Can I Use the Phrase “by Chance”?

We note that lots of people prohibit the use of the phrase “by coincidence” and similar phrases, mistakenly thinking that they contradict the belief in Allah’s Decree and Will. The meaning of the phrase, by no means, denotes any contradiction with the Will of Allah. Thus, such a prohibition has no basis in Shari`ah.

Sheikh Muhammad Saleh Al-Munajjid, a prominent Muslim Saudi scholar and lecturer, sheds light on this issue saying: “There is nothing wrong, as far as Islam is concerned, in using the phrase ‘by chance’ because it only means that this happened without previous agreement or intention. When a person says that he met so and so by chance, he means that there was no fixed appointment between them.

“This phrase is used in so many Hadiths, like the Hadith reported by Muslim that Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: I took him (`Abdullah ibn Abi Talhah) to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), and I met him by chance while he had a branding iron. “Abu Dawud reports on the authority of Laqit ibn Sabrah that he said: I was among the delegation of Banu Al-Muntafiq sent to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). When we went to the Prophet’s house, we could not find him there but we met `A’ishah, the Mother of the Faithful, by chance.”

In the Fatawa of the Standing Committee in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the following is written: “It is not haram to say ‘I met so and so by chance’ because the meaning is that I met him without a previously fixed appointment. There is nothing wrong in this.”

The late Sheikh Ibn `Uthaymeen, a prominent Saudi scholar, adds: “There is nothing wrong in using such phrases, for they were used in so many Hadiths. Chance is something that happens to man because man cannot predict the future. Thus, when he says ‘this happened by chance’, it means that it is unprepared and it just happened unintentionally.”

Almighty Allah knows best.