Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
This is something I wrote last summer when I got tired of getting a whole lot of spam "Adam's" bones e-mails. Thought I'd share. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then look at this: http://i61.photobucket.com/albums/h78/jetbuilderkid/giants.jpg
But the disclaimer is very important here, because most of the stuff here are my deductions and not scholarly or authoritative conclusions.
by Tanim Taher Disclaimer:
This is my personal attempt at rationalizing and understanding a few Mutashabiha (unclear) things from the Quran and Hadith. However, I am no learned person when it comes to matters of religion. My explanations could be completely wrong and Allah knows best. When it comes to the matters of the al-ghaib (unseen), we human beings can only give theories and explanations but there is no guarantee that the theory or explanation is right. The theory may seem plausible, even highly plausible, but there is always the chance that it could be wrong. So dear readers, please remember this as you read this and do not take what I say here as solid truth, as only Allah knows the absolute truth regarding matters of the al-ghaib. Again, these are only my opinions – I am not trying to convince anyone: so please do not use this note and try to convince anyone for or against the views expressed here. Background:
The Quran is the greatest miracle given by God to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). In the Quran, God challenges people that “Then do they not reflect upon the Qur'an? If it had been from [any] other than Allah , they would have found within it much contradiction [4:82]” He challenges people to come up with a chapter like this “Or do they say: "He (Muhammad SAW) has forged it?" Say: "Bring then a Surah (chapter) like unto it, and call upon whomsoever you can, besides Allah, if you are truthful!" [10:38]”. These 2 verses give 2 rigorous criteria to determine if the Quran is really God’s Word or not:
a. Verse 1 says that there can be no inconsistencies in it. Inconsistencies can mean contradictions, illogical things, verses contradicting proven scientific truths, etc.
b. Verse 2 says No human or group of humans can write something like this – meaning that this book will have some true information in it that people back in the day (perhaps even now) simply could not have known – rather it is impossible for them to know some of this information.
My whole note revolves around point (a), but I’ll give one example regarding point (b). We all know the verse in the Quran where Allah refers to “Have those who disbelieved not considered that the heavens and the earth were a joined entity, and We separated them… [21:30]”, which seems to refer to the Big Bang theory’s assertion that all matter in the entire universe was joined together before the moment of creation. And we know of some other scientific miracles in the Quran.
But the less famous part of the same verse reads “and made from water every living thing? Then will they not believe?”. This is an astounding miracle. Previously, scientists thought that phosphorous was essential to life as it is an essential ingredient for Dioxy-ribo Nucleic Acid (DNA). But now scientists have found a life form (http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/12/nasa-finds-arsenic-life-form/
) that uses arsenic instead! Scientists used to think that carbon dioxide (for plant like organisms) or oxygen (for everything else) were the two main gases that were needed to sustain life – not anymore (http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/1998/msad16sep98_1/
). There are some bacteria that thrive on sulphur compounds like SO2, instead of being dependent on carbon based organic chemicals for nutrition. Both these life forms radically challenged the list of ingredients that scientists used to think were essential for life – but there is one ingredient that has withstood the rigors of new discoveries in the field of microbial biology. These microbes and every other life form in the planet needs water and are indeed largely composed of water; for example, the human body is 70% water. So the Quranic verse about water being the essential ingredient to life holds true today even though there have been new discoveries that threw out several other chemicals from the list of life’s essentials. So no human could have known with a high level of scientific certainty that water is absolutely essential for all single and multi-cellular organisms. This proves point (b). Fascinatingly, it also proves point (a), because the Quranic statement about living things being created from water is not inconsistent with scientific evidences. Rationalizing “The heavens and the earth were created in six (6) days”:
Okay, enough of background material – now to come to the point of my article. The Quran says in verse “And it is He who created the heavens and the earth in six days … [11:7]” – that God created the heavens and the earth in six days. Science says that the universe is at least 14 billion years old. Does this verse go against point (a)? Elsewhere in the Quran, God says:
1. “He arranges [each] matter from the heaven to the earth; then it will ascend to Him in a Day, the extent of which is a thousand years of those which you count. [32:5]”,
2. “The angels and the Spirit will ascend to Him during a Day the extent of which is fifty thousand years. [70:4]”;
3. “They will say, "We remained a day or part of a day; ask those who enumerate." [23:113]”.
