time, travelers were typically men, which is why “MEN among the worlds” was used. This is why in 29:29 “cutting the path” was used for those specific men. They are men among the worlds, arriving on the travelers path, which is interrupted and the gang rape takes place in large numbers of the whole town. If you don’t use “wa” the way I am, and these components are independent, it will not make sense as to what “immorality in groups” is. Even Muslims of the past had to guess because they do not use “wa” correctly. Verse 29 perfectly captures the context with wa, so there is no guessing to what “immorality in groups” is.
There is a reason why bal is missing in 29:28-29.
The anchored pair of bal, “besides women” etc. is also missing. This holds significance.
As an exercise, keep the context exactly the same, but this time change the travelers to women. Keep everything, all the context the same, but now make the victims females. It will show you that gender is not important, which you did point out. So if you understand yourself, and you acknowledge bal can negate, you surely understand my point? Not only that, if “men” is the issue, Allah SWT says, “And they even sought to snatch away his guests from him”. A direct quote from Allah SWT, The Rabb, not Prophet Lut a.s., and no mention of men.
The reason why the verse includes “men” is because people will accidently think its because the attackers were gay. The same way Zafran Bibi was raped, but people accused her of zina. Same thing: they don’t understand the components and miss the point. She did not “abandon her azwaj” which Surah 26 clarifies with Lut’s town. The act “exceeded” or “transgressed” the bounds of what constitutes zina, which is why “transgressed” and “exceeded” are used, which I already addressed in the article. That’s why negation is required. If a man raped a woman, the issue is the rape, not the heterosexual nature of the attack. Same should be clarified for a male on male attack. That’s why bal was used.
This is why the daughters of Lut a.s. are important to the topic of homosexuality, not sure why you are separating it. Muslims believe because his children are female, it is okay to sacrifice them to the aggressive, violent town. To maintain straight relations. The fact that this marriage is heavily HARAM needs to be talked about to show that it was never about homosexuality or leaving women. His female children are important to counter the points Muslims make about homosexuality. It all fits in with bal very neatly if you take the correct definition of negation. The Quran is beautiful in that it never contradicts, so this is another method to find the right usage bal. Which brings me to your point about notions:
If it’s an opposing notion coming from someone else, it usually includes a quote by them where they state their opinion or belief. The notions only come when a different party talks or speaks. It has to be carried in speech. The Queen of Sheba SPOKE, which is how the notions are typically expressed, and said that she was going to send an envoy to gift Suleyman a.s. “She SAID…’Indeed, I will send them a gift….”
Or do they SAY, “In him is madness?” Rather (Arabic: بل bal), he brought them the truth
They SAY, “Allah has taken a son.” Exalted is He! Rather (Arabic: بل bal),
And when it is said to them, “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they SAY, “Rather (Arabic: بل bal) , we will follow that which we found our fathers doing.
That’s when the physical act of speaking is not negated, but rather the notion that is *carried* in the speech. The wording of the verses of Prophet Lut a.s. do not follow this. He’s not asking them if they think it’s morally okay to do this to foreigners. They already know it’s bad. That’s why Allah (SWT) destroyed them. Allah only destroys communities when they know they are bad, but refuse to care. Otherwise the verse would be in this format:
“They say, ‘Indeed it is lawful for us to approach men besides women!’ Rather (Arabic: بل bal), they are transgressing”.
I would have to carry the notion of moral right in their quotation, and I would also have to remove “shahwatan” as well and just leave “approach” (because the Quran does not allow men to approach women with carnal lust/shahwatan either, which further shows how this is not about homosexuality).
Regarding you interpretation of wa i think it’s not logical that’s like saying that believing in this verse contains the rest of the “components”. That was just one, I think the wudhu one still works.
Plus the fruits example also works:
‘In both of them (are) fruits (Arabic: fakihatun) and (wa) date-palms and (wa) pomegranates’.
Date-palms and pomegranates still falls under the umbrella of fruits. And believing in Allah entails the rest of those components. This is why Allah tests us. Believing without those isn’t really “believing” all the much.
