Were the Past Nations Giants in Size?

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick


Were all male and female humans during the era of the prophets giant in size? If so, how big were they compared to us now? Will they still be giants in heaven?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

May Allah alleviate our difficulties and guide us to that which is pleasing to Him. Amin.

Some evidence suggests that people were gigantic in size and then gradually shrunk down over aeons. Traditional scholars have grappled with the meaning of the hadith in question, especially in light of archaeological findings and other measurable data, and Allah knows best.

Examining the Hadith

The hadith in question was narrated by Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), who said:

“Allah created Adam, and he was sixty cubits tall. Then He said, ‘Go and greet those angels and listen to how they greet you, for that will be your greeting and the greeting of your progeny.’ He said, ‘al-salamu ‘alaykum (Peace be upon you).’ They said, ‘al-salamu ‘alaykum wa Rahmat-Allah (Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah).’ So they added the words ‘wa rahmat Allah.’ And everyone who enters Paradise will be in the form of Adam. People kept on growing smaller until now.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

According to a version by a Muslim: “Everyone who enters Paradise will be in the form of Adam who was sixty cubits tall. People kept growing smaller until now.”

Ibn Hajar’s Commentary

Concerning the words of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), “People kept growing smaller until now,” Ibn Hajar says:
“This means that in every generation, people grew shorter than the previous generation, and continued to grow shorter until the time of this ummah, then they stayed like that.”  [Ibn Hajr, Fath Al-Bari]

However, Ibn Hajar grappled with the implication of the hadith as follows.

Critiquing Hadith Based on Archaeology

Taken from the answer given by Shaykh Farid Dingle:

Because a merely authentic hadith (sahih) that is not mass narrated (mutawatir) only gives us great confidence (dhann) and not objective knowledge (ilm), it is also valid to critique a hadith based on factual archaeological evidence.

Ibn Hajar’s Critique

One example of this can be seen in how Ibn Hajar al Asqalani, a 15th-century traditional hadith scholar, critiqued a hadith referring to Prophet Adam’s gigantic form.

In Sahih al-Bukhari, a hadith quotes the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) saying, “When Adam was created he was sixty cubits tall … and people (khalq) have continued to shrink until now.”

After confirming the meaning of the hadith and that words of the hadith did indeed indicate that Prophet Adam (upon whom be peace) was about 90 ft tall, Ibn Hajar adds the following:

“What is problematic here is what is observable today of the archaeological remains of previous nations, such as those of Thamud, since the size of their houses does not give the impression that they were exceptionally tall, as this would imply. Furthermore, it is obvious that they lived a long, long time ago, and the time between them and Adam was less than the time between them and those at the beginning of this nation. To date, I have not been able to explain this problem.” [Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Fath al Bari]

So Ibn Hajar is saying that 500 hundred years ago, archaeology does not seem to add up with a giant human race proposed by the hadith. And at the same time, he is unwilling to completely write off the hadith as a fabrication.

We learn from this that there is room to critique an authentic (sahih) hadith if there is more substantial evidence than it. Whether we agree with Ibn Hajar’s conclusion or whether his use of archaeology was valid is irrelevant. The point is that in our Islamic heritage, we have the openness and the philosophical apparatus to tackle such problems. We do not have to throw the baby out with the bathwater as most post-Darwinian Western thinkers did with the Bible. [Dingle, SeekersGuidance]

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar Shaykh Taha Karaan.

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and has completed his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.