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|English to Arabic translations [Non-PRO]|
|English term or phrase: inshallah|
|How can I promise you forever|
When I can't even promise the rest of the day?
All I know is we started this journey together,
And hopefully we can make it the rest of the way,
The expression "inshallah" consists of three words, not one:
SHA’A: “to will”
IN SHA'A ALLAH: "if God wills," or, more idiomatically, "God willing."
The expression is informally glided into one uninterrupted utterance, “inshallah.”
This is a common pious phrase, used not only by Arabs, but also many non-Arabic-speaking Muslims, in statements about the future. By interjecting the phrase, the speaker acknowledges that human plans are subject to divine guidance of history, and implicitly asks God’s help in accomplishing what is being contemplated. In that sense, it is an expression of the virtue of hope. The addition of “inshallah” to the verse that you posted is a good example of how “inshallah” ought to be used.
Like all religious expressions, “inshallah” is often abused by its users. Some speakers use it simply to signal lack of conviction about their future goals, or to indicate that their statements are not to be taken as solemn promises. This is not how the phrase should be used, but it has been used this way so often that it gave rise, rightly or wrongly, to a skewed understanding of the phrase among foreign students of Arabic language and culture. Malicious Orientalists have used the expression as a symbol for what they portray as the nebulous nature of the Arab (or Muslim) mind, the non-committal nature of all plans or promises by Arabs, or the carefree lifestyle that puts off all serious planning and that fails to see any efficacy in human purposeful action, since everything is supposed to be in God’s control. Writers as diverse as Dale Carnegie, Raphael Patai, V.S. Naipaul, and Bernard Lewis have used this expression to support their portrayal of Arab-Islamic culture.
Where I grew up, "inshallah" is often used in response to requests or commands. For instance, I am expected to say, "inshallah," when my mother asks me to help my sister with her homework. In that sense, the phrase is a God-centered equivalent to "yes, sir" or "yes, ma'am," perhaps even closer to "I will, so help me God."
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