Inshallah is an Arabic phrase that translates to “God willing” or “if Allah wills it.” As with so many other phrases, the Arabic translation to English produces various spellings:


I choose to use the form that is easiest for me, as there seems to be no right or wrong way to spell names, places, and phrases here; it has something to do with dropping vowels in Arabic. I’ve tried to grasp the concept but haven’t yet because 1) I don’t know the Arabic language beyond very few words and phrases and 2) this is just SUCH an unacceptable practice for an English teacher.

Use of the phrase “Inshallah” basically acknowledges that you’re submitting to the will of God and whatever happens is the way it’s meant to be. I can see how this fits into the Islamic lifestyle because Muslims believe that God has a plan and it’s all for the best. Because they don’t separate religion and culture, their religious beliefs govern all that is done here- a nice concept but it can be maddening at times.

Setting up house in the UAE has been a tedious process; time can stand still here. I often think of the movie Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray relives the same scenario over and over until he gets it right. We go to the same businesses and stores time and again trying to get service and fix problems. Most issues are resolved at a slow pace, if at all. Meetings start late, class schedules vary weekly, businesses are randomly closed during peak hours. From setting up my bank account to cable/internet, document translation, driver’s license, furniture delivery, car rental, cell phone service, work portal logon info, getting situated often required multiple frustrating in-person visits. In most places, you take a number then wait randomly for your letter/number combo to flash above a ‘customer service’ desk. This can take anywhere from ten minutes to an hour, but you quickly learn that having your number called doesn’t even mean that anyone’s really going to HELP you. Inshallah. God is definitely not willing things to happen as quickly as I am.

I went to the bank twice to finish setting up my online banking and was turned away both times. The first time, the guy told me I needed my passport and resident visa to proceed. I had not yet received my passport back with the visa page in it so I went home defeated. Lo and behold, I learn three days later that my passport is ready for pickup. I return to the same guy at the same bank, armed with every single document I had only to be told that he couldn’t assist me because I can only get help “over the phone”. OMG, are you serious? You’re the same person who told me to come back with my passport and visa! Can we call from the bank right now? No, he doesn’t have a phone. Really? A bank with no phone? Oddly enough, on that particular day, my phone wasn’t working either. “Inshallah, you will have your online banking as soon as you can call them.” Translation: Please leave so I can NOT help the next customer.

Same story with my cell phone but I won’t bore you with the details. “Inshallah, your complaint will be resolved and your phone should work tomorrow.” Ten days and two more trips later, God finally willed it to happen.

My internet appointment was set for Aug 27 but, brace yourself for the shock…. no technician appeared. Turns out the cable company was “out of cable boxes,” probably because they force you to pay for a cable box even if you only want internet. “Can you just send a tech over to hook up my internet? I need to work and Skype my family and I’m sitting in the hallway borrowing wifi from the lucky ones who got connected before the big cable box shortage hit. In fact, I don’t even WANT the cable box!” No, you must wait for the cable box. Inshallah, we will have them soon. Turns out it was God’s will that I had to wait three weeks for internet and no one else could do anything to speed the process along.

Even though I understand the whole “Inshallah” concept, I can’t get past the thought that it’s just carried too far sometimes. The other day, I saw a kid in a car standing on the front passenger seat, facing backwards and flailing his arms at his siblings in the back. Inshallah, little guy, you don’t go through the windshield. Although there’s such a thing as surrendering yourself to a Higher Power, didn’t God give us our own sensibilities for a reason?

I now pronounce Inshallah the same way people at home say “whatEVer!” and I use the phrase in similar instances. I know that’s not the way it was meant to be used, but I don’t think God’s intent is for everything to be in a state of complete disarray all the time, either. InSHALLah, I’ll chill out over time and accept this lifestyle more easily. Meanwhile, InSHALLah, God won’t be mad at me for saying Inshallah like a drama queen all the time. Inshallah, InshAllah, Insha’Allah, Nshallah… whatEVVVVVer!




5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jackie
    Oct 06, 2014 @ 17:33:43

    Funniest post yet!



  2. Barb
    Oct 06, 2014 @ 17:35:29




  3. Karen
    Oct 06, 2014 @ 20:05:22

    You are so much fun to read! Keep ’em coming. Inshallah….



  4. Angela
    Oct 06, 2014 @ 22:57:38

    I love reading your posts–they always bring a smile to my face.



  5. Deb Mech
    Oct 08, 2014 @ 01:42:42

    WhatEVer! That totally reminds me of Bob, who has always used that word way too frequently (can you hear him now, Sue & Dumit sisters?) I think these people might have him beat with their overuse of Inshallah!



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