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Lesson Transcript


Hi everybody! Nora here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Arabic questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is: Are Arabic expressions affected by religion?
There are a lot of expressions in Arabic that have Islamic origins. The Quran, which is the Holy book of Muslims, was originally written in Arabic. Islam itself emerged from the Gulf region, which is historically an Arabic-speaking region. So, it’s no wonder that even modern day Arabic is heavily influenced by Islam. These expressions shifted from being specifically religious to being purely cultural, meaning that many non-muslim Arabs use them as well.
Let's see some of these expressions:
First we have In shaa Allah.
إن شاء الله
ʾin šāʾ al-lah
In shaa Allah literally means "if God wills." It implies that everything happens with the will of God and only if God wills it. We use this expression after we say that we’ll do something, or that something will happen, or is expected to happen. For example, “I will meet you at 6 o’clock, in shaa Allah.” Notice the uncertainty in this expression. Many people exploit this expression and use it to mean that they probably won't do what they said they would, so be careful!
Next we have: al hamdu lillaah.
الحمد لله
al-ḥamdu lillah
Al hamdu lillah literally means "Thanks be to God." We use this expression not only when something good happens, but also if something bad happened. The implications is that it could've been worse, so we should be thankful to God anyway. Here’s a sentence example: “I got into an accident, but I came out of it with some bruises. al hamdu lillah!”
Now let's see the expression rabbenā maʿāk.
رَبِّنا مَعاك
rabbenā maʿāk
This one has many versions in different dialects. We’re looking at the Egyptian version. It literally means "May God be with you." Egyptians use it when they basically want to say "good luck," implying that godly power is way stronger and more important than luck. For example, “Good luck on your exams!” rabbenā maʿāk fi el emteḥan. The Levantine version of this is:
الله يعينك
Allāh yʿiinak
And there are many other versions, of course. You can use them on their own, of course, as long as they’re in context.


I hope you like our lessons, and I will see you in the next episode, in shaa Allah!