Muslim Americans praised Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s use of the Arabic word “inshallah” at the first presidential debate.
“I’ve paid millions of dollars, and you’ll get to see it,” President Trump said in response to debate moderator Chris Wallace’s question about a New York Times report that Trump paid $750 in taxes in both 2016 and 2017.
Biden responded, “When? Inshallah.”
The phrase means “if God wills it,” but it is often used sarcastically.
Writer Wajahat Ali has described the phrase as the “ Arabic version of ‘fuggedaboudit.’”
Yes, Joe Biden said “Inshallah” during the #Debates2020 debate. It literally means “God willing,” but it’s often used to mean, “Yeah, never going to happen.”
My wife: Will you finally pick up your socks?
No, saying inshallah doesn’t make you Muslim.
— Wajahat “Wears a Mask Because of a Pandemic” Ali (@WajahatAli) September 30, 2020
Fadi Hilani, a linguistics professor at Montclair State University, told the Washington Post that Biden was using the phrase to cast “doubt, in a sarcastic way, on Donald Trump saying he would release his tax returns.”
The former vice president was lauded by some for the usage of the word, with journalist Hamed Aleaziz calling it a “historic moment.”
a historic moment in America — inshallah in a presidential debate
— Hamed Aleaziz (@Haleaziz) September 30, 2020
Sana Saeed said the usage was a demonstration of Biden’s “cultural literacy.”
did Biden say “InshAllah” after asking “When?” indicating the proper use of InshAllah as meaning “never”? what in the cultural literacy
— Sana Saeed (@SanaSaeed) September 30, 2020
However, the use wasn’t universally lauded. Ghanem Nuseibeh, the chairman of Muslims Against Anti-Semitism, said the moment revealed the candidate’s “Arabphobia and Islamaphobia.”
Biden making a mockery of the term Inshallah is very offensive to Muslims. It is a part of the Quranic verse وَلَا تَقُولَنَّ لِشَيْءٍ إِنِّي فَاعِلٌ ذَلِكَ غَدًا إِلَّا أَنْ يَشَاءَ اللَّه (Do not say of anything: ‘I will do it tomorrow unless God wills it (inshallah) Ch 18 v 22
— Ghanem Nuseibeh (@gnuseibeh) September 30, 2020
Former journalist Tamer El-Ghobashy said Biden’s use of “inshallah” was “colonial and derogatory.”
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