Sunday, 25 April 2010

When contemporary idioms are admissible in translation.

I don't normally like translations that employ contemporary idioms, agendas or controversies to 'sex up' translations of classic poems. However, there are moments in history- apocalyptic moments- when the distinction between eras is erased and all literature becomes urgently contemporary and passionately engaged.
At times like these I think a couplet like the following is permissible-
I've become the freed slave of my own Shiloh's honest Abe
Incessantly butt fucked in her Indifference's Abu Ghraib

There is scarcely a ghazal in the canon into which this couplet could not be profitably interpolated.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Difficulties of translating courtly poetry

Much of the piquancy of courtly poetry arises from word play involving elite customs and modes of speech. The fact that courtiers often employ a sort of hypertrophied courtesy involving exaggerated protestations of devotion that draw upon a sort of fossilised ceremonial language increases the scope for the courtier poet to display his status as 'an insider' who understands the origins of certain customs and rituals that the parvenu finds puzzling.
However, this presents a grave problem for translators and calls into question the status of courtly poetry as representing a truly universal art form. 
Take the following quatrain- 
Not punctilio, merely, methinks she softens to my suit
Might not etiquette beget true affection's  fruit?
For the formulaic postscript to her epistle dismissive
Reads- 'bugger not the bearer of this missive!'
How many modern day English speakers would know that 'bugger not the bearer' - though employed here in a purely conventional and formulaic way, like 'may this letter find you in good health'- is actually a survival of the love poetry of an earlier era? In this case, a Master Poet had depicted the paramour of the King as using this phrase to express three different sentiments or shades of meaning viz-
1) she knows her letter will greatly arouse the amorous passion of the King and this excites jealousy in her against even her own means of communication with him.
2) the mystical concept that the intermediary, or go-between, gains status by so doing and in some sense becomes part of a Trinity.
3) the suggestion that the King may seek to increase the frequency of her letters by sodomising the postman- thus attributing a naive mentality to the King for the hidden purpose of showing how badly Love has disordered her own mental faculties. 
By the time the quatrain, quoted above, was written, however, the phrase 'bugger not the bearer' had become just a meaningless formula. Thus we have a picture of a well bred lady ending a letter dismissing the importunities of the courtier with a formula which implies passionate love rather than (as she would imagine) a salutary warning of a hygenic type. 
How does one translate a poem whose fundamental premise is that translation is not possible even within its own milieu and idiolect?
Now, in the above case, the lady in question did recognise the allusion and replied in kind with this erudite little couplet-
No cock but all arse-hole, you give tongue to your wit
Brown nosing Archbishop, helping others to shit! 
The literary reference here being to a ecclesiastic of an earlier time who, famously, had an anal sphincter larger than his body; a fact much commented upon by mystics and theologians of a via negativa type. However, the true pungency of the line arises out of the fact that the venerable author of the quatrain did in fact have a very small penis. However, no personal disappointment, arising from this circumstance, and contrary to what some gossips aver, motivated my decision to leave  India in 1977, nor do I rake up the matter- now the parties to it are all dead and that milieu vanished- save to throw light upon the difficulties of translating courtly poetry in this levelling age.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Ghalib gets the finger

A couplet from a ghazal Ghalib wrote at the age of 19.
kāfī hai nishānī tirā chhalle kā nah denā
ḳhālī mujhe dikhlā ke bah vaqt-e safar angusht 

Not her virginal nose ring, such joy did I bring her
 Street urchins sing of how she gave me the finger.

Surprise, surprise, this is not what the commentators read in the verse.

Khwaja Mir Dard's 'madrasa ta ya dair ta ya Ka'ba ya but-khana ta'

For a scholarly article on the difficulties of translating Dard click here.
An interesting idea in an essay found here concerns the distinction between izafat and i'tibar- both of which have no real existence in themselves but with the former having a partial empirical existence through the One Reality's self revelation and the latter being wholly fictional and of the character of negation and non being. 
This enriches our reading of Dard, for the use of izafat will now suggests a variant ontology such that what it links exists only in a manner derivative  from that to which it grammatically enchains. 
Here is my version of the first ghazal in Dard's Divan.

