Ibn-e-Safi (also spelled as Ibne Safi) was the pen name of Asrar Ahmad, a best-selling and prolific fiction writer, novelist and poet of Urdu. The word Ibn-e-Safi is a Arabian expression which literally means Son of Safi, where the word Safi means chaste or righteous. He wrote from the 1940s in India, and later Pakistan after the partition of British India in 1947.
His main works were the 125-book series Jasoosi Dunya (The Spy World) and the 120-book Imran Series, with a small canon of satirical works and poetry. His novels were characterized by a blend of mystery, adventure, suspense, violence, romance and comedy, achieving massive popularity across a broad readership in South Asia.
Agatha Christie once said, "I don't know Urdu but have knowledge of detective novels of the Subcontinent. There is only one original writer - Ibn-e-Safi."
Ibne Safi was born on July 26, 1928 in the town 'Nara' of district Allahabad, India. His father's name was Safiullah and mother's name was Naziran Bibi.
He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Agra University. In 1948, he started his first job at 'Nikhat Publications' as an Editor in the poetry department.
His initial works date back to the early 1940s, when he wrote from India. After the partition of Indian and Pakistan in 1947, he began writing novels in the early 1950s while working as a secondary school teacher and continuing part-time studies. After completing the latter, having attracted official attention as being subversive in the independence and post-independence period, he migrated to Karachi, Pakistan in August 1952. He started his own company by the name 'Israr Publications'.
He married to Ume Salma Khatoon in 1953.
Between 1960 - 1963 he suffered an episode of schizophrenia, but recovered, and returned with a best-selling Imran Series novel, Dairrh Matwaalay (One and a half amused). In fact, he wrote 36 novels of 'Jasoosi Duniya' and 79 novels of 'Imran Series' after his recovery from schizophrenia. In the 1970s, he informally advised the Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan on methods of detection.
He died of pancreatic cancer on July 26, 1980 in Karachi, which was coincidentally his 52nd birthday.
Ibne Safi�s prose work can be classified into two categories:
Short stories and articles of humor and mockery
Ibn-e-Safi started writing poetry in his childhood and soon earned critial acclaim. After completing his Bachelor of Arts, he started writing short stories, humor and satire under various names such as �Sanki Soldier� and �Tughral Farghan.� In the Nakhat magazines, he published several satirical articles which commented on various topics ranging from politics to literature to journalism. His early works in the 1940s included short stories, humor and satire.
According to one of his autobiographical essays, someone in a literary meeting claimed that Urdu literature had little scope for anything but sexual themes. To challenge this notion, Ibn-e-Safi began writing detective stories in January 1952 in the monthly Nikhat, naming the series Jasoosi Dunya. In the preface of Jasoosi Dunya's platinum jubilee number (Zameen Kay Baadal - Clouds of Earth), he mentioned those novels of Jasoosi Dunya whose main plot elements were taken from Western literature and which included Daler Mujrim (The Fearless Criminal), Pur-asraar Ajnabi (The Mysterious Stranger), Raqqasah ka Qatl (Murder of the Dancer), Heeray ki Kaan (The Diamond Mine) and Khooni Pathar (The Bloody Stone). He also mentioned some characters which were borrowed from English fiction, such as Khaufnak Hangamah�s (The Terrifying Chaos) Professor Durrani and Paharron ki Malikah�s (The Queen of Mountains) White Queen and Gorilla. He claimed that, other than those novels and characters, his stories were his own creation, and even the mentioned novels had only borrowed ideas and were not translations.
In 1955, Ibn-e-Safi started the Imran Series, which gained as much fame and success as Jasoosi Dunya. In the aforementioned essay, he claimed that all the characters and stories of the Imran Series were original and not borrowed. Ibne Safi�s novels � characterized by a blend of adventure, suspense, violence, romance and comedy � achieved massive popularity by a broad readership.
