Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Insh'allah: The "bless her heart" of Saudi Arabia

Every culture has its little phrases that are unique. In the South, we all know that when one says, "Bless her heart," or "God love 'im" it's not really a compliment, or a blessing.

For those who have been living under a rock for that past 9 years, Saudi Arabia is an Islamic country, and that means most of their colloquialisms involve that religion in some way. The most frequently heard phrase is "Insh'allah."

Directly translated, it means "If God wishes it." But just like "Bless her heart," I've come to find that Insh'allah can also have another meaning: "But don't bet on it."

For example: Our school hasn't yet gotten it's cargo shipment of school supplies from the US. This means that I haven't gotten a stapler, tape (masking or scotch), paper, pens, pencils, or any sort of school supply you would expect to be on hand in a school. While this would normally mean I just needed to pop into the nearest Office Max and stock up, the Hubsy and I are currently dependent on a hired driver to get around town, so errands are exponentially more difficult.

When I asked last Wednesday when the supplies would come in, I was told, "They will be here on Saturday or Sunday, insh'allah."

Guess what hadn't arrived by Saturday or Sunday.

Here are a few examples of insh'allah in action:

"When will I get a copy of my class schedule?"
"You'll have it before the students arrive, insh'allah."

"Can we meet to talk about my discipline plan?"
"Yes, I will come to your room in 5 minutes, insh'allah."

"ALL the bathrooms are being renovated at the same time?! Will they be finished by the time school starts?"

"Don't worry, the meeting will only last a few minutes, insh'allah."

"You will be moved out of the hotel and into your apartment by September 22, insh'allah."

And one for which I hope insh'allah REALLY means insh'allah:

"This will be a successful and great school year, insh'allah."

Vicariously yours,

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