Saturday, April 23, 2011

If God wills it

I probably don't need to tell those of you who have been on holiday to Egypt or any other Arabic speaking country how frequently you will hear the phrase In sa Allah (pronounced Inshallah) which means, God willing or If God Wills it.

It's pretty catching.  I found myself saying it to a Pakistani taxi driver who was more than usually distracted when I got into a cab on the way to an interview one day.  I got in the back and he was yacking away on his mobile phone and drove the first 100metres at five miles per hour.  When he got off the phone, it turned out that his brother, an engineer, had just been sent to Iran for work and he was worried about him. 

"Don't worry, he will be fine," I said, "In sa Allah". 

"Yes, In sa Allah," he agreed. 

Everyone uses the phrase, not just Muslims.  A Government official used it on the phone to me this morning as I was trying to set up an interview.  "I will speak to my boss and In sa Allah, you will be able to come in and speak to them," he said.

In officialdom, here, things tend to happen very, very slowly so I am sometimes tempted to point out, when someone In sa Allah's me that whether my paperwork is processed is not, in fact, down to the will of God, but whether a progressively long procession of bureaucrats do something at a particular time.  I suppose if you're of a religious persuasion you would counter by pointing out that everything is in fact down to the will of God so I may as well chill out and wait for him to do his glorious work in his own time because it's all part of the wonderful mystery.

Unfortunately, being a hack, I'm not really used to waiting for Him to will it. 

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