Monday, July 6, 2009

Ibne Safi (1928-1980)

Ibne Safi (1928-1980) is unique among fiction-writers of Urdu. He was equally popular in India and Pakistan (in India his books were also available in Hindi editions with the names of Muslim protagonists Faridi and Imran changed to Vinod and Rajesh).

This was quite an achievement if we remember that unlike some other writers of that time, Safi's purpose was to inspire patriotism (he wasn’t indifferent to religion, sovereignty, national identity and foreign policy, all of which were disputed between Pakistan and India who went on war more than once). That Safi was able to infuse patriotism on both sides of a war-torn border is remarkable (despite the promotional powers of Eon Productions, James Bond could never become acceptable for “political others” behind Iron Curtain).

Safi’s readers included intellectuals, cabdrivers, presidents and prime ministers (PM Nazimuddin and President Ayub Khan are said to be among his readers while Indian politician and later PM Lal Bahadur Shashtri presided over the launch of one of his books). Many who couldn’t read would listen to these stories being read out while the depth and variety of allusions in his 240 books was greater than any other writer in Urdu except Iqbal – and just like Iqbal, his works seem to be becoming more relevant with the passage of time.

In 1975, he wrote a series of novels about Shikral, a fictitious region based on FATA. In the story, people are “disappearing” from Shikral and transported to a far-off island where they are being kept in cages. “A battle of mind is fought alone,” says the hero Ali Imran. “One doesn’t need an army for that.” Can you see the relevance?


  1. Dear Khurram Bhai:

    Thanks for the Post on Ibne Safi. It's rather on time as well for his 29th death anniversary which happens to be on the 26th of July.

    Usually when we remember personalities from our past, its done with the memories from far down the history lane. In case of Ibne Safi we are remembering him with one of his about 40 years old masterpiece compiled under the title of "Teen Sanki," due to the fact that it is too current for our times. As you mentioned, it depicts symbolically what's happening in the Northern Parts of Pakistan today. The depiction is so vivid that it caught attention of many columnists in the media recently and we witnessed all sorts of comments on how it was possible for someone to write it so accurately, way back then. What should we call it... coincidence, vision, or foresight? Or was there something even bigger that manifested itself in form of a futuristic account of the state of affairs. We would have to think about it.

    One thing is for sure we would have to dig through all works and find the solutions suggested/rendered by the writer in his works. This way at least we would find ways of solving our present day problems. Don't you think we need to give more attention to these "mystery novels" now more than ever?

    Thanks again...


  2. Through your courtesy had read TEEN SANKI and Ahmad Sahib has rightly pointed out that its so vivid and accurate account of current events that it looks futuristic story which is slowly and gradually unfolding. Ibne Safi works has to be researched, evaluated and analyzed to see any encrypted filters, those might help us to peep to the other side. Ibne Safi has no parallel in spy writing not even JOHN LEE CAREE. I was disappointed to note the remark at Ibne Safi website referring him as: URDU KE AZEEM JASOOSI MUSANIF, it should have been written: DUNIA KE AZEEM JASSOSI MUSANIF.

  3. To be truthful, I really haven't read much Urdu literature, for that matter, any literature at all. However, some of my more "literate" friends are Ibne Safi readers and it is through them that I have been kept informed about the striking resemblances between his writings and some of the recent issues.
    In my humble opinion, sometimes, a "High Power" utilizes a great mind in order to perform some chosen tasks. More often than not, the "Power" opts to be more aesthetic about the whole episode and leaves behind an intricate series of patterns for us to decipher. it the case of mind boggling similarities between Abraham Lincoln and John F Kennedy... be it the similarities between the death of Rashid Minhas and his music icon..... be it the writings of Iqbal, which read like a revelation..... be it the works of Akber Allahabadi, which sometime appear to be written earlier today!!!
    The chosen minds being utilized by the "Power" might or might not be congnizant of his/her purpose and how he/she is being utilized... for that matter one might call this "High Power", God ... or Fate... according to his/ her beliefs...
    but the patterns are beyond doubt existent...
    perhaps it was patterns like these which gave birth to phrases like "History repeats itself", not only in Urdu but in other languages as well.

