Some of the early scholars, aka “Salaf,” made the claim that when Rasoolullaah said:
خَلَقَ اللَّهُ آدَمَ عَلَى صُورَتِهِ
“Allah created Adam in his image…”
The word “sooratihi” (image) is referring to Allah himself and not Adam. As a consequence, they went on to say it means Allah gave Adam a face, sight, hearing etc. But they negated these to be similar to Allah himself. Like Allah has a face, therefore Adam had a face but Adam’s face was not like Allah’s.
And that is what some scholars, such as Abu Bakr al-Khallal, have attributed to Ahmad bin Hanbal. However, to believe that “image” is referring to Allah and not Adam, opposes how Rasoolullaah explained the word “sooratihi.” Therefore, to adopt what Ahmad bin Hanbal believed is no doubt baatil and haraam.
Nabi of Allah said “sooratihi” is in regarding Adam and NOT Allah. To say it is Allah’s image is wrong and a bid’ah. The full narration is collected in the Saheehayn:
” خَلَقَ اللَّهُ آدَمَ عَلَى صُورَتِهِ، طُولُهُ سِتُّونَ ذِرَاعًا، فَلَمَّا خَلَقَهُ قَالَ اذْهَبْ فَسَلِّمْ عَلَى أُولَئِكَ النَّفَرِ مِنَ الْمَلاَئِكَةِ جُلُوسٌ، فَاسْتَمِعْ مَا يُحَيُّونَكَ، فَإِنَّهَا تَحِيَّتُكَ وَتَحِيَّةُ ذُرِّيَّتِكَ. فَقَالَ السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ. فَقَالُوا السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكَ وَرَحْمَةُ اللَّهِ. فَزَادُوهُ وَرَحْمَةُ اللَّهِ، فَكُلُّ مَنْ يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ عَلَى صُورَةِ آدَمَ، فَلَمْ يَزَلِ الْخَلْقُ يَنْقُصُ بَعْدُ حَتَّى الآنَ “
The wording is from Saheeh al-Bukhaari, Book of Asking Permission, Chapter “How the Salaam began” narrated by Abu Hurayrah, the Prophet said:
“Allah created Adam in his image, sixty cubits in height. When He created him, He said, “Go and greet that group of angels sitting there, and listen what they will say in reply to you, for that will be your greeting and the greeting of your offspring.” Adam said, ‘As-Salaamo ‘Alaykum.’ They replied, ‘As-Salaamo ‘Alayka wa Rahmatullaah So they increased ‘Wa Rahmatullaah’
The Prophet added ‘So whoever will enter Paradise, will be of the shape and image of Adam Since then the creation of Adam’s to the present time.”
As Rasoolullaah fulfilled his duty of not only conveying the revelation, but also explaining it, the only acceptable way to understand this hadeeth is to believe that “image” or “soorat” is regarding Adam and not Allah. Whoever believes Allah has an image has opposed Allah’s Messenger.