23:5-7 is general, not specific. Some people never even end up married. And why would gay people marry the opposite sex? If its assumed “azwaj” of women were husbands, it can also be assumed the azwaj of gay people would be other gay people. You would be “reading into” the Quran if you thought its condemnation of same-sex relations, the same way people don’t understand that the story of rape if about rape, not homosexuality (because they read into it, rather than from it). And even then it wouldn’t apply to homosexuals, they dont have opposite sex wives or husbands anyway.
16:72 is also general. Many people don’t have children or grandchildren, or never live to see them. The rest of the verses you cited are also general. They don’t speak of unique or minority situations “Pairs males of females” is talking about sexes, not 1 to 1 couples. Some people never marry, others have multiple wives. Wouldn’t be a “pair” then.
Everything has to be considered. Bal’s negation, the violent context, the missing bal and besides women in 29:29, and yes, even Lut’s a.s. daughters, as their female sex is important in the topic of homosexuality. When you line it all up, it makes sense. When you apply bal incorrectly, it becomes distorted and disconnected. “Hole in the standard narrative”. The Quran doesn’t contradict, Muslims do. Nor are there coincidences. Everything is deliberate, if you line it up, it will make sense InshAllah.
I think Suleyman bal verse resemble lut’s verses the most because both of the verses starts with questioning a certain act as being moral
““Do you offer me wealth? What Allah has granted me is far greater than what He has granted you”
“Do you approach males among the worlds leaving the wives that your Lord has created for you? ”
and both use bal to negate, ” No! It is you who rejoice in ˹receiving˺ gifts.”
“But you are a people transgressing.”
so they are pretty much the same,and The Queen of Sheba didn’t talk to The Prophet directly she talked to messengers she sent,so both of the verses question a certain act and use bal to negate the notion that it’s moral
and you seem to repeat that the word “besides women” is absent in verse 29:29,don’t you think that it’s because it’s mentioned in other verses already ? there is instances in the quran where a think isn’t mentioned in a verse because it’s known through context or other verses here’s an example
“When We decide to destroy a town, We command its affluent ones, they transgress in it, so the word becomes justified against it, and We destroy it completely” 17:16
the verse dosen’t mention what the people were commanded with but we know from other verses that Allah enjoins justice and forbids immorality
about verse 23:5 i don’t assume that “azwaj” is supposed to be the opposite gender but it’s established throughout the quran
regarding “wa” there is a verse that i forgot to cite in my previous comment
“Those who disbelieve in the signs of Allāh and kill the prophets without right and kill those who order justice from among the people – give them tidings of a painful punishment.” 3:21
here disbelieving in the signs of Allah can’t be one of the “componentس” because that’s enough to get you to eternal hell without requiring you to “kill the prophets” and all that stuff because even disbelieving in the afterlife can get you to eternal hell
” As for those who do not wish to meet Us, and they are content with the worldly life, and they feel secure by it, and they are unaware of Our signs.To these will be the destiny of the Fire for what they earned.”10:7-8
“In fact, they deny the Hour. And for the deniers of the Hour, We have prepared a blazing Fire” 25:11
That isn’t much of a distinction. She still conveyed something to him. Messengers = those that deliver the message. Message = what the Queen wanted to say to Suleyman. So this dialog doesn’t match the Lut a.s. verses. Makes little difference if she wrote him a letter via carrier pigeon or sent him smoke signals, or sent him messengers.
I didn’t just say “besides women” is missing in 29:29. Both bal AND its anchor (besides women) is missing in a ***detailed verse***. Together. Was much more detailed than the other ones. You’re implying that an entire word in the Quran is insignificant to the meaning, so that it doesn’t matter if “bal” was included or not, hence you see no difference in 29:29 and the rest. We can’t pretend an entire word of the Quran plus the object it’s tied to, makes no difference if it’s mentioned or not. Your example of 17:16 is a general verse encompassing the practice of Allah for all communities as a theme, not the specific actions of what is going on in a particular community.
And all the times the verses do have “bal” it always mentions “besides women” or “abandoning azwaj”. If “bal” is missing in 29:29, then clearly it is not functioning the way you believe it is (talking about the morality of what they are doing, which it is not- they know already they are immoral). Otherwise Bal would have been there for 29:29 to answer the morality question for the NEW crimes (blocking highway and group immorality) even if “besides women” was absent. You imply that the presence of “bal” makes no difference between those different sets, which is a grave error to do that to a word of the Quran. Even if “besides women” was already mentioned, the other ones were not, so this doesn’t work to me.
