Ghazal 38, Verse 4


jab tak kih nah dekhaa thaa qad-e yaar kaa ((aalam
mai;N mu((taqid-e fitnah-e ma;hshar nah hu))aa thaa

1) as long as I had not seen the state/situation of the height/stature of the beloved
2) I had not become a believer/follower of the affliction/mischief of Judgment Day


mu((taqid : 'Believing; firmly persuaded, confident, certain, or sure (of); follower (of a creed or sect); an adherent, a faithful friend or servant'. (Platts p.1047)


fitnah : 'Trial, affliction, calamity, mischief, evil, torment, plague...; --temptation, seduction; --discord, conflict, cabal, faction, civil war, sedition, revolt, mutiny; perfidy; sin, crime'. (Platts p.776)


He has used Doomsday [qiyaamat] as a simile for stature [qaamat]. He says, having seen the stature of the beloved, I became a believer in the mischief of Judgment Day. (37)

== Nazm page 37

Bekhud Dihlavi:

The beloved's stature always receives the simile of the affliction of Doomsday or the cypress and poplar in the garden. He says, as long as I had not seen with my own eyes the style of the beloved's stature, and the spectacle of her gait which is like Judgment Day, I was not in my heart convinced of the affliction of Doomsday. (73)

Bekhud Mohani:

As long as I hadn't seen the mischief of the beloved's stature, I didn't believe in the mischief of Doomsday. That is, the mischief of stature is a great mischief, so that it begins to enter the mind that indeed, the mischief of Doomsday too has reality, and it will be such as this. Very enjoyably he has used the mischief of Doomsday as a simile for the mischief of Judgment Day. (90)


Compare {96,3}. (176)


DOOMSDAY: {10,11}

THE BELOVED IS TALL: The beloved's lofty, graceful height is a well-known fact of the ghazal world. It is an important part of her beauty and her regal, imposing presence. Her height is played upon in other verses as well as this one. Examples include {53,13x}; {96,3}; {106,4}; {169,4}; {173,2}.

Judgment Day is a time for the 'rising up' of the dead. Nazm points to the wordplay that seems to be the real underpinning of this comparison: qaamat for stature, qiyaamat for Doomsday. Arshi cites {96,3}, which uses exactly this wordplay. The present verse pointedly refuses to use either of these key words: the beloved's stature is her qad , and instead of Doomsday we have ma;hshar (which I'm translating as 'Judgment Day' in order to keep the two separate). But the power of suggestion and our knowledge of ghazal themes conspire to keep these two invisible keywords hovering in our minds-- their presence-in-absence makes for an even more piquant effect.

The verse says, 'as long as I hadn't seen A, I didn't believe in B'. It's thus also necessary for us to decide what relationship exists between A, the state of the beloved's stature, and B, the mischief of Judgment Day. Several possibilities present themselves:

=A is B: the mischievous beloved's height itself is the 'height' of the mischief of Judgment Day.

=A is like B: the beloved's ravishingly tall stature creates the kind of turmoil and confusion among her lovers that Judgment Day will create among all humans.

=A creates or produces B: the beloved's ravishingly tall stature creates in those who see her the turmoil and confusion of Judgment Day.

=B expresses itself as A: the mischief of Judgment Day is normally almost impossible to imagine, but in the beloved's stature I saw it made manifest.

Note for grammar fans: If you find jab tak nah confusing, see the grammatical explanation here.