Remona Aly
Tuesday 16 May 2017 BBC Radio 2

The Insha-Allah Disclaimer

Bad dates, destiny and the God get-out clause

Without the shadow of a doubt, among the most awkward and nauseating experiences I’ve had to endure was going on blind dates.

These dates were often curated by a middle person, for Asians that was the ‘matchmaking aunty-ji’ who didn’t have a clue, having not met either party. They have their own spreadsheets, convinced that on paper two people are perfect for each other, but in reality, the only thing in common – is a pulse.

I remember one particular date was described as being a straight-laced boy from a good Muslim family seeking a slim girl who is not under 5ft 2  – this is where I came in having surpassed the height and weight restrictions. The potential suitor and I met at a restaurant – always a bad idea if the date is dire, coffee is preferable as you can escape after an espresso.

“Of course I’d support a woman who worked, but can you limit it to only being a primary teacher?”  he asked. Erm…Then he said “Would you be willing to look after my sick mum, as she needs a full time carer?” Er… A couple of days later, I received a text asking to meet again. How was I to get out of this with the least possible pain to him and to me? I got it: I would blame God.

It’s what I call the Insha-Allah disclaimer – insha-Allah meaning ‘if God wills it’. The Insha-Allah disclaimer has got me out of some tricky situations. I use the ‘It’s not you, it’s God’ get-out clause, plus an Islamic guidance prayer that’s meant to help me make important decisions – if there’s a negative vibe, it’s down to God not willing it.

While I’m an agent of my own destiny – which is empowering, I’m carrying out what God has already destined for me – which is humbling. And therein lies the wondrous complexity of being human within a divine plan.

“Every moment I shape my destiny with a chisel, I am a carpenter of my own soul,” said Rumi, the Muslim poet and scholar. In every moment, I walk hand in hand with my Creator as I carve out the existence that God has destined for me. There’s a constant physical and divine harmony, so even when I am on an awful blind date, I’m connected, as I say, ‘Please, God..help..me’.