Like any other language, Arabic is not complete without the little phrases that make it unique. There are a ton of these phrases (inshaallah, yalla, etc), but one of my favorites is “Alhamdu lillah!” Alhamdu lillah is the Arabic version of “Thank God!” and using it has caused me to reflect on gratitude in my daily life.
One of the students in my program speaks Ukranian and Spanish in addition to English and Arabic, and one day she told me that every language she knows has some version of “Thank God!” Although this seems relatively simple, it’s something I never realized and is now something that intrigues me a lot.
In Morocco, “Alhamdu lillah” is everywhere. I’m doing well, alhamdu lillah. This is delicious, alhamdu lillah! I did well on my exam, alhamdu lillah. The weather is cool today, alhamdu lillah! It even comes after my host dad’s burps and it flew out of my mouth as soon as I got out of the van after our 12-hour trip coming back from the Sahara Desert!
Saying “Alhamdu lillah” after so many things so regularly has really caused me to reflect on what’s important and focus on the positive. “Alhamdu lillah” forces me to take stock of what I am grateful for on a daily basis, and helps me build relationships by revealing what other people are grateful for.
Almost every morning, I say hello to Fahtima, the IES Abroad Rabat Center’s housekeeper, using Arabic greetings that translate into something like, “Are you fine? Everything is good? You’re well?” and she will always answer – without fail – alhamdu lillah with a huge smile on her face.
Even more, I find myself using the phrase for things both big and small. My parents are doing well in the States, alhamdu lillah! The vendor across the street had Sidi Ali (my favorite bottled water brand) today, alhamdu lillah! It’s Friday, alhamdu lillah! Saying alhamdu lillah so often is a constant reminder of all the things, both big and small, that I have in my life to be grateful for. As my time in Rabat comes to an end, I find that I'm grateful for a lot of things I'll miss in the United States - namely, milowi (a Moroccan bread), mint tea, and my sweet-as-pie host mom.
You don’t have to start saying “alhamdu lillah” in order to reap its benefits. When you are having a happy moment, simply devote a second of thought to gratitude towards that feeling. Let it sink in and appreciate your happiness/relief/contentedness for what it is. Once you start, you may find that you have more moments to be grateful for than you had ever considered in the first place.