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Changes in Transition Period

Reader comment on item: A Neo-Conservative's Caution

Submitted by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim (United States), Mar 9, 2005 at 02:20

Changes in Transition Period
The Arabic word Inshallah literally "if God let be" has been a very popular word in all Islamic cultures, whether Arabic or not, since the emergence of Islam. It has even gained an international status and is known almost everywhere alongside popular words like computer, although sometimes with a smile of irony. This expression is a contraction of three Arabic words. The constituent elements are:

In: meaning if
Shaa'a: meaning be, let happen
Allah: meaning God

Inshallah belongs to the many words which are religious in their origin and coined with the help of the word Allah since God is omnipresent in human life and of course particularly in Islam. A lot of Koran verses end with Allah. This overuse of Allah or God is foreign to modern Western culture but still persistent in Islam.

The original principle of Inshallah is that nothing can be guaranteed. It is important to keep in mind that reliability tends to be measured in "the number of 9s" – in other words 99.9 percent because nothing is 100 percent reliable. This lies in the nature of life in general and human nature in particular. Who can then guarantee anything 100 percent? There is always a scenario where something can get lost, change or stop to exist altogether. You can of course try to increase the degree of reliability and reduce the likelihood of failure. This will probably add another 9 to the reliability rating but cannot make it 100 percent bullet proof. There is always force majeure or Act of God. Thus it shows human vulnerability and submission to God.

However, the idea of Inshallah has also undergone some linguistic changes. In modern life it does not refer any more to the degree of likelihood. It has become a very convenient way of avoiding commitment or even refusal when Muslims are embarrassed to give a clear "no" answer. Thus, the idea of reliability is removed completely or even the opposite is meant. Inshallah used this way is a nuisance, unsatisfactory and devoid of meaning. In a way it reflects the Muslim mind in general: never commit yourself to anything. Always leave a door open for recluse. It can also be compared with some nonsense words in German such as Malzeit literally "time to eat" as a form of greeting beginning from 11 O'clock to 3 O'clock pm. This conflicts greatly with West European and North American cultures which expect a 100 percent reliability from nearly everything even from the unreliable technology. The nuisance of Inshallah becomes intolerable in business transactions or when concluding contracts where no escape from commitment or obligations can be accepted. The best way for European and American business people to fight Inshallah mentality is to give the same Inshallah reply when requested by Muslims to commit themselves to anything (the same weapons are the most effective).

The Muslims are not only witnessing major changes in their social, political, religious, economic and other areas, most prominently in technology, but are also confronted with modern concepts like time management and a different understanding of commitments away from the Inshallah mentality because the Act of God is self-explanatory or is implied and does not need to appear on the surface. When Muslims slowly but surely head to a new era of social order i.e. women emancipation and participation, sexual contacts outside wedlock, more respect to animal and human life, more environmental consciousness, modern management practices and new economic systems away from sate monopoly and dependence on oil, new political understanding away from dictators and tyrants and nationalist ideas of a glorious Muslim or Arab past, embark on a new role of Islam away from Jihad, Mullah systems, black and white statements and losing precious time on nonsense introductions like "In the name of God the merciful the benevolent, peace and prayers be on the great prophet" before answering any questions which have no relevance to what they say. The Inshallah mentality will be history then. Arabic or Muslim language will experience big changes and these changes trigger a different way of thinking since though is dependent on language.

Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim
Bremen - Germany

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Reader comments (72) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
1Looking Back [38 words]NobodyFeb 1, 2011 22:48182196
Embracing the Brotherhood [1120 words]Raymond MooreDec 18, 2005 10:1030136
1Muslim Brotherhood [14 words]SirSethDec 30, 2005 04:1230136
Neo conservatism caution [93 words]steven lNov 26, 2005 17:3528874
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A liberal's views [104 words]RobshapazApr 28, 2005 11:3521871
Quote Regarding Chile 1970 Reference [97 words]Pamela BeckApr 4, 2005 11:0421326
Gujrat Chief Minister [103 words]Emmanuel PApr 2, 2005 08:1521302
DP Not a Neo-con [204 words]GWMar 19, 2005 21:1321068
Gujarat Chief ministers' visit [508 words]RayMar 18, 2005 23:4921063
NEOCONS UNITE ! [92 words]Randy SizemoreMar 18, 2005 22:1321062
Chief minister of Gujarat visit to the US [46 words]A Hindu from BangladeshMar 18, 2005 13:2921058
Out with the Shah... [198 words]Robert B. ArbetmanMar 13, 2005 15:0620972
Old PC games [70 words]Octavio JohansonMar 12, 2005 08:0320961
What does Neocon mean? [126 words]Timothy LaneMar 11, 2005 23:5520960
...sugar is sweet, but this "neo" fad is making me sick. [47 words]NathanMar 27, 2006 08:1820960
SUI GENERIS? [61 words]David GuyMar 11, 2005 14:4720959
Neocon versus paleocon [53 words]McGroartyMar 11, 2005 13:0520955
Is there a definition to a Neo Conservative? [175 words]Abir ChaabanMar 11, 2005 08:3920952
Question [27 words]Neila Charchour HachichaMar 10, 2005 19:1920949
Encouraging Islamic Reformation [148 words]LorenzoMar 10, 2005 15:0720948
Caution isn't enough [34 words]Ted SimanMar 10, 2005 13:5420947
Irrational Exuberance? by John Derbyshire [59 words]Mr. DowntownMar 10, 2005 10:0220944
Caution First, Euphoria Much Later [79 words]Vivian E. WolfeMar 10, 2005 05:4020941
Out of the frying pan into the fire? [14 words]Lenn ChowMar 9, 2005 22:5820937
You could not be more correct. [197 words]H. YazdiMar 9, 2005 21:0420936
I Agree 100% [18 words]AlexMar 9, 2005 20:3820935
Caution Tale for the Neocons. [502 words]Arlinda DeAngelisMar 9, 2005 18:3320933
History Demands Respect [383 words]Daniel W. WeilMar 9, 2005 17:4320931
Neo-conservative or just clever? [34 words]Octavio JohansonMar 9, 2005 17:1220930
Golden Opportunity missed! [125 words]vincent villanoMar 9, 2005 16:1420929
Neo Cons / Israel [220 words]D SagMar 9, 2005 16:0920928
Why worry? [63 words]BillMar 9, 2005 16:0820927
Dictionary definition [119 words]Scott AdlerMar 9, 2005 15:3020926
From frying pan to the fire; [131 words]Goerge FranklMar 9, 2005 14:3820924
Condemning the Neocons: classic propaganda [128 words]JohnMar 9, 2005 14:3520923
Islam behind Democracy [344 words]A Hindu from BangladeshMar 9, 2005 14:0920922
Ignoring the danger signals [64 words]Ronald RothmanMar 9, 2005 13:5520921
Syria and Hezbollah [79 words]B. AlotaibiMar 9, 2005 13:4020920
Constitutions [91 words]CraigMar 9, 2005 13:1120918
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Neo Conservative [34 words]Paul RinderleMar 9, 2005 09:5820914
Replacing autocrats with democrats [100 words]LouisaMar 9, 2005 09:3420910
neo conservative [9 words]MichaelMar 9, 2005 08:2720908
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Thinking outside the box [351 words]Kenneth SikorskiMar 9, 2005 04:2120902
Perhaps the rule of law is the Greater Need [266 words]JonMar 9, 2005 04:1020901
Neocon subtext [66 words]Marvin RabinovitchMar 9, 2005 03:1820900
Changes in Transition Period [689 words]Dr. Jamshid IbrahimMar 9, 2005 02:2020899
Islamist government is not necessarily a threat per se [367 words]Seb DakinMar 9, 2005 01:4620898
You have been labelled a neo-conservative [101 words]Octavio JohansonMar 9, 2005 01:1920897
Democracy v Republic [68 words]Raymond SingerMar 9, 2005 01:1220896
Steps? What steps? [57 words]Wayne WagnerMar 9, 2005 00:5720895
Adam is Right [4 words]GeoffMar 9, 2005 00:2520894
Neo Caution [141 words]J. GlueckMar 8, 2005 23:2620893
Mercilessly convincing [29 words]Emmanuel PrattMar 8, 2005 22:3620891
Definition of neo-conservative [128 words]Adam WeinrichMar 8, 2005 22:3420890
Reality [31 words]Joel KirsteinMar 8, 2005 21:5620889
Great article [18 words]pat tharpMar 8, 2005 21:0820888
Brilliant insights [3 words]Jeff PerrenMar 8, 2005 20:5720887
"Honesty?" Honestly! [166 words]Alan NitikmanMar 8, 2005 20:4920886
You can't make anything out of cookie dough except cookies [377 words]Peter J. HerzMar 8, 2005 20:2220885
Cynical Skeptics Unite!! [289 words]Darwin BarrettMar 8, 2005 20:1320884
Islamists [51 words]Donald W. BalesMar 8, 2005 20:0220883
Russia [33 words]Richard ValierMar 8, 2005 18:5620882
Not too random responses [70 words]Howard J SchwartzMar 8, 2005 18:0420881
Euphoria too Soon [76 words]Allen GinsburghMar 8, 2005 18:0320880
As always, you are so right! [26 words]IsaacMar 8, 2005 17:4520879
Funding for other groups [121 words]David W. LincolnMar 8, 2005 17:2620878
Hezbollah [39 words]Karen PerryMar 8, 2005 16:5120875

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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