Q. I frequently hear Muslims say “in shaa- Allaah.” What does it mean? Is it a way to put someone off or eluding a responsibility?
A. Dear Sarah,
“In shaa- Allaah” literally means “If Allaah wills.” In contrast to what you think, in shaa- Allaah is a sort of pledge; the speaker when following his/her promise by in shaa- Allah, he/she means that “I’ll totally ready to do it unless a God-brought barrier comes in my way.” The frequent use of the phrase reveal the deep faith that no matter how well you plan, there is always a divine course of action that can intervene and you should take into consideration. Some people also use other variations of this such as “if Allaah kept us alive”, which means I’ll do it unless I die, it does not mean that the person feels that he/she is going to die, the speaker is just acknowledging his/her deep faith as well as his/her deep commitment to the task.
To your surprise, in some Gulf countries, in shaa- Allaah means “yes sir” or “yes ma’am” if said in a certain intonation. It can also mean “I’ll do it with pleasure” if said in another intonation.
Its ubiquitous appearance might have made some people take it lightly, but misuse I always there in all languages, cultures, and religions.
Yours in humanity,
* Sarah Redrawn
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