Whether at the Ka'ba or Jaba the Hutt's Holy fane
Thy Guests, Lord, we at thy pleasure remain

Death's dawn revealed all Revelation was vain
Existence a dream and the Logos insane

 Does Autumn's feverish colour the wind's chill explain?
 Does the delivery boy, for its coquetry coy, my cock disdain?

My Pop's station is higher than Popes attain
'I'm a great mystic', is this ghazal's refrain

Oh yes and add in some shite about tears flowing like rain
And the Saqi and the Tavern & Love's torment & pain

& once you are done, start over and do it again
For 'I'm a great mystic' is every ghazals' refrain

My translation is not literal because I'm assuming Dard wasn't utterly stupid or concerned merely with coining sonorous cliches. But there is a more serious point- one I might refer to as the holographic nature of mystic poetry whereby the whole is contained in every part for by the principle of  lâ takrâr fi’l-tajallî, no synergy of the whole is not contained in the uncoiling haecceity of  the part, echo as it is of the primordial 'kun' ('Be').

Borges, Ibn Arabi and Charles H Hinton's 'alterable Past'

In 'the Secret Miracle', Borges writes of the first volume of a fictional poet's Vindication of Eternity as being'...a history of the diverse eternities devised by Man; from the immutable Being of Parmenides to the alterable Past of Hinton...'
Alterable past? Charles H Hinton had a concept of an alterable Past?
Borges continues, that the poet's second volume, 'denies (with Francis Bradley) that all the events in the universe make up a temporal series. He argues that the number of experiences possible to man is not infinite, and that a single ';repetition' suffices to demonstrate that time is a fallacy..."
The Ibn Arabi scholar, W. Chittick, writes
“There is no repetition in [God's] self-disclosure” (lâ takrâr fi’l-tajallî) 'By acknowledging the unity of the Real, Tawhid, we recognize that it is one and unique in its every act, which means that each created thing and each moment of each thing is one and unique; nothing can ever be repeated precisely because of each thing's uniqueness and the divine infinity.' (W.Chittick)

I must admit I still don't understand the phrase 'alterable past'- is it the notion that one can choose any past compossible with the present?

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Narendra Modi and the doctrine of 'command responsibility'

The doctrine of 'command responsibility' holds that that the person holding command is responsible for the actions of his subordinates, including acts of omission.
The allegation against Narendra Modi is that he either himself abetted, or at the very least failed to prevent, heinous acts of violence in the aftermath of the Godhra atrocity.
In Indian law, Modi would face criminal charges if admissible evidence substantiates the allegation.
A separate question- one relating to the chances of success of court cases filed against Modi, on Human Rights grounds, in a foreign jurisdiction or one founded upon a claim for damages under the U.S Alien Torts Claims Acts- has to do with 'command responsibility'.
This begs the question as to whether Modi had inherited a machinery of State that was fit for purpose and, as such, amenable to command.
What are we to say of a State where, in 1992, the police were in the pockets of a gangster (who also financed the Congress party) who assasinates a senior Congress M.P who was about to present damaging information about him to the Central Home Minister? The same gangster, together with a former Congress Minister of Fisheries, then arranges a terror attack on Surat in response to the Babri Masjid demolition before fleeing to Pakistan.
Modi, over the years, may well have eliminated at least the criminal/terrorist/police nexus. But, in a democratic set up, how much further can he go to break the nexus between land sharks and corrupt policemen? What of illicit liqor, the flesh trade, drugs and the various other ills associated with rising material prosperity?
As for religious and caste prejudices- can his mantra 'all religions are equal paths to God' really prevail?
Modi was brought into Gujerati politics because he was neither a Patel nor a Kshatriya. He was supposed to confine himself to speech making and, perhaps, building bridges to adivasis and marginalized farmers. His response to the Kutch earthquake showed the calibre of the man. But Godhra should have cut him off at the legs. Riots are the means used by the middle level party bosses to render the guy at the top impotent. It's all about countervailing power. The middle level guys are paid off by the criminals who then themselves can rise to become political figures.
Modi essentially took responsibility for the post Godhra riots, utterly obscene though they were, thus rising above his rivals and concentrating power in his hands. With the courage of desperation he then brokered a deal with the farmers whereby they gave up free electricity in return for an assured power supply at night at a lower rate. This was only one of many path-breaking initiatives that he took. Some see Modi's manic energy, post-Godhra, as a psychological defence against the horrors of the riots. What is unquestionable is that Modi changed how Government and Society interacted.
His attitude towards Panchayat Raj- where he encouraged unanimous voting in elections- indicate his supicion of the political instrumenalization of disorder that is the other side of the coin of party politics.
Modi refers again and again to the fact that he wasn't involved in student politics and held no elected office until parachuted in by the BJP high command.
Both Godhra and its aftermath were the inevitable result of a corrupt political process in which not just criminals but also terrorists could be used to appeal to 'vote-banks'. The hilarious story of Ram Vilas Paswan taking along an Osama bin Laden look alike to gather Muslim votes shows how cynical our politicians are.
In this context, Modi's moral as well as 'command responsibility' for the post-Godhra riots pales into insignificance when compared to the hereditary masters of the Nation's destiny.
But, what's next for Modi? Sooner or later the very prosperity he has helped create will fuel a demand for change. Patels and other forward sections have attractive candidates of their own. A lot of money is being made in Gujarat. 'Rent seeking' has enormous scope for expansion. Few public officials and politicians like seeing money go straight to the poor through Garib Kalyan Melas.
And, without Modi, the necessity for communal riots will once again make itself felt. After all, how else are elections to be won?

