With God’s Blessing, inshallah


In Arabic, all statements about the future are tempered by adding the phrase inshallah, meaning “God willing”.  This comes from the Muslim precept that only God knows and determines the future; and therefore, it is a sign of arrogance and blasphemy to speak of the future without conditioning it on God’s will. Examples would include: I will see you later, inshallah; tomorrow I have an exam, inshallah; or I am going to Florida for Christmas, inshallah. Furthermore, its use is widely accepted by all Arabic speakers regardless of their religion (Islam, Christianity or Judaism). Even Spanish, heavily influenced by Arabic, adopted its own version of the expression — ojalá— to denote when one hopes for something to occur, i.e., ojalá que llueva café.

I wasn’t sure whether we had something similar in English until this morning when I heard Sarah Palin’s recent CNN interview. When asked what her role would be as vice president, Sarah Palin responded,

Well, we’ve talked a lot about that, John McCain and I have, about the missions that I’ll get to embark on if we are so blessed to be hired by the American people to work for them.

The “if we are so blessed” expression in American English is most commonly used by fundamentalist Christians to show that same degree of humbleness before God as does the Arabic inshallah. While I won’t doubt Sarah Palin’s sincerity, I can only imagine that by saying “if we are so blessed” she was also giving a wink out to her Christian voters.

Here’s what I would have liked to ask Sarah Palin in response. If ultimately you are not “so blessed”, but rather the will of God and that of a majority of American voters determine Barack Obama to be the next president, does that mean that Obama and Biden “are so blessed”? Could an Obama presidency be God’s will? And if so, wouldn’t you then have to accept God’s will and give Obama your full support?



Filed under Digressions, Essays, Obama 08

7 responses to “With God’s Blessing, inshallah

  1. Melissa

    There’s also “Godwilling,” which a lot of Jews use, including me, sometimes. (In particular, observant Jews use it.) And there’s a Hebrew version, “Baruch hashem,” which literally means “Praise the name” or “Blessed God.”


  2. eric

    “Baruch” as in Barack. I think it is the same root.

  3. ReWrite

    Baraka messing “blessing”

  4. “word” in my hood, meaning “in cooperation and understanding” from the roots of mosses as in “the word of god all ever knowing”. the use of the 10 commandments inscripted in tablets by the word of god and delivered to the people is still seen today as the “high five” after the use of “word” the high five representing 5 of the 10 commandments (remember, gods word was divided in 2 tablets, 5 commandments each) therefore, 2 hands are needed to give the high five, one soul to voice the “word” or gods way.(this is why blacks like Baraka are better at this that whites…because of “the soul”….this can be heard through music, jazz, etc..)

  5. eric

    As they say in Brooklyn, “What happen?”

  6. ReWrite

    Word. It is “what happened?”

  7. Borja

    Didn’t know that ojalá came from inshallah, but makes sense. Another spanish expression widely used by the older people is: “Si Dios quiere”, literally, if God wants it, which seems similar to Godwilling.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s