Tuesday, July 28, 2009

IBNE SAFI: July 26, 1928 to July 26, 1980 Special Tribute Week

Ibne Safi has for decades been the favourite fiction writer for millions of Urdu and other South Asian readers. Unbelievably, he wrote about 244 masterpieces which many consider the gems of Urdu literature. So strong was Ibne Safi's impact that his novels were translated into several regional languages as well as Urdu.

Safi started writing at a young age - including poetry. His earliest poetry was on "Khumriat" (about the use and affects of alcohol). He went on to prove most original in creating novels which weave together many themes in an attractive popular genre. His imaginary worlds took readers by storm through many decades and still do.

His characters were as well-known and popular among his readers as legendary fictional characters like Sherlock Homes - or more so. Besides their native countries, the main characters of both Jasoosi Duniya and Imran Series have had adventures around the world - England, Italy, Spain, Scotland, Pacific Islands, Zanzibar, South Africa, the United States of America and various other places.

Remarkably, Ibne Safi never left the Indian Subcontinent - yet the detailed descriptions he provided of the diverse localities have proven to be surprisingly accurate. Ibne Safi also created fictitious settings for his stories - names of places which since his writing can be found all over Pakistan and Indian cities and permamently in readers' own imaginations.

Technologies the author described in his novels have proven actual with the passage of time including a concept of a robot and Laser beam. Some find that there are also indications of insights and keys for the future within these novels.

"I don't know Urdu but have knowledge of detective novels of the Subcontinent. There is only one original writer - Ibn-e-Safi." Agatha Christie was reported to say when she stayed at Karachi airport for half hour for her transit flight.

Badar Munir wrote in an essay on Ibne Safi that he (Badar) used to recite the books of Ibne Safi to a 90 year old lady who was very fond of Safi's books. The lady was none other but the mother of the founder of Bangladesh Mujeeb-ur-Rehman.

Perhaps one of most lasting legacies can be found "On Page 113 of "Raa'ee Ka Parbat" with these words: "Don't worry about what people think of you, always keep an eye on what you are!"

The composite above is FULLY due to information found in the following tributes and links:

Sunday - 26th July Metro-1 aired an hour long program about Ibne Safi. A short 2 min promo was aired all day on Metro-1. Here's the youtube link for it:


Aaj TV news segment ran in all top-of-the-hour bulletins. The link for the complete segment is:


PS Other items in the media...

The Article in Dawn "Books & Authors" Section 26 July, 2009

The Article in Business Recorder Weekend Magazine 25th July 2009

ARY News, AAJ News, Express News have been airing segments about Ibne Safi during news transmissions...

And perhaps you will want to visit the Ibne Safi website here

To see an earlier oneheartforpeace item on Ibne Safi GO here

Let's all learn Urdu and beg for English translations!

Most of all, please remember Ibne Safi and his family in your prayers during this week of special memories as well as the people of Pakistan.


Khurram Ali Shafique said...

I am thrilled to read this comprehensive account of the 29th Death Anniversary of Ibne Safi (1928-1980). I needed a page which I could reference for this purpose, so thanks for providing it here.

Connie L. Nash said...

I am thrilled to have found this information about Ibne Safi first of all through your compelling, informative and inspiring sites - Khurram Sahib - where I have gained so many of my "first impressions" of Pakistan: The Republic of Rumi Website and The Republic of Rumi Blog and now this easy reference page:


Rashid said...

Dear Nash!

Thanks for refering my article of Business Recorder. In following, Iam giving some unpublished part of my article of Business Recorder:

Foreword of Baichara-baichri (Jasoosi Dunya-89) is indeed a great masterpiece in which Safi talked very seriously and sensitively to his readers. Likewise, in last four pages of Lashoon Ka Abshar (Jasoosi Dunya-29), Ibne Safi brilliantly touched a very sensitive social issue. The villain of the novel Mr. Q was an illegitimate child of his parents. He was finally arrested by the police and given his statement in the court. One must say that what Safi sahib have conveyed while using the voice of Mr. Q is something which is not ever dared to discuss by any other Urdu writer.

A few forewords of his novels are remarkably interesting. In the foreword of Sehmi hoi Lerki (Jasoosi Dunya-96), a telephone operator from the city of Tando Adam, Sindh declared the said novel a trash as he thought that the name of the novel does not match with its plot. In response, Safi sahib showed his wit while saying “ Yar Tando Admi sahib, khud hi likh ker perh liya karo”.

