Ibne Safi’s prose work can be classified into two categories:
- Mystery novels
- 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 Roots of the Man), 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.