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 our family or work is faring.
This is a very beautiful wish that we often say when we meet a person working or exhausted from work. It means “May He gives you health and vigor,” referring to God, as the original expression that is also commonly used is الله يعطيك العافية (May God gives you…).
One always replies to that expressed wish with also a similar spiritual wish, Allah ya3fik.
A shorten expression of the same we often use is El A3fiye العافية.
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 with 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, Ismallah 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.
Ismallah calls for “the name of God” upon them to protect them. It is intended as a blessing.
Little is known that this most common salutation in Lebanon and even in the Arab world actually means “God is love”. It is a Syriac term (Mar = Master or God, Haba = Love) that was initiated by the first Christians as a salutation that affirmed their belief.
The common belief is that the Arabic verb “rahabba” (“to welcome”) is a derivative of Marhaba.
This expression that means “God bless you with peace” or with good health is often the Lebanese response to people wishing healing (salemtak) to someone. But it is also used in other instances, like when we say thank you to an offer of assistance.
A similar expression to the above, this is often used when thanking someone for their assistance or for the work of their hands, including for a meal or a cup of coffee. It says “blessed be your hands.”
A beautiful evening salutation that many still use in Lebanon, Massa’ El-Nour wishes an evening of Light.
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…