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.