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Guess the author- 'A modern Manikavachakar'

Entrusted with funds for Defense procurement, the Poet/Saint journeyed to a certain place where, moved by devotion to God, he forgot his mission and  immediately built a beautiful temple with the Government's money..
When the Ministry demanded to see the Munitions purchased, the Poet/Saint appealed to God who immediately sent the same- however, by Maya they turned into excuses. Temple also turned out to be a prostitute. Commission of Enquiry is predicted to file its report by 3013 A.D.
Here is a beautiful poem of the Poet/Sage.

What a beautiful poem! Only poetry like this can fill heart with Devotion, or if not devotion then at least the determination to try to moderate one's desire to shit in the mouths of mystics and piss on the bald pates of priests.
(from the Tamil)

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Ghalib’s ghazal- ‘jahan tera naqsh-e-qadam’

Thy footsteps, in desert sands, are where to our famished gaze
Iram resurrected stands, its rose beds all ablaze.
   That Beauty's mole miss kiss her lip, must so trouble and amaze
 Reason we now let slip & Reality e'en lower appraise.
Tho' the rapture of your beholding mere human havoc plays
Yet less Cosmic is the tumult, Doomsday itself displays.
To find the Ninja who, by dark, attacks, foils Day's detective rays
  For, fleeing my heart, assassin tracks, Night as its Sun assays.
Now lost to her own looking glass, alas! her not the spectacle sways
 Of her lovers as lost to a mirrored, for, but blind alley, maze.
 In a goliard's tuneful tatters, cloak, Ghalib, Thought's gilded lays
For Princes now are paupers & only tadpoles croak thy praise.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Restructuring Religious Studies in Schools- a modest proposal.

Having once taught Religious Studies for Common Entrance, I have long pondered a method to reduce the amount of cramming the Subject requires and to re-constitute it on a logical and analytical basis. One great benefit that would flow from such an approach is that it would provide an introduction to comparative metaphysics, epistemology, and hermeneutics.
That this should be done, as far as possible, by encouraging the free exercise of the young pupil's own creative intellect, goes without saying.

The method. I propose, is to get the kids to compete to find the shortest logical chain, for any given Religion, from the three fundamental propositions viz.
1) God is really really nice 
2) That's why he loves and cherishes all beings 
3) And coz it's nice to be nice he wants you to be nice 

to the big pay-off viz

X) so kindly hand over all your money to us and go kill, at our command, lots of people you never met and who did nobody any harm and remember you are a miserable pile of shite, God bless you, coz God is really really nice and loves and cherishes all beings etc.

Since Metaphysics and Hermeneutics help shorten the number of steps in the logic chain- the pupils interest in these fields will be greatly stimulated.

