Islam Misunderstood – Insha Allah, God willing

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There are always people, who are are eager to draw conclusions about different situations, they don’t even use their brains to google the meaning, and if they went there, they don’t use the common sense to check out three to five versions. It is sheer ignorance, that some of the most beautiful Arabic phrases like Insha Allah, Allahu Akbar and Alhmadu Lillah are misunderstood. 

Here is an abuse of  one such phrase, Insha Allah by a Muslim.


Professor Omid Safi writes in facebook Religion News

For your amusement, pleasure, face-palm opportunity, and hopefully, a resolve to move on to a better place than where we are right now: The five dumbest things said (so far) about the Boston Marathon bombings: Ann Coulter, Asra Nomani, and (some) Republicans.

Here is Dr. Safi’s comment

Asra Nomani, Muslim journalist for Washington Post:  Use of phrases like “God-willing” is a sign of radicalization.
In breathless “analysis”, Nomani opined that the she had the courage to talk about what other Muslims know about but are too “politically correct” to admit:   that the usage of phrases likeinsha’allah (“God-willing”) by Muslims is a “red flag” of “someone who is becoming hardcore. “
Asra Nomani:  Washington Post pundit
No, Ms. Nomani.
One wonders how often Ms. Nomani has actually been around real practicing Muslims, whose daily language is imbued with reminders of the Divine:
If you ask most Muslims “How are you?”
You might hear:  “Praise be to God (Alhamdulilah), I am doing well.”
If you ask most Muslims “Will I see you tomorrow?”
You might hear:   “If God wills it (insha’Allah), I will be there.”
To point out a beautiful child, a Muslim might state “Look at what God has willed (masha’allah), what a beautiful child!”
The use, and increased usage, of phrases like Godwilling (insha’allah) is not a sign of radicalization, but merely one of piety.   In the Qur’an, God enjoins upon Muslims:  “never say I will do such-and-such tomorrow without adding If-God-wills-it-so…’”  [Qur’an 18:23-24]
If such phraseology sounds “stuffy” to some ears, it is (or was) a part of the Christian tradition as well.  The Epistle of James (4:15) includes the following injunction:
For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
If the Lord will…

Uttering these phrases makes one neither a Christian radical nor a Muslim radical, but simply a person who recognizes that we, by our own selves, can do nothing.   We acknowledge that our life, breath, soul, and will, are all dependent on God.
Then again, I am not sure how much to expect from someone like Asra Nomani who uses her position of access in media to argue that Muslims should be racially profiled.
Dear Omid,
Thank you for looking at this serious issue of the Boston Marathon bombing, an issue that has shaken the nation as these acts of violence do.
The statement that I wrote regarding the use of “Inshallah” was in the specific context of a transformation of an individual. I noted that the uncle to the oldest bombing suspect could sense a change in his nephew when he saw the change in language in the context of other changes.
Hyper-emphasis or, conversely, lack of emphasis on issues of orthopraxy, or external signs of ritual, are ones that I know you are well familiar with as signals about someone’s ideological bent.
When I wrote that this was a politically incorrect statement, I was clearly accurate.
I would just like to note that I am surprised to read such sarcastic, mocking and partisan comments from someone who I have respected as quite compassionate, serious and fair. Framing your analysis of comments you call “idiotic ignorance” certainly doesn’t seem to match the level of intellectual and academic rigor to which I thought you subscribed.
I do not have such “idiotic ignorance” that I believe the singular use of the phrase “Inshallah” is signs of radicalism, otherwise every US soldier who uses the phrase in Afghanistan to build rapport would be a suspected member of the Taliban, which clearly is not the case.
Further, to mock me as someone who “uses” my position in the media to argue a position is extremely unfair and illogical. I am a journalist and writing articles is what I do. What’s more, I am very clear that my advocacy is for the inclusion of religion and ethnicity in threat assessment, not anything that would be discrimination, harassment or unlawful implementation of the law.
Inshallah, we will have a more measured and balanced conversation in the future.
Warmly, Asra
Qalander writes
Asra Nomani has supported racial profiling. She has gone on record to state that the US should follow the “Israeli model” of profiling. She has defended and even applauded Peter King for his “hearings” on “radical Muslims.” Now she is making these ridiculous statements about how saying “insha’Allah” a lot is a “red flag” for extremism.

