Enshallah = Cop Out

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I'm getting a bit tired of the word enshallah. The word is supposed to mean "if God wills", but is generally used as a cop out by the lazy, the non-committed, or liars.

For instance, we invited some friends over for dinner one night. Their response? "Enshallah we will be there at 7:00." So we spent the afternoon cleaning up the house and preparing a nice dinner. At 9:00 we get the call that they were leaving to come over to our house around 7:00 when some family members showed up at their house uninvited. "What were we to do, habibi? We had to invite them in! Perhaps we can come to dinner tomorrow night, instead?" I'll tell you what to do: tell them that you were walking out the door to attend dinner at someone's house and that they can take a hike since they dropped by unannounced. We ended up throwing away half the food.

Recently our boiler sprung a leak. Our landlord called the plumber who "enshallah" would be at our house the next day at 4:30 to fix the pipes. Guess what, he never showed up. So I've been taking cold showers for the past 3 days waiting for this guy to enshallah his butt over to my house to fix my boiler problem.

My friends jokingly refer to Iraqi Air as "Enshallah Air", simply because they're so undependable.

I could go on with example after example, but the point is that the word has lost its meaning. Even worse, in most cases, it is used synonymously for the words "no", "maybe" or "I don't think so." Pathetic. In the future, I wish people would stop jerking me around and just be honest with me. A plain "yes" or "no" would suffice.


Blogger mm said...

hehehe. It is now accepted that enshallah means no or maybe not. When I was younger and Id ask my mom if i could go to X she would say enshallah..meaning.."Ill think about it" which means no. I understand your frustration though. However, what your friends did was very rude and inconsiderate. If they gave you their word then they must be there enshallah or not, what they did was actually '3eb' when you're invited to a feast you better show up. Next time call and confirm same day. maybe they'll have some decency and turn the uninvited guests away.

6/07/2007 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll post my thoughts on this later, enshallah.

6/07/2007 2:57 PM  
Blogger Moey said...

I hate that word's gutts.. whenever anyone says inshallah, i say no..either yes or no, do not use that word, its a sign of refuse

6/07/2007 5:38 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Anonymous, dude, you're awesome. :)

6/07/2007 6:13 PM  
Blogger Untitled said...

Unfortunately, people use “Insha’Allah” as an excuse for their laziness or lack of commitment. “Insha’Allah” is a great statement that means every thing we do is by the hand of Allah and his will. When someone says “Insha’Allah I will come tomorrow at 7pm” it means he is positive he will be there at 7pm unless some unforeseen circumstances occur. It does not mean he/she may come or not. I was asked many times by Non-Muslims why Muslims use “Insh’Allah” when they don’t want to commit to do a task. This thing made my friend’s 4 years old daughter, who lives in the State, to ask her father to answer her by “Yes” or “No” only not “Insha’Allah”. Because according to her understanding her father use InshaÁllah when he will not do what she asked for. Insha’Allah, we know the importance of this great statement and learn to be more committed.

6/07/2007 10:56 PM  
Anonymous moi said...

The word has definitely been misused, and too many people, like you said, use it to mean "no" in a subtle way. Very sad indeed. I use it AFTER I say "yes" and I make every intention to committ to doing whatever I agreed to doing. I doubt people really think about it's meaning before they blurt it out.
And for those rude people you had to deal with, I think even if they didn't say enshallah they still wouldn't have shown up because they clearly don't think it's a big deal to not keep their word...

6/07/2007 11:53 PM  
Blogger Jad said...

No, The word didn't lose its meaning but it's being misused.
The proper use of Inshallah would be as prefix or suffix to confirm something like "I'm coming today, Enshallah"
So basically it's just an add-on to prior personal decision and it doesn't or shouldn't give the meaning of emphasis, confirmation or assurance as in Yes, No.

and it's even misunderstood by listeners as many people especially those bloody expats :P expect that one who is religious would never lie or expect extra commitment when using the word Enshallah.

Having said that doesn't mean I don't agree that we lack the ethics of commitments, I totally agree with you and if I were you that worker would have to face my rage and those friends would receive a very blunt shower over the phone.

6/08/2007 8:53 AM  
Anonymous kinzi said...

Dave, I'm sorry for this experience you all faced. It is SO much work to clean up and cook a 'guest meal'.

It's happened to us, too. I've also had unexpected guests arrive as we were leaving for a meal elsewhere. They were then offended that we were intending to arrive on time to those we made a commitment to first.

6/09/2007 10:41 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Dawn (comment unapproved), go ahead and post your e-mail address so I can contact you.

6/11/2007 8:20 AM  
Blogger Saned! said...