I mentioned the “fruits” containing pomegranates and date-palms, I didn’t see any commentary on that from your reply.
For azwaj, then you should know that in 26:165-166 Lut a.s. mentions that they are married to women. With no mention of lesbianism. These men aren’t gay. You mentioned you understood the context of force and violence, and how they are not the same as today’s LGBT. Then you should know that doing that force and violence on women would also be bad. Focusing on the gender would be missing the point. Like the story of Zafran, who was involved in sex outside of marriage. Rather than focusing on the rape, they claimed she did zina and thus missed the point. It was explained in 26:165-166 that the two cannot be the same. And speaking on zina, if someone who disobeyed 23:5-7 was a man sleeping with a totally different, strange woman, the crime would be zina, not the fact that he was heterosexual. See how implicit bias alters interpretation?
Attempting to seek different “bal” verses to try to match up some sort of alternate meaning when the wording of the verses and the dictionary definitions are already clear indicates that you had a preconceived notion, and are now trying to look for different examples to try to justify an alternate that is more suitable to what you had already made a decision on. I would urge you to just allow the Quran to just say what it is saying. Saying that the gender of the victims is more important than the crime would be a critical mistake. And if there was still any doubt, the case with the daughters of Lut would have finally narrowed out any misgivings.
Since this is beginning to dominate the comments section I’ll have to discontinue this here as I prefer not to turn the comments section into a fully fledged debate forum. You can email me if you have further questions.
I’ll leave you with the marriage offering of women to sinning men:
1. “Let no man guilty of adultery or fornication marry but a woman similarly guilty…” (Qur’an 24:3)
2. “…and give not your daughters/women in marriage to idolaters…” (Qur’an 2:221)
3. Presence of his men already having azwaj 26:165-166
4. The idea that few women marrying multiple men has never been accepted in mainstream Islam.
5. The grammar and validity of Lut a.s. knowing his town didn’t see the guests, so he claims they are his local family members, knowing they only rape foreigners.
Hello Mehedi, I hope you’re doing well!
I just had a question regarding 7:81. It came to my attention that the beginning particle of the verse, inna, usually is written as indeed in English.
Now, I don’t disagree with your interpretations of 26:165-166 or 27:54-55, those make sense given the grammer and context. What does wierd me out a bit is how 7:81 (assuming inna means indeed here) basically goes along the lines “indeed you are lusting after men instead of women, no you trangress.”
I get the point of this verse is detailing the sodomites commiting same sex acts, but why use indeed? It seems contradictory in that its confirming something that’s been debunked in 27:54-55?
I’ve seen others see the inna particle here to mean really (akin to leila bakhtihar’s translation), but it still confuses me. Would you happen to know how best to examine such a matter?
Salams Niaz, same to you!
I think it is because in Arabic grammar “inna” puts different degrees of emphasis on very specific words without having to add italics like we would in English. Short answer is that “inna” is putting emphasis on “you” (plural) so it says “indeed YOU (are the ones)” because it is linked up with a pronoun in 7:81. Innakum = YOU (plural). It’s answering the question in the preceding verse, on if they are approaching (atatoona) a crime no one else ever has. Then says, yes, YOU (are the ones), centering the accusation. It has no bearing on the “lust besides women” bit, which I know seems weird in English.
So the question asked in 7:80 is:
Is it that (pref. Int. alif) you approach/commit a crime no one has before? (same word atatoona is used for “commit”)
7:81 answers by saying, it is (Indeed) THEM (plural) + THEY (indeed) APPROACH…
So we know its THESE folks that are gaining a reputation in history now, and we know THEY are approaching a group.
Alot of the verses are sort of like replies to accusations or challenges, which is why “inna” is used quite alot. Lut’s (a.s.) people probably denied they were uniquely bad or just didn’t care, hence the accusation is focused/emphasized on them. Like the last ayah of Surah Kawthar for example, it is implied that the Kuffar claimed Muhammad SWS was “cut off” from Allah. So it says, “Indeed WE granted you al-Kawthar….Indeed THEY are the ones cut off”. Because of the inna function, the Quran doesn’t always have to include, “they said this”. It’s kind of implied. That does kind of get lost in translation though.
