1. News & Issues
Send to a Friend via Email

Glossary: Inshallah, or Insha'Allah

By

Definition: Inshallah is an Arabic expression that means "God willing," or "if God wills it." It is a conjunction of the Arabic word for God (Allah) and the Arabic words for his will.

Inshallah is one of the most common expressions, or verbal appendages, in the Arab world and beyond it: Persian, Turkish and Urdu speakers, among others, use the expression liberally. Although it's been claimed to be an essentially Islamic expression ("Do not say of anything, 'I will do it tomorrow,' without adding, 'If God wills,'" one reads in the Koran, surah 18, verse 24), "Inshallah" is more accurately understood as a Middle Eastern, and especially Levantine, expression, its enthusiastic utterers including lebanon's Maronite and Orthodox Christians, Egypt's Copts, and the region's occasional, if unadvertised, atheists.

"But there has been inshallah creep, to the extreme," The New York Times reported in 2008. "It is now attached to the answer for any question, past, present and future. What’s your name, for example, might be answered, 'Muhammad, inshallah.' [...] Inshallah has become the linguistic equivalent of the head scarf on women and the prayer bump, the spot where worshipers press their foreheads into the ground during prayers, on men. It has become a public display of piety and fashion, a symbol of faith and the times. Inshallah has become a reflex, a bit of a linguistic tic that has attached itself to nearly every moment, every question, like the word “like” in English. But it is a powerful reference, intended or not."

  1. About.com
  2. News & Issues
  3. Middle East Issues
  4. Glossary
  5. Inshallah - What does Insha'Allah mean

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.