This was a long overdue post and was delayed due to unavoidable reasons. The seminar on Ibn-e-Safi was held in Delhi sometime back.
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 literature.
The Sahitya Akademi president Dr Gopi Chand Narang questioned why ‘Jasoosi Adab’ is not considered literature and if it is not literature then why the word ‘adab’ (literature) 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 today.
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.