ho ;xaraabii aur aabaadii kii ((aaqil ko tamiiz
ham divaane hai;N hame;N viiraan kyaa ma((muur kyaa

1) {let there be / there might/would be} for the wise man, a distinction between ruin/wretchedness and habitation
2) we are a madman-- to us, what is desolate, what is flourishing/populous?!



;xaraabii : 'Ruin, destruction, desolation; badness, corruption, depravity; noxiousness, ill, evil, mischief, perdition; misery, trouble, affliction; difficulty, perplexity'. (Platts p.488)


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


ma((muur : 'Inhabited; peopled; well stocked with people, populous; colonized, cultivated, well-cultivated; in a flourishing state, flourishing; affluent, prosperous, happy; delightful; —in sound or good or efficient condition; in a state of good repair'. (Platts p.1050)

S. R. Faruqi:

The style of innocence is worthy of praise, because this innocence is really a screen for cleverness. In the first line, by saying ho instead of hai he has also created a new aspect of the meaning. That is, perhaps the wise man might have discrimination. Or the wise man ought to have discrimination. Or if the wise man has discrimination then let him have it, what do we care? And he's made an increase in the outward show of innocence.

To say ;xaraabii instead of ;xaraabah is also fine, because two meanings [[see the definitions above]] emerge from it. Then, in comparison to ;xaraabii and aabaadii , to use viiraan and ma((muur is fine, because aabaadii and viiraan are obvious/common words, and ;xaraabii and ma((muur are fresh words. In the [Persian] words of Talib Amuli, 'a fresh word is equal to a theme' [laf:ze kih taazah ast bah ma.zmuun baraabar ast].

Then, he hasn't made it clear what the result is, of our not differentiating between 'habitation' and 'ruin'. Perhaps both places seem equally useless to us; or both are the same to us-- if we don't stay in a habitation, then we'd end up staying in a ruin. Or perhaps that in both places we wander around naked and turbulent, in a state of wildness.

Then, hame;N viiraan kyaa ma((muur kyaa is a good example of compression/epitomizing [iijaaz]. This compression has created ambiguity in the line, as a result of which a number of possibilities have been generated. If it would be turned into prose ('for us, desolate and flourishing are the same'), then the ambiguity disappears and the meaningful aspects of the verse are diminished. It's a fine verse.



SRF is right to single out hame;N viiraan kyaa ma((muur kyaa for special attention. Here are some of the ways it can be read:

=We don't care which of the two states, a 'desolate' or a 'flourishing' one, confronts us.
=We don't know how to distinguish a 'desolate' state from a 'flourishing' state'.
=We don't consider 'desolate' and 'flourishing' to be different states at all.
=We don't even understand what the word 'desolate' means or what the word 'flourishing' means.

The excellently insha'iyah ambiguity is enhanced, finally, by the (faux-naïf) claim that 'we're a madman' and the emphatic insertion of 'to us'. Is this a proud claim (the speaker is providing evidence of his suitably passionate, Sufistic indifference to the world), or is it a confession (he's so crazed that he's unable to function in the real world)? Does the speaker disdain the worldly knowledge of the 'wise man', or is he simply unable to share it?

Compare Ghalib's more esoteric and metaphysical take on this rejection of distinctions: