Faiz – Nahi Nigaah Mein Manzil

There is this sublime ghazal of Abida (written, yet again, by Faiz) that I never get tired of. Nahi nigaah mein manzil to justju hi sahi. So, in an effort to have more people appreciate the beauty of this ghazal – here is a loose literal translation.



Nahi nigaah mein manjil, toh justju hi sahi.
Nahi visaal mayassar to aarzoo hi sahi

नहीं निगाह में मंजिल तो जुस्तजू ही सही
नहीं विसाल मयस्सर तो आरज़ू ही सही

If not a destination in my eyes, let there be the desire of thee
If we are not destined to meet, let there be the wish to see

(Justju – desire/ yearning, visaal – meet/union, mayassar – destined, aarzoo – wish)

Na tan mein khoon faraaham na ashq aankhon mein
Namaaz-e-shauq to waajib hai, be-wuzoo hi sahi

न तन में खून फराहम न अश्क आँखों में
नमाज़-ए -शौक़ तो वाजिब है, बेवुजू ही सही

So what if there is no blood in the body, nor a teardrop in the eyes,
The prayer of yearning will still be obligatory, impure as it may be

(faraaham – accumulated, bevuzu – without washing (the ablutions performed before each namaaz)

Kisi tarah to saje bazm maikade walon
Naahi jo baada-o-saagar to ha-o-hoo hi sahi

किसी तरह तो जमे  बज़्म मैकदे  वालों
नहीं जो बादा-ए-सागर तो हा-ओ-हू ही सही

The show must go on, and the tavern must rejoice,
If not with wine and clinking glass, with raccous noises and celebrations let it be

Bazm – Party/Meeting/Mehfil, Maikade – Bar/Tavern, Baada – Wine, Sagar – the wine container

Gar intezaar kathin hai to jab talak ae-dil
Kisi ke vaada-e-farda ki guftagu hi sahi

गर इंतज़ार कठिन है तो जब तलक ऐ दिल
किसी के वादा-ए-फर्दा की गुफ्तगू ही सही

If it is so difficult, then as we wait,
Lets discuss the promises of another day, the promises still to keep.

farda – kal (tomorrow/yesterday), guftagu – conversation

Dayaar-e-gair mein maharam agar nahi koi
To faiz zikr-e-vatan apne rubaruu hi sahi

दयार-ए-गैर में महरम अगर नहीं कोई
तो फैज़ ज़िक्र-ए-वतन अपने रूबरू ही सही

In this land of strangers, if you have is no friend,
Faiz, then, discuss with yourself, of things back home, and how everything would be.

Mehram-confidant, zikr – topic/discussion, rubaru – facing/ in front of.

If there are any learned urdu readers who notice any errors, please let me know.


As V points out in the comments, the literal/loose translation of such a ‘kalaam’ is a bad idea. So, I decided to throw in a bit more weight.

To understand Faiz, in addition to understanding the words, there are three things you must know – he was one of the foremost progressive/liberal voices of his era and a lot of his kalaams are revolutionary while being romantic. He was also living away from his wife for long durations, and several of his kalaams reflect his longing for her. And lastly, the effect of Sufiyana compositions and Diwan-e-ghalib is unmistakably present in his works.

The ghazal is again written during his self-imposed exile (I think he was in Lebanon then). So, who knows what exactly prompted this one – the longing to be with his wife, the longing for the nation, or the love of the Almighty. And I shall try to take the flavor of yearning for the beloved flavor as I re-compose the above lines. Thoughts?

Here, today, I can’t see how we’ll meet someday, but I shall always yearn for thee

Though I may not be destined to be with you, let it still be my undying wish.

The blood in my vein runs dry, and my eyes shed no tears no more,

My rituals have become incomplete, unclean. But my prayers for you shall always be pure.

The show must go on, and the gatherings must be joyful, so I am told,

If not for the wine and the song and the dance, with merriment of company and the stories untold.

How difficult it is to wait for us to meet, lest I die in this misery oh dear,

I shall try and keep my hopes alive, with those promises of tomorrow yet to bear.

In this land of strangers, with none a friend nor a confidant I see,

Oh Faiz, thou shalt converse with your own, of that yearning destiny.

Aapki Yaad Aati Rahi (Makhdoom/ Chaya Ganguly)

Here is a ghazal by Makhdoom Mohiuddin and beautifully rendered by Chaya Ganguly.

What follows is my feeble attempt at a literal translation (hoping that I don’t add my interpretation to it)

Aap ki yaad aatee rahee raat bhar
Chashm-e-nam muskaratee rahee raat bhar

The night was haunted by your memories
And my teary eyes smiled all night long

Raat bhar dard ki shamma jaltee rahee
Gham ki lau thartharatee rahee raat bhar

The candles of pain kept the night awake
And the flames of sadness kept flickering all night long

Bansuri ki surilee suhanee sada
Yaad ban ban kay aatee rahi raat bhar

Ah, the sweet soulful yearning of the flute
Kept tugging at my memories all night long

Yaad kay chaand dil mein utartay rahay
Chandni jagmagatee rahi raat bhar

As the moons of a memory would set in my heart
The moonlight kept shining like a beacon all night long

Koee deevana galiyon mein phirta raha
Koee aawaz aati rahi raat bhar

A forelorn lover kept wandering the streets
And a voice could well be heard all night long

When Makdhoom died, Faiz wrote the following lines in his memory (“Makhdoom ki yaad mein”–Faiz Ahmed Faiz)

“Aap ki yaad aati rahi raat bhar”
chaandni dil dukhaati rahi raat bhar

The night was haunted by your memories
And the moonlights made my heart bleed all night long

gaah jalti hui, gaah bujhti hui
shamm-e-gham jhilmilaati rahi raat bhar

Restlessly, it flickered at times, at times it didn’t
The flame of sadness kept shining all night long

koi khushboo badalti rahi pairahan
koi tasveer gaati rahi raat bhar

A fragrance kept changing its body all night
And a portrait kept singing all night long

phir sabaa saaya-e-shaakh-e-gul ke talay
koi qissa sunaati rahi raat bhar

And again, in the shades of blossomed tree
A gentle breeze narrated some tales  all night long

jo na aaya use koi zanjeer-e-dar
har sadaa par bulaati rahi raat bhar

The chains of the courtyard, with every call,
Sought him, who did not turn up, all night long

eik ummeed se dil behalta raha
ik tamanna sataati rahi raat bhar

A hope kept my heart at bay
And a desire kept burning within all night long

(Faiz–Sept 1978, Moscow)

Woh Jiski Deed Mein – Faiz by Abida

Have been meaning to write out this beautiful ghazal – Wo jiski deed mein…Again,a FAIZ-ABIDA combination… companion for a quiet evening.. Here is a feeble attempt at translating it – (with special thanks to DigDownDeep

Woh jiski deed mein laakhoun masarratein pinhaaan
Woh husn jiski tamanna mein jannat pinhaan

Just for a look at her, I have lost a million joys
And its the desire of her beauty, that I let go of my Prophet

Hazaar fitney tah-e-paa-e-naaz khaak-e-nasheen
Har eik nigaah khumar-e-shabaab se rangeen

Shabaab jis se takhaiyul pe bijliyaan barsein
Waqaar jiski rafaqat ko shokhiyaan tarsey

A thousand temptations rise and fall, with every delicate footprint of hers
In every eye, the colored dreams of her youthful beauty lie

The mere thought of her youth, strikes me from the heavens above
Yet my innocent mischievousness seeks the solemnity of her companionship

Ada-e-laghzisheiy paa par qyamatein qurbaan
Bayaz-e-rukh pey sahar ki sabahatein qurbaan

Siyaah zulfoun mein badaaon sa nikhatoun ka hujoom
Taweel raatoun ki khwabeedah raahatoun ka hujoom

In the delicacy of those misplaced feet, I can sacrifice eternities
To read a leaf, off the book of her face, I can let go of the morning wine

From her dark tresses, the intoxicating fragrance of wine lures,
Like the dreamy long nights and the promise of tranquility

