Every now and then, I like to dream, to wish. I try not to do it too often so as not to get disappointed as well as to appreciate everything I have, thank God. Living in the Middle East, one is inevitably going to hear the word inshallah and once introduced to it will hear it often. You may even start to use it.
Inshallah, literally, means God willing, as everything in this life is willed by God. While sometimes it takes on the tone of “I hope so”, it is most often used as a disclaimer. Upon first understanding its meaning you are going to think how good, how right, and how quaint. But just you wait.
At the grocery store, they are out of your favorite brand of rice which you need on a daily basis for that fabulous Arabic food, as a bed for your stews, or a stuffing for vegetables. You ask the clerk when will they have it. The answer? Inshallah, bukhra. You go back the day after tomorrow to get that rice and it is not there. You ask again. The answer? Inshallah, bukhra. Suddenly, you are starting to realize its meaning.
You ask your neighbor to come over for tea. She sounds delighted and takes you up on the offer. She says, “I will be there at eleven, inshallah.” She doesn’t show up until noon. Aha! Eleven, inshallah.
You ask a friend when he is going on that trip he’s been going on about. He says inshallah in the summer. You see him in the fall and ask how was his trip. He says he hasn’t gone. Next year, inshallah.
Your kids. They like to wish and dream too. They love all those toys they see advertised on television and want everything their friends have. They really like to wish and dream out loud and do so over and over again to make sure they are heard. Sometimes you hear them and comment, sometimes your mind is cluttered with all its happenings and you answer absentmindedly, “What? Oh, yeah, inshallah.”