Ghazal 110, Verse 4

{110,4}

;had chaahiye sazaa me;N ((uquubat ke vaas:te
aa;xir gunaah-gaar huu;N kaafar nahii;N huu;N mai;N

1) there ought to be a limit in punishment, with regard to torment/torture
2) after all, I'm a sinner, I am not an infidel

Notes:

sazaa : 'Correction, chastisement, punishment; penalty, retribution'. (Platts p.660)

 

((uquubat : 'Punishment, chastisement, torture, torment'. (Platts p.763)

Hali:

[A shamefaced account of how the youthful Hali thoughtlessly reproached Ghalib for his religious laxness, and how Ghalib responded.]

==Urdu text: Yadgar-e Ghalib, pp. 52-53

Nazm:

In the word kaafir , expert language-knowers [ahl-e zabaan] read the fe with a zer [making it kaafir]. But in the colloquial idiom of Persia, there's a zabar [making it kaafar]. For this reason, he uses it as a rhyme with saa;Gar.... The meanings of sazaa and ((uquubat are exactly the same; because of this repetition, the first line has become limp/loose [sust]. (115)

== Nazm page 115

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, for infidels, the torment of hell will continue forever; and for Muslim sinners, the measure of punishment will be decided. So why have I always been immersed in torment, and why do I find no release? (165)

Bekhud Mohani:

[Nazm is wrong about the first line:] here, ((uquubat means 'torment', and sazaa means 'vengeance'. (217)

FWP:

SETS == MUSHAIRAH
ISLAMIC: {10,2}

Like the previous verse, {110,3}, this one too is a classic mushairah verse. The first line is broad and vague, giving us listeners little clue of what is to come. What kind of a limit? Why should there be one? What kind of punishment?

Only after a suitably suspense-building interval do we get to hear the 'mischievous' [sho;x] second line. We learn that the speaker is negotiating with God about, it seems, the fires of hell. There ought to be some kind of limit to his torment, he is urging, because after all he's only a sinner, not an infidel. This is one of those verses of theological vocabulary, such that it does seem to be addressed wholly or chiefly to God, not to a human beloved.

It seems that the speaker might even be already enduring the torments of hell. Or else he's quite sure that he will endure them, and already knows what they will like, and has sufficient foreknowledge and status to have bargaining power with God. He presses his case with energy and wit (though perhaps with an underlying alarm). After all, a mere sinner is not nearly as evil and culpable a creature as an infidel!

He seems to use the privileged position of an intimate, to urge God to reconsider, to urge Him to be reasonable. The tone is everything. And the punch-word kaafir -- here spelled kaafar for the sake of the rhyme-- is withheld, in true mushairah-verse style, until the last possible moment.