Iqbal, khuddi and the barzakh

Excerpted from  an essay by Dr. Ayesha Leghari Saeed

Iqbal believes that human being have the potential for creative growth. Growth takes place through actions, deeds and personal effort. He is against the pessimistic doctrine of Materialism, which supposes that man’s end takes place at death. For Iqbal “...death, if present action has sufficiently fortified the ego against the shock that physical dissolution brings, is only a passage to what the Qur’an describes as Barzakh.”[17]
The barzakh is a state of consciousness which experiences space and time differently from how they are experienced in this present spacio-temporal order. It is the isthmus that connects this realm of physical reality with the realm of the spirit. The realm of the spirit being so pure and powerful, that access to it is only possible through the intermediate realm of barzakh. The barzakh allows for the spiritual realm and the physical realm to find a meeting place where the qualities of both realms are integrated and amalgamated, as in the realm of dreams and the angelic realm. According to Iqbal, barzakhis not supposed to be experienced in a state of passivity. Instead it is supposed to be experienced as an active state of consciousness, which allows the ego to encounter, understand and interact with other levels of reality without losing its individuality. The time spent between death and resurrection is therefore a time spent in this intermediate realm of reality called the barzakh, where a strengthened ego does not face dissolution when faced with powerful forces from thebarzakhi reality.
Resurrection, according to Iqbal, is nothing more than an ego’s own self-assessment of its own past actions in the face of a comprehensive understanding of the actual and volitional potential for growth that it enjoyed while it was clothed in this earthly existence. The ego, therefore, experiences resurrection not as an external event but an internal self-evaluation; a resurrection of its own self from the ashes of its own past experience and the seeds that it sowed for its future growth.
Iqbal believes in the possibility of the ego’s growth even after death.[18] He quotes the following verse of the Qur’an to substantiate this belief: “What! When dead and turned to dust, shall we rise again? Remote is such a return. Now know We what the earth consumeth of them and with Us is a book in which account is kept.”[19]
The Qur’an has again and again reiterated the message that the end of human life is not death of the physical body. To Iqbal, the above message suggests that the nature of individuality is such that it is maintained even after the disintegration of the body, as we know it. Although we cannot gain any ‘insight’ into the nature of the ‘second creation’ i.e. life after death of the physical body, but the Qur’an clearly teaches that it is the nature of the human individuality to remain distinct and separate. It is due to its individual character that it experiences resurrection and punishment or reward according to what it deserves through its deeds, before death. Iqbal writes:
Philosophically speaking, therefore, we cannot go further than this that in view of the past history of man it is highly improbable that his career should come to an end with the dissolution of his body.[20]
In order to grasp Iqbal’s understanding of the concepts of hell and heaven and the growth of the human individuality after death, the following passage has been quoted from his seminal lecture on ‘The Human Ego- His Freedom and Immortality”. It is important to keep in mind that Iqbal came to these conclusions after an exhausting analysis of the concepts of hell and heaven as are elucidated in the vast realms of Islamic Philosophy, the Qur’an and Sunnah. Iqbal believes that heaven and hell are not some physical locations outside the human ego but are states of the inner human consciousness. “Hell, in the words of the Quran, is ‘God’s kindled fire which mounts over the hearts’ (37:41-49)― the painful realization of one’s failure as a man. Heaven is the joy of triumph over the forces of disintegration.”[21] Iqbal does not conceive of Hell literally as a “pit of everlasting torture,”[22] imposed by a vengeful God. Instead he understands it to be a place where an ego devoid of sensitivity to God’s Grace is kindled into a state from which he/she cannot but help respond to God’s Power and Glory. Heaven, on the other hand is conceived as a state where the ego becomes not a passive but an active participant in the creative process.
And the recipient of Divine illumination is not merely a passive recipient. Every act of a free ego creates a new situation, and thus offers further opportunities of creative unfolding.[23]
The creative unfolding of the human ego through a clear understanding of the doctrine of personal immortality is at the heart of Iqbal’s concept of khudi.

How does Iqbal's conception, outlined above, differ from Ibn Arabi's concept of the Barzakh? 
Iqbal's notion has affinities with Bergson's concept of Time and Creative Evolution. Ibn Arabi on the other hand affirms

“There is no repetition in [God's] self-disclosure” (lâ takrâr fi’l-tajallî) '
By acknowledging the unity of the Real, Tawhid, we recognize that it is one and unique in its every act, which means that each created thing and each moment of each thing is one and unique; nothing can ever be repeated precisely because of each thing's uniqueness and the divine infinity.' (W.Chittick)

In other words, in the same way that 'kshanika vada' (doctrine of momentariness) rescues Buddhism from other than instrumental commitment to karma, Ibn Arabi's system too is rescued from the hilarious image of Iqbal thinking great thoughts while mouldering in his grave.

