Marie Dhumieres “Bad translation makes …
Marie Dhumieres “Bad translation makes fundamentalists of us all” writes about how people are mislead if they take all the religious language used in Arabic cultures to actually mean that the people are very religious. She argues that the frequent use of religious phrases is just a verbal or cultural tic that has nothing to do with the person actually being religious or meaning what they are literally saying when they say inshAllah or Alhamdulillah.
But that’s just the way Arabic people speak. Fundamentalist Muslims, devout Muslims, moderate Muslims, part-time Muslims, Christians, Atheists – no one has an entire conversation without saying at the very least “Inshallah”, which literally means “God willing” and comes from the idea that you never know what God’s plan is. It can be used as much as you want, even if you’re not really thinking about God’s plans at that very moment.
No doubt there is truth in this. But I think Ms.Dhumieres is perhaps biased by her own lack of belief or by the crowd she is likely to hang out with into thinking that such phrases are completely meaningless for most people. I, likewise, am probably biased by own belief and practice and by the crowd I am likely to hang out with when I tend to think that most people using these phrases, even if they are not “perfect” believers actually do mean them. Maybe that just means I am a fundamentalist.
I reacted against this piece I think, because nothing bothers me more than to see a movie involving Muslims when the character says “al-salaamu ‘alaykum” and a subtitle appears saying “hello” or “hi” or something like that or if someone says “alhamdulillah” and it is translated as “I’m doing fine.”