Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bokra Insha’Allah eh?


Today in Conversational Arabic class, we learned the days of the week and how to ask what day it is/was. The instructor taught is that Bokra  Insha’Allah eh? meant “What day is tomorrow”. She asked me to repeat it and I did, forgetting to add the Insha’Allah (God willing). She corrected me and said that I should always include the Insha’Allah when referring to the future. I asked if it is considered rude in Egyptian culture to exclude the phrase and she said it was.
The concept of referencing God in regular conversation isn’t foreign to me. In the USA, we frequently say “God bless you” when someone sneezes or”God willing” when we describe something we hope to do. In Haitian culture, we frequently mention doing things if God’s wants or allows it or end sentences with “In God’s name”. Therefore, the idea that you’d know tomorrow if it is God’s will, as the phrase Bokra  Insha’Allah eh  implies, seemed to simply be  a reality to me.
Ditzy President of Her Sorority sitting next to me suddenly shoots up and exclaims, “…But what if you don’t believe in Allah!” Oh poor girl! Her daddy would probably have a fit to know she was being brainwashed and clandestinely converted to a terrorist religion in class!!  Misunderstanding the question, our instructor grabs her chest and says, “You must never say such a thing in Egypt!  You say Insha’Allah even if you don’t believe.”  Ditzy President of Her Sorority’s face turns beet red and she sulks back into her chair, possibly contemplating the heresy she was being forced to repeat in the name of education and cultural emersion. For some reason, I decide to put her out of her misery. I tap her on the shoulder and tell her Allah is simply the Arabic word for God, it isn't specific to Islam. She looked a little relieved after receiving this information but still on the verge of an anxiety attack. Forgive me, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at her.


Harvey said...

Comedy! Did the teacher really grab her in the chest? I want to see that. You gotta start taking pictures.

Frenchie said...

I do need to take more pictures but I am in class 5 days a week and I don't get home until 5 ugh!!! Maybe I'll start carrying my camera to class to capture priceless cultural faux pas lol

Dr. L said...

Seems like I need to subscribe to this blog. Perhaps you and David Chappelle can put this in a skit. Love it.

Frenchie said...

Update: Today in class, we were reading newspaper headlines and we came across and headline about Bin Laden not being found. She turns tot he Pakinstani girl in our class and says, "Bin Laden's probably hiding out and having coffee with your family in Pakistan.", really?! I should've let her believe she was going to suffer internal damnation yesterday smh

Matt said...

See, I could picture someone saying something like that in jest in the carrel at work but that is horrible. Why is she even there? Although, I guess she has the most to learn from the whole experience.

Paul Mundy said...

"Bokra insha'Allah" does not mean "What day is tomorrow?". It means "Tomorrow, I hope."
If I remember my Arabic correclty, "What day is tomorrow" is something like "Bokra yom ai?"
I agree that it's not a good idea to say you are an atheist in Egypt.

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