Surah 26 (Al-Shu’ara/The Poets): 166

165. What! Among all the creatures, you commit the immoral acts with men?

166. And leave the wives your Lord has created for you? In fact, you are people who exceed the limits.

[‘Al-Qur’an al-Kareen’ Ahmed Raza Khan, 1910, subsequently translated from Urdu to English by Faridul Hacque (Khan is a key figure in the Barelvi movement, the largest Pakistani Sufi tradition)]


In Genesis, chapter 18 , two angels who visited Abraham, walk away to visit Abraham’s nephew Lot whilst the their companion, identified as God, explains to Abraham that their purpose is to investigate ‘the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah … (and to assess if) their sin is so grave’ as had been reported 〈21.〉 Abraham pleads with the Lord for the sparing of the cities, if good people can be found there, even if they are far outnumbered by evil doers, and God grants this concession, eventually agreeing to relent if as few as ten just people can be found there.


When the two angels arrive at Lot’s house (chapter 19 , ), Lot shelters them. The house is then besieged by a crowd of men from the nearby city of Sodom intent on committing homosexual rape upon them. At dawn, Lot is warned to leave the place to avoid God’s anger which the two cities have now called down upon themselves, and as he flees, Sodom and neighbouring Gomorrah are destroyed by fire and brimstone for the wickedness of their inhabitants. Lot’s wife disobeys the angels’ command not to look back and, in a particularly surreal detail, is transformed for her disobedience into a pillar of salt.


The Qur’an contains accounts of the destruction of Lot’s people at {7.80-84}, {11.77-83}, {15.59-77}, {26.160-172}, {27.54-58}, {29.28-35}, {37.133-138}, and more briefly at {21.74-75}, and {54.33-38}. The story generally follows the biblical narrative although several of these accounts have Lot preaching to his people — to fit the punishment-narrative motif, see  〈20.〉  – and one has the townspeople threatening to expel him, possibly to draw a comparison with Muhammad’s situation. The smiting in the Qur’an of Lots wife is referred to in all seven substantive accounts, although in each her sin is merely ‘lagging behind’. No expression of grief for her is registered by Lot, (in contrast to Noah 〈20.〉 and Abraham 〈21.〉, who had interceded without success for their relatives in similar situations). In two of the accounts, {22.171} and {37.135} she is not referred to as his wife at all but merely as ‘an old woman’: no doubt intended to impress the original audience with Lot’s total detachment of family ties in his acceptance of God’s judgment.


During the course of its telling of the story, the Qur’an contains four unambiguous condemnations of the people of Lot for homosexuality. Although two of the accounts ({11.78-80} and {15.67-72}) mention the hostility of the crowd towards the angels, there is no hint of any plan by the townspeople to rape them, which was the sin for which, in the Book of Genesis, the cities were ultimately destroyed. On the contrary, on each occasion upon which homosexuality is referred to, it is condemned for being a perversion of God’s planned natural order, without any reference to the issue of lack of consent.


{7.80} When Lot said to his people: ‘What! Do you commit an indecency such as none in the world committed before you?

{7.81} Verily you come with desire unto men instead of women. Indeed you are a prodigal people!’



{27.54} And (We sent) Lot when he said to his people: ’Do you commit indecency though you see?

{27.55} Do you really come with desire unto men instead of women? Nay but you are an ignorant people!’



{29.28} [As {7.80} above]

{29.29} ‘What do you come unto men, cut off the way and commit reprehensible deeds in your gatherings?…’



{26.160-172} (including the verses produced above, being words spoken by Lot).



In addition to the telling of the story of Lot, some also consider that {4.16} – ‘And if two of those among you are guilty thereof, (i.e. of indecency) punish them both, but if they repent and make amends, then let them be’ – may have been intended to refer to homosexual acts. The argument goes that the phrase ‘two of those amongst you’ may be interpreted to relate to two men, since the Qur’an would appear to have been exclusively addressed to a male congregation 〈4.〉

Although no sentence is fixed for homosexuality in the Qur’an, most Muslim jurists consider homosexual acts to be a type of either fornication (to be dealt with by a hundred lashes), or else adultery (stoning to death) if either of the parties was married, see 〈66.〉 preceding.


A hadith relates Muhammad considering an accusation of homosexuality and ordering his followers ’to kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done’. Another hadith attributes to Ali, Muhammad’s son in law and the fourth caliph, the practice of killing homosexuals by throwing them from tall buildings – in his case, the minaret of a mosque.