Spelling Inshāallāh – another “MAJOR” concern of the Ummah

I have been asked, both in cyber space and real life, why I’m not writing articles. Until such time as Allāh wills me to be up to speed, I thought I might as well reply to text and email queries via my blog. One such query is the spelling of inshāallah. The query is on the below message doing the rounds:

We should not write it as “InshaAllah” or “Inshallah” because it means “Create Allah” (Naoazobil lah) [Sic]. Whether arabic [Sic] or english [Sic]… please write it properly as “In shaa Allah” (In 3 separate words). This means “If Allah Wills” So make sure you forward this to everyone and help them correct their mistake. JazakAllah khair [Sic].

As if the Ummah does not have enough problems, there are those dedicated to finding more problems for us to deal with!

Qarīnah

It is correct that inshā as a maṣdar (root-word) means “to create,” but to pull any word from an Arabic dictionary without further knowledge of at least Arabic grammar results in Fitnah, even if the person is sincere. A basic tool of translation and Tafsīr is Qarīnah (context). Thus Allāh says in al-Baqarah,

2_21

“O people, worship your Rabb Who created you and those before you that you may acquire Taqwā.”

The very same words can in terms of literal translation be translated as, “O People, worship your Rabb who created you and [worship] those who came before you that you may acquire Taqwā.”

The dictionary fully supports both translations. It is only because of the monotheistic context of the Qurān that we can reject the second idiotic translation.

Similarly, even if the dictionary says “inshā” is “to create” the Qarīnah of every Muslim is “if Allāh wills.” This is even more so since most non-Arabs never even heard of inshā, before that message got circulated.

Amr

If you were for some reason going to write “create Allāh” in Arabic, and for some reason you chose “inshā” إنشاء   you would not simply grab the word from the dictionary and place it before “Allāh” الله. “inshā” would have to be changed into the Amr or the verbal command form of “inshā” which is “anshi” أنشئْending in a sākin. When any letter appears before “Allāh” , the Hamzah drops, thus it is “wallāhi”  و اللهnot “wa Allāhi” Here too the Hamzah would drop, but leaving a conjunction of two sākins – one on the Hamzah in the end of “anshi” and one on the first Lām of “llāh”. As this is not possible in Arabic, the first Sākin is forced to become a Kasrah. Thus the sentence reads, “anshi illāha” أنشئِ الله  a far cry from “inshāallāhu” Even the final Ḥarkah is different.

Thus is the danger of applying and spreading incomplete knowledge.

My spelling

I don’t see what the big deal is, but I prefer inshāallāh. Yes, it is actually three Arabic words, but as the last two join, it looks cumbersome to leave the first on its own when the Ummah at large has adopted the phrase as a single word in the Latin script. I do not write a capital “A” because the Hamzah of Allāh drops as explained above. It is the Hamzah of shāa, not Allāh.

Bigger picture

  • Are they no issues of greater import to concern the Ummah than a transliteration issue?
  • What is the state of knowledge of the Ummah when they jump at such half-baked “facts”?
  • Muslims have become victims of technology, instead of utilising technology. Most spread every message they receive without verification.
  • How about encouraging the use of inshāallāh in an age of increasing westernisation, instead of harping on the spelling of those who still use the phrase?
  • The Ḥadīth forbids the phrase when directed at Allāh i.e. in Du‘ā. Thus for example we should say, “I am going to perform Ḥajj inshāallāh,” and pray, “O Allāh, accept me to perform Ḥajj, āmīn,” but never, “O Allāh, accept me to perform Ḥajj inshāallāh/if You so will.” Many people are ignorant of this fact. Why not educate people on what is in the Sunnah instead of sucking rulings from our thumbs?
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