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How Long Ago Was Adam Created!?

Question and answer details
Sister
2012/10/22
There are two hadiths one sahih bukhari and the other is sahih Muslim that claim there are 10 qarn or generation or centuries between Adam and Noah... This would mean that humanity started on earth around a couple of thousand of years ago!! How is this possible?! Human fossils were found as old as 200,000 years. Can you help me? Thanks in advance
AAI Editorial Staff
Answer

This answer was kindly provided by Brother Maan Khalife, a member of Ask About Islam Editorial Staff.

Salam sister,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

May Allah reward you for seeking knowledge and asking challenging questions; this opens the opportunity for everyone to learn.

Concerning the statement you have quoted about ten qarn, this is not in Bukhari nor in Muslim; it is in Sahih Ibn Hibban.  Abû Umâmah relates that once, a man asked Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):

“Had Adam been a Prophet?” Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) answered: “Yes.” The man asked: “How much time passed between him and Noah?” Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) replied: “Ten Qarn” (Sahîh Ibn Hibbân, Hadith 6190).

If we assume that the world "Qarn" being referred to here is one hundred years then we are dealing with one thousand years; however, this is not the case since  qarn means generation according to the following hadith in Bukhari:

"I was sent among the best generations (qarn) of the sons of Adam; generation after generation until my generation."

Generation span depend on the average population age.  We were told in the Quran that Noah (peace be upon him) called his nation to monotheism for nine hundred and fifty years:

{And indeed We sent Nuh (Noah) to his people, and he stayed among them a thousand years less fifty [inviting them to believe in the Oneness of Allah (Monotheism), and discard the false gods and other deities]; and the Deluge overtook them while they were wrong-doers.} (Al-Ankaboot, Chapter 29, Verse 14)

So Noah must have been much older than that, considering that he lived before and lived after the flood that wiped the entire humanity except for Noah and his followers who were onboard of the ark and survived the disaster.

Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him), the prophet's cousin and the well known interpreter of Quran, explains that a qarn is equal to ten centuries or one thousand years so ten qarns are equal to ten thousand years.  This makes much more sense than one thousand years altogether.

The question is how many years ago Adam first step foot on earth or how many years ago Noah was born?

If the man from the hadith above had asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) how long ago did Adam or Noah live, we would have received the answer.

Unfortunately we don’t have such information; recorded history does not seem to go back any further than ten thousand years ago, telling us only about early civilizations that lived at that time such as the Phoenicians in what is known now as Lebanon, the Pharos of Egypt, and the Greeks.

We can only guess based on Quran and science when the flood at the time of Noah took place. The Quran describes that the waves were as high as mountains and that Noah’s ark was only saved by Allah’s grace:

{Thereupon we opened the gates of the sky for water to pour down, and we made the earth burst forth with springs, and all this water converged to fulfill that which has been decreed.  And we bore Noah on the vessel built of planks and nails, which sailed on under Our supervision: a reward for him who had been shown ingratitude.  And We left the Ark as s sign.  Is there, then, any who will take heed?} (Al-Qamar, Chapter 54, verses 11-15)

{So it (the ship) sailed with them amidst waves like mountains, and Nuh (Noah) called out to his son, who had separated himself (apart): "O my son! Embark with us and be not with the disbelievers."} (Hud, Chapter 11, Verse 42)

This is describing a Mega Flood including what is known to us as a Mega Tsunami.  Scientists tell us that such phenomenon took place throughout history; and it could be that Noah’s flood happened thousands or tens of thousands of years ago.

Based on Noah’s age that was indirectly mentioned in the Quran and the great flood that happened at his time containing waves like mountains, we may speculate that Noah must have lived a very long time ago. However, we don’t have any proof whatsoever of the exact dates, and this piece of information from human history remains a mystery.

I hope this answers your question.

Salam and please keep in touch.

Useful Links:

The Story of Creation in the Quran, Unscientific?

Parallel Universes: The Endless Possibilities of Creation

The Creation of Prophet Adam (Part 1)

The Creation of Prophet Adam (Part 2)

Imperfect Creation of the Perfect Creator

Creation or Evolution?

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