Was Adam sixty cubits tall while on Earth?

July 28, 2013

Sahih Muslim 01

By Abu Amina Elias for FaithinAllah.org

Question:

There is a hadith that says Adam was created sixty cubits tall, which is about ninety feet. Some missionaries claim this is a scientific error. Were humans really that tall on earth?

Answer:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

The Prophet informed us that Allah created Adam in an image of sixty cubits. However, it is likely that this refers to his image in Paradise and not after he was sent to the earth. The complete tradition is as follows:

Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

خَلَقَ اللَّهُ آدَمَ عَلَى صُورَتِهِ طُولُهُ سِتُّونَ ذِرَاعًا فَلَمَّا خَلَقَهُ قَالَ اذْهَبْ فَسَلِّمْ عَلَى أُولَئِكَ النَّفَرِ مِنْ الْمَلَائِكَةِ جُلُوسٌ فَاسْتَمِعْ مَا يُحَيُّونَكَ فَإِنَّهَا تَحِيَّتُكَ وَتَحِيَّةُ ذُرِّيَّتِكَ فَقَالَ السَّلَامُ عَلَيْكُمْ فَقَالُوا السَّلَامُ عَلَيْكَ وَرَحْمَةُ اللَّهِ فَزَادُوهُ وَرَحْمَةُ اللَّهِ فَكُلُّ مَنْ يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ عَلَى صُورَةِ آدَمَ فَلَمْ يَزَلْ الْخَلْقُ يَنْقُصُ بَعْدُ حَتَّى الْآنَ

Allah created Adam in an image of sixty cubits. When He created him, Allah said: Go and greet with peace these groups of assembled angels and listen to how they greet you, for this will be the greeting among your progeny. Adam said: Peace be upon you. The angels said: Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah. So they added the mercy of Allah. Thus, everyone who enters Paradise will be in the image of Adam, since those who followed him continued to diminish until now.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 5873, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

Some scholars interpreted sixty cubits as Adam’s height while on earth, but the text indicates that those who enter Paradise will be sixty cubits tall:

فَكُلُّ مَنْ يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ عَلَى صُورَةِ آدَمَ

Thus, everyone who enters Paradise will be in the image of Adam…

In another tradition, the Prophet informed us that those who enter Paradise will be sixty cubits tall like Adam:

أَخْلَاقُهُمْ عَلَى خُلُقِ رَجُلٍ وَاحِدٍ عَلَى صُورَةِ أَبِيهِمْ آدَمَ سِتُّونَ ذِرَاعًا فِي السَّمَاءِ

All of them will look alike and will resemble their father Adam, being sixty cubits tall.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 3149, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

So from these traditions we can infer that the height of the people of Paradise is sixty cubits, not that people on earth were that tall. Other traditions inform us about the grandiosity of things in Paradise as a means of increasing our hope in Allah for these amazing rewards.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

إِنَّ فِي الْجَنَّةِ لَشَجَرَةً يَسِيرُ الرَّاكِبُ فِي ظِلِّهَا مِائَةَ سَنَةٍ

Verily, in Paradise there is a tree in whose shade a rider could travel for one hundred years.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2826, Grade: Sahih

The wonders of Paradise are unlike anything that has been seen by human beings.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

يَقُولُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أَعْدَدْتُ لِعِبَادِيَ الصَّالِحِينَ مَا لَا عَيْنٌ رَأَتْ وَلَا أُذُنٌ سَمِعَتْ وَلَا خَطَرَ عَلَى قَلْبِ بَشَرٍ ذُخْرًا بَلْهَ مَا أَطْلَعَكُمْ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ

Allah the Exalted said: I have prepared for My righteous servants what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and has not crossed the mind of men, but is testified by Allah.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2824, Grade: Sahih

Therefore, the reference to Adam’s height as sixty cubits is a spiritual reality in the Unseen (al-ghayb) and it was not meant to provide us with a scientific theory. We should caution Muslims from attempting to derive scientific information from similar traditions and from indulging in interpretations that will confuse people and cast doubts on their faith.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.