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Image of Allah

This is a discussion on Image of Allah within the Islamic Theology and Ideology forums, part of the Islamic Knowledge category; Commentary on the hadeeth, “Allaah created Adam in His image” Question: When Prophet says "Allah created Adam in his image" ...

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    Commentary on the hadeeth, “Allaah created Adam in His image”

    Question:
    When Prophet says "Allah created Adam in his image" what does "his image" refer to and how should we understand it?.

    Answer:
    Praise be to Allaah.

    Al-Bukhaari (6227) and Muslim (2841) narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah 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 descendents.’ So he said, ‘Al-salaamu ‘alaykum (peace be upon you),’ and they said, ‘Al-salaamu ‘alayka wa rahmat-Allaah (Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allaah.’ So they added (the words) ‘wa rahmat-Allaah.’ Everyone who enters Paradise will be in the form of Adam, but mankind continued to grow shorter until now.”

    Muslim (2612) narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When any one of fights his brother, let him avoid the face, for Allaah created Adam in His image.”

    Ibn Abi ‘Aasim narrated in al-Sunnah (517) that Ibn ‘Umar said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Do not say ‘May Allaah deform your face’ [a form of cursing in Arabic], for the son of Adam was created in the image of the Most Merciful.” Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Ghunaymaan (may Allaah preserve him) said: “This hadeeth is saheeh and was classed as such by the imams and by Imam Ahmad and Ishaaq ibn Raahawayh. Those who classed it as da’eef have no evidence, except for the view of Ibn Khuzaymah, but those who classed it as saheeh are more knowledgeable than him.

    Ibn Abi ‘Aasim also narrated (516) that Abu Hurayrah said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When any one of you fights let him avoid the face, for Allaah created Adam in the image of His Face.” Shaykh al-Albaani said: its isnaad is saheeh.

    These two hadeeth indicate that the pronoun in the phrase “in His image” refers to Allaah, may He be glorified.

    Al-Tirmidhi (3234) narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “My Lord came to me in the most beautiful image and said, ‘O Muhammad.’ I said, ‘Here I am at Your service, my Lord.’ He said, ‘What are the chiefs (angels) on high disputing about…’” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.

    According to the lengthy hadeeth about intercession, it says, “… then the Compeller (al-Jabbaar) will come to then in an image different than the image in which they saw Him the first time…” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 7440; Muslim, 182.

    From these ahaadeeth we learn that it is proven that Allaah has an image (soorah in Arabic), in a manner that befits Him, may He be glorified and exalted. His image is one of His attributes which cannot be likened to the attributes of created beings, just as His essence cannot be likened to their essence.

    Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: “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 Allaah, 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.” Naqd al-Ta’sees, 3/396

    Everything that exists must inevitably have a form or image. Shaykh al-Islam said: “Just as everything that exists must have attributes that, 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.”

    And he said: “There was no dispute among the salaf of the first three generations that the pronoun in the hadeeth refers to Allaah, 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 Allaah, 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.”

    Naqd al-Ta’sees, 3/202

    Ibn Qutaybah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “That Allaah should have an image is no stranger than His having two hands, fingers or eyes. Rather those are readily accepted because they are mentioned in the Qur’aan, but this idea (image or form) is regarded as strange because it is not mentioned in the Qur’aan. But we believe in them all, but we do not discuss how any of them are.”

    Ta’weel Mukhtalif al-Hadeeth, p. 221

    Shaykh al-Ghunaymaan said: “Thus it is clear that the form or image is like all the other divine attributes. Any attribute which Allaah has affirmed in the Revelation, we must affirm it and believe in it.”

    Sharh Kitaab al-Tawheed min Saheeh al-Bukhaari, 2/41

    Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked: There is a hadeeth narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) in which he forbids saying “May Allaah deform your face”, and says that Allaah created Adam in His image. What is the correct belief with regard to this hadeeth?

    He replied:

    This hadeeth is proven from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), in which he said: “If any one of you strikes (another), let him avoid the face, for Allaah created Adam in His image.” According to another version: “In the image of the Most Merciful.” This does not imply resemblance or likeness.

    What is meant, according to the scholars, is that Allaah created Adam with the ability to hear and see, and to speak when he wants. These are also attributes of Allaah, for He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing, and He speaks when He wants, and He has a Face, may He be glorified and exalted.

    But it does not mean that there is any resemblance or likeness. Rather the image of Allaah is different from that of created beings. What is meant is that He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing, and He speaks when He wants, and He created Adam also able to hear and see, with a face and hands and feet. But man’s hearing is not like Allaah’s hearing, his seeing is not like Allaah’s seeing, his speaking is not like Allaah’s speaking. Rather Allaah has attributes that befit His majesty and might, and man has attributes that befit him, attributes that are finite and imperfect, whereas the attributes of Allaah are perfect, with no shortcomings, infinite and without end. Hence Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

    “There is nothing like Him, and He is the All‑Hearer, the All‑Seer”

    [al-Shoora 42:11]

    “And there is none co‑equal or comparable unto Him”

    [al-Ikhlaas 112:4]

    So it is not permissible to strike the face or say “May Allaah deform your face”.

    End quote. Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh, 4/226

    Another thing that will help to explain the meaning of this hadeeth is the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “The first group to enter Paradise will be in the image of the moon” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 3245; Muslim, 2834.” What the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) 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 Allaah 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. There is some similarity, but it is not exactly the same. Similarly the first group to enter Paradise are likened to the moon, but they are not exactly the same. This confirms the view of Ahl al-Sunnah wa'l-Jamaa'ah, who say that none of the attributes of Allaah can be likened to the attributes of created beings, without distorting or misinterpreting, or discussing how or likening Him to His creation.