  4. This is a breathtaking post...I'm in awe of this writer and the allusions you mentioned...I so look forward to reading as much as I am able soon and get back for a more informed comment.

    Of course, I'm especially amazed about the "caged prisoners" on the island .

    The comments here intrique as well...

  5. When I considered all the possible posts which I felt needed some visibility right after our 4th of July - there were none that said what I wanted to say as well as these last two posts here by Khurram Shafique Sahib! So they are in one: "Who Has Ears to Hear?" at the top of my blog OneHeart...

    And this was even with the reminder death Monday of our former US Secretary of Defense under Pres. Johnson - such as the documented 14 things that Macnamara spoke and exposed as wrong with his (and US) leadership during Vietnam. THANK YOU, Khurram Sahib!

    But sometime see the documentary "...The Fog of War"

  6. Ibne Safi is one of those few great writers who become a celebrity in their own time. And their fans either inherit their love from their predecessor or carry it to their successors. I have done both. I have inherited the respect for Ibne Safi from my mother and have passionately passed it over to my sons, despite resistence from my wife. His characters Col Faridi, Capt Hamid and Dr. Ali Imran, not only appear so real, but are also a constant source of strength for people who stand for rule of law in their motherlands.

    Muhammad Javed Iqbal

  7. Sir, can you please suggest me any of Ibn-e-safi's writing and if they have online availability then it would be much better..


  8. Dear Friends!
    Iam these days running a campaign and rrquesting those who have uploaded pdf versions of Ibne Safi novels at various web sites ---- It was started when Dr. Ahmad wrote to me and requested to remove those novels which I have posted at esnips ---- The letter is self-explanatory in which Dr. Ahmad has rightly called my act a copyright infringement which I did accept and immediately removed all novels from my esnips folder ---- I request to all other friends to read the said letter and take the right decision --- Dr. Ahmad writes:

    “ So as a first thing, I would request you to VOLUNTARILY remove the PDF versions or links to those, from your web pages and uphold the rights of your favourite author whose main aim was to propagate the Respect of Law (Qanoon ka Ehtraam.)” -- I have known and admired you for your love and respect for Ibne Safi and his novels. I just have to tell you that these works are copyright materials and copying them in any form print/electronic is illegal. M/s Asrar Publications is actively publishing these novels and all rights are reserved. If you would not stand side by side with me and the Ibne Safi family which includes your dear friend Muneer, then we would be left to think that Ibne Safi Fans are fans for the sake of reading his works but not learning from it.
    I hope you would consider the point of view of the copyright holders and would be amongst the protectors of the rights not violators of the same. Hope to see a positive response from you”.

    Please see Ahmad’s complete letter at:

    I request to all friends to post comments at the following links:


  9. To all ibne safi lover!
    I request all of you to visit the following links and post your comments regarding copyright infringement of Ibne Safi novels:


  10. On the morning of May 19, 2009, I visited the graveyard of Paposhnagar, Karachi to offer pray at the grave of great mystery writer of Udru literature Ibne Safi (Asrar Ahmed) who, for decades, had been the favorite writer of millions of his readers. He had written about 244 masterpieces of Imran series and Jasoosi dunya which indeed are the Gems of Urdu literature. “I know you’re there. A breath away's not far too where you are."

  11. Ahmad Safi Sahib:

    We are so enriched to read what you have written concerning your father. I am wondering if you might also be willing to say more here as the literary genius' Ibne Safi's birthday is approaching?

  12. We can call 2009 as the year of Ibne Safi. A lot of work is being performed on analyzing his writings. Ibne Safi's 29th Death Anniversary (26 July, 2009) was also unique that TV channels first time presented discussions, features and news items on the legendry writer.