“What was the average lifespan of the previous people? Was it longer or shorter in comparison to that of today? I want a reasonable answer with evidence.”

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“What was the average lifespan of the previous people? Was it longer or shorter in comparison to that of today? I want a reasonable answer with evidence.”
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

We can learn how long the previous people lived from three main resources. The first one is philosophical thought and evaluation. The second one is scientific knowledge that is based on experiments and laboratories. The other one is heavenly resources. They are: the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Quran. What science and philosophy say about the issue does not have a value. Among the heavenly sources, the only one that maintains its original form is the Quran. If there is no information in the Quran, it is possible to refer to the other heavenly books.  

            The age of Noah is clearly mentioned in the Quran. The meaning of the relevant verse is as follows:

            “We (once) sent Noah to his people, and he tarried among them a thousand years less fifty: but the Deluge overwhelmed them while they (persisted in) sin. But We saved him and the Companions of the Ark, and We made the (Ark) a Sign for all Peoples!” (al-Ankabut, 14-15).

            We understand from the verse that the Deluge took place when Noah (pbuh) was 950 years old. We do not know how long Noah lived after the Deluge.   

            According to the Old Testament, Hazrat Adam lived 930 years. (Genesis: 5/5; İslâm Ansiklopedisi, Volume 1, p.363).

            In some tafsir books, it is stated that Hazrat Adam lived one thousand years. (Ibn Athir Ali b. Muhammad al-Jazari, al-Kamil fi’t-tarikh, Beirut 1965, Volume 1, p.150-151).

            In conclusion, it is understood that Hazrat Adam and Hazrat Noah lived about one thousand years. We do not know whether their communities lived as long as they did or not. However, since prophets are examples to their communities, it is probable that they lived as long as their prophets. As a matter of fact, our Prophet lived as long as the average lifespan of the community and died when he was 63 years old. Allah knows the best.   

                        Prof. Dr. Âdem Tatlı

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