Ibne Safi’s forefathers came from
the village of Nara. Originally they were Hindus of Kaistth clan. Several
generations back, their clan leader Raja Vasheshar Dayal Singh had
embraced Islam and came to be known as Baba Abdun Nabi. His tomb still
exists in what are now the ruins of the village Nara.
Ibne Safi’s parents both came
from a family of landlords and learned men. His
grandfather, Maulvi Abdul Fattah, was a schoolteacher in Ujjain, India
before the partition of the Indian Subcontinent.
Ibne Safi’s father, Safiullah
Saheb, initially moved from Nara to Allahabad; and then to what is now
Pakistan. He used to work for “Syed A.M. Wazir Ali and Company,” a
famous vending company contracting for the British Indian Army. During
his service, he was stationed at places like Dehradun, Devlaali,
Darjeeling, Quetta, etc.
Ibne Safi’s mother, Nuzaira
Bibi, was a pious lady from a family of learned men. Her maternal
relatives were known as “hakeemon ka khaandaan” (family of wise men).
Her grand uncles included Hakim Ehsan Ali and Hakim Rehman Ali, both
authors of books on traditional medicine. Tibb-e-Rehmaani and
Tibb-e-Ehsaani – both written in Persian – were used on the
curriculum of many traditional medical schools. Nuzaira Bibi was very
watchful of her son Asrar, ensuring that he always had good company and
good opportunities for education.
Ibne Safi had several siblings,
including his brother Isar Ahmed and sister Ghufairah Khatoon, who died
young. He only had one surviving sister Azra Rehana (Balaghat Khatoon),
who was married to Lateef Ahmed Siddiqi and passed away 1n 2005..
Ibne Safi obtained his primary
schooling in the village school at Nara. When he was only eight years
old, he got an opportunity to read first volume of Talism-e-Hoshruba.
Although he could not understand the language entirely, the story made a
great impact on his creative mind. He then read all seven volumes
Ibne Safi started writing at a
young age. When he was in seventh grade, his first story appeared in the
weekly Shahid, which was edited by Aadil Rasheed. Ibne Safi also
started writing poetry in eighth grade. He was so impressed by the
famous poet Jigar Murad Aabadi that his earlier poetry was on “khumriat”
(poetry about the use and affects of alcohol).
Ibne Safi acquired his
secondary school education in Allahabad, as his family had moved from
Nara by this time. He completed Matriculation from
D.A.V. School in
Allahabad, India. For a short period during Matriculation, he got
involved with baby communists and started writing poetry against social
evils. Soon, however, he moved away from this group and its ideologies.
During the independence movement and afterwards, he was also branded a
progressive for his ideas, and warrants were issued in India for his
Ibne Safi completed
Intermediate (High School Certificate) from
Eving Christian College in
Allahabad, India. This was a co-education college and his poetry
flourished greatly in that environment. He would frequently participate
in poetic sittings that were held at the college hostels. However, in
his first year, he was reluctant to publicly read his poetry for the
annual “mushaira.” In second year, he was elected President of The
Literary Society. This required him to recite his poem Bansuri Ki
Aawaz (Voice of the Flute). The Dean of the Urdu faculty, Maulana
Anwar-ul-Haq, predicted that Ibne Safi would be a great poet in the
future. The poem was also so deeply appreciated by his English professor
Mr. Higgins, who had an avid interest in Urdu poetry, that he commented:
“Excluding Firaq’s Rubayyat
and your poem, all the rest seemed to be merely echoes of poetry.”
In 1947, Ibne Safi enrolled in
Allahabad University, where Dr. Syed Ejaz Hussain’s lectures further
contributed to his literary and mental growth. However, this period was
very short because independence riots had started and one incident had
also occurred on university premises. Due to the critical nature of an
already tense situation, he was asked to stay home.
After partition, when situation
normalized in 1948, he did not re-enroll at the University because all
his colleagues were now one year senior to him. Allahabad University did
not have any room for private students. Only Agra University in UP
allowed private students, with the condition that the candidate have two
years teaching experience. Ibne Safi therefore obtained
Bachelor of Arts
degree from Agra University in Agra, India. (see
formed many close friendships during this period. After moving from Nara,
his family had taken residence in
Hasan Manzil, Allahabad,
15 and 16. It was there that Ibne Safi met two brothers
Jamal Rizvi (Shakeel Jamali)
and their cousins Sarwar Jahaan (later known as
Sarwar Hussain Abidi, an artist in Pakistan,) and
Mujavir Hussain Rizvi
Ibne Safi’s other friends
from this period include,
Dr. Rahi Masoom Raza, Ishtiaq Haider, Yousuf Naqvi,
Hameed Qaiser, Qamar Jalsai, Nazish Partab Garhi and Tegh Allahabadi
(famous poet Mustafa Zaidi).
