When you find yourself lost for words in Arabic when someone asks you how you’re doing … Alhamdulillah is always the right choice; you get out of the predicament and at the same time you may give the impression of a more worldly and sophisticated person. Literally translated, it means thank God, as we all say in our own language.

When you listen to Queen out loud in the car, you sing bis-mil-lah in harmony with them as their Bohemian Rhapsody is playing … So you know what to say when your Arab friends invite you for dinner and you may go: “Bismillah” before your first bite. Translated: in the name of god. Interestingly, bismillah is also to be said before we put on new shoes or a new piece of clothing.

When a friend from Egypt complains to you about how much it hurts after her wisdom tooth was pulled out, all you can say is that everything will be fine, inshallah. Because you wish for it and believe it will be. The saying, however, means “by the will of God.”

When you arrive to Sudan and all these curious aunties at the airport ask what you are doing there and you tell them that you have come for your own wedding … “Mashallah. Mashallah. Mashallah.” These words have been kindly said to me with blessings countless times and it sounds so beautiful when they are uttered with good wishes. Compliments are always expressed with the side of “mashallah”, even when you praise skill, effort, appearance … All that is good we assign to the will of God.

Have you ever traveled to Arab countries and heard these sayings on the streets or in the bazaar? Or maybe you accidentally switched your TV program to any popular Turkish series … In those we can often hear inshallah and the rest.

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