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According to al-Jalalayn, there are two readings for 11:81....

they said, ‘O Lot, truly we are messengers of your Lord. They shall not reach you, with any harm, so travel with your family during a part of the night, and let not one of you turn round, lest they see the terrible predicament that will befall them, except for your wife: (read illā imra’atuka, in the nominative, as a substitute for ahadun; a variant reading has illā imra’ataka, in the accusative, as [her being] an exception among [his] ‘family’, in other words, do no take her along when you travel) lo! she shall be smitten by that which smites them: it is said that he did not take her along with him; it is also said that she did set out [with them] and turned round, and so exclaimed, ‘Woe is my people!’, at which point a stone struck her and killed her. When he [Lot] asked them about the time of their destruction, they replied: Truly their tryst is [for] the morning, and when he said, ‘I want it to be sooner’, they said: is the morning not nigh [enough]?’

The most common reading goes as imra’ataka while the other goes as imra’atuka. The former reading means that Prophet Lot's wife was exempted from salvation and that she was to be left behind. The latter reading on the other hand means that not any of them should look back except the wife. So Prophet Lot AS did took her out with him.

There's been some confusion going on but we are told that both readings are authentic and authoritative. Can someone explain how the readings complement each other?

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فأسر بأهلك بقطع من الليل ولا يلتفت منكم أحد إلا امرأتك إنه مصيبها ما أصابهم
...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. ... (Sahih International 11:81)

Both reading agree in one thing: his wife would be punished as she has looked behind or at the people who got Allah's punishment and therefore was among them and not among the saved people.

  • As the first reading:

إِلَّا ٱمۡرَأَتَكَ
illa (i)mra'ataka

means that she is not part of his أهل (family in this case the family that believed him and followed him), so the exclusion refers to the family. One could therefore assume that she will not leave the town with Lut () and his company. However this would rather be in disagreement with the statement that she would be exempt from salvation as she looks back (if the translation is correct as it also could mean take a fast look and that is possible in any case).

This is the reading of the majority among the 10 qurra'.

And this goes ahead with the meaning of verse (7:83)

So We saved him and his family, except for his wife; she was of those who remained [with the evildoers].

This verse actually -at least literally- confirms that his wife didn't follow him out of the town. But it doesn't exclude that "remaining" with the evildoers may mean that she was among the punished people even in case she might have left.

  • The second reading:

إِلَّا ٱمۡرَأَتُكَ
illa (i)mra'atuka

This is the reading of ibn Kathir and abu 'Amr. And it means that the exclusion refers to look back, so she will be among those who looked back and were punished. In this case she might have left with Lut(), but she didn't follow his orders of not looking back and was therefore among the people who were exempt Allah's salvation. Some linguists actually tried to show the falsehood of this reading as imam al-Qurtobi mentioned, before mentioning that they erred and showed the correctness saying that this reading has two possible interpretations:

  1. None will among them (who went out) will look back except with your wife.
    Here this may mean that Lut left the town with all his family (including his wife) and his wife was the only person from among his family to look back or take a look at the town punished by Allah.
  2. None among you (Lut and his family) will look back except with your wife.
    In this case the wife is considered part of the family, but also the only person who was punished beside the evildoers. This interpretation actually doesn't leave any statement about whether or not Lut's wife was in his company when (or before) she received the punishment or in other words it neither confirms nor disconfirms whether she left the town with Lut or not.

See also: What were the criteria for validating a qira'a?

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  • I don't get it. What's the difference between 1 & 2? Both look the same. – Afiq Oct 3 at 15:46
  • @Afiq The difference is the reading which allows a different interpretation. Or you mean 1. 2. of the 2nd reading. in case 1 actually indirectly confirms that she went out of the town while case 2 doesn't. – Medi1Saif Oct 3 at 15:48
  • So is the second reading correct and authentic? How many of the 10 recite the first? – Afiq Oct 3 at 15:57
  • @Afiq certainly it is – Medi1Saif Oct 3 at 15:58

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