Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And unto Midian We sent Shu'ayb, their brother) their Prophet. (He said: O my people! Serve Allah) declare the divine Oneness of Allah, (and look forward to the Last Day) and fear the Day of Judgement, (and do not evil, making mischief, in the earth) do not engage in transgressions and corruption in the earth.
And, We sent, to Midian, their brother Shu‘ayb. He said, ‘O my people! Worship God and anticipate the Last Day, fear it, namely, the Day of Resurrection; and do not be degenerate in the earth, working corruption’ (mufsidīna is a circumstantial qualifier, emphasising its operator [wa-lā ta‘thaw, ‘do not be degenerate’]; it [the verb] derives from ‘athiya, meaning afsada, ‘he corrupted’).
Allah tells us that His servant and Messenger Shu`ayb, peace be upon him, warned his people, the people of Madyan, and commanded them to worship Allah Alone with no partner or associate, and to fear the wrath and punishment of Allah on the Day of Resurrection. He said:
(for those who look forward to (meeting with) Allah and the Last Day) (60:6).
وَلاَ تَعْثَوْاْ فِى الاٌّرْضِ مُفْسِدِينَ
(and commit no mischief on the earth as mischief-makers.) This is forbidding them to make mischief on earth by spreading corruption, which means going around doing evil to people. They used to cheat in weights and measures, and ambush people on the road; this is in addition to their disbelief in Allah and His Messenger. So Allah destroyed them with a mighty earthquake that convulsed their land, and the Sayhah (shout) which tore their hearts from their bodies, and the torment of the Day of Shade, when their souls were taken. This was the torment of a great day. We have already examined their story in detail in Surat Al-A`raf, Surat Hud and Surat Ash-Shu`ara'.
فَأَصْبَحُواْ فِي دَارِهِمْ جَـثِمِينَ
(and they lay, prostrate in their dwellings.) Qatadah said, "They were dead.'' Others said that they were thrown on top of one another.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
The reason for this anxiety and distress was that the angels had come in the shape of handsome, young boys. The Prophet Lot was aware of his people's morals. Therefore, he became perturbed at their arrival. He was thinking, "If I receive these guests in my house, it will be difficult to save them from the immoral people; if I do not receive them, it will be highly uncivil and unbecoming of the noble people. Moreover, if I do not provide shelter to these travelers, they will stay the night elsewhere, which would mean that I have myself given them away to the wicked people." What happened after this has not been related here. But according to the details given in Surahs Hud, AI-Hijr and AI-Qamar, the people of the city thronged to the Prophet Lot's house and insisted that the guests be handed over to them for immorality.
That is, "As for us, you should neither fear that they will in any way he able to harm us, nor be anxious about how you will protect us from them." This was the time when the angels revealed their identity to the Prophet Lot, and said that they were not men but angels, who had been sent to bring the scourge on his people. According to the elucidation in Surah Hud, when the people were rushing into Lot's house and he felt that he could in no way save his guests from them, he cried out: "I wish I had the power to set you right, or I could find some strong support for refuge."' (v. 80) At this time the angels said: "O Lot, we are messengers sent by your Lord; they will not be able to harm you at all." (v. 81).
"A clear Sign": the Dead Sea, which is also called Sea of Lot. The Qur'an at several places has addressed the disbelievers of Makkah, saying, "A Sign of the torment that visited this wicked people on account of their misdeeds still exists on the highway, which you see night and day during your trade journeys to Syria." (AI-Hijr: 76; As-Saftat: 137). Today it is being admitted with near certainty that the southern end of the Dead Sea came into being as a result of a violent earthquake when the area in which Sodom, the central city of the people of Lot, was located sank underground. In this part there are still signs of some submerged habitations. Exploratory attempts are being made with the modern diving apparatus but the results are still awaited. (For further explanation, see E. N. 114 of Ash-Shu`araa A'raf.
For the Islamic punishment of sodomy, see E.N. 68 of Surah Al 191.