Lyrics, Translation, and Explanation of “Balaghal-Ula Bi-Kamalihi”

“Balaghal-Ula Bi-Kamalihi” is a popular qawwali most famously performed by the late Sabri Brothers, Ghulam Farid Sabri (1930-1994) and Maqbool Ahmed Sabri (1945-2011), from Pakistan. It is a multilingual naat (praise of the prophet Muhammad) that centers around a famous Arabic quatrain (rubai) by the Persian poet Saadi Shirazi (1210-1292). The four-line poem is dispersed between several verses of Urdu and Persian poetry from sources that I have been unable to identify. If anyone recognizes any of the poets whose verses show up in this qawwali, your contribution would be appreciated. Any corrections or improvements would also be appreciated.

The main poem is: “Balaghal-ula bi-kamaalihi / Kashafad-duja bi-jamaalihi / Hasunat jameeu khisaalihi / Sallu alaihi wa aalihi”. (This is in Arabic, but in the translation I do not repeatedly identify it as such because of how spread out it is.) Much of the rest of the qawwali focuses on the story of the “miraj” (“ascension”), an event in Muhammad’s lifetime during which he is said to have ascended to heaven and beyond (to the Placeless Origin to visit the throne of God) on a winged creature named Buraq. The entire trip is said to have occurred in one night. According to some scholars of literature, this story partially inspired the Italian poet Dante’s epic poem, The Divine Comedy.

In the Urdu verses of this qawwali, we see how the monumental meeting between God and Muhammad is metaphorically framed as a meeting between lovers. For example, God summons Muhammad because “He longed to see him”. This metaphor is used to elucidate the common Sufi themes of separation and union, in which the separation of every being from God is a burden, whereas the ultimate goal is union and becoming one with God.

Farsi
اے ختمِ رسل کعبۂ مقصود تویی
ae khatm-e-rusul kaaba-e-maqsood tuyi
O Last of the Prophets, you are the Kaaba [we] seek
در صورتِ ہر چہ ہست موجود تویی
dar soorat-e-har che hast maujood tuyi
Within the form of everything that exists, you are present
آیاتِ کمالِ حق عیان است بتو
aayaat-e-kamaal-e-haq ayaan ast ba-to
The signs of the perfection of the Truth [God] are made clear in you
آن ذات کہ در پردہ نہان بود تویی
aan zaat ke dar parda nihaan bood tuyi
That essence which was hidden behind the veil was you

Urdu
سہانی رات تھی اور پر سکون زمانہ تھا
suhaani raat thi aur pur-sukoon zamaana tha
It was a beautiful night and the age was full of tranquility
اثر میں ڈوبا ہوا جذبِ عاشقانہ تھا
asar mein dooba hua jazb-e-aashiqana tha
The loving attraction was fully engulfed in effect
اُنہیں تو عرش پہ محبوب کو بلانا تھا
unhein to arsh pe mehboob ko bulaana tha
He [God] had to call His beloved to the heavenly throne
ہوس تھی دید کی معراج کا بہانہ تھا
hawas thi deed ki meraaj ka bahaana tha
He longed to see him – the ‘ascension’ was just an excuse!

سرِ لا مکان سے طلب ہوئی
sar-e-la-makaan se talab hui
A command came from the Placeless Origin
سوئے منتہا وہ چلے نبی
soo-e-muntaha wo chale nabi
Towards the final boundary [of the universe], the prophet went

یہ کمالِ حسن کا معجزہ
ye kamaal-e-husn ka moajza
This is the miracle of the perfection of beauty
کہ فراق حق بھی نہ سہ سکا
ke firaaq haq bhi na seh saka
That even the Truth [God] could not bear separation
شبِ معراج لیا عرشِ بریں پر بلوائے
shab-e-meraaj liya arsh-e-bareen par bulvaaye
On the night of ascension, He called Muhammad to the Sublime Throne
صدمۂ حجر خدا سے بھی گوارہ نہ ہوا
sadma-e-hijr Khuda se bhi gavaara na hua
The pain of separation was intolerable even for God

سرِ لا مکان سے طلب ہوئی
sar-e-la-makaan se talab hui
A command came from the Placeless Origin
سوئے منتہا وہ چلے نبی
soo-e-muntaha wo chale nabi
Towards the final boundary [of the universe], the prophet went
کوئی حد ہے اُن کے عروج کی
koi had hai un ke urooj ki
Is there any limit to his ascent?
بَلَغَ الْعُلا بِكَمالِهِ
balaghal-ula bi-kamaalihi
He reached the highest place through his perfection