So clearly the Quran says that time is relative – a day is relative to the observer. For example, time equivalent to one day for the angels could be 1000 years to us. According to some Hadith, the duration of day of judgment would be thousands of years long to those people who’ll be punished but very short (like Sunnah prayer) for those people to be rewarded. The interesting verse to me is “day or part of a day”. This verse seems to say that the life on the earth is a chapter, once it closes, there is a new chapter – just like after the sunsets, the day ends and after nighttime the sun rises and it’s a new day. So a day according to this verse seems to refer to a chapter of related events – like lifespan on earth is one chapter. When this ends and a new chapter begins, for example, judgment day – a new day has begun. So the six days of creation could refer to 6 different chapters or 6 distinguishable stages in the history of our universe.
Going back to the verses 1 and 2 about a day being of different lengths to different observers – we are reminded of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. This theory states that depending on the states of the observer (like gravitational field intensity in the locality, or the object’s velocity), the clock runs differently from observer to observer. If you travel fast or are near a very strong gravitational field, your clock will run very slow – you’ll remain young while your children will grow old and die! Strange, but this has been scientifically verified from numerous experiments. Indeed, every GPS satellite in Earth’s orbit has their own atomic clock to keep track of the relativistic time difference because they are orbiting the earth very fast compared to objects on the surface. GPS systems have equations and programs built-in to account for the relativistic time shift. If these were not there, your GPS navigation system might literally guide your car to the bottom of Lake Michigan when you tell it to show you the way from Chicago to Detroit!
So these 2 verses again prove point (b) – the relativity of time and its scientific veracity is something that no human before Einstein could have thought of. This must be divine knowledge. Point (a) is also partly proven because the description in the Quran about the different lengths of a day match up within the realms of possibilities espoused by the theory of relativity. But there is still a doubtful question related to point (a). If scientific evidence indicates that the universe needed 14 billion years to come to its present state, how does the universe’s creation in 6 days as described in the Quran make sense? Recall, the first verse says that one day could be equivalent to 1000 years. Second verse says that a day could be 50,000 years. So there is no upper or lower limit to how long a day could be as referred by God in the Quran – perhaps billions of years?
In summary, it is my opinion that the 6 days of creation refers to 6 stages in our universe’s history as created by God, and by the day’s relative nature in the Quran, 6 days refer to billions of years. And combined, this rationalization makes perfect sense and poses no conflicts with modern astronomy.
This rationalization would have been enough, but I’ll leave you with something more interesting. The Day of Judgment is when every human being will be gathered in one place. So how could it be that some people (sinners) will experience the day as thousands of years long, while others (good people) will literally see it as very short and quick; while being at the same location? If you take a plane ride on this earth, your clock runs slow. At the end of the plane ride you are several pico-seconds younger than your friends. But both of you inhabit the same place – the same area, i.e. the earth. So even in the same place, people can experience different time scales depending on the velocity state. So the theory of relativity does not preclude the different time scales experienced by different people in yawmul qiyamah. We also know that good believers will travel like a light across the poolsirat (very fast means your clock is slow while others have aged by years), while sinners will crawl very slowly and some will fall (iazubillah). Rationalizing Adam’s height as 60 cubits:
The height of Adam (a.s.) is mentioned nowhere in the Quran. However, there are many Sahih Hadith which mentioned that Adam (a.s.) was created by Allah as 60 cubits (90 feet) tall. And there are Hadith which mention that the believers will enter Jannah (Inshallah may Allah make us among them) being the same height as Adam (a.s) which is sixty cubits tall. The problem is, in the hundreds of years of documented archeological scholarship, no human bones have been found for people taller than 6 or 7 feet – the average height amongst the tallest human beings throughout history. So are those Hadith’s wrong from a logical standpoint and do archeological evidences contradict them?
