In reply to this query, it’s necessary to pay attention to few points:
Natural phenomena are of two types:
Ordinary and general natural happenings that occur very often like wind, rain, sunrise, change in season etc.
Uncommon and lesser natural happenings like meteor, solar and lunar eclipse, severe thunder and lightening, earthquakes etc.
These two categories differ in numbers occurrences. The matter of Imam Mahdi’s longevity belongs to the uncommon and lesser category that is unusual among the people; but does not come in conflict with any law.
All the sciences related to life and nature like biology, physiology, physics, medicine, etc have not determined any limit for human life although as of today, they reckon the maximum ordinary age of a person to be 115-120 years. The proof that all the nature related sciences haven’t fixed any exact age for human-beings is the following matter:
Man is making all efforts to delay senility and old age that leads to death:
Today, life expectancy (which in the beginning of the current century was less than 20 years) in some countries like Japan has reached 76 years for men and 82 years for women. The population of old people in the world is on the rise such that the number of people above 65 years in America alone has reached more than 33 million people. The rate of growth of people above 85 years in this country is 6 times more than the total growth of population in that country.
It appears that in the future, vital steps can be taken in preventing senility of cells by employing genetic and gene-therapy in hindering the leaps and in-effecting the envirournmental factors that cause such leaps in genes.
The exact and historical meaning of old age is not known and varies from person to person:
We still do not have a clear and complete definition of old age. Why and by which mechanism we turn old? This is a query with no clear answer. Gerontology is a science in which the process of senility is discussed. It’s a science in its embryonic stage. Despite man’s constant eagerness in knowing the reason for senility and death, it is only decades that scientific research has begun in this field. In spite of this short experience, vast discoveries have been achieved about the manner of this human process and assumptions have been made about their cause.
The mean life span of every individual can be determined by means of some factors like style of living, diet, environmental conditions and genetic abilities. By changing some of these factors, one can subsequently increase the life-span (or average life) of an individual without any increase in man’s maximum life span.
With the discovery of the causes of common old-age diseases (like heart disease and cancer) and the ways for their prevention as well as cure, we can increase the life expectancy. Also, with the discovery of genetic and biochemical shortcomings (that leads some to experience a shorter life span), we can reduce the gap between life expectancy and maximum life span and allow a great number of people to acquire maximum life span.
Hygiene and nutrition has increased the average life span of human-beings.
5000 years before 1900 A.D., life expectancy was 26 years and in the beginning of recent century, life expectancy reached only 29 years. Better living conditions, medical care and decrease in death rate caused by infectious and child diseases has lead to increase in life expectancy and today in Japan a country that enjoys the highest life expectancy, the level of life expectancy has reached about 81.8 years for women and about 75.9 for men.
In 1900 A.D., only 4% of the population comprised people with over 65 years old. In 1986, this level reached 11.6% and it is predicted that in 2030, it would reach 20% of the total population. It means at that time, out of every 5 Americans, 1 would be over 65 years of age.
In recent years, the death rate has declined for all the age groups. However, this decline in death rate was more so in case of age group of above 85 years.
one should note that the average life-span of man (which in recent years has reached 70 years) was 35 years twenty years ago. With development of science and technology, the mean life-span is on the rise.
With new discoveries, those familiar with the art and science of diet and nutrition have worked miracles which were something unimaginable for their predecessors in the past. Today, with the help of food and its application, one can set sex, colour, eyes, hair, face, height, growth, health, resistant power and the life-span of foetus in mother’s womb. In reality, one can deliberately alter the foetus as per one’s desire and bring changes in his or her creation and way of life in the future.
Scientists have enumerated the factors that prolong life-span:
It is delightful to note that man’s success in enjoying long life and good health is no more dependable on one’s predecessors (like the matter of genetic). By precise exploitation of nutritional affairs, man can achieve this privilege all by himself because nutritional power and opportunity is the best gift of nature enabling man to achieve perfect health. By acquainting him with the type, quality and magnitude of nutrition, man has achieved long life and most of the hereditary flaws have been done away with.