In the foreword of Raishoon Ki Yelghar (Jmran Series -83), he referred a letter and said “One Maulvi Sahab has discovered nudism in the story, perhaps he thinks that males shouldn’t be instigate with the fragrance of females and they (males) must be killed with the help of D.D.T. (‘D.D.T dal ker bilkul hi mar dejeye kambakhtoon ko’)

The question of Ibne Safi’s literary merit is still unsettled, but it seems as if the tables have already started tilting in his favour. One obvious reason is that those who used to read his novels, hiding themselves from their elders under bed-sheets, are now well into their forties and fifties. They are teachers, professors, writers and parents. But they are also old friends of Safi's like Dr Abul Khair Kashfi (died May 15, 2008), one of the few senior critics of that generation. The sum total of the positive bias of these people is that some of the prejudices against Safi have been lifted but an open acknowledgement of his literary greatness remains to be seen. Mr Kahild Javed (Dehli-India) gave the names of those great western writers who have created detective characters in their novels/works, this includes Edgar Elan Po (1809-1849), Zadig by Voltaire (1694-1778), Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870), Human Comedy by Balzac 1799-1850), Adventures of Cabb Williams by William Garden , Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (1824-1889), Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1812-1870), A Gun for Sale by Graham Green etc. Many literary personnel generously admired Ibne Safi's work including Poet, Ajmad Islam Amjad, Columnist Hasan Nisar, Writer Bushra Rehman, Qazi Akhtar Jonagari (sub-editor, JANG Newspaper)Indian Poet/Writer Javed Akhtar (in an interview to Ms. Munni Kabir), Dr. Gopi Chand Narang etc. However, at a seminar in Mumbai in 2007, legendary Urdu writer Intizar Husain, who apparently tried to shock the audience with the comment that he ‘had neither read Ibn Safi nor felt he was important enough‘, invited flak for his comments. There was severe criticism of the comment on the stage itself. Several litterateurs reminded Intezar Hussain that though one may be entitled to his personal views, and his literary status apart, Ibn Safi can’t be simply dismissed as just another writer.

Connie L. Nash said...

Rashid Sahib:

Your addition is certainly interesting, witty and comprehensive! Would you please translate the above Urdu phrase for our non-Urdu readers?

Thank You for this addition.

Rashid said...

Dear Nash!
Good Day – Sorry for being late in my reply. If you see the following link, it will support my excuse:


It was indeed the first official ceremoney to commamorate Ibne Safi’s work in 29 years. Now come to your querry.

Sehmi hoi Lerki (Jasoosi Dunya-96):
“ Yar Tando Admi sahib, khud hi likh ker perh liya karo”.

About the phrase of Tando Adami, believe me that I cant translate this in English.

Yar (My friend), khud hi likh ker perh liya karo (you better write yourself and read.)

Tando Admi sahib:
(One can take an example if a dweller of New York city called a New Yorker, likewise, Tando Adam (which is a small town of Sindh Province), inhabitant of that may called a Tando Admi (man from Tando Adam).
My God, this is so difficult.

Raishoon Ki Yelghar (Jmran Series -83):

“One Maulvi Sahab (religious person) has discovered nudism in the story, perhaps he thinks that males shouldn’t be instigate with the fragrance of females and they (males) must be killed with the help of D.D.T.

(‘D.D.T dal ker bilkul hi mar dejeye kambakhtoon ko’)

Ibne Safi showed his wit and called that person Maulvi Sahab (religious person/priest) as the man was so fundamentalist in his thoughts that he didn’t even like the infatuation of male towards female.

Put some D.D.T and completely kill the rascals.

Connie L. Nash said...

For some reason this link to the ceremony doesn't come up. I would like more about this commemoration. Thank You.

Rashid said...

Hi Nash!

You simply can visit www.wadi-e-urdu.com where coverage of Arts Council program is available.

The above mentioned urdu phrases are vetted by Dr. Ahmad Safi . Below, Iam reproducing his mail:

"We may need to point out that a Man is known as Admi (of Adam). Since the place was called Tando Adam so the adjective was made Tando Admi (just like from Pakistan it becomes Pakistani)... But the word Tando Adami now has a funny touch to it as if it's some kind of a funny man!

So it may sound like "O Mr. Tando Man, why don't you write yourself and read it!" if rendered in English. Indeed a difficult task.

"Kill the damn guys by spraying DDT on them." (DDT is an insecticide.)"

Connie L. Nash said...

Thank You for the information. May you continue to do well in your professional work and writing.

Rashid said...

Hi Nash!

Following were left to be translated:

1- Sehmi hoi Lerki (Jasoosi Dunya-96):
The Frightened Girl

2- Raishoon Ki Yelghar (Jmran Series -83):
The Attacks of the Fibres