shaahid luu;N miir kis ko ahl-e mu;hallah se mai;N
ma;h.zar pah ;xuu;N ke mere sab kii gavaahiyaa;N hai;N

1) whom might/would I take as a witness, Mir, from the people of the neighborhood?
2) on the document for my execution/murder, are the attestations of everyone



ma;h.zar : 'A place where people are present or assembled; royal presence; appearance; —people present or assembled; an assembly; —a document or petition attested by a number of witnesses laid before a judge (with the view of promoting a suit); a public attestation'. (Platts p.1009)


shaahid : 'One who bears witness, a witness, deponent; ... a sweetheart, a beloved object; a handsome man; a beautiful woman; a female friend'. (Platts p.720)


gavaahii : 'Evidence, witness, testimony; deposition; written testimony'. (Platts p.921)

S. R. Faruqi:

A theme resembling this, Zafar Iqbal has versified:

;haakim-e shahr ne in.saaf kiyaa meraa bhii
kii bahut ahl-e mu;hallah kii ;himaayat us ne

[the ruler of the city did justice even/also to me
he gave great support to the people of the neighborhood]

In Zafar Iqbal's verse there's a 'mood' of sarcasm, but the sarcasm is one-dimensional. Although indeed, through the mention of 'people of the neighborhood', reference to a whole culture been established. Mir's theme has depths/layers. In former times, there was the practice that when a death sentence was to be given to some designated individual, they prepared a ma;h.zar in which were the proofs that that individual was deserving of death, and the signatures of respected persons.

It's well known that when the English presented to Vajid Ali Shah the decree of dethronement, in which accusations had been lodged against Vajid Ali Shah by some of his own people, then he recited this verse:

laa))o to qatl-naamah ;zaraa mai;N bhii dekh luu;N
kis kis kii muhar hai sar-e ma;h.zar lagii hu))ii

[give the death-decree here here, please just let even/also me see
who-all's seals are attached to the head of the document]

Some people say that this verse is by Mir Mahbub Ali Khan Asif Jah, the Nizam of Hyderabad. If this is the case, then to attribute it to Vajid Ali Shah is not proper.

In Mir's verse, the word ma;h.zar has a special importance. The speaker is a person who now has no friends or helpers. He is now entirely alone in the world. The people of the neighborhood, who he had hoped would give testimony in his favor, have already given testimony that that the speaker is deserving of death.

The enjoyable (or melancholy) thing is that the nature of the crime has not been told to us. As in Kafka's novel 'The Trial', the speaker has been called to account, and the punishment has been established, but what is the nature of the crime? This he does not know; or rather, perhaps no one knows it. The word ma;h.zar makes clear the speaker's importance and his indictment-- and also points to his helplessness/wretchedness and innocence. It's a fine verse.

He has composed another verse, in the first divan itself, that changes the theme a bit, and makes it by comparison very light [{539,7}]:

kaafii hai muhr-e qaatil ma;h.zar pah ;xuu;N ke mere
phir jis jagah yih jaave us jaa hii mu((tabar hai

[the beloved's seal is enough, on the document of my execution
then, whatever place it might go, in that very place it is esteemed/accepted]

[See also {408,7}; {813,10}.]



To continue with the legal terminology, we can also say that the verse begins with an 'arresting' bit of wordplay: shaahid , which literally means 'witness', by extension means 'beautiful one' (in the sense that a beautiful one bears 'witness' to the power of the God who created such beauty).

The first line suggests that the range of available or desirable witnesses would be 'the people of the neighborhood'. Might some of them be wanted as character witnesses? Normally, Mir shows such neighbors as sympathetic to the poor crazed lover, even when he's annoying. Might the lover be guilty of some kind of 'lifestyle' offense-- perhaps by keeping his neighbors awake all night with his laments and carryings-on? If so, the verse acquires some real humor: how much all-night moaning and groaning does it take to deserve the death penalty? Either the neighbors' hostility is absurd and extravagant, or the lover's annoyingness is absurd and extravagant; either way, it's an amusing scenario.

But it could also simply mean that the lover's grave, death-deserving offense was committed in the neighborhood, so that is where the witnesses are to be found. Might the beloved have passed through the neighborhood in her palanquin, and frowned at the lover (perhaps he didn't prostrate himself with enough speed or alacrity?)-- so that her beauty won all hearts, and everyone feels that anyone who has displeased her deserves the death penalty?

Obviously, we can't get anywhere with such speculations. All we really know about the lover's offense is that 'everyone' is convinced of his guilt and has endorsed a legal document in favor of his receiving the death penalty.