Allah mentions in the Quran “And We said, "O Adam, dwell, you and your wife, in Paradise and eat therefrom in [ease and] abundance from wherever you will. But do not approach this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers." [2:35]”. This verse is crystal clear that Adam and his wife Hawa were told to reside in Paradise – Garden of A’dn – after Allah created them. So in Jannah, paradise, Adam was 90 feet or 60 cubits tall. The Hadith of Rasul (saws) indicate that the believers dwelling in paradise will be 60 cubits tall. Jannah, paradise, is an alternate physical existence – and it appears that in order to live in it and enjoy its delights, one needs to be 60 cubits tall. So Allah created Adam in his initial state of 60 cubits, and He will make the believers 60 cubits tall before admitting them to paradise Inshallah.
How was Adam’s existence in Jannah different from his existence on the earth (once he was removed from paradise)? In Jannah he didn’t have to worry about the bathroom. Other Hadith describe a sweet smelling sweat emanating from the dwellers of paradise; the sweat being the alternative biological mechanism. Also, just like in the movie Avatar in the planet Pandora where the plants had the nerve connections to sense what the creatures were thinking; similarly the plants in Jannah might have such connections to sense what the paradise dweller is thinking and what fruit he desires. The human body also has to have complimentary nerve/telepathic connections in order to reciprocate to the plants of jannah and communicate one’s desires. So the human body is immortal and in a much more perfect and much, much more beautiful form in Jannah than on earth. In human psychology, height is a thing that is honored and loved. So it is an honor bestowed upon paradise dwellers by Allah that they will be 60 cubits tall.
Bottom line, the human body of a paradise dweller is extremely different, superior, taller than the same person’s body on the earth. Adam was created to initially dwell in jannah. So he had 60 cubits height and the perfect body. It is my opinion that when Allah relegated Adam’s position and consigned him to earth, Adam’s body was transformed to fit his earthly existence – normal human height ~ 6 feet or so, bathroom needs, etc. So on earth, Adam and all his descendents had the same average human height of today, which matches with the findings from archeological/human paleontology research. The height of 5-6 feet is greatly advantageous for earthly existence – it means we need a finite amount of food (difficult to produce) to survive. It is indeed a blessing that Allah chose a smaller height for humans on this earth.
So this rationalization explains to me that indeed Adam was created 60 cubits tall. But his height was lowered when he was transformed and transported to reside on the earth. He also became a mortal from his immortal form in Jannah. So the Hadith’s about Adam’s height makes rational sense if we realize that Adam existed in two different dimensions – paradise and earth – each with its own different physical requirements, and the actual fulfillment of those requirements by the Creator. Why write this at all?
Frankly, I got sick and tired of all those e-mails which people forwarded me with fake doctored images of a giant skeleton, and people genuinely excited saying "Look brother, someone found Adam's grave. See, Islam is true!!!"
People may ask why I am trying to rationalize these two matters. Am I not supposed to blindly believe? Why do I need a rational explanation to believe? The truth is I don’t. Why do we need to find miracles in the Quran to prove that it is the Word of God? The truth is the Quran needs no proofs at all. So why then did Tanim bother at all to write a 2,600 word essay???
I believe the Quran and everything in it. And I believe the Sahih Hadith. But the few doubtful matters sometimes linger in the back of my mind – and sometimes the Shaitan tries to bring them to my consciousness in order to weaken my Imaan. When I have a rational explanation, the questions disappear from the back of my mind, Shaitan’s efforts are wasted, and my Imaan is strengthened.
Also, some people who don’t like Islam bring some mutashabihat verses and Hadith in an attempt to attack Islam. By coming up with rational explanations, we are able to combat the efforts of such people. Then there are several Muslims who also have doubts regarding such matters but they want to really believe – so when they see a hoax picture of huge human bones (see the doctored photo), they rush to believe that the bones are that of Adam. So some Muslims get self-deceived because there are a few questions lingering at the back of the mind regarding the mutashabihat. Hence, I wrote this.
Finally, a Sheikh reminded me the other day about the importance of pondering upon the verses of Allah. Allah says “(This is) a Book (the Quran) which We have sent down to you, full of blessings that they may ponder over its Verses, and that men of understanding may remember. [38:29]” So I decided to ponder a bit, Alhamdulillah.
Whatever good comes from this post is from Allah alone and any mistakes therein are mine.