Arabic
خیر الوریٰ صدر الدقة نجم الهدیٰ نور العلا
khair-ul-wara sadr-ud-duqa najm-ul-huda noor-ul-ula
“Best of creations, epitome of subtlety, star of guidance, light of the highest place
شمس الضحىٰ بدر الدجیٰ یعني محمد مصطفیٰ
shams-ud-duha badr-ud-duja yaani Muhammad Mustafa
Sun of morning, moon of night” – as in, Muhammad Mustafa

Urdu
کوئی حد ہے اُن کے عروج کی
koi had hai un ke urooj ki
Is there any limit to his ascent?
آقا روا سالارِ دین
aaqa rawa saalaar-e-deen
O lord and lawful chief of the religion
یَا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِین
ya rehmatal-lil-aalameen
O mercy for the worlds
آ مقتدیٰ ئے مرسلین
aa muqtada-e-mursaleen
O prevailing leader of the messengers
آ پیشوا ئے انبیا
aa peshwa-e-ambiya
O premier of the prophets

Farsi
جنت نشانِ کوے تو
jannat nishaan-e-koo-e-to
Heaven is a sign of your street
والشمسِ ایمان روے تو
wash-shams-e-eemaan roo-e-to
And the sun of faith is your face
واللیل وصفِ روے تو
wal-lail wasf-e-roo-e-to
And the night praises your face
خوبی ئے رویت والضحىٰ
khoobi ye rooyat wad-duha
The morning is the goodness of your face
اسمِ تو اسمِ اعظمی
ism-e-to ism-e-aazami
Your name is the greatest name
جسمِ تو جانِ عالمی
jism-e-to jaan-e-aalami
Your body is the life of the world
ذاتِ تو فخرِ آدمی
zaat-e-to fakhr-e-aadmi
Your rank is the pride of mankind
شانِ تو شانِ کبریا
shaan-e-to shaan-e-kibriya
Your glory is the glory of the Almighty

Urdu
کوئی حد ہے اُن کے عروج کی
koi had hai un ke urooj ki
Is there any limit to his ascent?

جو گیا ہے فرش سے عرش تک
jo gaya hai farsh se arsh tak
He who went from the ground to God’s Throne
وہ براق لے گیا بےدھڑک
wo Buraaq le gaya be-dharak
He took up Buraq fearlessly [beyond the]
طبقِ زمین ورقِ فلک
tabaq-e-zameen waraq-e-falak
Surface of the earth and page of the heavens
گئے نیچے پاؤں سے پل سڑک
gaye neeche paaun se pul sarak
Streets and bridges went out from under his feet
لٹیں زلف کی جو گئیں لٹک
laten zulf ki jo gaeen latak
As the locks of [his] hair dangled
تو جہان سارا گیا مہک
to jahaan saara gaya mehek
The entire world became fragrant
ہوئیں مست بلبلیں اس قدر
hueen mast bulbulen is qadar
The nightingales were intoxicated to such an extent
تو یہ غنچے بولے چٹک ِچٹک
to ye ghunche bole chatak chatak
That the rosebuds broke open and bloomed

کوئی حد ہے اُن کے عروج کی
koi had hai un ke urooj ki
Is there any limit to his ascent?

گئے گھر سے چڑھ کے براق پر
gaye ghar se char ke Buraaq par
He left home having mounted Buraq
شبِ وصل رخ سے ہوئی سحر
shab-e-vasl rukh se hui seher
On the night of union, his face brought about dawn
یہ سفر تھا خوب کا خوبتر
ye safar tha khoob ka khoobtar
This journey was better than the best
یہی تھا ہر ایک کی زبان پر
yahi tha har ek ki zubaan par
This is what was on everyone’s tongues

کوئی حد ہے اُن کے عروج کی
koi had hai un ke urooj ki
Is there any limit to his ascent?
بَلَغَ الْعُلا بِكَمالِهِ
balaghal-ula bi-kamaalihi
He reached the highest place through his perfection

یہی ابتدا یہی انتہا
yahi ibtida yahi intiha
This is the beginning, and this is the end
یہ فروغ جلوۂ حق نما
ye farogh jalwa-e-haq-numa
This brightness is the manifestation of the truth-revealer
کہ جہان سارا چمک اٹھا
ke jahaan saara chamak utha
Such that the entire world rose shining
كَشَفَ الْدُّجىٰ بِجَمالِهِ
kashafad-duja bi-jamaalihi
He drove out the darkness through his beauty

رخِ مصطفیٰ کی یہ روشنی
rukh-e-Mustafa ki ye raushni
This is the illumination of Mustafa’s face
یہ تجلیوں کی ہماہمی
ye tajalliyon ki hamaahami
This is the boastfulness of splendors
کہ ہر ایک چیز چمک اٹھی
ke har ek cheez chamak uthi
Such that every single thing rose shining
كَشَفَ الْدُّجىٰ بِجَمالِهِ
kashafad-duja bi-jamaalihi
He drove out the darkness through his beauty

