maq.suud ko to dekhe;N kab tak pahu;Nchte hai;N ham
baa al-fa((l ab iraadah taa guur hai hamaaraa

1) well, let's see by when we arrive at our purpose/goal/desire
2) actually/presently now our intention/desire/aim is toward/'as far as' the grave



maq.suud : 'Intent, intention, design, purpose, drift, aim, view, desire, object, scope'. (Platts p.1056)


baa al-fa((l : 'Actually, in fact, in reality; presently, at the present time (= fii al-;haal )'. (Platts p.782)


iraadah : 'Desire, inclination, will; intention, purpose, resolve, determination; aim, object, end, end in view; plan, design; meaning, purport'. (Platts p.38)


In the second line, gor becomes guur to accord with the rhyme.

S. R. Faruqi:

Usually it's specifically 'death' that's said to be the purpose/goal. But here he's established death as nothing more than an unimportant stage. The carelessness of the style of expression is worth noticing, as though it wasn't to be death that occurred, but an ordinary kind of journey.

Another point is that whatever purpose/goal we have is such that we can't attain it even by dying. But after death no purpose/goal is available; thus in the verse there's also a kind of 'paradox'.

The rhyme of gor and ma;zkuur , etc., was permitted/accepted until the time of Nasikh [1776-1838].



The first line is tantalizing and cleverly open-ended. The speaker has some kind of plan, he's turning over in his mind some project that may possibly be of great interest. In typical mushairah-verse style, we're made to wait until the second line for further information; and even then, the punch-word, 'grave', is conspicuously withheld until the last possible moment. Then, also in true mushairah-verse style, when we've got it we know at once that we've got it; the verse yields its pleasure like a bursting bubble, and we're ready to move on.

In this verse the time wordplay is especially conspicuous-- 'until when' in the first line, and in the second line both 'now' and the versatile baa al-fa((l , with its meanings of both 'now' and 'in fact'. This kind of emphasis on a change of state suggests that formerly things were very different. Formerly the speaker might have desired this-worldly things, or kinds of love that might have been achievable. But now-- after his experience in this world (the exact nature of which is left to the hearers to imagine), he desires only to move right along to the grave. And let's see when even that seemingly modest purpose will be achieved! How long will it take for him to attain even the 'goal' of death?

Here's Ghalib's take on a similarly disillusioned, cynically 'modest' kind of prayer:


Note for meter fans: In the second line, the Arabic baa al-fa((l is scanned long-long, as though it were bil-fal .