Explanation of "Allah created Adam in His own image" – Imam Ibn Baaz
Q 4: “Allaah created Adam in His own image”. Does this mean that all the characteristics of Adam are also Divine?
A: It is authentically reported from the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)in the Two Sahih (authentic) Books of Hadith (i.e. Al-Bukhari and Muslim)that he (peace be upon him) said: “Allah created Adam in His own image.” In a narration by Ahmad and some scholars of Hadith, the same Hadith reads: “in the image of Al-Rahman (the Most Merciful)“. In the first Hadith, the pronoun refers to Allah.
Some scholars like Ahmad (may Allah be merciful with him), Ishaq ibn Rahawayh and the Imams of the Salaf (righteous predecessors) 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. He (may He be Glorified) is described as what He tells about Himself and what His Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) said in a way befitting Him, without being in similitude with any of His Creatures. Allah (may He be Glorified and Exalted) says:Surah Al-Shura, 42: 11 There is nothing like Him; and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer. We have to accept this in the way that the Messenger intended without Takyif (questioning Allah’s Attributes) or Tamthil.
The meaning – Allah knows best – is that He created Adam in His Image with a face and ability to hear, speak, see and do whatever he wants. It is not necessarily that the image is the same. This is a general rule according to the Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah (those adhering to the Sunnah and the Muslim main body), meaning that the Ayahs (Qur’anic verses) and Hadiths speaking about Divine Attributes should be accepted as true without Tahrif (distortion of the meaning), Takyif, Tamthil or Ta`til. They confirm His Names and Attributes without Tamthil and exalt Him above being similar to His Creatures without Ta`til, contrary to those who commit Bid`ah (innovation in religion) of Al-Mu`attilah (deniers of Allah’s Attributes) and Mushabihah (those who liken Allah’s Attributes to those of His creation). The hearing, seeing and knowledge of the creature is never like those of Allah (may He be Glorified and Exalted), for none of His creatures can be compared to Him. Indeed, there is nothing like Him, for the Attributes of Allah are perfect and infinite, with no shortcomings. As for the attributes of the creatures, they are finite and imperfect.
May Allah grant us success!
Ibn Baz Fatwas