نہ فلک نہ چاند تارے نہ سحر نہ رات ہوتی
na falak na chaand taare na seher na raat hoti
Neither sky nor moon, nor stars, nor daybreak would have existed
نہ تیرا جمال ہوتا نہ یہ کائنات ہوتی
na tera jamaal hota na ye kaainaat hoti
If not for your beauty, this universe would not have existed
کہ ہر ایک چیز چمک اٹھی
ke har ek cheez chamak uthi
Such that every single thing rose shining
كَشَفَ الْدُّجىٰ بِجَمالِهِ
kashafad-duja bi-jamaalihi
He drove out the darkness through his beauty

وہ سراپا رحمتِ کبریا
wo saraapa rehmat-e-kibriya
That incarnation of the Almighty’s mercy
کہ ہر ایک پہ جس کا کرم ہوا
ke har ek pe jis ka karam hua
He whose generosity reached everyone
یہ قرآنِ پاک ہے برملا
ye Quraan-e-Paak hai barmaala
He [Muhammad] is the open Qur’an in front of all
حَسُنَتْ جَميعُ خِصالِهِ
hasunat jameeu khisaalihi
Beautified were all his characteristics

یہ کمالِ حقِ محمدی
ye kamaal-e-haq-e-Muhammadi
This is the wonder of Muhammad’s dominion
کہ ہر ایک پہ چشمِ کرم رہی
ke har ek pe chashm-e-karam rahi
That the eye of mercy remains on everyone
سرِ حشر نعرۂ امتی
sar-e-hashar naara-e-ummati
On Armageddon, the chant of his followers [will be]
حَسُنَتْ جَميعُ خِصالِهِ
hasunat jameeu khisaalihi
Beautified were all his characteristics

وہی حق نگر وہی حق نما
wohi haq-nigar wohi haq-numa
It alone is the truth-guarder and truth-revealer;
رخِ مصطفیٰ ہے وہ آئینہ
rukh-e-Mustafa hai woh aaeena
The face of Mustafa is that mirror
کہ خدا ئے پاک نے خود کہا
ke Khuda-e-Paak ne khud kaha
Such that Holy God said Himself,
صَلّوا عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ
sallu alaihi wa aalihi
“Send blessings upon him and his family”

میرا دین عنبرِ وارثی
mera deen ambar-e-warsi
My faith is an inherited fragrance
بخدا ہے عشقِ محمدی
ba-Khuda hai ishq-e-Muhammadi
By God, it is the love of Muhammad
میرا ذکر و فکر ہے بس یہی
mera zikr-o-fikr hai bas yahi
My only utterance and thought is,
صَلّوا عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ
sallu alaihi wa aalihi
“Send blessings upon him and his family”

Farsi and Arabic (alternating)
چہ کنم بیانِ کمالِ او
che kunam bayaan-e-kamaal-e-oo
What can I say about his perfection!
بَلَغَ الْعُلا بِكَمالِهِ
balaghal-ula bi-kamaalihi
He reached the highest place through his perfection
چہ فروغ کردہ جمالِ او
che farogh karda jamaal-e-oo
What brightness his beauty has created!
كَشَفَ الْدُّجىٰ بِجَمالِهِ
kashafad-duja bi-jamaalihi
He drove out the darkness through his beauty
من حیرتم زخصالِ او
man hairatam za-khisaal-e-oo
I am amazed by his characteristics!
حَسُنَتْ جَميعُ خِصالِهِ
hasunat jameeu khisaalihi
Beautified were all his characteristics
دل و جانِ ما باخیالِ او
dil-o-jaan-e-ma baa-khayaal-e-oo
Our hearts and lives are occupied by thoughts of him!
صَلّوا عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ
sallu alaihi wa aalihi
Send blessings upon him and his family

اے مظہرِ نورِ خدا
ae mazhar-e-noor-e-Khuda
O manifestation of the divine light of God
بَلَغَ الْعُلا بِكَمالِهِ
balaghal-ula bi-kamaalihi
He reached the highest place through his perfection
مولا علی مشکل کشا
maula Ali muskhil-kusha
Master Ali, resolver of troubles
كَشَفَ الْدُّجىٰ بِجَمالِهِ
kashafad-duja bi-jamaalihi
He drove out the darkness through his beauty
حسنین جانِ فاطمہ
Hasnain jaan-e-Faatima
Hassan and Hussein, the two dearest of Fatima
حَسُنَتْ جَميعُ خِصالِهِ
hasunat jameeu khisaalihi
Beautified were all his characteristics
یعنی محمد مصطفیٰ
yaani Muhammad Mustafa
Meaning, Muhammad Mustafa
صَلّوا عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ
sallu alaihi wa aalihi
Send blessings upon him and his family

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