Will you give information about mutashabih hadiths? (He will open His leg and show His thigh; artists; in a cloud...)

The Details of the Question
1. "On the day of Judgment, Allah will open His leg and show His thigh to the Prophet to prove His identity. (Muslim, Iman 302; Bukhari, 97/24, 10/29; Hanbal, III/1) 2. The people who will be punished the most severely in Hell are artists (painters). (Bukhari, Tasawir, 89) 3. The Prophet was asked where Allah was before He created the heavens and earth?” The Prophet said, “He was in a cloud – there was air above him and under him.” (Hanbal, VI/11)
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

1. In some verses and hadiths, expressions like "Allah's hand, Allah's rope, Allah's thigh" are used. These verses and hadiths are mutashabih (ambiguous/allegorical). The Prophet (pbuh) used some mutashabih words in some hadiths so that people would understand the issues better. As a matter of fact, the Prophet (pbuh) states the following in a hadith:   

"Abu Said narrates. I listened to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).

"The Day that the shin shall be laid bare, to prostrate..."(al-Qalam, 68/42)

He stated the following about the verse above:

"Our Lord will open His leg and every believing man and woman will prostrate. Those who prostrated in the world hypocritically and to show off will fail to prostrate. They will also try to prostrate but their backs will be a solid organ that will not bend." [Bukhari, Tafsir, Nun wal Qalam 2, Tafsir, Nisa 8, Tawhid 24; Muslim, Iman 302. (183)]

In verse 42 of the chapter of al-Qalam, the phrase "Kashfus – saq" is used. It lexically means opening of the shin. As it is seen, what is meant by the verse is not the literal meaning; there is a message in it. The hadith uses the word "saqahu (his shin)" with a pronoun. Ibn Hajar says it is used as "saqa (shin)" without pronoun in another version of the hadith, and he says it is more appropriate since it is compatible with the verse. Otherwise, as we have quoted the literal translation above, attributing a shin to Allah Almighty will be in question, which will be difficult to interpret since Allah Almighty is likened to a human being.

Then, what is meant by "opening the shin"? Scholars understood it as "all truths being obvious and reckoning and punishment taking place with severity and horror". As a matter of fact, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) states in the hadith that at the time when Allah Almighty shows all truths and carries out reckoning with horror, He will distinguish between those who worshipped sincerely in the world and those who acted hypocritically and will save the believers from horror while adding horror to unbelievers’ horror by making their backs unable to bend, rubbing their nose in it. The translation of the verse that describes the incident is as follows:

"The Day that the shin shall be laid bare, to prostrate, but they shall not be able-Their eyes will be cast down, ignominy will cover them; seeing that they had been summoned aforetime to bow in adoration, while they were whole (and had refused)."(al-Qalam, 68/42-43)

2. The tortures and penalties in Hell are different for different people. The ones that will be tortured the most in terms of faith will be polytheists. However, those who will be tortured the most severely in terms of deeds will be those who make sculptors and pictures of living beings. 

3. Nawawi states the following regarding this hadith: "This is among hadiths of attributes. There are two vies about these hadiths:

     a. Without thinking of its meaning to believe that –there is nobody similar to Allah and that He is free from the attributes that belong to His creatures. 

     b. To believe the hadith by interpreting it in accordance with the principles of belief, not as it literally means. A person who says so is regarded to have said the following about the hadith:

"What is meant by it is testing. Do these people have the creed of oneness and do they express belief in a single Allah as the Creator, supervisor and an active being? Is this deity the deity that a person who prays applies to when he turns toward the sky? Is this turning like the turning of a person toward the qiblah when he performs a prayer? In fact, this turning is not because He is in the sky only; similarly, turning toward the Kaaba does not mean He is in that direction only. The reason why people act like that is that the sky is the qiblah of those who say prayers just like the Kaaba being the qiblah of those who perform prayers."

Qadi Iyad states the following:

"All Muslims, whether they are fiqh, hadith or kalam scholars, thinkers, muqallids (imitators of a madhhab), agree to say the following:

As it is stated in the verse, "Do ye feel secure that He Who is in heaven…?" (al-Mulk, 67/16), all of the nass stating that Allah is in the sky are not used in the literal sense; all of them understood them by interpreting them. For instance,when fiqh, hadith and kalam scholars mentioned the existence of Allah in terms of the direction of upwards without expressing any limitation or state, they interpreted the phrase “in heaven/in the sky” as “on heaven/on the sky”

"Those who rejected limitation and decreed that being in a direction is contrary to mind, they interpreted direction differently."

Sindi writes the following interpretation:

Scholars stated the following about the meaning of ‘Where is Allah?’: "Which direction do those who turn toward Allah turn? The phrase ‘in the sky’ means as follows: ‘(Those who turn toward Allah) turn toward the direction of the sky.’ What is meant by this question is these people accepting Allah's existence, not proving the existence of direction about Allah."

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