Saturday, 5 May 2018

Allah Created Man in His Image

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

والصلاة والسلام على رسوله الكريم

والعاقبة للمتقين

The illustrious sahabi sayyidina Abi HurairaRA narrates that the Prophet Muhammad said:
خَلَقَ اللَّهُ آدَمَ عَلَى صُورَتِهِ، طُولُهُ سِتُّونَ ذِرَاعًا
“Allah created Adam upon His Image, sixty cubits in height.”
This is an absolutely authentic Hadith, being reported in both the collections of Bukhari and Muslim, the two most vigourously authentic books after the holy Qur’an itself. Furthermore, it is mentioned in the Torah: “And God said: Let us make man in our image [tselem], after our likeness [demuth]… And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him.” (Genesis 1:26-27) “for in the image of God made He man.” (Genesis 9:6)
Some Muslims outright reject this Hadith, considering it an example of gross anthropomorphism, which is opposed to the clear teachings of the Qur’an, wherein Allah says about Himself:

لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ

“There is nothing like unto Him”

(Sura 42:11)

Others, such as the 20th century muhaddith, Albani, interpreted this Hadith to mean that Allah created Adam upon Adam’s image, understanding the pronoun “his image” to be referring to Adam himself and not Allah, in other words, Adam was created upon his own image. Many Muslims deny the attribute of Sura (image, form or appearance) for Allah, again, regarding the idea that He has an image or form as being equivalent to believing God is corporal and therefore limited. But simply having an image or appearance does not necessitate corporeality. Allah Most High certainly does have an image or appearance, but it does not resemble the image or appearance of anything else, just as the Qur’an speaks of Allah having two hands, but Allah’s hands are unlike any of the hands of the creation. Thus, there is no contradiction in affirming Allah’s attributes such as His image, His hands, His eyes, His feet while simultaneously denying any resemblance of Him with the creation. As for the image of Allah, there is another Hadith, again collected in both Bukhari and Muslim, which affirms this attribute for Him, which humanity shall behold on Judgment Day:
فَيَأْتِيهِمُ اللَّهُ فِي غَيْرِ الصُّورَةِ الَّتِي يَعْرِفُونَ فَيَقُولُ أَنَا رَبُّكُمْ‏.‏ فَيَقُولُونَ نَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ مِنْكَ، هَذَا مَكَانُنَا حَتَّى يَأْتِيَنَا رَبُّنَا، فَإِذَا أَتَانَا رَبُّنَا عَرَفْنَاهُ فَيَأْتِيهِمُ اللَّهُ فِي الصُّورَةِ الَّتِي يَعْرِفُونَ فَيَقُولُ أَنَا رَبُّكُمْ‏.‏ فَيَقُولُونَ أَنْتَ رَبُّنَا، فَيَتْبَعُونَهُ
Allah will come to them in an image other than they know and will say, “I am your Lord.” They will say, “We seek refuge with Allah from you. This is our place; (we will not follow you) till our Lord comes to us, and when our Lord comes to us, we will recognize Him. Then Allah will come to then in an image they know and will say, “I am your Lord.” They will say, “You are our Lord,” and they will follow Him.
In another Hadith, narrated by Ibn AbbasRA, the Prophet testified:
أَتَانِي اللَّيْلَةَ رَبِّي تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى فِي أَحْسَنِ صُورَةٍ
“Tonight, my Lord, blessed and exalted, came to me in the best image.” (Jami al-Tirmidhi #3233)
As for Albani’s explanation that Allah created Adam in Adam’s own image, this explanation is refuted by the narration of Ibn UmarRA that the Prophet said:
فَإِنَّ ابْنَ آدَمَ خُلِقَ عَلَى صُورَةِ الرَّحْمَنِ
“Verily, the son of Adam was created upon the image of ar-Rahman” (al-Sunna of Ibn Abi Asim)
Some may find this Hadith deeply problematic because it seems to imply that Allah Himself is sixty cubits in height (معاذ الله)  and so created Adam upon His own appearance, making him sixty cubits in height. However, grammatically speaking, this is not explicitly stated nor necessary to understand from the wording of the Hadith. Rather, the plain meaning is that Allah created Adam upon His image, and Adam was created sixty cubits tall (not that Allah Himself is sixty cubits tall!)
Another objection to this Hadith is regarding Adam being made sixty cubits tall, as this is considered a fantastic notion, opposing our rational intellect and science. Many of the Ulama respond that Adam being created sixty cubits tall was not in this world, but refers to his height in the celestial paradise or another world, perhaps the primordial world that exists outside our space-time continuum. This view is strengthened by the Hadith reported in both Bukhari and Muslim about the people in the paradise of the afterlife:
عَلَى خَلْقِ رَجُلٍ وَاحِدٍ عَلَى صُورَةِ أَبِيهِمْ آدَمَ، سِتُّونَ ذِرَاعًا فِي السَّمَاءِ
“(All of them) upon the likeness of a single man, upon the image of their father Adam, sixty cubits (tall) in heaven.”
فَكُلُّ مَنْ يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ عَلَى صُورَةِ آدَمَ وَطُولُهُ سِتُّونَ ذِرَاعًا فَلَمْ يَزَلِ الْخَلْقُ يَنْقُصُ بَعْدَهُ حَتَّى الآنَ
“So everyone who will enter paradise will be upon the form of Adam, sixty cubits tall, so the (human) form has not ceased to be diminished (in height) after him (Adam) until now.”
So what then is the meaning of Allah creating Adam upon His image? The fact that it is not meant to convey actual similarity or replication of form can be understood from another Hadith:
إِنَّ أَوَّلَ زُمْرَةٍ تَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ عَلَى صُورَةِ الْقَمَرِ لَيْلَةَ الْبَدْرِ
“Verily, the first group to enter paradise will be upon the image [Sura] of the moon on a full-moon night.” It is not that this first batch of seventy thousand believers to enter paradise will actually be in the form and shape of moons, but rather, as another version of the Hadith explains:
وُجُوهُهُمْ عَلَى صُورَةِ الْقَمَرِ لَيْلَةَ الْبَدْرِ
“Their faces will be upon the appearance of the moon on a full-moon night.”
In other words, this first batch of believers, number seventy thousand, will have an appearance of sparkling and bright, shining faces that is comparable to the moon on a full-moon night, when it is manifest in all its splendor and beauty. Likewise, Allah said He created Adam in His Image, not that Adam’s image is identical to Allah’s image, but rather, some of Adam’s attributes and abilities, such as his capacity to speak, see, hear, his self-consciousness and possession of a will, is upon the pattern of Allah’s holy image. One can go deeper than this and speak of the spiritual meaning and significance of this Hadith, as referring to the excellence and exaltation of man, having been honored as the greatest creation. This is understood from the context of the Hadith “Verily Allah created Adam upon His image”. The Prophet uttered this statement as a means of illustrating the high status of man when he forbade people to strike at the human face, since it has been made noble and honored by Allah.

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