Is it permissible to use the words chance and coincidence?

Details of the Question
Some people say it is polytheism to say I came across with somebody on the way or it was a coincidence. Does it mean unbelief to use the words chance and coincidence for many incidents in terms of our will, not in terms of qadar by knowing that everything is written in the destiny (qadar) of Allah?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Coincidence: It means something taking place on its own, happening without any measures. If it is used in the sense of taking place on its own by denying the Creator, it becomes polytheism (shirk).

However, it does not become polytheism in the sense it is used today by Muslims in the Islamic community. People use it in the sense of coming across unexpectedly without thinking about it. That is, they use the word coincidence in terms of people's understanding and thinking, not contrary to Allah's knowledge; therefore, it is not polytheism. However, it is better to use the word "tawafuq" (synchronization; divine coincidence).

Tawafuq: means synchronization of the things with each other, being in conformity with each other, being in conformity in an arranged way.

Although we use the word coincidence a lot in daily life, there is no coincidence in reality; there is tawafuq. Many similarities in creation and the incidents that take place are not coincidence but tawafuq.

When Allah Almighty created this enormous universe, He created it with a lot of tawafuqs in order to show that there is only one creator and to enable us to make use of the universe more.

For instance, there is a tawafuq, similarity between an atom and the solar system. Their models are similar. There is a nucleus in the middle of an atom; and electrons rotate around it. The solar system is similar to it. The sun is in the middle and the planets rotate around it. More examples can be given.  

The Lord of the realms created many wonderful differences in both systems in detail in order to show His art of invention. Although there are endless models in His knowledge, He used the same model in both systems. The first reason for it is the seal of oneness. This tawafuq declares that it is Allah who created both the atom and the solar system and that the intervention of polytheism is impossible.

The second reason is that this tawafuq is ease for us, human beings. A scientist who knows the solar system will examine the atom and electrons with the model in his mind while studying the atom whether he is a believer or not. These studies, which were made making use of models and tawafuq, gained a lot of things to the world of science.

The tawafuq between fingers and toes and the other organs are among the tawafuqs in the universe. In fact, Allah Almighty created mathematics by creating Hz. Adam with ten fingers and ten toes. He also gave Adam an instruction having ten pages. Thanks to the number of fingers, all civilizations used the decimal number system being aware or unaware of one another.

That the human body or flowers and fruits and other creatures are symmetrical is an indication of Allah Almighty's domination and the manifestation of His names in beauty and esthetics.

The golden proportions used by sculptors and artists for centuries in their works of art are manifestations of Allah Almighty's names of Adl (the Just) and Hakam (the Judge). These tawafuqs were known by the scientists and philosophers of the old ages. One of the founders of geometry who knew this said, “Allah always uses geometry.”

Indeed, if the universe is viewed from this perspective, we will notice that a secret compass, ruler and other geometrical instruments work constantly in our face, eyes, trees, fruits, atoms, the sun, their orbits, in short, in everything in the universe. Besides, Allah Almighty states the following in several verses in the Quran: “Verily, all things have We created in proportion and measure.”

The Lord of the realms, who does not leave atoms and suns unattended and without measure and proportion, definitely controls all deeds of people and He will assess their deeds on the Day of Reckoning as precisely as He created the atoms. That is, the mathematics in the world is a sign of the mathematics in the hereafter.

Among people, expressions such as “I had good luck”, “My luck was with me”, “My luck helped me”, “I was born lucky” are used with a positive meaning by the persons whose things are going well and who do not meet any misfortunes; and expressions such as “I have no luck”, “I am an unlucky person”, “If I had luck, I would not be in such a bad condition” are often used with a negative meaning by the persons who experience misfortunes and who think their lives rely on chance.

In the community, the word “chance” is mainly repeated by the surroundings and institutions such as gambling, lottery and pools. “Take your chance”, “good luck” are repeated for that.   

Although “luck” is used for positive things, it is used for “negative” things more. The thought and psychology of a person who relies on and sets his hopes on “luck” is sufficient to tell the essence of the luck concept. A person who acts according to “luck” feels suspended, he believes in chances, and all the time he gets his heart, spirit and even his life in stress, agitation and turmoil. If what he wanted does not happen and the result he desired does not take place, he becomes anxious and distressed; he desponds and cannot keep himself from the frustration of that situation.

Why does a person in such a situation give himself over to “luck”? Its reason is quite clear. Just as a baby who is deprived of milk takes up artificial dummy immediately so too does that person rely on a hypothetical, ambiguous, vain thing like “luck” since he does not know the real points of support such as “divine determining, reliance on Allah, and consent to his fortune.”        
 
However, Islam has never let people suspended. It has not allowed them to abandon themselves to worthless things and thoughts whose essences are not known.

There is no place for the words such as “luck and chance” in Islam.In our religion, there are “destiny and reliance on Allah and consenting to what comes from Allah.” And the source of those is faith. The believing person has faith in Allah; he resigns to fate and he is saved from getting confused before the events and he overcomes anything he meets by the force and light of the faith.

As it will be comprehended from the expression

“Belief necessitates affirmation of Divine unity, affirmation of Divine unity necessitates submission to Allah, submission to Allah necessitates reliance on Allah, and reliance on Allah necessarily leads to happiness in this world and the next”,

a person who has faith in Allah recognizes Allah as “the only one” as the possessor of power and strength. He submits to Him. He puts his trust in Him, reclines upon His power; and as a result he attains happiness both in this world and the next.

A person who has faith is strong; he has a courage that can “challenge the whole universe”. He believes that he has a Lord who has created him from non-existence, who has prepared the world and has bestowed him bounties such as life, health and peace which cannot be measured materially, and who keeps the control of not only the earth but also the sun and billions of stars and the universe. Besides knowing that his Creator has not created him in vain, he also knows that He has not left him suspended in air as a plaything of “chance.” He has the belief that his life, minutes and seconds passing from the moment he comes to the world to his death, has been known, programmed and determined by Allah. Therefore, he does not believe in chance, rely on it and give place to it in his world. He perceives that good things or bad things happening to him are under the knowledge of Allah. He always endeavors, he has recourse to all means and causes and then he puts his trust in his Creator who knows and thinks of him better than himself in the end and expects the result from Him. He consents to the happening of whatever exists in the Divine program (fate).

However, how about the person who does not put his trust in Allah and fluctuates in “chance” and “luck”? He does not do his best and endeavor or even if he does, he does not rely on a Power; and what happens in the end? He cannot be delivered from “begging before all the universe”, namely, begging before everything he sees and feeling weak before the things he regards as powerful; from “trembling before every event”; from “pride”, namely, supposing that he is the owner of beings; from “making a fool of himself”; from “misery in the hereafter”, namely, losing the eternal life, and from “the prison of the pressures of this world”. (The Words, p. 292)

And so, the persons whose senses of reliance on Allah and consenting to what comes from Him are weak rely on inessential, pointless and vain things such as luck, stars, horoscopes and chance and are obsessed by superstitions such as “his star is low”, “his star is high”.

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