Woh aankh jiski banao pe khaliq dey raae
Zabaan-e-shair ko tareef kartey sharmaae

Gudaaz jism qaba jispe sajke naaz karey
Daraaz qad jisey sarw-e-sahi namaz karey

The shape of her eyes is brooded over by the Almighty
And the poets finds themselves inadequate at praising her beauty

Whatever she wears is honored by the fall off her buxom body
Her tall personality is worshipped by the rich and the fakir

Kisi zamaney mein is rah-guzar sey guzraa thaa
Ba-sad guroor-o-tajammul idhar sey guzraa thaa

Aur ab ye raah guzar bhi hai dilfareb-o-haseen
Hai uski khaak mein kaif-e-sharab-e-sair makeen

There was a time, when I had cross these streets
And so full I was of pride and magnificence

But the times have changed, and these very streets allure me
As even your dust carries the exhilaration of wine and intoxication

Hawa mein shokhi-e-raftaar ki adaaein hain
Faza mein narmi-e-guftaar ki sadaen hain

Garaz vo husn is raah ka juzu-e-manzar hai
Niyaz-e-ishq kou eik sajda gaah maiyassar hai

The air is full of the coquettishness of youth and agility
The weather seems full of the warmth of a conversation

And the pursuit of her beauty is what the heart craves to witness
a mosque is never too far for a prayer of love

Some of the key words and their meanings –
Masarrat: Happiness, Joy; Pinhaan: Concealed, Hidden; Tah : Plait, fold, multiplicity, perplexity; Fitnaa: Sedition, Mischief, Quarrel, Revolt, Temptation, Wickedness; Naaz : coquetry, amorous playfulness; Shabaab: Juvenility, Youth ; takhaaiyul : imagination, fancy ; Waqaar : Solemnity ;rafāqat : companionship, society, friendship ; Shokhiyaan : Coquetry, Mischief, Restlessness; Laghzish: Blunder, Lapse, Mistake, Tottering ; Bayaaz: Album, Handbook, Notebook, Vade Mecum; Sahaba : Wine, Esp. Red Wine ; Rukh : Face, Cheek, Side ; Siyaah :Black, Dark ; Baadaa : Booze, Wine ; Nikhat: Fragrance; Hujoom: Assault, Attack, Crowd, Onset, Throng, Tumult ; Taweel: Extended, Lengthy, Long ; Raahat : Quiet, rest, repose, ease, tranquillity; Banaao : Appearance, form, shape, colour, Adornment; Khaliq : The Great Creator, the Originator ;Gudaaz: Well-Mixed, Well-endowed ;Daraaz : Long, tall; Qaba: Gown, Long Coat Like Garment ;Sarw : Affluent, Opulent, Rich, Wealthy; Sahi : A religious mendicant, a Mohammadan faqīr; Tajammul : Dignity, pomp, splendour, magnificence; guroor : pride, vanity, haughtiness; Ba-sad : by a hundred; Dil fareb : Alluring, Beautiful, Charming, Enticing; Sair : Walk, Excursion, Stroll; Makeen : Firmly fixed; well-established;–in a high station; Kaif: exhilaration, Happiness, Intoxication, Joy; Fiza ; Atmosphere, Environment; guftaar : discourse, conversation ; Raftaar: Going, motion, walk, gait, pace; Shokhi : Playfulness, fun, mischief; pertness, sauciness; coquetry, wantonness; Garaz: An object of aim or pursuit, or of desire; aim, end, object, design, view, purpose; Manzar: Aspect, Countenance, Landscape, Scene, Visage ; Niyaz : Petition, supplication, prayer; Mayassar: easy, feasible, practicable; favourable

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Gul Hui Jaati Hai : Faiz

This is one of the most beautiful Faiz compositions that I have heard. With Abida Parveen’s voice adding soul to these beautiful words, its the perfect setting for a nice quiet evening. I have seen a lot of people wondering about what the ghazal means. Thats when I thought I should just write this bit out. Listen it here

गुल हुई जाती है अफ़सुर्दा सुलगती हुई शाम
धुल के िनक्लेगी अभी चश्म-ए-माहताब से रात
और मुश्ताक िनगाहों की सुिन जाएगी
और उन हाथों से मस होंगे ये तरसे हुए हाथ

Gul hui jaati hai afsurda sulagti hui shaam
Dhul ke niklay gi abhi chashma-e-mahtab se raat
Aur mushtaaq nigaahon ki suni jaaye gi
Aur un hathon se mas hongay yeh tarse huay haath….

