“Insha Allah?” You mean, “Whatever.”

OF THE Christians, I have only ever heard Roman Catholics use the phrase God Willing. We just need to turn the pages of English history to discover that there is good reason for this. It was only a few centuries ago that the Anglican Church engaged in theological debate on the topic of freewill and divine decree. The conclusion they came to is obvious when we consider how alien those two words are to the vocabulary of the Church of England.

The idea is, however, perfectly scriptural, though admittedly Protestants do not give much authority to the text in question:

Now a word with all who say, ‘Today or the next day we will go off to such and such a town and spend a year there trading and making money.’ Yet you have no idea what tomorrow will bring. What is your life after all? You are no more than a mist, seen for a little while and then disappearing. What you ought to say is: ‘If it be the Lord’s will, we shall live to do so and so.’ (James 4:13-17)

Saying Insha’Allah or if God wills when intending to undertake something is a way of placing one’s trust in God. We are not self-sufficient; whether we live or die is God’s will. Last evening a friend in Scotland said to me, ‘We should meet up sometime. Go to a restaurant perhaps.’ In my response, ‘Insha’Allah,’ was the simplest of prayers that whatever was best would come to pass. When you pray the prayer which Jesus taught according to the gospels, it involves a prayer of asking. To say, ‘If God wills’ is much the same thing. Here is a funny story:

One day a man said to his wife, ‘If it is fine tomorrow, I shall do such and such, but if it is raining I will do this and that.’

His wife replied, ‘You should say, “God willing.”‘

‘No,’ he said, ‘If it is fine, I shall do such and such. If it is raining I will do this and that. There are two things and I will do one or the other.’

When nightfall came, the Police visited his house, arrested him, and the next day neither of his jobs got done.

The Muslim believes that it is always good to remember God; to recall how we could not survive without Him. Whilst some might place their life in God’s hands only for a moment when faced with disaster, perhaps, Muslims believe that it would be infinitely better for us all if we asked for His help in all our affairs. In the Qur’an, God says:

Call upon Me; I will answer you. (40:60)

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