Text: “Si Dios nos da licencia” “If God gives us permission”
Context: EC’s relationship to this proverb stems from her Mexican culture which has allowed her to have many experiences growing up with this proverb within her childhood and Mexican home. EC would hear her mom and older relatives/adults say it a lot when referencing to the future. She also grew up hearing this phrase within her Mexican Catholic culture as many religious individuals in her life would say it. Within her household, she would often hear her relatives using it as they would casually speak in Spanish. They often use it to express hope for a future opportunity or after confirming to attend future plans. Within her life, EC interprets this proverb as a way of saying that if God permits it, things will happen or become accomplished. Overall, EC thinks of this proverb as more of a reminder that not every day is promised and to always be grateful for every opportunity.
Analysis: The overall cultural value within this proverb stems from Mexican Catholic households considering Mexicans tend to be more religion orientated. Based on religion, this proverb expresses personal values given the fact that the person who says this statement is most likely affiliated with religion, God, and in this case, the Catholic Church. I see this proverb as an overall expression of hope and trust. Given that this statement is said for future reference, I consider this proverb as a quality of trust that brings you closer to God given the fact that you are aware that a certain opportunity or event will only come true if God truly wants it or if he really intends it to happen. Coming from a Mexican household myself, I can relate to many similar experiences surrounding this proverb as it has been rooted in my mind as a hopeful manifestation to always put your faith in God.
“They say a lot, the phrase ʾIn shāʾ Allāh which is ‘If God wants to.’ A lot of Arabs say that. Like if somebody invites you over, ‘yeah, ʾIn shāʾ Allāh, if I can or if I have time,’ but in that case it’s translated to ‘If God presumes it to happen’ or ‘If He wants it to happen then it will happen.’”
Having been exposed to this phrase by way of his Arab Christian upbringing, the interlocutor is familiar with this expression but has never used it. He mentioned that the employment of this phrase usually occurs within the adult and elder community in Syria, specifically Muslims and Christians that follow faith through their everyday life.
ʾIn shāʾ Allāh is meant to express “God willing,” demonstrating the prominence of quotidian religious allusions in Syria. I have also experienced a similar religious allusion in my own family, especially among the elders of the Hispanic community as well. Usually, as a person is leaving the company of another, the adult would say “Vaya con Dios,” or “Go with God.” It remains a standard method of bidding someone a happy and fortunate farewell. There seems to be a common thread woven through both expressions, asserting a sense of hope and good wishes from a divine power that has control over the course of respective destinies. Through this, there is a sort of reliance on powers beyond the realm of humans, furthering the notion that the future is in the hands of a higher being and not necessarily in the control of those that are concerned with it.
My informant has known this phrase as long as he can remember. His Syrian family uses it frequently. He claims it is also common among most Arabic speakers who are Islamic. Essentially you say it after a sentence like “He’s going off to college in Kentucky, Insha Allah.” or “I’ll see you next week, Insha Allah.” It’s meant as a constant reminder that although we make plans and do things with a purpose, it is ultimately in God’s hands what happens and where you end up. You never know what can happen or where life will take you.
Many times, however, it’ll be said essentially as a “no” or “maybe.” For instance a child can ask, “Can I get a Nintendo for my birthday?” and you’ll hear the parent say “Insha Allah.”