Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas
Question: Does using the following english phrases entail disbelief?
– O my goodness
– For goodness’ sake (it is to be said that this is used instead of “for God’s sake”)
– Goodness me
– O my god
Generally speaking, uttering these expressions is not a sin nor shirk although some of them are best avoided.
Saying “O my God”
The expression “O my God” is equivalent to saying “Ya Allah”. Thus, there is no intrinsic problem in using it unless the context dictates otherwise, such as doing so in vain or where it may be seen as disrespectful to God’s name.
Saying “O my goodness”
“O my goodness” is merely a euphemism where the word God is replaced by the word goodness. The reference to God through the word goodness is an established usage particularly in exclamatory phrases. One reason why this switch is made is in order to not use the word God in vain and to avoid causing offense. Today, it is used primarily as a colloquial phrase to express shock or amazement without a dominant conscious recognition of its being a reference to God.
Saying “Goodness me”
“Goodness me” is similar to the above. This phrase is likely a shortened form of “goodness gracious me”, which is from “God grace me”. Again, while it originally related to a request for the good or grace of God, it is no longer colloquially used in that manner but merely as an exclamation of surprise and dismay.
Saying “for goodness’ sake”
Finally, “for goodness’ sake” is a euphemism for the phrase “for God’s sake.” This is perhaps the only phrase among those mentioned that may pose a problem since doing someone for one’s sake may be understood as doing something for someone’s good or advantage. However, it also has a valid meaning of doing something out of regard and consideration for someone. Because there is the potential for an incorrect understanding, the phrase “for God’s sake” is probably best avoided. However, “for goodness’ sake” in its dominant usage has lost a conscious connection to the word God (like some of the previous phrases) and is simply a colloquial expression of surprise, impatience, or some other emotion. As such, there is no harm in using it.
[Ustadh] Salman Younas
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.