It’s quite amazing how such a simple phrase could cause havoc in our society. We, Omanis and Arabs in general, believe that if someone who praises you and doesn't follow up his praise with mashallah then you are doomed! Whatever happens to you next is because of that person’s envy and jealousy. An example would be: Fulan bought a car and drove his new car to work. Obviously almost all his colleagues and coworkers will hear the news of this brand new beast of a car. The congrats follow as soon as he enters the building and of course almost everyone by default will say mashallah and do the tiny little prayer and say in its meaning ‘May God bless you with its goodness and shun away its evilness’ (obviously I could do much better with the translation but that’s the closest I can translate it to). Fast forward hours later when it’s time to go home, Fulan bids his coworkers farewell as he resigns for the day, hops into his fancy car, and while on his way back home, he gets into a minor car accident. Main reason could be that he was speeding, texting, simply not paying attention on the road or it could be the other driver’s fault, but Fulan then recalls how Fulana from accounting didn't say mashallah and THAT my peeps is the reason why he got into a car accident. Obviously the evil eye of Fulana has infested the car and now a goat has to be sacrificed and the meat donated to the poor to break the spell of this evil eye on the car. So basically had Fulana from accounting said mashallah this incident would have been avoidable all together.
This phrase has quite literally been associated with every single bad thing that happens to our lives, which says quite a lot about our insecurities and not owning up to our own mistakes. What is funny is most of the time that phrase is said out of obligation and a force of habit rather than wholeheartedly meaning it. I could still be boiling from jealousy and envy from a friend of mine who has the physique that I want but mask it all by saying mashallah with a stupid gleeful expression plastered on my face! Mashallah has become the invisible lucky charm that everyone takes cover under in the name of expelling bad spirits and the evil eye. Nevertheless, it's quite heartbreaking to see that many of us choose to not rejoice in our own happiness in fear of living miserable forever if someone forgets to say mashallah. We refrain from sharing our happy news with the world in hopes of not getting the evil eye. What happened to accepting what is fated for you? I mean protecting yourself or not, if you believe in religion and the Divine, then you do believe that what is meant to be is meant to be. Why hide your rejoice and delight on news of your exceptional high school grades, engagement, pregnancy, and all happy incidents and chapters of your life? Why do we allow people to have such an immense power on us when we should be confident that a higher power is watching over us? I am saying this because mashallah has a religious connotation involving a higher power, hence the argument. I am not trying to undermine the evil eye here or say that it does not exist but it can happen even if you protect every single precious information of your existence. It is said that most of the time these incidents happen from those most close to you rather than those from afar. So why not own up to our own life. I wholeheartedly believe I am protected based on what I do and not on what others do to me, I supplicate for instance every morning which is a habit of mine since I learnt to speak, and if something terrible happens then I know that no matter how much shelter I provided myself, it would still happen because it was written for it be so.
Interestingly, I was discussing this with my mom’s family, the majority who are very religious and have done their Masters and PhDs in Islamic studies, so who better to ask these questions than them right? Apparently we are not really obligated to say it, but it is an expression of good faith in that we want the best to our human being counterpart. But surprisingly mashallah does not make sense and is the wrong phrase to use. Literally speaking mashallah translates to ‘in God’s will’ which if we associate it with praise doesn’t really make sense. Reason being the phrase that should be used for praise is not mashallah per se but throughout the years that prayer got cut down so much that only mashallah remained. I would imagine that most those around me are now going to force everyone to say that actual full prayer rather than mashallah to shield them since that phrase is of no protection. Wouldn’t that cause even more societal perplexity?
You can read more about the whole mashallah isn’t really mashallah here