In 1948, Abbas Hussaini founded
Nakhat Publications. Ibne Saeed was the Editor of the prose
section, and Ibne Safi became Editor of poetry. At this time, Ibne Safi
started experimenting with different literary genres on a regular basis,
including short stories, humor, and satire. He used pseudonyms such as
Sanki Soldier and Tughral Farghan. His first story for The Nakhat
was Farar (The Escape), which was published in June 1948. Ibne
Safi, however, was not satisfied with his work. The eight-year-old who
had swallowed Talism-e-Hoshruba was persuading him to create
something entirely different, especially in prose. Ibne Safi would soon
follow the urgings of his inner child and be taken to Rider Haggard’s
fictitious land of She, becoming even more frustrated.
In a literary sitting towards
the end of 1951, a senior citizen commented that in Urdu only erotic
stories are sold, and the rest are unmarketable. Ibne Safi disagreed
with the gentleman, saying that nobody had tried to stop this flooding
of porn literature. Another person added that this trend could not be
stopped unless some replacement literature was created and put on the
market. Ibne Safi thought long and hard about the predicament, about
what literature would appeal to the market, and again the eight-year-old
child appeared in front of him. He knew that even people in their
eighties were glued to Talism-e-Hoshruba. Ibne Safi promised
himself that he would try to create some replacement for Urdu porn
With the advice of Ibne Safi,
Abbas Hussaini made arrangements for publishing monthly detective
novels. The name of the series was Jasoosi Duniya (The
World of Espionage), and it was the first time Ibne Safi started writing with the
infamous pen name of Ibne Safi. Containing his original characters,
Inspector Faridi and Sergeant Hameed, the first novel Dilaer Mujrim
(The Brave Criminal) was published in March 1952. The plot of the novel
was adopted by Victor Gunn's novel Ironsides' Lone Hand (Title1
At this time (1949-1952), Ibne
Safi was by profession a secondary school teacher at Islamia School
Allahabad, and later at Yaadgaar-e-Hussaini School. He maintained the
school jobs, and studied part time to finish his education.
Very few people know that Ibne
Safi was also very fond of music and drawing. He had a good voice for
singing, and used to draw sketches on his novel drafts.
After finishing his education,
Ibne Safi migrated to Pakistan with his mother and sister in August
1952. They joined his father in Karachi, who had emigrated there in
1947. Ibne Safi’s first residence was in a locality called C-1 area,
Lalukhet (now known as Liaqatabad). Ibne Safi then founded Asrar
Publications and started publishing Jasoosi Duniya
simultaneously from Pakistan and India. The political border between the
two countries did not divide the relationship he had formed with his
In 1953, Ibne Safi married Umme
Salma Khatoon. She was born on April 12, 1938 to Muhammad Amin Ahsan and
Riaz Fatima Begum. Her father was Deputy Superintendent of Police in
Sultanpur, India. Salma had a family background of literary and
religious personalities. Her grandfather, the poet Muhammad Ahsan Vehshi, was a disciple of Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki. Salma’s uncle, Maulana
Najm Ahsan, was a vicegrant (Khalifa) of Hakimul Ummat Maulana Ashraf Al
Quds Sirruhu. Salma’s brother, Makeen Ahsan Kaleem, was the Chief
Editor of the daily Mashriq (Lahore, Pakistan) till his demise in
1976. Salma’s sister Safia Siddiqi is also a writer.
In 1955, Ibne Safi created a
new character, Imran, and started publishing the Imran Series.
The first novel of this series KHaufnaak Imarat (The Frightening
Building) was published in August 1955 by A & H Publications, 130 Hasan
Ali Afandi Road, Karachi Pakistan whereas the Indian edition was
published in November 1955 by Monthly Nikhat, Allahabad.
In October 1957 Ibne Safi
founded Asrar Publications, Karachi (at Lalukhet) and published first Jasoosi Duniya novel
THanDee Aag (The cold Fire) from Pakistan. The same novel was
published simultaneously in India by Jasoosi Duniya, Allahabad.
