((ahd hamaaraa teraa hai yih jis me;N gum hai mihr-o-vafaa
agle zamaane me;N to yihii logo;N kii rasm-o-((aadat thii

1) our and your era/time is this [kind], in which affection and faithfulness are lost
2) in a previous time, only/emphatically these were people's custom and habit



rasm : 'Marking out, delineating, designing; —sketch, outline, model, plan; way followed (in respect of doctrine and practices of religion, &c.), manner, custom, practice, usage, settled mode; injunction, precept, canon, law'. (Platts p.592)


((aadat : 'Custom, habit, manner, wont, usage, practice'. (Platts p.756)

S. R. Faruqi:

This theme was probably searched out by Sa'di [in Persian], and the strange thing is that despite its one-dimensional simplicity, it became very much accepted. Sa'di:

'Either there was no faithfulness at all in the world,
Or perhaps no one in this age practiced it.'

Now look at Faizi, who turns such a small idea into a dastan and presents it [in Persian]:

'I have heard the story of Laila and Majnun; I say
That your and my era is more seditious/disruptive.'

Faizi has moved the idea beyond faithfulness and widened it to the seditiousness of the whole universe, but the root of the theme is the same. In Mir's verse, there's both a subtle implication that he has complained to the beloved about unfaithfulness, and an overt allusion to the idea that she is unfaithful and unaffectionate; but apparently/outwardly what he has said is that our own age is such, in which affection and faithfulness are lost. Then, gum hai has several meanings: (1) The beloved has hidden herself. (2) Affection and faithfulness are nonexistent. (3) Affection and faithfulness are not present.

In Mir's second line rasm and ((aadat too are full of meaning. They also have individual meanings and cultural importance. A rasm is something that people uphold whether they wish to or not. Whether they believe in it or not, whether they gain anything from it or not, whether it has any meaning or not-- still they're obliged to uphold it. Thus 'faithfulness' was a rasm such that earlier people used to uphold it, even if at heart they didn't want to. And ((aadat is a task which, whether there's any pleasure in doing it or not, a person can't help but do-- a kind of task that seems to perform itself, or to be performed by itself, is counted as a habit.

Majdi used to say that the namaz is a thing such that it should not become a habit. That is, in reciting namaz as a habit there's no awareness, no intention, no relish. In Mir's verse too is this same idea: that in a previous age people showed affection and faithfulness, as a habit. That is, even if it was without relish and ardor, they showed it. Now conditions are such that neither do they uphold them as a custom, nor do they act upon them as a habit.

When we take raah together with rasm ( rasm-o-raah ), then it means 'association, familiarity'. In earlier times, rasm was also used by itself to mean 'relationship, friendship'. [An example of this usage, from a dastan.] With regard to this sense, between rasm and vafaa there's also the relationship of a zila.

Dagh has very clearly versified this theme:

u;R ga))ii yuu;N vafaa zamaane se
kabhii goyaa kisii me;N thii hii nahii;N

[faithfulness flew away from the age/world in such a way
As if it only/emphatically never was in anyone]

Hafiz has [in Persian] changed the theme a bit, but has composeda verse such that one wants to sacrifice one's life for it:

'If I remained deprived, in her street, then so what?
From the garden of the age, who has smelled any scent of faithfulness?'

Naziri has taken from Hafiz the theme of the scent of faithfulness, and composed [in Persian] a strangely melancholy and somewhat sarcastic idea:

'The scent of affection does not come from the garden of faithfulness,
In every garden where you bloomed, the breeze is asleep.'

Hafiz has made the beloved's street and the garden of the age into the same thing, and thus raised the meaningfulness of passion to a whole new level.

Dard has established the beloved as a king, and in a style of sarcasm and complaint has composed-- and well composed:

qatl-e ((aashiq kisii ma((shuuq se kuchh duur nah thaa
par tire ((ahd ke aage to yih dastuur nah thaa

[the murder of the lover was never very far from any beloved
but before your time, this was not the rule]

Despite all these things, the innocent, inexperienced style of Sa'di's theme even today draws the heart. And Mir, doing justice to 'meaning-creation', has preserved the honor of the Urdu ghazal [by equalling Sa'di's Persian verse].

Ghalib wrote, in a letter to Taftah (March 1852), 'And this [Persian] verse by Jalal Asir is very pure and fine:

'In my time, affection was more than more [besh az besh];
In the era of your time, faithfulness was less than less [kam az kam].'

It's a pity that Jalal Asir's verse was not available to Dard. Apparently Mir benefitted from it. If the verse had been before him, Dard could have done justice in a suitable way to the balance of his verse.



Note for grammar fans: The verbs are singular, even where they have two subjects, because this is the practice in Urdu: after a series of subjects, the verb agrees in number and gender with the last one in the series. So mihr and vafaa , and then rasm and ((aadat , could be read either as fixed pairs (which would take a singular verb because they are like compound nouns), or else as independent nouns that are following the normal agreement practice. I have adjusted the translation to reflect English pluralization, because otherwise it would have looked completely wrong.