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"Then travel in a part of the night with your family, and you go behind them in the rear, and let no one among you look back, but go on to where you are ordered." (Qur'an 15:65)

Why was Lot (PBUH) told not to look back when the angels were destroying Sodom and Gomorrah?

Why was it so important not to look back?

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  • I guess when Allah's punishment comes upon a sinful people, the Muslims are instructed to be away, and not even look at it out of curiosity. Another incident that comes to mind is when the Prophet (SAWS) was traveling with his Companions (RAA): they passed by a place where Allah's wrath had descended. He (SAWS) forbade his Companions (RAA) from lingering for too long there, and even forbade the use of the water from that place.
    – Najeeb
    May 31 '15 at 5:20
  • Maybe the punishment was to be so horrible that God didn't want the good people to even have a glance of what the bad people are getting. I don't know, just a guess. But, as far as I know, there are nothing explaining about this matter. Jun 1 '15 at 11:50
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    Usually we don't speculate in Islam concerning what was passed so in order not to divert from the truth. But to this account without speculating there is some psychological reasons for it. The people of Lut (a.s) were a peculiar people who introduced a new kind of sin to which we must never admire, apologies and feel pity for the one doing it. The action of looking back can easily ascribe among those feelings. If Allah (swt) orders the destruction of a people we must accept it even if we don't understand the full scope of it. And Allah (swt) knows best.
    – Musk
    Jun 3 '15 at 15:54
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The prophet Lut (May peace be upon him) was leaving his people as Allah ordered him to do:

"The angels said, "O Lot, indeed we are messengers of your Lord; [therefore], they will never reach you. So set out with your family during a portion of the night and let not any among you look back - except your wife; indeed, she will be struck by that which strikes them. Indeed, their appointment is [for] the morning. Is not the morning near?" So when Our command came, We made the highest part [of the city] its lowest and rained upon them stones of layered hard clay, [which were] Marked from your Lord. And Allah 's punishment is not from the wrongdoers [very] far." (Quran 11:81-83)

So, here you can see "and let not any among you look back except your wife; indeed, she will be struck by that which strikes them". The order to not look back was given as the one who had looked back that day may have had the same fate as Lut's (May peace be upon him) Wife.

Lut's (May peace be upon him) Wife was converter into a statue and to prevent the same fate for the Lut (May peace be upon him) and his family this order may had been given.

Allah knows the best

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According to the tafsir of Imam Al-Qurtoby they have been told not to look back for the reason that they should do their best (hurry) to leave the place before the morning as it said in an other Verse in Suart Hud (11:81)

Then the angels said, "O Lot, We are messengers sent by your Lord. They shall not be able to do you any harm. So depart from here with the people of your household in the last hours of the night. And look here: none of you should turn round to look behind; but your wife (who will not accompany you) shall meet with the same doom as they. The morning has been appointed for their destruction-the morning has almost come."

قَالُواْ يَا لُوطُ إِنَّا رُسُلُ رَبِّكَ لَن يَصِلُواْ إِلَيْكَ فَأَسْرِ بِأَهْلِكَ بِقِطْعٍ مِّنَ اللَّيْلِ وَلاَ يَلْتَفِتْ مِنكُمْ أَحَدٌ إِلاَّ امْرَأَتَكَ إِنَّهُ مُصِيبُهَا مَا أَصَابَهُمْ إِنَّ مَوْعِدَهُمُ الصُّبْحُ أَلَيْسَ الصُّبْحُ بِقَرِيبٍ

And don't forget that for people who leave the place they usually used to live in it's the most normal thing to look back while leaving. For this reason and to prevent them to look back Lot (peace be upon him) has also been walking as the last man in the group of his people.

So maybe if they looked back and stood watching they might have been also captured by the sight and wanted to help their people or just wouldn't have enough time to flee from the doom which met the people who didn't believe and rejected Lot (peace be upon him).

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Let me quote Islahi. His exegesis (Urdu) of Surah Al-Hijr is available here. The following translation is mine as I could not find its English translation.

To look back again and again while leaving a place is an indication of love and affinity for it. It is quite natural in normal circumstances and manifestation of such instincts cannot be barred or purged. But while leaving a settlement about which God's punishment has been decided after Itmam al-Hujjah*, the believers should detach themselves from it in such a way that there is not even an iota of love for it in their hearts. It has been reported about the Prophet (pbuh) that when he sometimes had to pass through the settlements of destroyed nations he would hurry up and guide others to do the same.

* the communication of truth to the direct addressees of a Messenger in such a way that they are left with no excuse to deny it

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