The morose evening is lost in the silhouette of a fading sun
But soon, it will come out bathed in the moonlit night
And those eager eyes will be heard to, one more time
and these longing fingers will be entwined with those fingers again

उन का आंचल है िक रुखसार िक पैराहन है
कुछ तो है िजस से हुई जाती है िचलमन रंगीन
जाने उस ज़ुल्फ़ िक मौहूम घनी छावं में
िटमिटमाता है वो आवेज़ा अभी तक के नही

Un ka aanchal hai ke rukhsaar keh payrahan hai…
Kuch to hai jis se hui jaati hai chilman rangeen…
Jaanay us zulf ki mauhoom ghani chaaoon mein…
Timtimataa hai woh aawayzah abhi tak keh nahi…

Is this the decorated end of your sari, or the colors on your face, or the way you’ve dressed
There has to be something, that has made the curtains (that hide you) so colorful
I wonder, if in the thick dark tresses of her long hair,
does it(the moon) still twinkle, hanging, suspended, still yearning for thee?

आज िफर हुस्न-ए-िदल-अारा की वो ही धज होगी
वो ही ख्वाबीदा सी आंखें वो ही काज़ल की लकीर
रंग-ए-रुखसार पे हल्का सा वो गाज़े का गुबार
सन्द्ली हाथों पे धुन्धिल सी िहना की तहरीर

Aaj phir husn-e-dil aaraa ki wohi dhaj hogi…
Wohi khaabeedah si aankhein wohi kaajal ki lakeer…
Rang-e-rukhsaar pe halka sa woh gaazay ka ghubaar…
Sandali haathon pe dhundli si hina ki tehreer…

Tonite, the beauty of my beloved will show itself in the same resplendent glory
Those dreamy eyes, and those black eyelashes
the color of her cheeks flushed with the pink of roses (cosmetics/powder)
and those hands smelling of sandal, decorated with beautiful Hina designs

अपने अफ्कार के अशआर िक दुिनया है यही
जान-ए-मज़मून है ये शािहद-ए-माना है यही
अपन मौज़ू-ए-सुखन इन के िसवा और नही
तब्बा शायर का वतन इन कॆ िसवा और नही

Apnay afkaar ki ashaar ki duniya hai yehi…
Jaanay mazmoon hai yehi, shahid-e-ma’anaa hai yehi…
Apna mauzoo-e-sukhan inke siva aur nahi
Tabba shayar ka vatan inke siva aur nahin

This is the world of the couplets and my thoughts

Such is the essense of my writings, such is the fate of this doomed poet.
there is no other subject of my conversataions,
The mood of the poet wanders in no other kingdom but that of the beloved

ये खूं की महक है िक लब-ए-यार िक खुशबू
िकस राह की जािनब से सबा आती है देखो
गुलशन मे बहार आई के िज़न्दा हुआ आबाद
िकस संग से नगमों की सदा आती है देखो

Yeh Khoon Ki mahak hai ki labe yaar ki khushboo
Kis raah ki – Jaanib se saba aati hai dekho
Gulshan mein bahar bahaar aayi ki zinda hua abad
Kis sang se naghmon ki sada aati hai dekho

Is this the warm smell of blood, or the sweet fragrance of beloved’s lips

From which direction is this wind blowing, someone go and check
Can you feel, with the arrival of spring, that the estranged have come alive
You must go and check who is the stone-hearted that sings the song of serenade!

Its difficult to do justice to such a marvellous nazm given my limited vocab. But an attempt is always on! 🙂 Let me know if you can think of some better lines.

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