khalq, amr and barzakh

There's a famous couplet from Ghalib-
Apni gali mein na kar mujhe dafan-e-bad-e-qatl
Kyoun mere pate se khalq ko tera ghar mile?
No! Not after I'm slain, fair assassin, I thee implore
Bury me not in your lane, lest others find your door
 The theme here is an old one. The Hubb al Udhri lover dies on the road to the beloved. The kuh-e-yaar- the street of the fair one- is the earth under which the lover wishes to be buried. 
However, the mystical twist behind this particular verse is by no means easy to comprehend for a Hindu. This is because Ghalib has chosen to use a word- khalq- with heavy religious and philosophical overtones. 
Muslim intellectuals grasp these overtones at a subconscious level. The non-Muslim must ponder the imagery and consult dictionaries and reference books to arrive at the same level of comprehension.
When considering why a poet choses a particular word, we begin by considering the rules of prosody. One word may be more apt than another which has the same meaning. However, we also need to consider what other concept that particular word is bracketed with. In the case of khalq, there is a bracketing with amr.

Searching on the web, I find this-
(click on the link for the full essay)
 by  Sayyid Muhammad Husayni Beheshti
Translated from the Persian
by Shams al-Huda 

Published by:
al Tawhid Islamic Journal
Vol. I, No. 2 - Rabi al Thani - 1404 
In theological philosophy, the domain of. being has been divided into various classifications from different angles: necessary and contingent, essential and accidental and so on. One of the divisions is into `non‑material' (mujarrad)and `material' (maddi). The material beings are subject to motion, change and alteration. The non‑material beings are free from matter, movement, change and alteration. A material being is bound by time and space, whereas a non‑material being is free from them, and is not limited by these two binding factors. The complete domain of non‑material being is called `alam al‑'amr(the World of Command).

In the `World of Command' every being assumes existence spon taneously on exercise of Divine will or command, without the need of preparation of any material, temporal or special ground.

The realization of every being is subject to its essential possibility (al‑imkan al‑dhati). Anything which is essentially impossible (al‑mumtani` bil‑dhat)and incapable of assuming existence, whether material or non‑material, God does not command for its coming into being. However, the essential possibility of a being is always with its essence, and time and space do not intervene in it.

