al;aahii kaise hote hai;N ji;Nhe;N hai bandagii ;xvaahish
hame;N to sharm daaman-giir hotii hai ;xudaa hote

1) oh God, how are they, who have a desire for servitude?!
2) to us, shame is [habitually] {attaching / pursuing / 'garment-hem-seizing'}, in being the Lord



;xvaahish : 'Wish, desire, will, inclination; request, demand'. (Platts p.495)


daaman-giir : 'To seize the skirts (of), to attach (oneself or itself, to), cling (to), depend (on); —to seek justice or redress (from), to accuse, to prosecute; to persecute, to pursue'. (Platts p.

S. R. Faruqi:

The three verses {481,2}, {481,4}, and {481,6} are not a verse-set, but they have an internal 'connection'; thus it will be best to discuss them all three in one place. [For this general discussion, see {481,2}.]

The meaningful dimensions of the second line of this present verse are irresistible. The first point is that for 'shame detaining us in being the Lord' there are two meanings. One is that in the lordliness of the Lord countless people are unhappy and sorrowful; thus Lordship is not the kind of rank that should/would be accepted with happiness or pride. The second meaning is that our ambition is to attain a rank even loftier than Lordship (if this would be possible); thus in being the Lord we feel shame.

Such utterances that have fallen from the tongues of 'friends of God' in general intoxication (as with Hazrat Bayazid Bistami's 'Praise and glory to me!') can be declared to pass beyond the limit of commentary. Hazrat Mujaddid-e Alf-e Sani [Ahmad Sirhindi] has commanded about such utterances and their speakers that they ought to be considered as being meant to attain the 'wealth/rank of oblivion' through nonexistence, and as having a rank and perfection beyond all such speech. In another writing Hazrat Mujaddid Sahib has commanded that 'In intention and dignity the deeds of Sufis are not 'warrants' [sanad]. In this matter is the saying of Imam Abu Hanifah and Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad reliable, or of someone else?' He additionally commanded, 'We ought not to blame Sufis, and we ought to confide their affairs to God'. Maulana Shah Ashraf Ali Sahib Thanavi's approach too is the same.

We ought to understand Mir's verse too to be in the state of this same intoxication. But it's also possible that it would be only a poetic [shaa((iraanah] theme, as in Iqbal's own [Persian] verse:

'I have fixed my gaze on myself in such a way that the glory of the Friend
Has seized the world-- and I don't have leisure to look at the spectacle.'

Or, Abu Talib Kalim says [in Persian]:

'My intoxication has reached such a limit that I don't recognize You.
The brimming wineglass of heedlessness, I drink entirely alone.'

There's nevertheless a possibility that the meaning of this verse might turn out to be impossible to divorce from discussion of intoxication and inadvertence. That is, if ;xudaa hote would be interpreted in its first sense, then the prose of the second line will become like this: hame;N to ( bandagii kii ;xvaahish karte ) sharm daaman-giir hotii hai _ ( kaash kih ham ) ;xudaa hote ; yaa ( ham ) ;xudaa ke hote ( to ek baat bhii thii ) . As Mir says in the third divan [{1261,2}]:

sar kisuu se faro nahii;N aataa
;haif bande hu))e ;xudaa nah hu))e

[our head is not lowered by anyone
alas that we became a servant, we did not become the Lord!]

The question can arise of what is meant by a 'desire for servitude'. Here too, several answers are possible. (1) The Lord Most High, by way of love, would call someone his servant, as in the noble Qur'an when He says 'Enter among my servants'. (2) To be even a servant of the Lord is a very great honor. For example, trees are created by the Lord, but they're not 'servants of the Lord'. Only mankind has obtained the rank of servitude. (3) When the duty/claim of servitude would be fulfilled, then a man would in the true sense become a servant. Ghalib has said,


Thus we see that this verse, which apparently belongs only to a state of nonsense-babbling or intoxicated desire, holds within it various aspects of meaning. In bandagii ;xvaahish there's a reversed izafat [i.zaafat-e maqluubii] (that is, it is ;xvaahish-e bandagii ). The verse is superbly well-constructed, and in the first line the address to God himself is also fine ( al;aahii kaise hote hai;N ). Because in one meaning this is truly a question (and thus is the height of mischievousness and sarcasm); and in another meaning it is self-addressed, or is only a rhetorical question, a means of creating force.

Khvajah Ahsan ul-Din Bayan has very well versified a theme similar to Mir's:

tamannaa baadshaahii kii kisii sifle ko hovegii
mire dil me;N ;xudaa))ii kaa bhii ;xa:trah ho to kaafir huu;N

[some base person will have a longing for kingship--
in my heart, if there's even a danger of Lordship, then I'm an infidel]

[See also {502,3}.]



The first line takes excellent advantage of the kaise , by using it to create the 'kya effect'. Thus there are three possible readings: (1) Oh God, what are they like? (a question); (2) Oh God, what they are like! (an expression of disdain and incomprehension; (3) Oh God, what they are like! (an expression of admiration and envy). By no coincidence, all three readings work excellently with the second line.

Note for grammar fans: SRF wants to read the last part of the first line as a compound 'servitude-desire' [bandagii-;xvaahish], and he wants this to be construed as an inverted form of izafat-- that is, to be taken as short for ;xvaahish-e bandagii . But the phrase can also be read as 'to them servitude is a desire' (in effect, bandagii hai ;xvaahish ), with no need for an izafat at all.

Note for grammar fans: The final hote is here most plausibly a present participle, short for hote hu))e . When SRF shows it as possibly a contrafactual, he does so by separating it from the rest of the grammar of the line.