Inshallah إن شاء اللّه

Acrylic, mica pigment, ink, metal leaf on Fabriano paper 200gsm. 50x70cm.

Date25 November 2012

The expression Inshallah (in full, inshâ’Allah إن شاء الله) means “Should God will it” and is rather well-known. It is of common daily use throughout the Arabic-speaking world and doesn’t necessarily (now) denote religious feeling; as a matter of fact it has rather lost its edge, being often used to mean “hopefully”. Infamously, unreliable workmen also use it to be non-committal, implying that they can’t guarantee they’ll finish the work by the deadline and they take no responsibility for that.

I was interested in a return to the essential meaning, especially because the verb sha2a (noun: mashee’a) is unusual (I don’t believe it is ever used with another subject) and has a subtle meaning. I can contrast it here with the widely used verb arada (noun: irâda), which can be translated as “to want”, and indeed the expression in Allah arâda (“Should God want it”) is also commonly used, though less known. In translation, both words seem to have a similar meaning of will, wanting, desire, but esoterically it is known that “the divine Mashee’a involves neither desire nor determined purpose, unlike irâda.”In the expression Inshallah, therefore, we are speaking of pure Will, uncontaminated by intention or desire, and that is well beyond the human psyche. We are not accustomed to, perhaps not even capable of, will that is not applied to something. Mashee’a is utterly beyond our explaining and the expression Mashallah (“Whatever God wills”) expresses the submission to this mystery.

All of my pieces are usually radial in nature, with equal relationships of all parts or to put it differently, no hierarchy and no one direction. This was an entirely different matter. Here there can be no talk of equality. This is the Big Boss and the Will comes from top to bottom in an uncompromising live, like the letter alif. While there is a reflection (“As above, so below”), I used gold against silver to express the qualitative difference that remains.

A penny for your thoughts...