Biden campaign confirm he said 'inshallah' during presidential debate

Biden’s campaign confirms he DID say ‘inshallah’ to Trump during presidential debate – prompting Muslims AND Jews to praise him

  • Biden interjected with ‘inshallah’ when Trump said he would release tax returns showing he paid ‘millions’ of dollars
  • The term means ‘god willing’ an Arabic and Farsi but can be used as a more sarcastic ‘yeah, right’ 
  • His use of the phrase drew immediate attention on the internet, then got picked up around the globe 
  • Its use was praised by Arab publications, as well as the Forward, which noted some Jewish dialects also use it 

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s use of the term ‘inshallah’ in the presidential debate has drawn notice around the globe – with international media highlighting it and parsing whether the presidential candidate was being sarcastic.

Biden dropped the phrase while sparring with President Trump in the chaotic first presidential debate in a spat over revelations that the president paid just $750 in individual federal income tax in 2016.

It came up when Trump said he had paid ‘millions of dollars, and you’ll get to see it,’ after Biden demanded he release his tax returns.

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s use of the term ‘inshallah’ drew notice in global media 

‘When?’ Biden interrupted. ‘Inshallah?’

His use of the phrase, used both in Arabic and Farsi, drew immediate note on debate night, as people analyzed the clip. 

‘Yes, Joe Biden said ‘Inshallah’ during the #Debates2020 debate,’ wrote political commentator Wajahat Ali, in a post that made its way around the internet.

He noted that the phrase means ‘God willing,’ but can also be used sarcastically.  

‘It literally means ‘God willing,’ but it’s often used to mean, ‘Yeah, never going to happen.’ Example: My wife: Will you finally pick up your socks? Me: Inshallah. No, saying inshallah doesn’t make you Muslim,’ he wrote.

NPR confirmed that Biden had, in fact, said ‘inshallah,’ as some viewers wondered if it was a slip of the tongue. 

Before served two terms as vice president, Biden chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has traveled around the world, giving him ample opportunity to pick up the phrase. 

The Arab News, an English language Saudi daily, reported that Biden’s comment ‘lit up Twitter across the Arab world.’

‘Whether or not he actually uttered the familiar Arabic expression remains a mystery but it certainly caught the attention of American expats in the Gulf, some of whom feel distanced from the core issues of the election,’ according to the publication.

The Pakistan Observer reported that the phrase ‘raised eyebrows’ and picked up AP reporting on its use.

Al Jazeera reported the moment was being called ‘historic’ on Twitter.  

The Kashmir Monitor noted that many confused English-speakers turned to Internet for answers, as google searches spiked for ‘What is Inshallah?’ as well as ‘What is Inshallah definition?’ and ‘What does Inshallah mean?’

The Forward, a longtime Jewish publication, noted that many Jews from Middle Eastern countries also use the phrase. 

It called it ‘an Arabic phrase literally meaning ‘God willing’ or sometimes a sarcastic ‘yeah, right.’ 

‘Jews have reason to be excited as well,’ the paper wrote. ‘While equivalents like the Hebrew b’ezrat Hashem or Aramaic b’siyata d’shmaya are used by Jewish communities all over the world in similar ways, for many Sephardi and Mizrahi Jewish communities who have spoken Arabic or dialects of Judeo-Arabic for hundreds of years, inshallah is as much a Jewish phrase as it is a Muslim one. 

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