As salaam alaikum (Peace be upon you)
Prophet Lut (Lot):
According to Islamic and Biblical traditions, the Dead Sea is the site of the ancient city of Sodom, home of the Prophet Lut (Lot), peace be upon him. The Prophet Lut (as) lived at the same time as the Prophet Ibrahim (as) and was sent as a Messenger to a neighbouring tribe to the Prophet Ibrahim (as). The Qur’an describes the people of Sodom as ignorant, wicked, evildoers who rejected God’s call to righteousness. The people were murderers, thiefs, and openly practiced immoral sexual behavior. That tribe, according to the Qur’an, practiced a perversion never before seen in the world: homosexuality. Lut perservered in preaching God’s message, but found that even his own wife was one of the disbelievers.
God’s severely punished the people of this region for their wickedness. When the Prophet Lut (as) told the people to abandon one of the greatest sins and delivered to them the message of Allah, they rejected him. They denied that he was a Prophet and continued with their horrid lifestyle. As a result of this, the tribe was destroyed in a terrible disaster by Allah. According to the Qur’an, the punishment was to “turn the cities upside down, and rain down on them brimstones hard as baked clay, spread layer on layer, marked from your Lord” (Qur’an 11:82-83). The site of this punishment is now the Dead Sea, standing as a symbol of destruction.
And Lut, when he said to his people, “Do you commit an obscenity not perpetrated before you by anyone in all the worlds? You come with lust to men instead of women. You are indeed a depraved people.” (Qur’an, 7:80-81)
We rained down a rain upon them. See the final fate of the evildoers! (Qur’an, 7:84)
[Our Messengers said to Lut,] “We will bring down on the inhabitants of this city a devastating punishment from heaven because of their deviance.” We have left a Clear Sign of them behind for people who use their intellect. (Qur’an, 29:34-35)
This city, in which the Prophet Lut (as) lived and which was later destroyed, is called “Sodom” in the Old Testament. It appears that this people, who lived to the north of the Red Sea, was destroyed in a manner compatible with the description in the Qur’an. Archaeological excavations have revealed that the city lay close to the Dead Sea on the present-day Israeli-Jordanian border. According to scientists, the area is covered in large deposits of sulphur. For this reason, no life in the form of animals or plants is to be found there and the region stands as a symbol of destruction.
Sulphur is an element which appears as a result of volcanic eruptions. Indeed, there is clear evidence in the Qur’an that the method of destruction was earthquake and volcanic eruptions. The German archaeologist Werner Keller says this about the region:
Together with the base of this mighty fissure, which runs precisely through this area, the Vale of Siddim, including Sodom and Gomorrah, plunged one day into the abyss. Their destruction came about through a great earthquake which was probably accompanied by explosions, lightning, issue of natural gas and general conflagration… The subsidence released volcanic forces that had been lying dormant deep down along the whole length of the fracture. In the upper valley of the Jordan near Bashan there are still towering craters of extinct volcanoes; great stretches of lava and deep layers of basalt have been deposited on the limestone surface.
These layers of lava and basalt are the most important evidence showing that a volcanic eruption and earthquake once took place there. In any event Lake Lut, otherwise known as the Dead Sea, lies directly above a seismically active region-in other words, an earthquake belt:
The technical aspect of the disaster suffered by the people of Lut has been revealed in studies carried out by geologists. These have shown that the earthquake which wiped out the people of Lut came about as the result of a very long fault line. The Jordan River drops a total of 180 metres during its 190 km course. This, and the fact that the Dead Sea is 400 metres below sea level, combined to prove that that there once took place a major geological event in and around this area.
This interesting structure of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea comprise only part of the crack or fissure which passes through this region. It begins at the slopes of the Toros Mountains and runs southward past the southern shores of the Dead Sea, through the Arabian Desert, reaching the Gulf of Aqaba, from where it crosses the Red Sea before coming to an end in Africa. There is major volcanic activity in those areas through which the line passes. In fact, this occurs to such an extent that black basalt and lava can be found in the Mountains of Galilee in Israel, in part of the high plateaus in Jordan, the Gulf of Aqaba and other areas.
All these remains and geographical features show that there was a major geological event at the Dead Sea.
The December 1957 edition of National Geographic magazine contained these statements on the subject
The mount of Sodom, a barren wasteland, rises sharply above the dead sea. No one has ever found the destroyed cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, but scholars believe that they stood in the Vale of Siddim across from these cliffs. Possibly flood waters of the Dead Sea engulfed them following an earthquake.
One of the pieces of information regarding this destroyed city is-as revealed in Surat al-Hijr 76-that these cities are still on the main line. Geographers have identified this region as being on a line to the south-east of the Dead Sea, extending from the Arabian peninsula to Syria and Egypt.
We turned the place completely upside down and rained down on them stones of hard-baked clay. There are certainly Signs in that for the discerning. They were beside a road which still exists. There is certainly a Sign in that for the believers. (Qur’an, 15:74-77)
The Qur’an describes that the site of this punishment has been left as a sign for those who follow: “Surely! In this are signs for those who understand. And verily, they (the cities) are right on the highroad. Surely! Therein is indeed a sign for the believers.” (Qur’an 15:75-77)
If one does visit the Dead Sea, it is recommended to spend time recalling the story of Lut, and how he stood for righteousness among his people. The Qur’an says, “And to Lut, too, We gave wisdom and knowledge; We saved him from the town which practiced abominations. Truly they were a people given to evil, a rebellious people. And We admitted him to Our mercy; for he was one of the righteous” (Qur’an 21:74-75).
May Allah make us understand his signs and be steadfast on his way..Aameen.