tuhmat-e ((ishq se aabaadii bhii vaadii hai hame;N
kaun .su;hbat rakhe hai ;xuu;N ke sazaa-vaar ke saath

1) through the suspicion/accusation of passion, even/also a town is a ravine/desert, to us
2) who keeps company with a 'punishment-deserver of bloodshed'?



tuhmat : 'Evil opinion, suspicion'. (Steingass, p.339)


aabaadii : 'Inhabited spot or place; colony; population, number of inhabitants; cultivated place; ... prosperity; state of comfort; happiness, joy, pleasure'. (Platts p.2)


sazaa : ''Worthy, deserving'; correction, chastisement, punishment; penalty, retribution'. (Platts p.660)

S. R. Faruqi:

First of all let's consider the word tuhmat . It is used to mean both 'false accusation' and simply 'accusation'. Thus one meaning is that we are accused of passion. In any case the result the result is the same in both cases, that we have been considered deserving of the punishment of death. Then, look at vaadii . Because it rhymes with aabaadii it's enjoyable in any case; but with regard to meaning, in vaadii there's a feeling of narrowness, while on this occasion its other meaning of 'desert' has an appropriate feeling of breadth. That is, the populatedness of a city is for us equal to a desolation in any case, but there's also a mood of imprisonment and narrowness. It's as if to the person who is accused of passion, the city has become narrow/confining.

Through the word sazaa-vaar , the mind becomes drawn toward the death penalty. This is appropriate to the situation, but the important word is ;xuu;N , because this phrase ( ;xuu;N ke sazaa-vaar ) means not only 'deserving of the death penalty', but also 'deserving of being killed, being slain'. That is, the person who is accused of passion is worthy of being killed. It's not necessary that there should be a court case against him, testimony should be taken, a judgment or decision should be given that he is deserving of death. His killing is allowable to the ruler.

Now the question arises, what is meant by tuhmat-e ((ishq ? If by this is meant only 'the accusation of passion', then only the point emerges that the world is so fearful of passion that if someone is accused of passion, even if falsely, then he is considered to deserve being killed. This point is fine, but it is based on a commonplace kind of hyperbole, and its meaningfulness is limited.

Let's assume that by 'passion' is meant proclaiming a confession of faith in the Divine, because one will speak of 'the Divine' who has mystical knowledge of it. And mystical knowledge of the Divine is not obtained without passion. Following this interpretation, by 'those accused of passion' is meant Imam Husain, and [his cousin] Muslim bin Aqil, and Imam Husain's great-grandson Zaid Shahid, and Imam Husain's great-grandson Muhammad Nafs Zakiyyah and his brother Muhammad Nafs Raziyyah, who are at the head of the list. These are the people who proclaimed aloud the confession of faith in the Divine, and for this reason people abandoned them, since on this basis they were considered worthy of the death penalty.

The story of Imam Husain and Hazrat Muslim bin Aqil and his sons, many people know. The same thing happened to Zaid Shahid, Muhammad Nafas Zakiyyah and his brother-- they went forth to battle for the sake of the Divine, but when the time for fighting came, then all their so-called 'life-sacrificers' ran off, and left them to confront death alone. The solitude in which they were left-- ordinary people cannot even imagine it. Even an utterance like 'Who keeps company with a punishment-deserver of blood/murder?' scarcely manages to present this mood.

It should also be kept in mind that solitude is the destiny of every mystical knower and every lover. Hazrat Nizam ul-Din Auliya always said, 'What happens to my heart, no one can guess'. Thus even if the lover would be considered to be deserving of death, even then he feels himself to be alone to such a degree that it's as if no one is near him, and as if he's living not in a town but rather in a desert.

Although the speaker of the verse uses the first person plural, there's still not a trace of self-pity; rather, the dignity of melancholy prevails. He's composed a peerless verse.



The ambiguity of ;xuu;N ke sazaa-vaar works wonderfully here. It has the kind of flexibility that an izafat would have. Most centrally, it can here mean:

(1) one who deserves bloodshed (= deserves to be killed, for some reason unspecified)
(2) one who deserves to be punished for bloodshed (= has unlawfully killed someone and incurred guilt)

But we should also note the even greater ambiguity of the first line, with its excellently flexible tuhmat-e ((ishq , which can mean:

(1) a (true or false) accusation of passion (= someone is accused of passion)
(2) a (true or false) accusation made by passion (= 'passion' generates an accusation)

Since tuhmat can mean not only an 'accusation' (which may well be true), but also a dubious 'evil opinion' or 'suspicion', it has a piquant extra dimension that gives us really four possibilities instead of two. SRF has adopted the first meaning (in the 'true' sense), and has pushed the verse toward a vision of mystical martyrdom.

Just to add another dimension of pleasure, I'd like to emphasize the second meaning, and push the verse in a different direction. We know that the lover is suspicious. In fact, of course, he's a madman. His suspicion often takes the form of paranoia-- he thinks the beloved is out to get him, even to kill him. There are plenty of verses that play on this kind of paranoia. Here's one of my favorites:


But of course, 'paranoids have enemies too', and it's all too possible that the beloved really is trying to kill the lover. Alternatively, or additionally, the lover may suspect everybody of being out to get him. Whether he's right or wrong, in this state of mind he sees a whole 'townful' of people, all the 'cultivation' and 'prosperity' of human social life (see the definition of aabaadii above), as bleak and desolate, narrow and empty. For these people are actual or potential murderers all-- and 'who keeps company with a murderer?'. The society of murderers is something dangerous and/or contemptible. Naturally the crazed but cunningly suspicious lover holds himself aloof.