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The hadith about Allah creating Adam in His image has been discussed by many scholars of Islam to the point that there is even controversy surrounding it. There are many different versions of the hadith with various wordings but the most authentic version of the hadith in complete is as follows:
Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“Allah created Adam in His image, and he was sixty cubits tall. When he created him he said, ‘Go and greet that group of angels who are sitting and listen to how they greet you, for that will be your greeting and the greeting of your descendants.’ So he said, ‘Al-salaamu ‘alaykum (peace be upon you),’ and they said, ‘Al-salaamu ‘alayka wa rahmat-Allah (Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah.’ So they added (the words) ‘wa rahmat-Allah.’ Everyone who enters Paradise will be in the form of Adam, but mankind continued to grow shorter until now.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
There is some disputing among the scholars over the pronoun His in the hadith and to whom or what does it exactly refer to? Vast majority of the salaf (early scholars) opined that it refers to Allah while another group said it refers to other than Allah. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said:
“There was no dispute among the salaf of the first three generations that the pronoun in the hadeeth refers to Allah, and it is narrated through many isnaads from many of the Sahaabah. The contexts of the ahaadeeth all indicate that… but when al-Jahamiyyah became widespread in the third century AH, a group began to say that the pronoun refers to something other than Allah, and this was transmitted from a group of scholars who are known to have knowledge and to follow the Sunnah in most of their affairs, such as Abu Thawr, Ibn Khuzaymah, Abu’l-Shaykh al-Asfahaani and others. Hence they were denounced by the imams of Islam and other Sunni scholars.”
The early scholars’ view is even further supported by an explicit hadith which clarifies that the pronoun Him in the hadith does in fact refer to Allah. The hadith is as follows:
Ibn ‘Umar said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Do not say ‘May Allah deform your face’ [a form of cursing in Arabic], for the son of Adam was created in the image of the al-Rahman [Most Merciful].” (Ibn Abi ‘Aasim narrated it in al-Sunnah (517))
This second particular hadith was authenticated by many scholars. Shaykh ‘Abd-Allah ibn al-Ghunaymaan said:
“This hadeeth is authentic and was classed as such by the imams and by Imam Ahmad and Ishaaq ibn Raahawayh. Those who classed it as weak have no evidence, except for the view of Ibn Khuzaymah, but those who classed it as authentic are more knowledgeable than him.”
As for its meaning, then this hadith carries similar meanings to that of other Attributes of Allah mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah. Hence, we affirm the attribute of Soorah [image] for Allah, in a manner that befits His Majesty, without going into the modality of it or comparing it in any way or form to His creation.
Shaykh Ibn Baaz said:
“We have to accept the Hadith in a way befitting Allah without Tashbih (comparison), Tamthil (likening Allah’s Attributes to those of His Creation) or Ta`til (denial of Allah’s Attributes). It does not necessarily mean that His Image (may He be Glorified) is like the image of human beings. Similarly, attributing a face, hand, fingers, feet, leg, anger, and the like attributes does not entail that Allah’s Attributes are like those of the human beings…We have to accept this in the way that the Messenger intended without Takyif (questioning the howness of Allah’s Attributes).”
This is because Allah is very clear in His Book when He said, “There is nothing whatever like unto Him” [Sûrah al-Shûrâ: 11] and “There is none like unto Him” [Sûrah al-Ikhlâs: 4]
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah made a very compelling argument when he said:
“Just as everything that exists must have attributes, so too everything that exists by itself must have a form or image. It is impossible for something that exists by itself not to have a form or image…The word soorah (image) in this hadeeth is like all the other names and attributes narrated (in the texts) where the words used may also be applied to created beings, in a limited manner. When these words are applied to Allah, they carry a unique meaning, such as al-‘Aleem (All Knowing), al-Qadeer (All-Powerful), al-Raheem (Most Merciful), al-Samee’ (All Hearing), al-Baseer (All-Seeing), and such as His creating with His hands, rising above the Throne, etc.”
Those who argue against Allah having a soorah (image) as it befits His Majesty are going against the apparent and explicit meaning of the hadith about the believers seeing Allah on the Day of Resurrection. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “You will see your Lord on the Day of Resurrection as you see this (full moon) and you will have no difficulty in seeing Him.” (Bukhari)
Some of the scholars made a comparison between this hadith and the hadith about the people who will enter paradise first on the Day of Judgment in order to help explain the meaning of the hadith. It is reported that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “The first group [of people] to enter Paradise will be in the image of the moon.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
They explain that what is “meant here is that the first group will be in human form, but because of their purity, beauty and brightness of face they will look like the moon, so they are likened to the moon, but without resembling it. So just because a thing is said to be in the image of a thing it does not mean that it is like it in all aspects… The Prophet’s words, ‘Adam was created in His image’ means that Allah created Adam in His image, for He has a Face, an Eye, a Hand, and a Foot, and Adam had a face, an eye, a hand, and a foot… but that does not mean that these things are exactly the same.”
 “Commentary on the hadeeth, ‘Allah created Adam in His image’”
 “Commentary on the hadeeth, ‘Allah created Adam in His image’”
Baaz, Ibn. “Allah Created Adam in His Own Image.” Salaf-us-Saalih.com. 14 Oct. 2009. Web. 16 Nov. 2014. <http://salaf-us-saalih.com/2009/10/14/allah-created-adam-in-his-own-image.
“Commentary on the Hadeeth, “Allah Created Adam in His Image”.” Islam Questions and Answers. Web. 11 Nov. 2014. <http://islamqa.info/en/20652.
Naadhireen, Badr Bin Muhammad. “Daraasah ‘Aqeedah Li Hadith (Khalaqa Allah Aadam ‘Alaa Soorahtihi).” Taaseel. Markaz Al-Taaseel Li Al-Daraasah Wa Al-Buhooth, 10 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 Nov. 2014. <http://taseel.com/display/pub/default.aspx?id=2847&ct=3&ax=3.