As opposed to the World of Command, there is the World of Creation(`alam al‑khalq). The material world is called the Word of Creation. In this world, the existence of every being, in addition to its essential possibility(al‑imkan al‑dhati), depends on its possibility of preparedness (al‑'imkan al‑isti'dadi); that is, its materialization can take place only under the presence of favourable conditions and readiness of ground. Here also, the realization of every being takes place with the will and command of God. However, so long as the ground for the emergence of a material being is not prepared, the necessary conditions are not fulfilled and hindrances are not removed, God does not will its creation and does not command its realization.
Relevance of this distinction.
The distinction between alam al Khalq and alam al Amr is useful to reconcile socio-political,  hermeneutic, historical, and  scientific theories based on Evolution with Revealed Religion as in the following argument put forward by Dr.Hamidullah- 
“He created you in stages” (Wallah-o-Khalaqaqum Atwara ,71:14). The word tawr is the basis of tatawwar, which means evolution. This is then further defended: This can also mean that God created man as a mineral in the first instance. Mineral developed into vegetation, which developed into animal life. There is no contradiction.'
Similarly Dr, Ahmad Afzal writes- 'According to Shah Waliullah Dehlvi (1703—1762 A.D.  ), there are two types of Divine Creative activity viz; Al-Aalam Khalq & Al-Aalam Amr. The Al-Aalam Khalq, the world of Allah’s ordinary creatures, in which every thing that happens takes times (e.g. the universe took approximately 15 billion years to develop from Big Bang and the primitive gaseous state to its presents form. A fertilized ovum takes 270—280 days to grow into a fully developed baby). But there is Al- Aalam Amr, or the domain of Divine Creative Energy, that is a direct manifestation of His Word or Logos that is His command of Be! There is absolutely no time factor involved in this realm and things happens instantaneously. He says: Be! and it becomes (Al-Quran 36:82). The initial act of the creation of matter out of nothing (creatio ex Nihilo) represents a direct command or Amr of Almighty Allah. According to the Holy Quran “Ruh (soul) is an Amr-i-Rabb (17:85)]. (15)'
However, the learned scholar first quoted- anxious to build bridges and unify Islam by pruning back mystical or metaphysical extravagances which might prove stumbling blocks- has this to say-
They ask you about the soul. Say, `The soul is of the amr [command or affair?] of my Lord, and you have been given of knowledge nothing except a little.' (17:85)
What purpose lies behind the reply "the soul is of the amr of my Lord ....", given to answer the questioners? There can be two possible answers to this question: firstly, that the verse throws light on the obscure matter of the soul. Secondly, it may be said that the verse wants to say that the very question about the soul is pointless, because the soul, like many other unknowables, is not known to anybody except God. The more the human understanding expands, the more it finds itself confronted with greater number of obscurities. "You have been given of knowledge nothing except a little," would, therefore, imply that man should apply his energies to matters which have not been put beyond the scope of his intellect, cognitive and even imagina tive faculties, and abstain from indulging in matters beyond their power and range. In such affairs, his share is only to the extent that, he may, through the guidance of his inborn insight, realize that such and such beings do exist in the universe‑ just as he realizes that the Creator exists‑‑though he is unable to fathom their reality.
In the light of the last part of the verse, "You have been given of knowledge nothing except little", the second view seems more accept able. Therefore, the meaning of the sentence, "Say, `The soul is of the amr of my Lord'," is, "Say that the soul is one of those affairs that relate to my Lord, and that He has reserved the knowledge of it to Himself. The knowledge which has been put within man's reach is very limited."
However, the second part of the verse also seems appropriate in the light of the first viewpoint. Seen in its perspective, the meaning of the verse shall be: "Say, `The soul is by the command of my God. and O Jews, who want to test Our Prophet by raising these questions and want to judge his sayings with what you find in your Book, know that not much share of knowledge had been provided for you.' " Neverthe less, the two parts of the verse seem more coherent when interpreted according to the second viewpoint. Well, what is the meaning of the sentence, "The ruh (spirit or soul) is by the command (amr) of my Lord," according to the first viewpoint? Does it mean that theruh is the work and creation of God? Or that the ruh is by the command of God? Or that the ruh is from the World of Command? None of these meanings can be clearly derived from the verse itself.
What is here meant by ruh? The human "spirit" or "soul", the "Spirit" meaningRuh al‑Qudus (the Holy Spirit or Angel Gabriel), "spirit" in its common unspecified sense, "ruh" when used for the Quran, "ruh" to mean Jesus (A) who is also called Ruh Allah or the "Spirit of God"‑are the various instances in regard to which the word "ruh" has been employed by the Quran. Now which of these meanings the questioners had in view, is not clear. Perhaps, the purpose was to ask the same generally understood meaning of human soul. But if the Jews or the idolaters (mushrikun) under the influence of Jewish no tions, had raised this question, it is possible that all or some of these meanings of the word ruh were in view. Therefore, can the notion of the World of Command, or the theory of creation and command, be considered as being validly supported by the Quran? Not at all. Follow ing are the reasons behind this unwarranted and baseless transference of an extraneous notion to the Quran:
A study of the books of exegesis and a comparison of various commentaries written under the influence of ideas expounded by the scholastic theologians(mutakallimun), philosophers, mystics and gnostics, with other commentaries .written by others who have escaped such influence, show that the correspondence contrived between the Quranic verse   (His, verily, is all khalq and amrand the theory of creation and command, originated from the controversies of mutakallimun.
With the beginning of `ilm al‑kalam (Islamic scholastic philosophy), following the discussion about the Essence and Attributes of God, the question arose whether the Quran, being the Word of God, was pre‑eternal (qadim) or of temporal original (hadith). This problem was, for centuries, the subject of heated controversies between many thinkers during the distinguished epoch of Islamic culture and civiliza tion. The discussions regarding pre‑eternity (qidam)and temporality (huduth) became a typical and fundamental issue between the two schools of kalam known as the Mu'tazilites and Ash'arites. Each of these theories, which incorporated many other views, gathered a number of staunch and warring supporters. The gatherings of the elite, in which the major political and religious personages of the time were present, set the usual stage for a show of debates and controversies of the adept exponents of each school. During these controversies, raged with the tongue or the pen, the rivals tried to avail of every possible means to prove the authenticity of their views. They put all their thinking effort into looking for new tools and fresh arguments in support of their position. Throughout these efforts, which were aimed at only getting hold of fresh arguments, the spirit of truth‑seeking remained very weak. It is a well‑known fact that the spirit of rivalry and flair for controversy, despite one's intellectual keenness and knowledge, deviate the mind from the path of truth and lead to extreme distor tion in perception of rational issues and understanding of textual material.
It was in the midst of such tempestuous controversies that the matter relating to Divine verses came under discussion. During these debates, their attention was mainly or totally devoted to finding new `evidence' in the Quran to support their preferred viewpoints, thereby arming themselves with lethal weapons to demolish their enemies' positions. If they came across any faintest literal resemblance of meaning that corresponded with their viewpoints, they endeavoured to forge interpretations that would fit their views. It was not their concern to check the meaning of one verse against other verses on the same subject. Very often, if one portion of a verse seemed to corres pond with their viewpoint, the fact that the rest of the verse would not affirm such a correspondence did not discourage them. Novel interpre tations and new notions circulated from mouth to mouth and were handed down by ancestors to succeeding generations. In many cases that interpretation was considered as the only interpretation of a certain verse by the later generations.
This is what happened in regard to the sentence   in the verse of Surat al‑'A`raf. In early centuries when the Word of God was not considered as created and temporal, the argument was laid out in this manner: The distinction made between khalq and amrshows that the Word of God is uncreated; because all creatures are temporal (hadith), and amrin opposition to khalq, means the domain of pre‑eternal (qadim), uncreated things. Therefore, the Word of God, being His amror command is pre‑eternal and not temporal. This mode of interpretation of this Quranic sentence was mixed up with what was said in philosophy in regard to material and abstract beings. Thereafter, this interpretation was transferred to the verse of Surat Ya Sin

