Were Men Really 60 Cubits Tall?

The Christian missionaries have recently turned their attention to a hadith which states that the height of Adam(P) was 60 cubits (= 90 feet) tall and have charged this hadith as a “scientific error”. The hadith in question is from Sahih al-Bukhari and is recorded as follows:

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Allah created Adam, making him 60 cubits tall. When He created him, He said to him, “Go and greet that group of angels, and listen to their reply, for it will be your greeting (salutation) and the greeting (salutations of your offspring.” So, Adam said (to the angels), As-Salamu Alaikum (i.e. Peace be upon you). The angels said, “As-salamu Alaika wa Rahmatu-l-lahi” (i.e. Peace and Allah’s Mercy be upon you). Thus the angels added to Adam’s salutation the expression, ‘Wa Rahmatu-l-lahi,’ Any person who will enter Paradise will resemble Adam (in appearance and figure). People have been decreasing in stature since Adam’s creation.1

Now regarding the above hadith, the matter is very simple even for people with a diminutive mental competency. The pertinent parts of this hadith are:

    “khalaq-Allâhû Aadam wa-tûluhû sittûna thirâ`(an)…”
    (Allah created Adam and his height was 60 cubits…)

This is talking about the height of Adam(P) and all humans in Paradise and not in this world. This can be immediately adduced from the following portion of the hadith:

    “…fa kullu ma[n]-yadkhul al-jannatî `alâ sûratî Aadama fa-lam yazal al-khalqû yanqusû hatta-l Aan.”2
    (So everyone who enters Paradise (will be) upon the likeness of Adam, for they have not ceased from being decreased in stature even until now)

When Adam(P) descended from Paradise to the world, he was given a worldly decrease in stature, of which mankind is still upon to this day. Thus, this hadith is clearly stating that when humans enter Paradise again, they will return to that heavenly tall stature.

To avoid any further confusion, observe the very next hadith which precedes the above:

Narrated Abu Hurayrah: The Messenger of Allah said, “The first group of people who will enter Paradise will resemble the moon in the night of its fullness…All of them will be upon a single semblance, upon the resemblance of their father Adam, 60 cubits (tall) in the sky.”3

So that there is no room for doubt, the Arabic for “…upon the resemblance of their father Adam, 60 cubits (tall) into the sky” is `alâ khalqi rajul wâhid,`alâ sûratî abîhim aadama sittûna thirâ`a fis-samâ'”.

Hence we have successfully refuted the 20+ pages of missionary’s inconsequential diatribe, as we can all see now that the reference to “60 cubits tall” is with regard to the stature of all mankind when they are in Paradise.4

And only God knows best!

Footnotes

  1. Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:543 []
  2. ibid. []
  3. Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:544 []
  4. See also Ibn Hajar’s exegesis to Sahih al-Bukhari to see how this is the way Muslims in the past have interpreted this hadith, as he places this subject in the context of “Bab Siffat al-Jannah” (“The Chapter of the Characteristics in Paradise”). []

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