Ibn-e-Safi’s novels are
gems of Urdu literature
A seminar on Ibn-e-Safi was held in Delhi on
March 16, 2007.
Eminent Urdu scholar from
Germany, Christina Oesterheld said that the characters of Ibn-e-Safi’s
novels live a Western lifestyle but are quintessentially Oriental when
it comes to their behaviour towards women.
The main characters Imran and
Faridi don’t look at women as an object of sex, rather for them a woman
is a symbol of purity and dignity. They treat her as equal in all
regards. Dr Christina, who is the senior lecturer at Institute of South
Asian Studies, Heidelberg, Germany regretted that Ibn-e-Safi’s writing
was not given enough attention in comparison to so-called serious
The Sahitya Akademi president
Dr Gopi Chand Narang said questioned why ‘Jasoosi Adab’ is not
considered literature and if it is not literature then why ‘adab
(literature) word is attached to it, during such seminars. He said that
Ibn-e-Safi was published in Devanagari and Bengali as well, and rather
than ignoring his works, there is need to change our own attitude.
Professor Akhtarul Wasey said
that Ibn-e-Safi not only taught Urdu to a generation but also taught us
nuances of language, story plot and an understanding of the world,
especially the third world countries. He said that Ibn-i-Safi B.A. had
indicated several things in the 60s and 70s which we are witnessing
The participants said that the
novels of Ibn Safi are gems of Urdu literature. Often in serious
literature the readers is left detched and searching for answers, which
is not the case in his novels. And they are serious nonetheless on
another plane as the satire is unmistakeable.
Another famous litterateur,
Izhar Asar, who has written hundreds of novels and considered a pillar
of ‘popular literature’, attended the seminar, which was held under the
aegis of URdu Acdemy. Yunus Dehlvi, Khalid Mahmood, Dr Sadiq, Shabana
Nazeer, Najma Rahmani, Kifayat Dehliv, Sheen Kaf Nizam, MR Qasmi, Abu
Bakr Abbas, M Arif Iqbal, Arujumand Ara, Maula Bakhsh, Seemab Sultanpuri
and Moin Shadab were amongst the other participants.
Interestingly, later at a
seminar in Mumbai, 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.