All clues point to a literary mastermind

Shah Waliullah July 26, 2010

KARACHI: The death anniversary of Ibne-Safi, said to be the founder of mystery novels in Pakistan, was observed on Monday.

Mystery and suspense are genres which were largely neglected in Urdu literature in the sub-continent. However, one author who left a mark in this domain and popularised thrillers among Urdu readers is Ibne-Safi.

Safi was born in Allahabad in India. He started his writing career in 1940 with comedy and then 10 years later switched from funny to exciting. He gained widespread prominence with his ‘Imran series’, considered by many fans as the hallmark of detective stories in the country.

The novels are still popular among readers and several other writers have followed in the footsteps of Safi to carry the genre forward.

“Before him no one thought or wrote like this. He put reality into words and then turned them into suspense novels,” said columnist Mushtaq Qureshi.

Safi’s work has been lauded by fans and literary personalities alike, including Maulvi Abdul Haq, western mystery novelist Agatha Christie, German scholar Christina Austerbeld and Norwegian Professor Funthese.

Many of his novels have also been translated into English in India.

According to Ahmad Safi, Ibne-Safi’s son, the characters created by his father are a reflection of Safi’s personality. “He had traces of Faridi and also Imran in his personality,” said Ahmad, referring to two of Safi’s most well known characters.

Safi was also a favourite of research institutions, which often invited him to deliver guest lectures.

“Ibne-Safi did not just write detective novels but he also ran a campaign for promoting Urdu language,” said Professor Zafar Iqbal, former head of the Urdu department at Karachi University.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2010.


Navaid Zafar | 11 years ago | Reply @Hamza A Khan You probably never read a single one of Ibn-e-Safi's novels, Khan sahib. Not only they contain very well-knit plots, a large number of his novels are actually set in India's backdrop and NOT A SINGLE ONE of his around 400 novels shows India as clear cut atagonist. I am pretty sure that you must have read any of a dozen imitators of Ibn-e-Safi (Abban Safi, Ibban Safi, Najma Safi, Nagha Safi, Mazhar Jaleem, Safdar Shahi, M.A Qureshi et cetera et cetera) and not the real McCoy.
Hamza A. Khan | 11 years ago | Reply I would politely like to disagree with Mr. Ibn-e-Saif. I have read Ibn-e-Safi's novels and they are simply horrendous. Their is no plot in most of the novels. Its just page after page of absolute non-sense about the awe-inspiring prontagonist who has no problems in fooling other characters, especially Indians, who have no common sense.
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