1958, Ibne Safi moved to newly constructed house in Nazimabad No.2,
which remained the family abode during the remainder of his life. Though
he also moved Asrar Publications in January 1959 to the new address at Firdous Colony, Karachi-18, he
felt more at ease writing from home. With the addition of Imran
Series to Jasoosi Duniya, his publishing raised to a record
three to four novels monthly.
By June 1960, Ibne Safi had
written the eighty-eighth novel of Jasoosi Duniya (Prince
Vehshee) and the forty-first novel of Imran Series (Bay-Awaaz
Sayyarah). During this period, he also experimented with the
Jasoosi Duniya Magazine Edition (first issue was published in
November 1959). However, only four issues were ever
published. The excessive thinking and writing eventually took a toll on
his health, and the magazine edition was discontinued.
Ibne Safi suffered from
schizophrenia during 1960 and 1963, not writing a single word in those
three years. With the prayers of his family, friends, and fans, Ibne
Safi finally recovered from the illness in 1963 under the treatment of
Hakim Iqbal Hussain of Karachi.
The author made a great
comeback on November 25, 1963 with the bestseller Imran Series
novel Dairh Matwaalay, which inaugurated in India by the Ex
Interior Minister (later
Prime Minister of India) Lal Bahadur Shastri. The demand for this novel was so
high that within a week a second edition was published in India. This
edition was inaugurated by the then Provincial Law Minister Ali Zaheer.
In 1967, Ibne Safi’s father,
Safiullah Saheb, retired from his job and passed away same year on 27
During the mid-seventies, Inter
Services Intelligence of Pakistan informally utilized his services for
lecturing new recruits on the methods of detection.
In 1975, a film producer,
Muhammad Hussain Talpur (aka Maulana Hippie), experimented with a film
Dhamaka based on the Imran Series novel Baibaakon Ki
Talaash. Actor Javaid Sheikh (then Javaid Iqbal) was introduced for
the first time as Zafarul Mulk, the main character. Maulana Hippie
played Jameson, and the actress Shabnam played the role of Sabiha. Imran
and X-2's team was not shown in the movie. Ibne Safi himself recorded
the voice of X-2.
During the elections of March
1977, PTV produced a serial Dr. Duago based on the same novel of
the Imran Series. Actor Muhammad Qavi Khan played Imran but the
play was never aired due to political censorship.
In January 1977 Mushtaq Ahmed Qureshi started publishing Ibne Safi Magazine
which was later renamed to Nae Ufaq.
Another magazine Naya Rukh was started
after the death of Ibne Safi. Both magazines carried a novel of Jasoosi
Duniya and Imran Series each, respectively. These magazines are
still in publication today; however, Ibne Safi’s novels are not included
Ibne Safi’s mother Nuzaira Bibi
passed away in the summer of 1979. Ibne Safi’s pain on her sad demise took
the shape of heartfelt poem MaaN
In September 1979, Ibne Safi
suffered from abdominal pains. By December of that year, it was
confirmed these were a result of cancer at the head of pancreas.
He was attended by the family
physicians, Dr. Saeed Akhtar Zaidi and Dr. Qamaruddin Siddiqui. General
Physician Dr. Rab and Cancer Specialist Dr. Syed Hasan Manzoor Zaidi
also provided care and treatment in his last days.
Though his health deteriorated
seriously and rapidly between December 1979 and July 1980, Ibne Safi did
not quit writing.
On Saturday July 26, 1980 (Ramadhan
12, 1400 AH), at around Faj'r time, Ibne Safi passed away (Inna
Lillahe Wa Inna Ilaihe Raje’oon). His incomplete Imran Series
novel Aakhri Aadmi was by his bedside.
Ibne Safi left behind four sons
and three daughters:
Dr. Isar Ahmed Safi
- Doctor of Medicine an Ophthalmologist who passed away on 3rd July 2005
after suffering from a high grade fever. (Inna Lillah-e Wa Inna
Abrar Ahmad Safi
- Mechanical Engineer with a marine
engineering background. Lives in USA.
Dr. Ahmad Safi
- Mechanical Engineer holding a PhD. Lives in Karachi, Pakistan.
Iftikhar Ahmed Safi
- Electrical Engineer. Lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Nuzhat Afroz, Sarwat Asrar and
Mohsina Safi are the three daughters.
Ibne Safi’s wife Umme Salma
Khatoon passed away on Thursday June 12, 2003. (Inna Lillah-e Wa Inna