Former Vice President Joe Biden said “Insh’Allah” during the first presidential debate — a popular Arabic expression meaning “God willing.”
Biden interjected when President Donald Trump was talking about his taxes. He promised to release his 2016 tax return, once an ongoing audit by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had ended. (A recent New York Times article about Trump’s taxes confirmed that he has, in fact, been under a years-long audit.)
As Trump was pressed by moderator Chris Wallace to say when he would release his taxes, Biden interrupted: “When? Insh’Allah?” He chuckled at his own joke.
“Insh’Allah” does not refer specifically to a time in the future. It is more of an expression of hope that something anticipated will happen.
In an article for Arab News in 2015, Ibrahim Al-Ammar wrote that people should not “fear” the phrase:
It’s part of every Muslim’s daily vocabulary, as we are taught by Islam not to make definitive statements about the future, since only God knows what will happen. This means that if someone asked me to provide him with something, instead of “I will give it to you today” I should say: “I will give it to you today, Insha Allah.”
Unfortunately, Al-Ammar noted, the phrase has become synonymous with procrastination.
Biden’s use of the phrase may be the first in any presidential debate.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.