aadam-e ;xaakii se ((aalam ko jilaa hai varnah
aa))inah thaa yih vale qaabil-e diidaar nah thaa

1) through dusty Adam the world has brightness/polish-- otherwise
2) this {was / would have been} a mirror, but it {wasn't / wouldn't have been} fit for sight/vision



;xaakii : 'Of the dust, of ashes; earthy; earthly, terrestrial; dusty; dust-coloured'. (Platts p.485)


jilaa : 'Brightening, polishing, scouring; brightness, polish, lustre, splendour, enamel'. (Platts p.386)


qaabil : 'Receiving, taking; admitting (of, - ke ), capable (of); sufficient (for); possible, practicable; liable (to); capable, able, clever, skilful, competent, fit, qualified; deserving, worthy'. (Platts p.785)

S. R. Faruqi:

Through the affinity with 'mirror', qaabil-e diidaar is very fine. That is, the mirror was so commonplace that it wasn't fit for looking into; and there's also the idea that the mirror was so cloudy/dull that nothing could be seen in it. There's also an affinity between ;xaakii and jilaa , because to clean and polish a metal mirror, dust (that is, ashes) used to be used. This theme is Mir's own, and is in that style of his in which he proclaims mankind's greatness and importance.

In the verse there are also the interesting questions of how 'dusty Adam' gave polish to the world, and of whose mirror this world was before the coming of dusty Adam, such that despite being a mirror it wasn't bright or fit for viewing. In Sufi circles there's a famous 'divine hadith' attributed to Muhammad that says [in God's words] 'I was only a treasury, I wanted to become manifest and to become recognized; thus I created the universe'. If that's the case, then in the light of Mir's verse that universe was incomplete before the time that mankind appeared in it.

A mirror would be complete when it would have brightness and reflective power. The treasury of the divine Light too was unable to make itself manifest and cause its beauty to be seen, as long as on the mirror of the universe there was no polish (by means of the presence of mankind). That is, the Lordship of the Lord is not complete without mankind. For the Light to become manifest, dust is necessary.

Then there's also the fact that although mankind is 'dusty', outwardly and in appearance he's not 'dusty'; in order to be dust he's obliged to die and mingle with the dust. Thus the completion of the universe occurred when mankind appeared, then became dust; and then, so to speak, that dust polished the mirror. It's said that if there would be no death, then mankind would refuse to believe in the Lord. Thus by dying-- that is, by becoming dust-- mankind established the existence of the Lord.

Another aspect is that the universe was a contemptible kind of mirror, in which no image could be seen. When mankind became manifest, then through his variegated and colorful pursuits different kinds of images rose up; thus this mirror began to be radiant and inviting to the gaze.

[See also {1312,8}.]



I've translated ;xaakii as 'dusty' in order to keep the simplicity and directness of the Urdu, which is simply 'dust' with an adjectival ending attached. So it could be envisioned as 'made of dust', 'dust-colored' (the source of our 'khaki'), 'looking dusty', 'earth-dwelling', 'bound for dust', or 'pertaining to dust' in any other relevant sense.

So we have the elegantly paradoxical pairing of dust versus polish-- a dusty condition is the opposite of a polished one, yet dust is the means of creating polish. And we also have aadam and ((aalam , another evocative pair distinguished in pronunciation only by one consonant.

SRF provides a sophisticated tour through the mystical possibilities. Mankind is both exalted (the cosmic mirror is incomplete without his polishing of it), and humbled (he must become dust in order to perform the polishing). Dust is the key to it all.