5 Famous Arabic Phrases in Pop Culture

SOME Arabic phrases that are popular among Muslims, have now begun to enter pop culture and are widely known. These phrases are often used by several celebrities, both artists and influencers.

A number of Muslim celebrities who are proud of their Islamic identity often use Arabic phrases and expressions in their posts. For example, Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters like Khabib Nurmagomedov. He has long used Islamic expressions in interviews. So do footballers, such as Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. He often celebrates his goals by bowing down.

Not only from Muslims, Arabic phrases and expressions have also been known by non-Muslims. One Tajik influencer who lives in Dubai, Abdu Rozik, once congratulated Tyson Fury on his victory on Instagram. The boxer, who is a Christian, replied, “From one winner to another! Mashallah.”

1. Arabic Phrases: Salam

Derived from Arabic, the word salam is one of the most widely used greetings in the Middle East and the Islamic world. It is found as a loanword in various languages such as Turkish, Persian, and Malay.

It literally means “peace”, this word is cognate with the Hebrew greeting, shalom. This is because Arabic and Hebrew are Semitic languages with a common ancestor.

In the context of Islam, salam is a short way of saying “Assalamu’alaikum.” For those who want to add enthusiasm in their greetings, there is a long version, namely Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh, which means “May the salvation, mercy and blessings of Allah be poured out for you.”

Muslims believe that their religion commands them to respond to greetings in equal measure or better. Some even say that ignoring someone who greets becomes part of the sin.

Today, the salam variant is widely used by non-Muslim and secular communities in the Middle East, as well as in countries where Muslims are a minority. The phrase was well known enough by the Moroccan-American rapper French Montana to release a single called Salam Alaykum.

2. InshaAllah

The President of the United States (US), Joe Biden made headlines for the use of ‘God willing’ in the debate with Donald Trump ahead of the 2020 US presidential election. The expression is loaded with connotations that vary in the Islamic world, depending on the context in which it is used.

The phrase InshaAllah means “if God wills” and is used by Muslims whenever they express their hopes for the future. It serves as a reminder of God’s control over the future, as well as man’s inability to change what is destined.

However, in colloquial language, expression is used as a deflection tactic, or to convey a lack of commitment to a plan. It is this use that Biden referenced in his debate with Trump, because God willing, it has become a byword for things that may not happen.

While in Muslim households, children often complain about their parents’ use of God willing in response to their requests, and this phrase effectively has the same meaning as “we’ll see”.

In another context, Canadian rapper Drake used God willing in his 2018 song Diplomatic Immunity. In 2017, actress Lindsay Lohan posted a photo of herself on Instagram with the caption “God willing” and without further context, leaving her fans confused.

A year later, he used it again at the mourning post of the late Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, who died in 2015. The song T5 by Swet Shop Boys (rap duo Himanshu Kumar Suri and Rizwan Ahmed) also opens with “God willing”.

3. Wallahi

The phrase wallah or wallahi is most often heard in heated conversations as a statement of honesty, and an appeal to the truth of something seemingly impossible.

A term commonly used among Londoners, regardless of their ethnic background, wallah literally means “by Allah”. In a casual conversation, asking someone to “Say wallah” is a function equivalent to asking someone “Are you serious?”

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As an oath taking in the name of God, it is not religiously used in ordinary proclamations but is intended to convey the seriousness of a claim of truth. Using the phrase, a person swears to God that what they are saying is the absolute truth. Therefore, claims must be considered true by all who hear them, and making perjury is a grave sin in Islam.

No stranger to Arabic vocabulary, Drake states “this is a blessing, mashallah, wallahi, I swear my life story is better than the story they tell about me”, in his Sweeterman remix.

4. Arabic Phrase: Mashallah

The phrase mashallah means “it is what God wills” and is used to congratulate someone on their good fortune, and to protect others from the “evil eye”.

Some believe that giving someone a compliment without saying “mashallah” is a sign of jealousy and jealousy, and can harm the person who receives it.

There is even a meme genre with the title “when you don’t say mashallah”, which makes fun of people’s bad luck. For Muslims, the phrase is a reminder that all good fortune ultimately comes from God, and a reminder to express gratitude and satisfaction with their condition.

But like any other term that appears here, it has seeped into popular culture and can even be found in song lyrics. Trinidad-born rapper Nicki Minaj used expression in her guest vocals for her 2017 Plain Jane A$AP Ferg remix with a rap: “Drive with Minaj, mashallah, check in with me, then do your job.”

5. Arabic Phrase: Alhamdulillah

Muslims and Arabs use the expression alhamdulillah to express satisfaction for their fate in life. The term is roughly equivalent to “thank God”. It literally means “all praise be to Allah only”, and the opening chapter of the Koran, known as al-Fatihah or “Preamble”, begins with an exclamation.

This expression is another reminder to believers that all luck comes from God, but it also has a daily function. When the host of the dinner asks guests if they want something more, answering “thank God” is a way of saying that they have had enough.

This is also what Khabib Nurmagomedov revealed ahead of the meeting with his co-star, Conor McGregor. The Irish fighter has spent a lot of time mocking Nurmagomedov and his Islamic faith. “Thank God,” Nurmagomedov said.

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