The question of whether Allah created Adam in His own likeness or image has been discussed and explained in various Islamic texts. In the Qur’an, it is stated that Allah created human beings in the best form (Al-Tin 95:4) and formed them perfectly (Ghafir 40:64). Additionally, a hadith narrated from Abu Hurayrah quotes the Prophet saying that “Allah created Adam in His image, and he was sixty cubits tall.” When Adam was created, Allah instructed him to greet a group of angels, and the words they used in return became the standard greeting for Adam and his descendants (Al-Bukhari 6227 and Muslim 2841). Another hadith also mentioned that when engaging in conflict, one should avoid striking the face since Allah created Adam in His image (Muslim 2612).
These hadiths and narrations imply that Allah has a distinct image or form (sourah) that cannot be compared to the attributes of created beings. However, the pronoun “His” in the phrase “in His image” refers to Allah, indicating that there is a unique connection between Allah’s image and His divine essence. Muslim scholars have explained that the word “image” in these hadiths, like other names and attributes mentioned in Islamic texts, can also be applied to created beings in a limited manner. But when applied to Allah, they carry a unique meaning and significance.
Ibn Taymiyah clarified that the concept of Allah’s image should be understood in the context of divine attributes. Just as everything that exists must possess attributes, everything that exists by itself must also have a form or image. It is inconceivable for something that exists independently not to have a form or image. Therefore, Allah having an image is not contradictory to His divine nature (Naqd al-Ta’sees, 3:396).
However, some scholars have debated the interpretation of the pronoun in these hadiths, suggesting that it refers to something other than Allah. This viewpoint emerged during the third century (After Hijra) with the rise of al-Jahamiyyah, a deviant sect. Notable scholars such as Abu Thawr, Ibn Khuzaymah, and Abu al-Shaykh al-Asfahani embraced this perspective (Naqd al-Ta’sees, 3:202). Nevertheless, most scholars, including the early generations (salaf), strongly affirmed that the pronoun refers to Allah. The leading scholars of Islam and the Sunni tradition criticized the scholars who denied this understanding (Ta’wil Mukhtalif al-Hadith, 221; Sharh Kitab al-Tawhid min Sahih al-Bukhari, 2:41).
It is important to note that one must not draw parallels or liken Him to His creation when discussing Allah’s image. The attributes of Allah are unique, perfect, and free from any imperfection or limitation. On the other hand, humans possess finite and imperfect attributes that cannot be compared to the attributes of Allah. The Qur’an emphasizes that there is nothing like Allah, and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer (al-Shura 42:11). There is no one equal or comparable to Him (al-Ikhlas 112:4). (Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh, 4:226)
Considering this understanding, striking someone’s face or cursing them with deformity is explicitly prohibited. The hadith that forbids striking the face clarifies that this is because Allah created Adam in His image. “When any one of you fights his brother, let him avoid the face, for Allah created Adam in His image” (Muslim 2612). Such acts would disrespect the sanctity of Allah’s creation.
Furthermore, the mention of the first group to enter Paradise being described as having the image of the moon signifies their radiance, purity, and beauty (Al-Bukhari 3245; Muslim 2834). However, this comparison does not imply an exact likeness but rather serves to illustrate their elevated status and distinction.
In conclusion, the concept of Allah’s image should be understood within the framework of divine attributes. Allah created Adam in His image, signifying a connection between Adam’s physical features and Allah’s divine attributes. However, this does not imply a resemblance or likeness between Allah and His creation. Allah’s attributes are perfect and infinite, while human attributes are limited and imperfect. It is impermissible to strike someone’s face or curse them with deformity. The first group to enter Paradise being compared to the moon is a metaphorical expression to highlight their purity and beauty, not an exact likeness (Sharh al-Aqidah al-Wasitah by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Uthaymeen, 1:107, 293).
The biblical passage from Genesis 1:27 conveys the belief that God uniquely created humanity in His own likeness or Image. The verse states, “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
This passage emphasizes the inherent value and dignity of every human being, as they are fashioned after the divine image. This understanding implies that each person possesses qualities and characteristics reflective of God’s nature. Furthermore, the verse highlights the binary nature of human creation, affirming the existence of both male and female genders as integral components of God’s design.
This passage in Genesis 1:27 serves as a fundamental basis for the belief in the sanctity of life and the equality of all individuals, regardless of gender. It underscores the notion that every person, as a bearer of the divine image, has inherent worth and is deserving of respect, compassion, and love.