Inshallah, Mashallah, and Alhamdulillah

These three words capture the entirety of worshiping God Most High. I could conclude this post here and it would be sufficient for decades of meditation, but since when do I not discuss a matter at length?

These three words are Arabic, which does not necessarily mean that they are Islamic, though in this case the words are very central to Islam. Regardless of their patrimony, these three words are instructive to all Abrahamic theists.

Inshallah means “let it be God’s will.” Mashallah means “God’s will was performed.” Alhamdulillah means “All praise to God.” These three words articulate the entirety of submission to God. If we are truly submitted to God’s sovereign will, we would

  • articulate our plans with a deferential caveat to God’s will;
  • acknowledge that the result of those plans—whether or not to our liking—was God’s sovereign discretion and will:
  • praise and glorify God for allowing us to experience God’s will.

As is written in Job 1:21, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD,” and also in Job 2:10, “‘Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

While I am on the subject of Islam, there are a few other points worth elaborating. First, Islam worships the God of Abraham, their patriarch through Ishmael. Second, Allah is the Arabic name of Abraham’s God in the same way that Yahweh/Jehova is the Hebrew name of Abraham’s God. The name of Allah does not signify a false deity. Third, Islam means peace through submission to God. True Islam does not condone violence apart from defense of self, family, or nation. It is wrong to impute the acts of the few as representative of the many. By way of analogy, just because a few radicals assassinated abortion physicians does not mwan that Christianity condones murder. In both cases, the acts of the apostates harm the perception of the faithful.

The philosophy of Inshallah, Mashallah, and Alhamdulillah is repeatedly expressed  in Judeo-Christian scriptures, albeit far less concisely. David said in Psalm 40:

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us.

The idea of Inshallah, Mashallah, and Alhamdulillah is reflected in Jesus’s words of Matthew 6:9-11 and Matthew 6:25-34

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.

I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11-13 that he had internalized the complete dependency and gratitude toward God…

I have learned to be content whatever the circum­stances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can [endure] all this through him who gives me strength.

None of this should be terribly surprising for these are the thoughts and instructions of one timeless, consistent, unrivaled God Most High.

Back in 2018 I wrote on the purpose of prayer, that prayer was about surrendering our human propensity to control our lives, about acknowledging total dependence on God. I surmised that prayer was not designed to achieve the solutions that we want. It makes even more sense now that I understand inshallah, mashallah, and alhamdulillah.

Most of what we pray is me-me-me, want-want-want, my terms, my timing, my pleasure, my solution. We approach God with the mentality of an immature child. While it is good to be childlike, it is undesirable to be childish. At the height of his anxiety, Jesus briefly succumbed to his humanity, voicing his fear of the coming suffering, but quickly checked himself saying, “not mine but your will be done.” This was his refrain of “thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” It reflects the perfect submission which Jesus learned in his solitude away from the hustle and bustle of society. (Luke 5:16 › “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”) As a boyscout and as an adult, I have found it much easier to experience the peace of submission when communing with nature.

Within the limited Arabic that I learned in 2022, Inshallah-Mashallah-Alhamdulillah indwell my con­scious­ness. They make me wiser and freer. They informed my post Surrendered Suffering Is Worship. They fulfill what I spontaneously understood earlier about understanding God amidst unexplainable circumstance.

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