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Fingers crossed, knock on wood, bless you

Fatwaa ID: 1685

Assalam u alaykum wrwb.

There are commonly used phrases here by the non-muslims for example, “fingers crossed” or “knock on wood” or “bless you” etc…. I am not sure if these phrases have negative connotations l, but if used without knowing what the background is, does it count as a sin?

In the Name of Allaah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salaamu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullaahi wa-barakaatuh.

In principle, ignorance is not bliss. Seeking knowledge regarding things involving us is necessary. One must do things consciously with knowledge. Hence, one will be accountable for doing something wrong ignorantly. Obviously, istighfaar and tawbah is the way forward when one realizes his wrong.

As Muslims, we are sensitive to our beliefs and values. We should not do or say things just because others are saying it, especially if it has religious or unIslamic connotations. We have our prestine way, the sunnah.

“Fingers crossed” has three meanings and uses: praying and seeking good luck, warding off evil spirits and getting away from a lie. All three usages find their origins in the Christian faith. The crossing of the finger indicates towards the cross, and depending on the form, the trinity. A Muslim must avoid using this phrase as well as crossing the fingers in that manner.

“Knock on wood”, the phrase and action, too comes from superstitious pagan and/or Christian practices. It is done to ward off evil spirits and seek good luck. A Muslim must avoid this. Good comes from Allaah Ta’aala alone, and He alone can protect us from evil. We seek His grace and protection only.

“Bless you” is a du’aa. It is the English form of “Allaahumma baarik” or “Baarakallaahu feek”. While it is commonly said by non-Muslims, it is permissible for Muslims to say it as well. The blessing is obviously sought from Allaah Ta’aala. As for saying it to a Muslim when he sneezes, then one should use the prophetic du’aa instead: “Yarhamukallaah”.

And Allaah Ta’aala knows best.
Mufti Muajul I. Chowdhury
Darul Iftaa New York

02/08/1445 AH – 08/25/2023 CE | AMG1-3382

وصل اللهم وسلم وبارك على سيدنا محمد وعلى ءاله وصحبه أجمعين


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