Longevity in the Holy Qur’an

Longevity in the Holy Qur’an



The Holy Quran – a text accepted by all Muslims – contains verses that can prove the Shia claim about the possibility of the prolonged lifespan of Imam al-Mahdi (a.t.f.s).

  1. The Spider (Ankabut), verse 14


وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا إِلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ فَلَبِثَ فِيهِمْ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ إِلَّا خَمْسِينَ عَامًا فَأَخَذَهُمُ الطُّوفَانُ وَهُمْ ظَالِمُونَ


“Certainly We sent Noah to his people, and he remained with them for a thousand-less-fifty years. Then the flood overtook them while they were wrongdoers. “


In this verse, Prophet Noah invited his people to Allah for 950 years. Scholars question his age when he was sent as a prophet and on how long he lived after the Flood. This disagreement is to such an extent that the great Sunni Scholar, Alusi, narrated numerous hadiths based on which the Prophet Noah lived for 1,700 years.[1]

Likewise, the late Shaykh Saduq, a prominent Shi‘a thinker of the 4th century A.H., narrated from Imam Sadiq that the Prophet Noah lived for 2,500 years. [2]

Furthermore, Fakhr Razi, a renowned Sunni scholar, considered the medical opinion that human lifespan does not exceed 100 or 120 years in contradiction with the above-mentioned Qur’anic verse; he regarded the great longevity of man as possible only by divine providence.[3]

  1. The Cave (al-Kahf) ,verse 25 

Shi’i scholars have used this verse regarding the People of the Cave to prove the possibility of the longevity of Imam Mahdi’s life:


وَلَبِثُوا فِي كَهْفِهِمْ ثَلَاثَ مِائَةٍ سِنِينَ وَازْدَادُوا تِسْعًا


So they stayed in their Cave three hundred years, and [some] nine [more].


Along with other consistent Qur’anic verses, this one demonstrates that the People of the Cave lived for 309 years asleep in the cave. While sleeping, they turned from side to side by the power and will of Allah. Those who believe in the living of People of the Cave for 309 years without their eating anything does not find the longevity of Imam Mahdi  surprising  nor  impossible.  Is  Allah  not  able  to  keep  His vicegerent alive under better conditions if He can keep the People of the Cave alive without eating anything?


  1. The Cow (al-Baqarah) versr 259


This verse tells the story of Prophet Ezra (Uzayr) whose life Allah took for one hundred years and then brought him back to life while his food and water remained intact:


أَوْ كَالَّذِي مَرَّ عَلَىٰ قَرْيَةٍ وَهِيَ خَاوِيَةٌ عَلَىٰ عُرُوشِهَا قَالَ أَنَّىٰ يُحْيِي هَٰذِهِ اللَّهُ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا ۖ

فَأَمَاتَهُ اللَّهُ مِائَةَ عَامٍ ثُمَّ بَعَثَهُ ۖ قَالَ كَمْ لَبِثْتَ ۖ قَالَ لَبِثْتُ يَوْمًا أَوْ بَعْضَ يَوْمٍ ۖ قَالَ بَل لَّبِثْتَ

مِائَةَ عَامٍ فَانظُرْ إِلَىٰ طَعَامِكَ وَشَرَابِكَ لَمْ يَتَسَنَّهْ ۖ وَانظُرْ إِلَىٰ حِمَارِكَ وَلِنَجْعَلَكَ آيَةً لِّلنَّاسِ ۖ

وَانظُرْ إِلَى الْعِظَامِ كَيْفَ نُنشِزُهَا ثُمَّ نَكْسُوهَا لَحْمًا ۚ فَلَمَّا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُ قَالَ أَعْلَمُ أَنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ


He said: “Oh! How shall Allah bring it [ever] to life, after its death?” So, Allah caused him to die for a hundred years, and then raised him to life. He said: “How long have you tarried [thus]?” He said: [Perhaps] a day or part of a day.” He said: “Nay, you have tarried thus a hundred years; but look at your food and your drink; they show no signs of age; and look at your donkey, and that We may make of you a sign unto the people; look further at the bones, how We bring them together and clothe them with flesh.” When this was shown clearly to him, he said: “I know that Allah hath power over all things.”


According to both Sunni and Shi‘a hadith collections and Qur’anic commentaries, his meal was made up of figs, grapes, and milk, all of which  are  prone  to  rotting  quickly.10  With  firm  belief  in  Allah, Muslims regard this phenomenon as possible and natural.


Now the question arises: Can Allah, Who is able to keep these foods fresh and intact for one hundred years, not keep His vicegerent alive for His desired period of time?

[1] Alusi, Ruh-ul-Ma’ani, vol.10, pp.347-348; also see Ibn Kathir, Tafir-ul-Qur’an al-Azim (The Commentary on the Holy Qur’an), vol.3, p. 418; Jalal-u-Din Soyuti, a-Dur-ul-Manthur, vol. 3, p.334.

[2] Shaikh Saduq, Kamal-u-Din wa Tamam-u-Ne’mah, p.523

[3] Fakhr Razi, Mafatih-ul-Ghayb, vol. 25, p.38

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