In the desert, they like to say “Insha’Allah” for everything. Technically, it means “If Allah wills it” or as Christians would say, “Lord willing”. It is a nice sentiment, giving cause to pause and reflect on the fact that we can’t take our tomorrow for granted. Each day is a gift. We aren’t entitled to our next moment. If God wills it, we will have it. Over time, though, the deeper meaning and cause for reflection is lost.
I do find that “Insha’Allah” is used and over-abused. My sister and I were really confused when we were making plans with a sweet desert dweller for the next day. We signed off our confirmation call with, “See you tomorrow!” to which she replied, “Insha’Allah.”
“Yeah, but, really… we ARE getting together tomorrow, right?”
“Right, Insha’Allah… but REALLY we are getting together, yes?”
With a lot of uncertainty, we let the call end, not sure if we actually had plans for the next day or not.
Since then, I have come to learn that there are, in fact, 3 types of Insha’Allah. I would like to think that I’m quite adept at discerning between the three, but I have been proven wrong before on something or other (it might have been in 2007), so I’m not entirely confident.
Insha’Allah #1 is Insha’Allah Akeed – translation: Lord-willing of course. This is the most certain of the insha’Allahs. Barring a boulder rolling down the mountain and squashing you like a bug on your way out of the house, you will be there. You can’t argue with a boulder. That’s Allah’s will, obvs. But other than that, of course, I will be there.
Insha’Allah #2 is Insha’Allah Mumkin – translation: Lord-willing, maybe. This is about a 50/50 chance of actually happening. Or more accurately, 60/40. I’ll show up as long as something better doesn’t present itself first and then I’ll
blame attribute it to the will of Allah that I went to this other thing. Case in point: early on in my desert life, I invited my neighbour over to my house for tea. I had pizza buns and cake prepared, tea was ready, and then I got a call from her saying that she would not be able to come for a visit because her aunt had come into town unexpectedly from the village and she must stay at home to visit her. I was really hurt at the time, but I’ve come to learn since that my neighbour rarely leaves her house, but is more than willing to open the door to me anytime I wish to stop by. I don’t even have to phone ahead. I ring the bell, answer the intercom with “It’s the foreigner!” and I’m immediately buzzed in. She sends over freshly baked flat bread and an assortment of other good eats from time to time. She just doesn’t like to go out anywhere. Her house is a hub of activity, people coming and going, why would she feel the need to leave? When we first made those plans for tea at my house, her response had been “Insha’Allah” in the mumkin sing-song. I just wasn’t familiar with it, yet.
Insha’Allah #3 is Insha’Allah La – translation: Lord willing, there’s no chance in hell. I must admit, I’ve used this one a couple of times. Okay. More than a couple. Most notably was the time I was at a wedding and a young girl of about 10 kept asking me for my phone number. I kept telling her “Insha’Allah, I will give it to you later.” Both Allah and I knew that there was no way I was giving my phone number to a 10 year old girl.
Of course, when you say Insha’Allah, you don’t usually add the suffix. It’s usually implied in the tone, which is why I say that I’m nearly certain that I’m able to discern between the three, but there is a chance that I could mess up, thinking that I’ve heard it as #2 when it’s actually, most definitely #3.
Let’s give it a whirl, shall we? See if you can discern which Insha’Allah I’m using:
“I’ll post again tomorrow, Insha’Allah.”