Now if the ‘inna’ was invoked upon and modified “women” in 7:81 solely or together with “you”, it would seem to cause a little tension with bal, I think. Like a tug-of-war over influence. But because bal does still negate affirmative sentences, and is reinforced by Surah 27, I wouldn’t be inclined to think it was contradictory…but as you mentioned it would raise an eyebrow as to why inna would be invoked on it to begin with for me as well. Luckily this isn’t the case.
Just to expand on the above a bit more on inna (& excuse the repetition):
So the translations to ‘indeed’ aren’t exactly “wrong” but there isn’t really an English equivalent for how inna operates. And depending on where the emphasis is placed by inna, you can form the original question that would have led to it, like working backwards (assuming the original question wasn’t already provided). For example:
“Inna MuahmmadAN rasulun” -> MUHAMMAD (inna emphasized) is the Messenger. (Q: WHO is the messenger?)
“Inna Muhammadun rasulAN” -> Muhammad is the MESSENGER (inna emphasized). (Q: What is Muhammad’s ROLE?)
You would use one or the other depending on what the original question was. Notice how the AN/un endings get modified when under inna’s influence. If you invoked the emphasis of Inna without modifying either Muhammad/Rasul, the sentence would be grammatically incorrect.
So because Inna in 7:81 is joined up with a pronoun (innaKum) rather than standing alone in the above example, the emphasis is automatically assigned to the pronoun, and it cannot emphasize another word, unless you assign an emphatic Laam to another word as a prefix (which it does for atatoona, => becomes latatoona). InnaKum = It is YOU (all) –Emphasis gets placed on the community at large (It’s YOU guys).
The emphatic Laam goes to lahta-toona (YOU all approach), probably because it also carries the “YOU ALL” in there since the verb for approach is masculine plural. (That’s why “you” shows up 2x in the word-by-word breakdown: https://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword.jsp?chapter=7&verse=81)
Without any emphatic laam, its the “lustfully besides women” is the notion that directly precedes bal as its anchor, to then be neutralized. Bal doesn’t touch “indeed YOU”, and “inna” doesn’t touch “lustfully besides women”. It’s a weird grammar thing that doesn’t mesh well in English since we don’t split/read the same verse into two concepts like that. Even if 7:81 were read as one entire unit with inna losing its focused emphasis (like if inna truly functioned the way we read it in English) bal would cancel it out anyway since it also applies to affirmative sentences and Surah 27 supports it. The unanswered question in 7:80 of whether or not THEY are the ones committing the crime no one has is stated again in 29:28 with an inna (and without a bal) regardless.
I will leave this comment here and this will be my last comment i promise
firstly i don’t understand your argument about Suleyman bal verse,yea The Queen sent him messengers so what ? is that actually makes a difference to bal meaning according to the Quran,i said that the verse starts with a question and ends with negating it with bal which resemble lut’s verses the most out of all bal verses, and it dosen’t negate it that they are offering him money or anything but it does negate it being logical or right
you said the men of lut aren’t gay,yea they’re might be bisexual but who cares ? their sexual orientation dosen’t matter,i was talking about the permissibility of having sex with men not the feeling of a sexual attraction or sexual thoughts overall
you say that bal is missing in 29:29 but it dosen’t make a difference as it’s still mentions approaching men
and the fact that it’s mentioned in a more “detailed verse” supports this understanding if their crime is only rape there no reason of mentioning it and the verse would have looked like this
Indeed you obstruct the road and commit in your meetings [every] evil.”
and even if they knew their acts are immoral it’s still the the duty of the messanger to remind them of that
and i mentioned that verse 3:21 contradicts your understanding of “wa” as disbelieving and kiling the messangers are still separate actions
,you say that foucsing only on the gender is missing the point but it’s the Quran who focuses on the gender not me as “approaching men besides women” is mentioned in pretty much all the verses concerning lut’ people
what i see from my point of view that it’s kind like forbidding Incestuous rape like rape is bad and worse than incest for sure but incest is still forbidden even if it’s consensual, i only mentioned this example so you understand my point
Hello again Mehedi,
So I just had a quick question (sorry for being a bother), but this time about the word bal.
