During the first US presidential debate, former Vice President and current Democratic nominee Joe Biden responded to his opponent President Donald Trump's vow to release his tax returns by asking "When? Inshallah?"
Although the Arabic phrase literally means "God willing" it is also popularly used in an informal way across the Middle East to denote something that is unlikely to happen.
Not only did Biden say "Inshallah", he used it in the colloquial context meaning "not really" https://t.co/1h1Tba4QtZ
— Shahed Amanullah (@shahed) September 30, 2020
The sarcastic remark was made after Trump, who has consistently refused to voluntarily release his income taxes, disputed recent reports that he has only paid $750 in federal income taxes back in 2016 and another $750 the following year, in which he took office. He has paid none in ten of the previous 15 years
However, in last night's debate, Trump said he had "paid millions of dollars in taxes, millions of dollars of income tax".
"You'll get to see it," he added.
Haven't paid attention to the debate so all I know is Biden used inshallah like a Muslim parent telling their kid they'll "inshallah" consider letting them do something but really they mean ain't never gonna happen.
— Johana Bhuiyan (@JMBooyah) September 30, 2020
The 90-minute debate in Cleveland Ohio was widely perceived as "chaotic" and included several jibes and insults traded between the candidates, both in their seventies. However, it was the unexpected use of "Inshallah" that caught the attention of many Arab and Muslim users on social media.
Lmaaooo Biden hit mans with the "Inshallah" in a presidential debate pic.twitter.com/uyv7ZkzRU7
— Nader Issa (@NaderDIssa) September 30, 2020
Some Muslims feel seen because Biden said "inshallah."
That's how low the bar is.
— Shaykh Azhar Nasser (@ShaykhAzhar) September 30, 2020
While many users reacted with memes or shared their approval or appreciation, others were less impressed or felt it was an example of pandering to the Muslim or Arab vote, or that it was simply deprecatory.
Did Biden say Inshallah?
We made it lmaooooo
— Hamed Aleaziz (@Haleaziz) September 30, 2020
— Jad (جاد) (@jadhmusic) September 30, 2020
It is not the first time Biden has said "Inshallah" in public. He has previously used the phrase at a campaign rally in New Hampshire in February, where he cast doubt on then-Democratic rival Bernie Sanders' "Medicare for All" plan to ensure universal government-funded healthcare.
Biden on Medicare for all: "It's going to take at least four years to pass it. Inshallah. You're not going to pass it"
— Jon Ward (@jonward11) February 9, 2020