"God Willing": Really? A Note on the Ambiguities of an Interfaith Expression

A. G. Roeber, Paul B. Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We seek here to investigate and clarify the origins of the popular pietistic expression "God willing". We discuss the historical relationship between that Christian affirmation and expectation of divine aid and the common Arabic Islamic expression inshallah ("if/when Allah wills"). Philological and historical investigation indicates that "God willing" can be traced back through Christian triumphal affirmations to classical Latin and koine (New Testament) Greek commonplace expressions. The ultimate origin may well be a classical Greek Stoic expression which made its way into common parlance. We propose that the philological, semantic, and historical evidence suggests that Arabic inshallah may well have been an Islamic adoption of a Latin and/or Greek phrase encountered in the era of the Crusades.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-378
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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