Asra | Omid
Asra, Your response is appreciated. Being a seasoned journalist, and having endured harassment for the stand you take, you have a greater responsibility to choose the language that does not aggravate the conflict. I see your point of view and context, but facts don’t matter to the right wing nuts, they never get it, they are damned parrots without brains, this is fodder to them.
I started using Insha Allah in the last ten years, when I realized that I had high BP – and simply cannot promise any one, particularly my Muslim friends that “I will deliver the results” -what if I croak and don’t deliver? Indeed it is the humility that makes me say Insha Allah, if I don’t deliver, it means my life is limited and have no control over it and is subject to what was programmed in my DNA.
Many Muslims and I support you for the pioneering work you have done in creating awareness about women’s space in the place of worship. There will be greater acceptability of you, if you could just think – am I worsening the situation or mitigating it? Am I a journalist that presents facts to stir up raw emotions or do my words go towards creating a better society. If you don’t believe you have a social responsibility for a better society, I have no argument then.
Great piece, it is educational and well written. Indeed, I and will share this with my groups. I wrote a similar piece after Major Nidal’s madness and the usage of Allah u Akbar. Its at World Muslim Congress and probably at Huffpost.
Thank you both, a genuine discussion is good.

“She shamelessly uses verses from the Qur’an to justify her House Muslim stance. She goes on to list the grievances she has against the Muslim American community. All religion obviously requires updated interpretation. We’re not objecting to that. We are objecting to Nomani’s approach; she completely disregards Muslims’ First Amendment rights by inviting a lawmaker of a racist, genocidal, islamophobic empire to approach the community with a scalpel. Ask thousands of dead Iraqis and Afghanis just how friendly the US is to Muslims.”
Elena Porcelli All the Muslims I know, liberal or conservative or in between, all use those phrases Omid accuses you of demonizing, whether they are Arabs or not. I do. Not one of them are anywhere near “radicals”. I do understand where you may get that idea; for instance many of the converts I know who immediately change their names, start wearing thobes, and walking around using all the arabic they can muster are the ones who seem to spew the most radical ideas.. but that is usually the beginning of their journey, not the end. It seems to me that we may all start out that way but end up well, I guess like me. I can understand why Omid got so upset at the idea; he uses those phrases all the time and I’m sure bristles at the idea anyone would assume he’s a radical terrorist because of it. Now if you compare that to say Christian radicalism whereas your friends become “born-again” and start saying things like “praise god!” before and after everything they say you start to wonder if they haven’t gone over the deep end, but certainly not assuming they’re 2 minutes away from bombing an abortion clinic. The big deal about Tsarni’s quote is not the words “inshallah” its that derisive attitude calling it “Religious talk”; we are assuming that the brothers, prior to the bombing, weren’t practicing their religion very publicly therefore the sudden onset of SOUNDING religious probably came as a shock and a worry merely because their behavior changed.
Mike Ghouse Elena Porcelli – Your comment above preceding my comment is precise and expressed this conflict very well. Thanks for that note. Hala Arafa – all other right wing nuts associate any beautiful phrase in Arabic with extremism, Asra fanned it for them with the red flag towards extremism. If she were not a Muslim, I understand that, but being a Muslim, Insha Allah is not a threat or sign of extremism.


Dear Asra,
Why do you think Omid, and several others including me, have taken the time to write these extensive reflective notes.
It is not to criticize you, but to keep you within the fold of the genuine moderate Muslims to bring about a positive but gradual awakening. Correct me, if that it is not your drive.
I have always admired you from the very first day you arranged for the women led prayers, you were on my radio show that very same day along with Amina Wadud, and I have stood up for your principles, despite a few short-sighted Muslims calling me names.
As a genuine moderate Muslim, whose Muslimness in not manifested in externalities, I beg you Asra, my sister to stay within the fold, our praise for you work is genuine and will continue to be, however, I do admit, the people who lavish praises for your write ups, far outweigh a few who appreciate your work, but our appreciation is genuine.
I will repeat, “There will be greater acceptability of you, if you could just think – am I worsening the situation or mitigating it? Am I a journalist that presents facts to stir up raw emotions or do my words go towards creating building a cohesive society with respect to every American? If you don’t believe you have a social responsibility for a better society, then I have no argument with you, nor will I appeal to you.
Omid’s comments shows a lot of patience, and I agree with him on this statement, which he has elaborated with documentation, “it is because over the last few years and now again, you are on the wrong side of history, on the wrong side of justice.”
I wrote a similar appeal to you several months ago, begging you to continue your critical work and not fall to the temptations of thousands of congratulatory comments for being the right winger’s “moderate Muslims” which is earned by irrationally criticizing the faith that your profess. The compliments are very appeasing indeed, and joy giving, but in the end, you, Omid and I have to be carried on some one’s shoulders and remembered for the sea change you brought – those rascals (of all faiths and persuasions) that heap shallow praises, will not be there for you, I guarantee you from my little experience. They are using you and may be you have a need for that.
Ultimately, it is the good work you do, that will bring solace to you in your reflective moments.
Asra, I beg you to remain a genuine moderate Muslim – who sees the faults in our practices and brings about corrective actions, instead of pushing fellow Muslims away to gain duplicitous friendships. Don’t believe for a moment that no one was there for you during the Morgan Mosque times, we were all there, and you were busy. We are still here for you.
Just be thoughtful and reasonable, let your words be critical, but a guide to shaping a better society.
Thank you
Mike Ghouse

There are good responses from Omid Safi as well at 

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