Arabic Language Blog

Arabic Cultural Expressions: From Assalamu ‘alaykum to Bismillah Posted by on Feb 27, 2010 in Culture, Vocabulary

I am writing this post in response to a kind suggestion of Juan who asked me to write a post about cultural expressions and their replies. Thank you very much Juan for the suggestion! I think that this is a very important topic. Please find a list below.

بسم الله

“Bismillah” literally means (in the name of God). We use it when we start something, e.g. at the beginning of a meal.

الحمد لله

“Alhamdu-lillah” literally means (Thank God). We use it when we finish something, e.g. at the end of a meal. It is also used when we are grateful for something or when something good happens to us.

ما شاء الله

“Maa shaa’ Allah” literally means (what God wants is done). We use it when we appreciate something, e.g. if my friend shows me something nice or new, I say this expression.


“Mabrook” means (congratulations). We use it in happy occasions, e.g. if some one gets married or succeeds in an exam, etc. The reply is (الله يبارك فيك)

الحمد لله

“Alhamdu-lillah” is also used after sneezing, i.e. when I sneeze, I say “Alhadu-lillah”. The reply is (يرحمكم الله)

السلام عليكم

“Assalamu ‘alaykum” is a greeting you say when you meet someone. The reply is (وعليكم السلام)

البقاء لله

“Albaqa’ Lillah” is used to convey condolences.

الله يرحمه/يرحمها

“Allah yarhamu/yarhamha” is used after the name of someone who passed away.

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  1. Juan:

    Thank you very much Aziza:

    I really was looking for this post.
    I think that it is a sign of respect and appreciation to others when you use these expressions in the right context. It reflects interest and a predisposition to get closer to the person you are talking to.

    You are doing a good job helping others like me.

    I have enjoyed the series of posts on irregular verbs as well.


  2. Laiba:

    Assalam o alaikum!
    Good work!
    I highly appreciate it!
    There is one mistake; you wrote Alhadulillah instead of ALHUMDULILLAH!
    I hope you will continue posting notes. They are very helpful for ppl like me!
    JazikAllah again!
    Fi amanillah!

  3. Scheich Josef:

    Do you pronounce الحمد لله like “Alhadu-lillah” or like “Alhamdu-lillah” with the “m”?

    • aziza:

      @Scheich Josef Yes Scheich Josef. I will sort it out asap. Thank you! Salaam, Aziza

  4. Muhammed:

    Good work

  5. Lisa Tucci:

    Hi there/
    l just thought you & your readers might enjoy posting some of your funny language stories on Up Your Bottom!

    Basically, they’re collecting all of the embarrassing stories we have when speaking a foreign language –