badr saa;N ab aa;xir aa;xir chhaa ga))ii mujh par yih aag
varnah pahle thaa miraa juu;N maah-e nau daaman jalaa

1) like a full moon, now finally at last {this / such a} fire spread over me
2) otherwise, previously, like a new moon, my garment-hem had burned



S. R. Faruqi:

In the garment-hem's burning in the shape of a new moon, he's given a fine simile [tashbiih]. The whole verse is lit up with aspects of radiance. Talib Amuli has expressed this theme very well [in Persian]:

'We bound our heart to passion, and we were in bondage from head to foot
We lit the fire in one place, and we burned in a hundred places.'

[See also {847,4}; {847,9}.]



The 'skirt', or more precisely (in ghazal usage) the garment-hem, is like the narrow, curving sliver of a new moon, because of its gored shape. It also is somewhat peripheral, since the kind of garment in question would have a long, full skirt with a lower border that would swing freely somewhere at the level of the calves.

And of course the new moon marks the beginning of an inevitable progression toward the roundness, completeness, perfection of the full moon.

Thus for fire to spread from the garment-hem not just to the whole garment but to the whole body, well evokes the progress of the fire of passion: from periphery to center, from dispensable (clothing) to indispensable (body), from narrow and contained to global and uncontainable.

The temporal combination of ab aa;xir aa;xir suggests impatience: now finally, finally, after such a long and impatiently-endured period of waiting-- finally at long last it's happened! When so emphasized, the quantitative progression also strongly suggests a qualitative one.