and it was taken to mean creation of abstract beings in the World of Command, and the two commonplace concepts of "material world" and "abstract world" were substituted by the terms "World of Creation" and "World of Command". Later, the main purpose, which was to seek justification from the Quranic verse for believing in pre- eternity of the Quran, was forgotten. From the view that "khalq" and "amr" in the verse represent two mutually exclusive things, the conclusion was derived that the phrase  (creation and command) means the "World of Creation and the World of Command." Subsequently, even those who considered the Quran as temporal and created also accepted this idea.' [2]

It would appear, from the view quoted above, that alam al Khalq is constrained by what is possible because alam al Amr is such that God does not command what is not possible. This raises the question- is possibility, as such, something arising out of an occult aspect of alam al amr- that is God's Will- or is there some sort of reciprocal relationship, at least to the temporal eye, such that the state of preparedness of the ground constrains what is commanded to be?
A related question has to do with the boundary between the worlds of Amr and Khalq. 
Ibn al Arabi's concept of the barzakh as a dimensionless limit or boundary appears relevant here.
However, the question arises as to whether this limbo, this phantom zone, is exempt from the constraint of possibility- or its seeming appearance to the temporal eye- whereby only that which is possible exists on both sides of the boundary.
Does the barzakh encompass impossible objects and incompossible states of affairs?
But this begs the question- are what present themselves to our minds as logically impossible objects or states of affairs merely a reflection of our ignorance, imaginative poverty, and lack of creativity?
Al amr al takwini vs al amr al taklifi
The command by which God engenders Life (takwin), is represented as an aspect of His Mercy (Rahman) as gratuitous gift, and gives rise, in the opinion of 
Vincent Cornell  to Universal Human Rights irrespective of Sectarian differences.

The command which creates specific sectarian duties (taklif) arises out of that Mercy (Rahim) which would seek enjoin Mercy on its object because Mercy is a good in itself.
Cornell writes- 'Unlike the altruistic "Mercy of the Gratuitous Gift" (rahmat al-imtinan), which is part of the Creative Command and is an expression of divine love and creativity, the Mercy of Obligation refers to the mercy that is required in every moral action, according to the Qur'anic verse: "Your Lord has prescribed mercy for Himself" (6: 12).[34] Ibn 'Arabi further relates the concept of mercy to the divine names al-Rahman and al-Rahim, with the Mercy of the Gratuitous Gift corresponding to al-Rahmanand the Mercy of Obligation to al-Rahim. Because of the reciprocal nature of justice, any act of mercy bestowed by one human being upon another constitutes a gift for both the receiver and the giver. For the receiver, the gift of mercy compensates for the severity of justice. For the giver, the duty to act mercifully is also a gift from God because it counteracts the tendency of the ego to indulge in self-righteousness:'
Is the alam al amr subject to a constraint?
the Qur'anic verse: "Your Lord has prescribed mercy for Himself" (6: 12) imply that God only commands the existence of that which is compossible with the Rahim of revealed amr al taklifi? 