That really sucks. Sorry. Just try to be manipulative and get a direct answer. That's what I do.

6/14/2007 4:17 PM  
Anonymous HATEM said...


6/14/2007 4:46 PM  
Anonymous Shaden said...

hahahaha. I'm really sorry you're going through this.

But the word itself did not lost it's meaning, I don't think it ever will. It's the way people use it that is so different these days.

6/14/2007 4:46 PM  
Blogger ThE RuSsIaN WoLf said...


Is your friend with the Enshallah Airways Tshirt, happen to be a 6'6 tall Iraqi dude named Ali ?

7/06/2007 8:11 PM  
Blogger Bos6ar Gadeem said...

Enchallah I will visit your blog again :-)

nice blog


8/01/2007 11:27 PM  
Blogger ELIAKIM said...

Many Muslims are not aware or understand many spiritual concepts on a deep and serious spiritual level. For instance the will of God is compelled by love into compassionate action to save.

However, people do not do the will of God until they surrender completely to the divine aspects of life. Just because a person is religious does not ensure that a person will give up their life for God. Many religious people are the most attached to money and material things and one cannot have two masters. For instance covering the head is not a requirement from God it is a man-made tradition that is earth bound and nothing to do with the heavenly state of being.

I have been amazed in the past when Muslims have asked me to explain the meaning of surrender. They do not realise that complete surrender means surrendering all human will and that includes the human will of man's traditions.

To have a true relationship with God and sacred union with the divine one has to surrender to the soul because God pours his oil into the lamp of the soul. However, those that are not in tune with the soul are not in tune with God either.

Those that have surrendered completely to the will of God have no requirement for a religion because they have moved beyond it and its duality.

God is a spiritual reality and not a religious one.

2/10/2009 6:36 PM  
Blogger dan said...

I lived in Spain for a year and we all said ensha/allah meaning God willing all the time Mary

10/08/2009 4:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you're living in the Middle East and applying your hurry-up, punctual, Type-A United States cultural values to them? Sounds like you are not being a happy guest in their country. You're going to have a long, tough stay if you want everyone there to be like us. Notice that not too many people there are getting ulcers or breaking down with stress? Lighten up. And don't throw away food, there are plenty of people in need on the street who you could hand it to. But of course, you wouldn't want to associate with them, they are lazy and not taking personal responsibility.

10/14/2009 4:00 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Once again, the Anonymous sage strikes again! Allow me to quote another commenter who said, "Unfortunately, people use 'Insha’Allah' as an excuse for their laziness or lack of commitment." I understand and support the original intent of the statement, but when people use it as an excuse for laziness, that really annoys me. But I'm not the only one! It annoys many of my Arab friends, as well.

You don't have to be a non-Arab to suffer at the hands of people who are lazy or can't commit. And the next time you put a lot of work into preparing something nice for someone and they stand you up, I'm guessing you'll change your tune, as well.

10/14/2009 4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meh, that's the culture in most of that part of the world, Pakistan, down through India, and it also applies for hispanic cultures. If you say 5 pm, that means we'll see you around 7. 7 means 9, etc. It's tough to adjust to when we're used to exact time. good luck.

12/01/2009 6:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The enshallah thing is annoying, and yes, they use to maintain their pliable relaitonship with time and committment. But, in the Arab world - especially areas closely associated with bedoins, a "drop by" is always received with unending generosity. The people visiting are the ones who have to say when the visit is over - this goes back to bedoin times, when people wandered the desert for days. If anyone came to your tent in the desert, you let them in!!! That was based on survival - wouldnt you want to be let in?? Its not rude and inconsiderate, its generous to a fault. There is a difference. Hope that eases some of your frustration!

12/31/2009 10:47 PM  
Blogger Christian said...

It happens. Unfortunately commitments aren't quite the same over there. I remember on one of my last days in the country, there was a good friend who had promised to meet me at a cafe we frequent. He said 1pm, so I showed up there at 1pm sharp. I had been there long enough to know he was on Arab time, but he also knew me well enough to know that I am a punctual American. Anyway, I waited for about 80 minutes talking with other people before giving up and going back to my apartment. This certainly wasn't an isolated incident, time and commitments like that are quickly and easily changed. To us it looks very rude and inconsiderate, but they live at a much different pace in Jordan and have a completely different outlook on the issue.
In regards to the use of 'Insha'Allah,' I know I got chewed out for using it once by a Jordanian who was tired of people using it improperly. He ranted about it's meaning and the type of respect that it deserves but isn't shown. The irony here is that I facetious cop-out.

1/10/2010 7:47 PM  

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