is kuhnah ;xaraabe me;N aabaadii nah kar mun((im
yak shahr nahii;N yaa;N jo .sa;hraa nah hu))aa hogaa

1) in this ancient/inveterate ruin, don't make a town/settlement, oh generous one
2) there's not a single city here that will not have become a desert



kuhnah : 'Old, ancient; inveterate; chronic'. (Platts p.882)


;xaraabah : 'Ruin, devastation, desolation; a waste, waste land'. (Platts p.488)


aabaadii : 'Inhabited spot or place; colony; population, number of inhabitants; cultivated place; cultivation; ... prosperity; state of comfort; happiness, joy, pleasure'. (Platts p.2)


mun((im : 'Beneficent, liberal, generous, gracious; --a benefactor'. (Platts p.1078)

S. R. Faruqi:

Cities are inhabited, then they're ruined, then they're inhabited. There wouldn't be any city that at one time or another would not have turned into desert. Thus for making a dwelling, no place is trustworthy. That place that would again and again be inhabited and ruined-- what else ought it to be called except a kuhnah ;xaraabah ? Every city comes to ruin; this is a commonplace idea. Mir has created a new theme: that there's no city that wouldn't already formerly have become a desert. To prove that [as the Qur'an says] 'Everything returns to its origin', every city will have returned to its true form (that is, desert). This style of expression, that every city was in reality a desert, is full of pleasure.

Nasikh too has well versified this theme, but his first line is not free of artificialness:

hai nishaan-e sham((-e raushan har chiraa;G-e chashm-e ;Gul
ho chukaa hai baar-haa aabaad jo viiraanah hai

[it is the sign of a lighted candle, every lamp of the eye of a ghoul
it has already been, many times, inhabited-- that which is a desolation]

In Mir's verse we can also consider kuhnah ;xaraabah to be a metaphor for the world. Then the interpretation will be that the whole entire world remains a 'ruined town', and cannot be trusted. There's no benefit from making a house in such a place.

Nasir Kazmi has given to this theme an extraordinary narrative and metaphorical tone. Using the form of the present tense, Nasir Kazmi made the verse a metaphor of our age:

yahaa;N jangal thaa aabaadii ke pahle
sunaa hai mai;N ne logo;N kii zabaanii

[here there was wilderness, before the settlement
I've heard this from people's lips]



Well, where's the 'proof' or 'justification' for an address to a 'generous one' or a 'benefactor'? In exactly the same metrical space, the addressee could just as easily have been 'heedless one' [;Gaafil] or 'oh friend' [ay dost], and with even more relevance to the advice proffered in the verse. Could we take it as 'don't make a generous, gracious town/settlement'? Even so, the question still remains: why is mun((im an adjective relevant to the rest of the verse?