Someone today said to me “Inshallah”.  Specifically they said, “I will be there, inshallah”.  I had to look it up.  It is an Arabic expression that means, “if God wills it.”  I always want to be careful about co-opting another’s language or customs, but I think it’s a very inspiring term.  It takes some of the pressure away of always thinking that life is up to us.  There is something freeing about letting go of the some of our need to control or direct our lives, and instead put it in the hands of a higher power.  If I can say to myself, “the Leafs will win tonight, inshallah” then it keeps me from piling on Mitch and Mathews if they don’t. 

I joke, but there is a more serious point to be made. 

I long ago abandoned the belief that God is a cosmic air traffic controller, sitting at a huge terminal full of switches and levers by which he carefully controls each of our lives.  While there is something comforting in that image, it can’t sustain itself in a world where suffering and injustice seem like the norm for too many of the earth’s inhabitants.  But I do believe strongly in the providence of a higher power, whether we call that power God, Allah, love, or simply “the universe”.  There is a presence greater than ourselves that invites us into a deeper awareness of the ebb and flow of life.  There is something that wants us to connect, not only with it, but with each other.  And when we do, we can breathe a little more freely, we can travel through life a little more lightly, and when difficulties descend on us, we don’t have to abandon all hope. 

Inshallah, if God wills it.

In a recent New York Time article, someone said this about the concept of Inshallah, “understanding inshallah requires a humble patience as God’s will unfurls.  It demands a suspension of the ego in the face of cosmic forces and provides a little order to what can be a chaotic life – knowing that you are on the path you are supposed to be on, whether or not it’s what you expected.”

Inshallah is in a word, faith.  Living by faith means that we don’t carry the burdens of life alone, but that we are held by something greater than us that wills the best for us. 

I was recently speaking to someone who had gone through a life-changing event, and she said to me that it was a journey of faith.  So long as she kept moving forward and stayed positive and focused, the right things and the right people kept showing up when they needed to.  I think she hit on the key to living with faith, it isn’t about sitting back and trusting that a Higher Power will do something for us, but instead it is believing that when we take the courageous steps we need to, the path will be revealed and provisions for the journey will be given to us. There is an old story in Islam and about the prophet Muhammed coming across a man who had left his camel untied.   He asked him why.  The man replied that he trusted God, to which the prophet replied, “You can trust in God, but know God also trusts in you. Tie your camel.”  Faith is a delicate balance between believing in God but also believing in ourselves.  It is a willingness to take the first step, even if we can’t see the destination.  But the key, is the willingness on our part to act, trusting that when we do, something greater will partner with us, and help us along the way.    

Inshallah.  I like it. I’m going to use it. And I love the fact that we can find inspiration from faith traditions other than our owns.  I’m going to have a great rest of the day, inshallah!!