Alexander Abvagumultz, a Russian researcher and scholar has proved that a person of 65 to 70 years old is young and is living at least in the middle stage of his life. Scientists believe that scientifically, all the living creatures have natural potentiality to live in good health about seven to fourteen times more than the life period from birth till puberty. A precise review shows that all the creatures enjoy this rule. By nature, the age of animals is no less than seven times their puberty period. In case of human-beings, the period of puberty differs in different regions due to ecological conditions. In most cases the puberty age is reckoned to be twenty years.
From the viewpoint of life expectancy, the safest period is near puberty age, when death risk arising from diseases is one in two-thousand people. Statistically, if this risk is maintained at same level, then life expectancy at time of birth would be about 1200 years.
It should be known that physiological capabilities differs from person to person and are controlled genetically. Even if we assume the senility growth to be same for all human-beings….the more the primary capability in someone, the slower the decline and deterioration in the physiological reserves and the more would be the life-span.
Firstly, the spread of primary physiological capabilities (that are determined by genetic factors) is very diverse in the society. In other words, the vital ability and potentiality of each individual varies from one another due to genetic reasons.
Secondly, environmental conditions and a personal style of living….can leave a positive or negative effect on this primary potentiality.
it is seen that royal honey prolongs life by 50 times in honey-bees. In other words, the difference in life-span of the queen-bee ( 6 years) with that of the workers ( 3 to 6 weeks) springs from the fact that the queen-bee nourishes from the royal honey. Such findings are a motive encouraging human-beings to discover ways for prolonging man’s life-span.
It has been observed that physical activity in the beginning of life prolongs life-span and life expectancy.
In its study on this subject, WHO (World Health Organization) has reported that long life has been witnessed in people whose weight was lesser than the average population under control.
A study was conducted on 2000 participants in a skating competition in 1956 in a place stretching 2000 kilometres. That study lasted for 33 years and it was observed that they had a longer life expectancy than other ordinary people. It was thus concluded that people with severe and lengthy activity possess longer life expectancy.
The sports under consideration in this study comprised of walking, climbing stairs and games.
Although there is no reason for man’s immortality, nevertheless man by nature, pursues to find ways for remaining immortal:
Man….is in search of a way through which he can succeed in terminating the domain of death. However, is it possible to achieve immortality? At the moment, it’s not possible to reply to his query.
Many people lived a long life and their names have come down in divine books, historical books and books on hadith. For instance, we can name Hazrat Adam, Shais son of Adam, Anush son of Shais, Qainan son of Anush, Mahlal’eel son of Qainan, Yared son of Mahlal’eel, Khunukh son of Yared, Mutushaleh son of Khunukh, Lahak son of Mutushaleh and Noah son of Lahak who lived for 930 years, 912 years, 905 years, 910 years, 895 years, 962 years, 365 years, 969 years, 777 years and 950 years respectively.
During our time, there lived people with unusual long life either. In a Persian magazine printed in 1933 A.D., it was reported that, there lives a Chinese man named“Li-Ching” whose age is 252 years and till now 23 women have spent their lives in his home.
To sum up, divine means, special care, adherence to the laws of nature, prevention from senility and divine protection are the causes for Imam’s longevity. He has a long life and a youthful appearance which is natural but unusual. While this does not contradict reason it does not oppose the laws of nature as well.
It’s worthy to mention that scientific evidences are set to resolve the improbability of Hazrat’s longevity and stress is laid on the fact that scholars have not fixed any limit for human life. Otherwise, in the divine doctrine, the matter is far superior with no doubt seeping into it. This is because Hazrat’s longevity comprising of birth, life, manifestation (Zuhoor), global program etc are all managed by Allah’s Will and the slightest doubt cannot find any way in them.
At the end, we shall terminate our discussion by narrating one tradition as follows:-
Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) said:
“My son is the ‘Qaem’ after me and he is the same who shall rise while possessing the way and characters of the prophets (p.b.u.t). He possesses a long life and concealment. Hearts will turn into stones due to his long concealed living. None would remain steadfast in their belief in him save those whose faith is set firm by the Almighty Allah….”