If you pay close attention to the Lebanese daily expressions, you’ll realize that they seem to be closely related to religion, and they reveal how spiritual our culture is in daily life even if we don’t know it. From simple greetings to future planning, these expressions are constantly on our lips in different situations and scenarios.
You probably hear or say this expression a lot in your daily life in Lebanon, and which means, “God willing.” While many of us mean it, such as in I’m traveling next week, Insha’Allah, or I’ll be home soon, InshAllah, many others just say it spontaneously without a second thought, especially in replies, like for example when we are told, “Come back visit us again,” and the spontaneous answer ensues, “InshAllah.”
“Ya Allah!” and “Ya Rab” are expressions calling to God, sort of like saying “Oh God” to ask for divine help in certain difficult or exasperating situations, even when the intention for that prayer is unconscious.
We tend to frequently use this expression that means “Praise be to God” to express gratitude in many different situations, and we use it more often than we think consciously about it. How many times we prompt to answer with “I am fine, Hamdelillah” when we are asked, “How are you?” Same when we are asked how is the family, or how is our job.
While the English version of Allah Ma’ak is God be with you, its meaning is in fact “God is with you.” It is a usual traditional greeting in Lebanon when we meet someone we know or when someone is leaving. They are actually wishes of divine blessing and peace.
This is a very beautiful wish that we often say when we meet a person working or exhausted from work. It means, “May God give you health and vigor.” One always replies to such expression with also a spiritual wish, Allah ya’fik, which means “God bless you with health and vigor.”
That expression, which we give as an answer to what we can’t know, means “God only knows.” It is a traditional expression used to express uncertainty about a question, or doubt about the correctness of a piece of information.
#7 Eza Allah Rad and In Allah Rad
Both these expressions, which we often used, have almost the same meaning: If God wills, and When God Wills. And often we do use them when answering about something we intend to do in the future. “Are you going to your friend’s party?” Iza Allah Rad. “Do I see you tomorrow?” In Allah Rad… We similarly use it when speaking about our own plans “I will go buy some new equipment next week in Allah Rad.”
Somehow, this expression comes with a sense of assurance and hope about the uncertainty of a future matter.
This expression is used to make a promise of any kind as it means, “By God.” We also use it to reinforce the credibility of what we are saying in a conversation, or as an argument that we are speaking the truth.
Whether we are meaning it for the person we are talking to, or his/her family or loved ones, this is a wish intending them divine protection. While it translates literally into “May God keep them,” it actually means in our native language: “May God preserve their lives and protect them.”
For example, this expression is very commonly used when someone is introduced to one’s child or children, and the person answers: “Allah Ykhalihom” or “Allah Ykhaliha.”
This expression is also used when pleading someone for something.
Another good wish we Lebanese express often to others, Esmallah intends to bring divine protection upon one’s possessions, looks, or loved ones, particularly almost inevitably when talking about babies and kids who are assumed to be vulnerable to malicious envy or curse or evil eye. Esmallah calls for “the name of God” upon them to protect them.
The list of such revelatory expressions doesn’t end here, and I am sure you’ll have more to share with us as you’ll come to think about it or catch yourself on your daily life saying similar spiritual expressions.
Point is, there is an exquisite beauty barely spoken of in our interrelation with each others in Lebanon. It is in this spiritual spontaneity of ours that we all meet and feel as one nation in our daily life, whatever the religion and denomination we belong to.
For thousands of years, Lebanon has been that beauty; once openly acknowledged and honored, today probably forgotten by most in our awareness, yet …very much lived still. And the legacy continues…