I’m feeling a little guilty ….actually on two counts – one because I haven’t written a blog for a while (six weeks I think!!) and two because I’ve just realised I’ve been asking some of my Muslim colleagues to defy the Quran ! …… not deliberately and I hope Allah will forgive me!
It all came about following a conversation with a Palestinian colleague some weeks ago, who was explaining the real meaning of ‘Inshallah’ to me…… as most of you know, it means ‘God willing’. However, my friend was discussing the different ways in which people use the phrase and how, in fact, it is often abused. He explained it thus: A person should only use ‘Inshallah’ in the context that they fully intend to do something and it will happen if God wills or it is in his plan. The only reason that it wouldn’t happen would be if God intervened somehow.
He went on to say that some Muslims will use ‘inshallah’ as a ‘get-out’ clause, almost as if to say ‘if I can be bothered’ and this, he stressed, was a total abuse of the phrase and he felt it was used by many without really considering its true meaning.
So, carrying this insight with me, I began to notice ‘inshallah’ being used more and more, particularly by rather less than competent and, it has to be said, less than committed project managers whose activities and deadlines clearly did not fit into God’s plan, because they mysteriously never seemed to be able to deliver! The pattern would start with me asking a question such as “the floor of the portacabin will be laid by tomorrow, wont it, because we have furniture arriving?”… and the reply would inevitably come…. “inshallah”. Tomorrow comes and, of course God has intervened and there is no floor.
So, this happened rather too often, until I became irritated and eventually started to tell particular individuals that they were no longer allowed to use ‘inshallah’ in my presence and I only dealt in certainties!! 🙂 They all found this rather amusing, and of course took absolutely no notice of the crazy woman.
I had a further conversation about this with a Syrian friend who was also rather fond of using the phrase and was, himself, a little less than 100% reliable (although absolutely lovely). His view was that I should calm down and consider ‘inshallah’ no different to ‘OK’ or ‘sure’ and I really shouldn’t take it too literally.
In the end, we did get the floor back in place, the furniture did arrive, I managed to successfully, and relatively smoothly, move the Al Jazeera Network Creative team in to their new portacabin this week, and we celebrated in rather grand style with a ‘welcome breakfast’. Coffee and Cake the Arabic way……. Interestingly, I have now read that, in fact, the Quran requires that Muslims must say ‘inshallah’ after every statement of intent to do something.
This is obligatory. So I guess I will have to let it wash over me and accept that my colleagues are simply doing their best to be in tune with God’s plan for life, the universe and everything …… including portacabins.