If you pay close attention to the daily expressions in the Lebanese culture, you’ll realize how spiritual the people in Lebanon generally are… even if we don’t know it or acknowledge it.
From simple greetings and good wishes to future planning, these expressions are constantly on our lips in different situations and scenarios. We might take them for granted or lightly, but the beauty of their message and intentions are there to reflect a culture of peace, faith, and love.
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 not necessarily consciously uttered.
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 consciously think about it. We almost always answer with Hamdellah when we are asked how we are or how is the family, or how is work.
While the English version of Allah Ma3ak is God be with you, and is also used as God speed, 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 similar spiritual wish, Allah ya3fik.
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.
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 for his/her family or loved ones, this is a wish intending them divine protection. It literally translates into “May God keep them,” but it actually means in our native language: “May God preserve your life and protect you.”
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 as “please” when pleading for something.
Another good wish we Lebanese express often to others, Esmallah intends to bring divine protection upon one’s possessions, or 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. It is intend as a blessing.
The list of such revelatory expressions doesn’t end here.
Point is, there is an exquisite beauty barely spoken in our interrelation and interaction with each other 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 particular beauty. And the legacy continues…
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