Are the chaotic universes invoked in the nightmares of Chesterton ruled out by this verse? 
Perhaps, to the eye of faith, such indeed is the case. However, a common sense view- especially of Religions or Ideologies unfamiliar to one- is that they are, each and every one, precisely the sort of lawless Universes composed of incompossible objects that Chesterton cited as the seed bed of what is wickeder than vice and more callous than crime.

"And among them are those who listen to you, but We have placed over their hearts coverings, lest they understand it, and in their ears deafness. And if they should see every sign, they will not believe in it. Even when they come to you arguing with you, those who disbelieve say, "This is not but legends of the former peoples." (6.25)

The question of how a Necessary Being could ordain unbelief in his created creatures from before time and solely by his Command unconstrained by considerations of possibility links with the problem of 

predestination- one possible way of reconciling a merciful God with eternal damnation- is if God has a relationship with the soul in the realm of pre-existence. But then, events of this life are dictated from that realm. Karma might seem a more economical, indeed merciful, solution because it leaves open the possibility of future births in which the true doctrine can be assented to. 
Equally good, if not better, would be the notion of a sort of shadowy life in the limbo between death and resurrection where imaginal progress can be made towards union with God. This, would be one way of interpreting Ibn Arabi's concept of the barzakh.
However, the difficulty remains that God can command not merely unbelief but also a wholly spurious existence, or illusion of existence. This is a frightening world to live in, more not less frightening because it is sheer nonsense. More not less cruel because of the claim that it is founded upon infinite and gratuitous Mercy.
Ghalib's couplet reconsidered.
The objection to being buried in the beloved's street, after (rather than before) being slain by her- even thought this involves not separation but proximity- arises for the following reason- the khalq will more easily be able to find the beloved while the lover remains in  sort of limbo- tantalized by proximity but unable to do anything about it for in a ghostly state. The poet's grave then is a barzakh analogous to that between alam al amr and alam al khalq and the Mercy for which appeal is being made relates  not to postponement of death but the collapse of an ontological divide from whose benefit that which is imaginal merely is excluded.
In another verse, Ghalib has imagined the fair assassin as being so heedless- even to the horn of resurrection- as to protest his rising from the grave. T
he beloved, here, seems to be acting mechanically from habit, or temperament, or a sense of duty, rather than gratuitously. But this begs the question, if the original engendering command (amr-al-takvini) had the nature of Mercy-as-Pure-creativity is not the Resurrection more of the quality of amr-al-taklifi? 
The word cruelty goes with the notion of mercy. Poems about the cruel fair are understood as emotional appeals for mercy- i.e. the requital of love not on the basis of worthiness but as a gratuitous act of pity and compassion. Unlike Indic religions where cremation safeguards from the terrors of the grave, and re-birth assures one of eventual Moksha, Semitic religions stress the importance of God's mercy for, in its absence, there is simply no default mechanism to save one from a fate as cruel as it is everlasting.
Quite true, some enlightened souls feels disgust at the thought of the wheel of samsara- something to do with the fear of eating their former relatives, I believe- but ordinary people look forward to being reborn in better circumstances, finding their old relatives and loved one's wearing the delightful disguise of prattling infants, and having the assurance that sooner or later they will gain complete Liberation.
To sum it up briefly- the poet expresses himself in an imaginal limbo such that there is no direct contact with either that which is signified- viz. beings- nor that which saves signifiers from chaos- viz. organizing principles. The danger that, while in this limbo, the two realms may have collapsed into each other, consists in that same imaginal world becoming detached from both realms- in effect, the artist has been buried alive.
Since this is a fate no one escapes, and literature teaches no other lesson, Ghalib's couplet becomes a little less trivial on each reading.