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 “God willing” 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”, and an infamous means of evading commitment by workers of all stripes.

I was interested in a return to the essential meaning, especially because the verb shâ’a (noun: mashî’a) is seldom used in other contexts nowadays and has a subtle meaning that can be contrasted with the widely used verb arâda (noun: irâda), which can be translated as “to want” (and indeed I grew up hearing in’Allahrâd just as often). In translation, both words seem to have a similar meaning of will, wanting, desire, but esoterically it is known that “the divine Mashî’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. Mashî’a is beyond human experience 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 line, 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...