So strong was Ibne Safi�s impact on the Subcontinent�s literary scene that his novels were translated into several regional languages. It was not unusual for Safi's books to be sold at black market prices in Pakistan and India, where they were originally published every month.
The settings in Ibne Safi's novels are such that the reader is never told the national origin of the heroes. Since Jasoosi Duniya was created before the partition of the subcontinent, the names of the characters and their locales suggest that the novel takes place in India. The advent of the Imran Series came post-partition, and the reader is set up to assume that the narrative is situated in Pakistan. Besides their native countries, the main characters of both Jasoosi Duniya and Imran Series have had adventures around the world � Spain, Italy, England, Scotland, Pacific Islands, Zanzibar, South Africa, the United States of America, and various other places. Considering that Ibne Safi never left the Indian Subcontinent, the detailed descriptions he provides of the diverse localities are surprisingly accurate.
Many a time, Ibne Safi created fictitious settings for his stories. The magical web of his writing is so captivating that these fantasy lands have become real in the minds of readers. Avid fans of the author are experts on the people and cultures of Shakraal, Karaghaal, Maqlaaq, Zeroland, and many other imaginary domains. In cities around India and Pakistan, one can find discotheques, bars, night clubs, and hotels named after venues found in Ibne Safi's novels. Some places worth mentioning are: Dilkusha, Fizaro, Niagara, Tip Top, High Circle, etc.
Besides humor and satire he also wrote some short adventures, namely Baldraan Ki Malika (The Queen of Baldraan), Ab Tak Thee Kahaan? (Where had you been?), Shimal Ka Fitna (The Trouble from North), Gultarang, and Moaziz Khopri. In these adventures, Ibne Safi takes the reader to various fictitious lands similar to the ones created by H. Rider Haggard.
Ibne Safi also directed a movie 'Dhamaka' based on his novel 'Bebakon ki talash'. The movie didn't do well.
In 1959, Ibne Safi started writing Aadmi Ki Jarain, a book based on human psychology. However, it remained incomplete due to his illness.
===List of his Non-Series Work===
Aadmi ki jaRain - Incomplete
baldaraan kee malikaa
Ab tuk thee kaHaaN
saaRhay paaNCh bajay
tuzke do-piazi - Incomplete
shimal ka fitna
matA-e Qalb-O-Nazar -
===Film By Ibne Safi===
Dhamaka was the only movie written by Ibne Safi. The film was produced by Muhammad Hussain Talpur (aka Maulana Hippie), based on the Imran Series novel Baibaakon Ki Talaash (Urdu: The Search of Straightforwards). Actor Javaid Sheikh (then Javaid Iqbal) was introduced for the first time as Zafarul Mulk, the main character. Maulana Hippie the film producer played Jameson and actress Shabnam played the role of Sabiha. Imran and X-2's team was not shown in the movie. The voice of X-2 was recorded by Ibne Safi himself. Actor Rahman played the role of a Villain for the first time. Actress Saishta Qaiser appeared as a guest artist in the choreography sequence during the famous song by Habib Wali Mohammad, Rah-e-talab maen kaun kisee ka (Urdu: In the path of demands, no one recognizes anyone), based on Ibne Safi's ghazal which was picturised on actor Rahman. The movie was released on December 13, 1974 at Lyric and other cinemas of Karachi (Pakistan).
Ibn-e-Safi was also a poet. He used to write poems under the pen name of �Asrar Narvi�. He wrote in various genres of Urdu poetry, such as Hamd, Naat, Manqabat, Marsia, Ghazal, and Nazm. His collection of poetry, Mata-e Qalb-o-Nazar, remains unpublished.
===Following is the list of his Ghazals===
Zahan se Dil ka Bar Utra Hai
Kuch to ta-alluq
Aaj ki raat
Baday ghazab ka
Yun hi wabastagi
Rah-e-talab mein kaun kisi ka
Kuch bhi to apne paas nahin
Kabhi sawab ki hain
Qafas ki daastaan hai
Bansuri ki awaaz