Japanese Professor: Indonesians Use ‘Insha’Allah” Inappropriately

Indonesia Muslims Praying in Mosque

From Detik:

A Japanese Persons’s View on the Promise “Insha’Allah” and Muslims in Indonesia

Professor Hisanori Kato has many stories about the social problems in Indonesia. Among these issues are punctuality and conflicts between Islamic organizations in the country.

In his book Missing Indonesia, Kato describes his experiences living in Indonesia for many years. The man who is currently a teacher in Japan misses Indonesia, as well as all of its problems.

In several chapters of his book, Kato claims to be close with the leaders of several Islamic organizations in the country. These include the late Gus Dur, JAT leader Abu Bakar Baasyir, JIL figure Ulil Abshar, and FPI high official Habib Riziek Shihab. Kato’s close relationships were formed during his research into Islamic organizations in Indonesia. At that time, he was in the process of finishing his religious sociology study in Sydney, Australia.

Professor Hisanori Kato Missing Indonesia

Professor Hisanori Kato

During his research, he often heard Indonesians say “Insha’Allah” [“God/Allah willing”] when they tried to make promises. In reality, however, many Indonesians use that phrase in vain. They even use it as an excuse for missing appointments or simply being late.

“As a Japanese, when I ask ‘Do you promise?’, I want the other person to say ‘Yes, I do [promise]’. However, many Indonesians will say ‘Insha’Allah‘ instead”, as written by Kato in his book.

“One day, someone promised to meet me but he did not show up until after the meeting time had passed. He casually explained that he did not come because it was raining,” he continued. Kato thought “Insha’Allah” was the magic word for not keeping your promises. However, after asking Gus Dur and other Islamic leaders, he realized that the concept of Insha’Allah was not so. “God defines our end results, but humans should try hard to fulfill any promises with all of their capabilities,” Gus Dur explained to Kato. This was proven since Kato was eventually able to find a Muslim who truly keeps his words and promises.

Missing Indonesia Book written by Professor Kato

Comments from Kaskus and Detik:


Indonesians’ version of Insha’Allah usually means “I’m sorry that I can’t [come/do it] but I’ll try my best.”


False promises!


Wow, this Japanese person really understands Indonesians’ bad characteristics!

Bubarkan FPI:

Insha’Allah Mr. Aceng will die tomorrow!

Agus Indra Setiawan:

Well… do you still think you should casually use Insha’Allah??


Wow…I salute him… he’s a foreigner who is interested in Muslim culture.


One advice for us is to honor our promises and understand the true meaning of “Insha’Allah”. Thank you, Kato!


Professor Kato is missing the MESS in Indonesia… because its leaders are too distant from the public.


If a person uses “Insha’Allah” then he/she is most likely going to cancel. However, cancellation is also possible even when someone says “for sure”.


Hopefully we can change the way we make promises to others… =(

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