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Misconception of the Similitude of God to His Creation

The first to come across in researching the hadith narrated by Imam al-Rida (A.S.) in the subject of tawhid is this one: "Anyone who makes a similitude of God with His creation is a mushrik (polytheist), and anyone who attributes to Him what He has prohibited is kafir (disbeliever)" which is, as reported about the Prophet (S.A.W.), a clear answer to those who claim that "God created Adam in His Own Image." In another text, the Imam (A.S.) explains to us the misconception in whose pitfall others have fallen; al-Husayn ibn Khalid reported saying, "I said to al-Rida (A.S.), `O son of the Messenger of God! People say that the Messenger of God (S.A.W.) said that the Almighty and Exalted God created Adam in His Own image.' He said, `May God fight them! They distorted the beginning of this hadith. The Messenger of God (S.A.W.) passed by two men exchanging insults and abusive language, and he heard one of them saying to the other, `God made your face ugly and ugly is anyone who is like you,' whereupon he (S.A.W.) said, `O servant of God! Do not say so to your brother, for the Almighty and Exalted God created Adam's image like his.'"

The Messenger (S.A.W.) here is forbidding the man from articulating such an abusive language which abuses Adam, father of all men. The pronoun in the original text (i.e., "image like his") belongs to the man being abused, not to God; therefore, it is erroneous to say that the meaning here is that God created Adam in His Own Image. The Imam emphasizes this by narrating one qudsi hadith in which the Almighty tells the Messenger of God (S.A.W.), "The one who makes a similitude of Myself to My creation is indeed ignorant of Who I am."

The hadith regarding the Divine is entangled and complex, but if you read it in the hadith narrated by the Ahl al-Bayt (A.S.), you will find it in full harmony with the human nature, lucidly interpreting the obscure concept in brief expressions with a full vision despite their inclusion of a spacious philosophical context.

Adapted from: "Imam al-Ridha (a.s.), A Historical and Biographical Research" by: "Muhammad Jawad Fadlallah"

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