Now, I don’t have a disagreement as to how it can mean “no”. That makes sense. However, when discussing this with other people, they stated that this cannot be authoritative, as bal in lane’s lexicon in sections A2-A4 has other meanings (which start acting like inna). So the bal in Lut’s verses according to those individuals can mean anywhere from “no” to “yes”, according to their view.
While this could then be argued this is a similar issue like with daraba in 4:34 (which as 22 different meanings as a word), and choosing beat would be a bad idea, it still leaves me uneasy to leave something like this so vaguely defined.
Now, those lexicons primarily do deal mostly in showcasing bal as a negating particle, while the inna variants are more so for subject breaks and not questions or affirmation statements (this is my current counter argument). What’s the best way to respond to the claim that bal here might not be negating?
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No problem at all, and sorry for the late response. There’s two main ways: first, showing how other bal significations do not really work for a coherent reading (which you’ve done), and second, showing how it creates serious conflict with Quranic context and other verses.
First way – Incoherent Reading
They all disjoin or create a break in some way, including the ones that switch topics. If those folks you talked to are trying to say that “bal” might possibly confirm that Lut’s people are in fact homosexual (by saying it means “yes”?), bal wouldn’t really be the word to use; even if other significations were used, it would be incoherent and funky. As you mentioned Lut a.s. isn’t switching topics so this wouldn’t work. Sometimes even in those, there is a subtle subversion of the flow of expectations (example: 3:149-150). And while Lane doesn’t mention this, in the Quran there’s usually a symbolic difference (such as good/bad connotation) between the two things as well for subject-switch bals (again, 3:149-150). If these were (incorrectly) applied to Lut a.s., “you are transgressing/exceeding” bit would be symbolically distant from “approaching men with lust besides women”.
Also it puts way too much friction with bal’s absence in the more detailed 29:29 (one of the 20 points to contend with). Essentially they would be diminishing the presence of an entire Quranic word, by saying it doesn’t matter whether or not it is included in Surah 7, 26, and 27 pairs. Not to mention the curious 29:29 omission of its anchor, “besides women”, and the omission of “transgressing/exceeding” which follows bal elsewhere. I find this all illogical to accept in light of an interpretation that actually explains why it’s missing. The “yes” route has more holes than swiss cheese thanks to Quranic context. Which brings me to my next point.
Second Way – Quranic context/20 Points
But in case bal is disputed, the context of the story of Lut a.s. and cross referencing other Quranic verses/teachings makes it collapse way too easily if there was room for doubt. It’s why I stacked the list of 20 points at the end.
Only the reading of No/Not so/On the contrary very neatly answers all those points, aside from confirming what the lexicons/dictionaries are primarily saying. Otherwise it’s way too unstable. So when faced with the two routes I go with the more stable route (though its hard to even concede there’s “another ” route here, as the lexicons and translations are with us).
With bal meaning “yes”, the power struggle (11:80) is unaccounted for, the context of a threat (15:70) is ignored, and the absolute incompatibility of daughters’ marriage on ***multiple different levels*** is egregiously overlooked. I’ve found even with the most stubborn and argumentative people, the part with Lut’s daughters gets them stuck.
Speaking of Quranic rules/teachings, wouldn’t “yes” imply that men approaching women with lust/carnal desires [Arabic: shahwatan] is acceptable? The condemnation of the gender rather than the act is why people don’t blink an eye in sacrificing his daughters….
If they concede to the fact that bal can still mean no, but are seeming to (?) default to the possibility that it actually means yes, they have to justify *why* they are accepting one over the other. To borrow a phrase of a known scholar, there’s “holes in the standard narrative”.
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Here is a related study on bal: https://lampofislam.wordpress.com/2018/02/12/the-significance-of-bal-no-istead-in-the-story-of-lot/
Also a few more studies: https://lampofislam.wordpress.com/category/same-sex-relationship/
Hi, thank you for this great article. Do you have any particular translation of the Quran that you find to be the most accurate and unbiased?