    See Sharh al-‘Aqeedah al-Waasitah by Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 1/107, 293.

    For more information, see: Sharh Kitaab al-Tawheed min Saheeh al-Bukhaari by Shaykh al-Ghunaymaan, 2/33-98, in which he quotes at length from Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him), refuting the misinterpretation of this hadeeth by ahl al-kalaam and those who agreed with them.

    And Allaah knows best.

    Islam Q&A

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    Senior Member Mu'awiya's Avatar
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    asalaam alaikum


    i've heard that an-nawawi explained that narration as 'Allah created Adam in his (Adam's) image'


    is that ta'wil? (turning away from the dhahir [apparent] meaning?) and if so, won't people say the above is tashabuh? [if i have the right understanding of these words]


    plz do reply..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ahlus Sunnah View Post
    The Prophet’s words, “Adam was created in His image” means that Allaah 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…
    Why then does the Hadith just say dont strike in the face??? Allah has hands and so do we so then what is the difference between striking hands and striking the face?

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    why does it have to be understood literally?

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    Christians say that God created man in the image and likeness of God.

    But we say that God created man in the image of God, but not in His Likeness.

    Is this correct?

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    The Hadith regarding striking the face has been narrated by 5 chains of narration in Sahih Muslim.

    ONLY 1 says "Allah created Adam in His image".

    Did everyone else "forget" to narrate these last words? Or were they added by someone in the Isnad of the 1 version that says it?


    Looking at the Hadith logically brings up two questions. One is the question I already asked:

    Why does the Hadith just say dont strike in the face??? Allah has hands and so do we so then what is the difference between striking hands and striking the face?

    The second question is:

    Why does the Hadith JUST say dont strike the face of your BROTHER???
    WHY JUST WHEN FIGHTING YOUR BROTHER (meaning Muslim brother)??? If the reason was that Allah created Adam in His image, then that would apply to EVERYONE, not JUST Muslims but also Christians, Jews, idol worshippers and everyone, because they are ALL SONS OF ADAM.

    So the reason given at the end of the long version of the Hadith does not fit in with the first part of the Hadith that has been narrated by many chains.

    In conclusion I believe we should stick to the 4 short versions that dont say the thing about the "image of Allah". In the long version the extra words are most likely the words of one of the narrators, in other words one of the narrators of the Hadith may have been giving his opinion about why the Prophet (saw) said we should not strike the face and his opinion was considered a part of the Hadith by mistake by those who narrated from him.

    Looking at the chain it seems the person who originally added these words was al-Mothanna ibn Saieed. So it may well be the case that he gave his opinion regaridng the reason why the Prophet (saw) said we should not strike the face of our Muslim brother after narrating the Hadith but then people who heard him thought the reason he gave was itself part of the Hadith and continued narrating it.


    By the way I am not saying that Allah did not create Adam in His image, I believe that Allah has a face, two hands and leggs and that He did create Adam in His image in this sense, however this Hadith is not evidence for it due to the reasons I gave above. The proof for Allah creating Adam in His image is from the Qur'an where Allah says He has two hands, and from a number of Sahih narrations that say Allah created Adam in His image, but the words at the end of the version about striking the face are almost certainly later additions and not part of the original Hadith and Allah knows best.

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    It can be understood that Allah created Adam, alayhe sallem, in His image in the same way that an artist creates a painting in his image or vision. This does not mean that the artist made a self-portrait, but when an artist creates a masterpiece, he claims it to be his image and says things to the effect of, "I created this in my image," or "This was based on the image or vision in my head." This may also be why drawing or painting pictures of living things is haram and Allah will ask the painters to breath life into them on Yaum-ul-Qiyaamah. Allah created antelope, turtles, and racoons in His image as well, but this does not mean that they resemble Allah, since in many places in the Qur'an Allah tells us that nothing from among his creation is comparable to Him. And of course, Allah knows best.

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    I believe that Allah has a face, two hands and leggs and that He did create Adam in His image in this sense, however this Hadith is not evidence for it due to the reasons I gave above.


    Astagfirullah, this is anthropormorphism at full swing and erronious interpretations of the mutashabih ayahs of the quran.

    Ahlus Sunnah follow the opinion of Imam Nawawi on this one, as it is free from Tashbeeh or likening allah to his creation in any way.

    Stick to the works of the salaf as saleh (Abu Hanifa , Imam Tahawi) on Aqeedah and you will be safe inshallah.

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    Quote Originally Posted by student_of_ilm View Post

    Astagfirullah, this is anthropormorphism at full swing and erronious interpretations of the mutashabih ayahs of the quran.

    Ahlus Sunnah follow the opinion of Imam Nawawi on this one, as it is free from Tashbeeh or likening allah to his creation in any way.

    Stick to the works of the salaf as saleh (Abu Hanifa , Imam Tahawi) on Aqeedah and you will be safe inshallah.
    Of course Imam Nawawi would say that, he was an Ash'ari.

    You do realize that the Sufis believe that the hadith means that Allah made Adam in the image of Allah (ie. Adam was modelled on the the attributes of Allah), don't you? The Sufis, in this case, contradict Imam Nawawi and are in closer agreement to the Hanbalis.

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    I dont know why you keep refering to Sufis when you talk to me, whats with the obsession of labelling?

    So now you want to point fingers at Imam Nawawi as well, May allah help those who have no adaab for great authorities in Islam.

    As for the hadith of when you fight your brother, it means that "Allah created Adam on the image of human beings (hence hadith mentions your muslim brother who you are fighting), as Adam is the father of mankind."

    Why is it so complicated to understand?

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