Friday, April 9, 2010

Inshallah, the polite blow off

I've not done much of anything the last week because I had/have pneumonia. Yes, the body does get tired, and mine said enough already!

During that break, I had more time to contemplate the meaning of something that I find so incredibly interesting, the word Inshallah. Literally, it means "God willing" and is often used that way. For example, "I hope I recover from pneumonia quickly." Response, "Inshallah".

Or, "Inshallah I will get that big promotion". In this context, its almost like asking "Please God, let me pass that exam". If discussing this with your friend, the likely response from your friend would be "Inshallah". So you could use it in the context to wish for something.

However, there is one way that it is used - by both the religious and non-religious alike that makes me laugh. Let's say for example you ran into someone you haven't seen in years. "You say hey we should get together for dinner or drinks!" They respond "Inshallah". Forget it. Not gonna happen. You have a better chance of the Divine himself coming to dinner. Its like a "Thanks, but no thanks." No one would admit this when they use it this way, but this is what it is in context.

Think about it. It is the perfect scapegoat. How can you be responsible for something if it is all God's will? If God wants you to have dinner, he will find a way to make your friend show up at your house. If not, so sorry. God must not have wanted you to reunite anyway - no matter how much you tried.

I even called some friends on it once. I don't remember the exact subject, but we had a small gathering at our house and as some people were leaving, one friend gave another an Inshallah for an invitation of some sort. It was something different like maybe skydiving, or something that required waking up at sunrise and taking a long drive into the desert that after a 3am night was not too desirable. I interrupted and said, "Come on. Just be honest. You don't really want to do it, so just say it! Don't blame it on God's will!". They of course cracked up and confirmed that my interpretation of Inshallah was spot on. Its not really rocket science - observe it a few times and you get the hang of it.

So folks, the good news is, you have an out for everything you do because it wasn't God's Will. He's in control. The bad news is, you'll know when you're politely snubbed in the name of God.


Laura @ itsjustlaura said...

I love this post! What an interesting idiosyncrasy of your life in the middle east that I would never imagine would exist. You live a pretty cool life, Pam.

I'm totally going to use that word. I wish we had an english word to be used like that. Totally serious.

Pam Durant said...

Thanks Laura! This is one thing I loved about the Turkish language - and I am sure that Arabic has many as well.. you can use one work to express a whole sentence or feeling.. English is not always so efficient.