Ahmed Deedat (1918 - 2005) Presented by Fatimah Abdul Halim Koh Nur Anis Firdaus Hamaru Awatif Abdul Rahman Edited by Dr. Md. Mahmudul Hasan International Islamic University Malaysia 2011
Ahmed Deedat • Biography • Life & Education • The triggers • Works & Legacy • Debates • Writing. • Contributions • Criticisms • Influences
Biography His full name is Ahmed Hoosen Deedat. He was born in Surat, India in 1918. His father worked in agriculture while in India, but emigrated to South Africa shortly after Deedat’s birth and became a tailor there. Deedat went to Kwazulu Natal, South Africa in 1927 to join his father due to extreme poverty and lack of formal schooling in India. It was the last time he saw his mother as she passed away several months later in India.
His Life • Dedicated to revealing the truth of Islam and spreading the message of Islam. • In 1942, he delivered his first lecture “Muhammad: Messenger of Peace” to 15 people at a Durban movie theatre. Within short time, the numbers grew up to 8000. • In 1996, he suffers a severe stroke, and for 9 years he was paralyzed from the neck down, unable to move or speak. His memory was still sharp and communicated through eye movement. He welcomed visitors from all around the world, encouraged others to engage in da’wah(inviting people to Islam). Many Christian missionaries visited him to try to convert him to Christianity, promising that if he did Jesus would heal him. Yet, he never wavered, and continued to serve Islam till the end of his life. • He passed away in August 2005 at the age of 87 in Verulam, South Africa.
Education • He had no formal education while he was in India. • Challenges in South Africa: • Though he had no formal education background, through avid passion of reading he managed to complete Standard 6. • For the lack of financial support, he left school at 16 and did various jobs to earn livelihood.
The triggers 1. Christian missionaries’ insults on Islam • It occurred in 1936 when he was working at a Muslim store near a Christian seminary on the Natal South Coast. • Many Christian missionaries tried to convert him to their religion. • In his first encounter with them, he was not fully capable of answering their questions about Islam. Nor could he counter their religious claims. • The insults of trainee missionaries about Islam triggers him to counteract their false propaganda, and thus, to learn more about Islam and Christianity.
2. A book entitled Izhar-ul-Haq • Its author is Rahmatullah Kainravi and the title means “Truth Revealed”. • It is considered ‘the most authoritative and objective studies on the Bible.’ • It was written in response to the Christian missionaries’ efforts to launch a subversive attack on Muslims with the book The Balance of Truth (Meezanul Haq) which was meant to induce skepticism in the Muslims’ minds about the authenticity of the Qur’an and Islam. • Izhar-ul-Haq is about holding inter-religious public debates, techniques and successful efforts of Muslims in India in counteracting the persistence of Christian missionaries during the British rule. • This book is one of the inspirations that advanced Deedat’s intellectual development. He read the book, and the idea of holding debates intrigued him. • Shortly afterwards, he bought his first Bible and began holding debates and discussions with trainee missionaries.
Honours and Award • King Faisal International Award in 1986: • Prestigious recognition in the Islamic world. • A postage stamp was issued in Finland as a mark of respect to him. • One-hour documentary of his life and times was compiled by the IPCI.
Works / Activities • His aims: to project the truth and beauty of Islam and to provide Muslims with theological tools for defending themselves against active Christian missionaries. • He uses English language instead of Arabic or Hindi because it is easier for him to counter-attack Christian missionaries who mostly use the English language in South Africa and Europe. • Most of his lectures, video-lectures, debates and writings focus on and around the same themes, such as: comparisons between Islam and other religions esp. Christianity.
Activities • Public debates with Christian evangelists • More than 20 booklets. Millions of copies have been distributed free for: • Propagation • Combating Christian missionaries • Enlightening Muslims • For training Islamic duwwat (propagators): • He established As-Salaam Institute. • Conducted classes on Bible Studies. • Gave numerous lectures in Islamic countries. • Participated in Islamic conferences.
Legacy • Unique da’wah style • He, with exact chapter and verse numbers, recites different quotes from different Bibles each conflicting the other. This tends to make his opponents rethink of their own religion. • It is proved to be successful: • Christian missionaries with whom he debated often overlook certain Biblical verses that Deedat would highlight. • Hundreds of people in S. Africa and large number of Christian missionaries have reverted to Islam.
His novel strategies • Deep analyses of the Bible, as opposed to the traditional method that expounds the Qur’an and Hadiths to non-Muslim audience. • Deedat illustrates to Muslims and Christians that Qur’anic beliefs are a fulfillment of Jesus Christ’s teachings. • Strengths of his logic and argument tended to win him in many debates. He relies on Biblical verses that Christian missionaries have overlooked or ignored because they are at odds with the Church doctrine. • Among the issues that he highlights in debates: disproving the divinity of Christ, the mentioning of Prophet Muhammad in both Old and New Testaments, the corruption and distortion of the Bible, and most controversially, Crucifixion or Cruci-fiction.
Public Debates • In Durban, S. Africa in 1981 with Josh McDowell, a well-known Christian apologist. • At Royal Albert Hall, London in 1985 with Anis Shorrosh, a Palestinian-American missionary. The title of the debate was “Is Jesus God?” • In Birmingham, UK in 1988: “The Qur’an or the Bible: Which is God’s Word” • The televangelist Jimmy Swaggart • The title of the debate is “Is The Bible the Word of God?”. It was held in Lousiana in 1986 and was attended by 8000 audiences.
Deedat and the Pope • An interesting story of how Deedat’s challenge towards Pope has been refused by the latter. The chronology: • 1984: Deedat challenges Pope John Paul II to a public dialogue in the Vatican Square, Rome. • Pope’s response: he only agreed to a closed conference in his cabin. • Deedat writes back, insists that such meeting should be public. • Pope stops answering Deedat. • Deedat distributes a pamphlet in Jan. 1985, headlined His Holiness Plays Hide and Seek with Muslims.
Quotes • These are among Deedat’s interesting quotes in response to the debates he had with the Christians: • “We’re more Christian than Christians, and you (the Christians) want to fight with us?.” (He refers to how Muslims’ practices of the Islamic teachings are more close to the what the Christian Prophets have preached as opposed to Christians’ practices nowadays). • “Islam and Christianity have much in common… but the Christian scriptures create the differences.” (Deedat highlights that the real and original Christianity and Islamic teachings are not opposing each other, however it is the edited and revised Bibles which have created the differences and thus, strayed from the right path). • “Christ was not and never claimed to be the son of God. If a man is from God, he must make the claim. Did Jesus ever say ‘I am God?’ Did he ever say ‘Worship me?’ No. Jesus was a true prophet, but his followers distorted his teachings to create Christianity.” (Deedat’s response in illustrating that Jesus is neither God, nor son of God)
Writings • CRUCIFIXION OR CRUCI-FICTION.One of the greatest books in regards to the alleged crucifixion of Christ. • MUHAMMED (PBUH) NO. 1 WITH A CHAPTER BY MICHAEL HART. Reasons why historian Michael H. Hart ranked the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) as the most influential figure in history. • COMBAT KIT AGAINST BIBLE THUMPERS Countering the narrow-minded Bible thumpers that visit the Muslim homes out in the West. • WHAT IS HIS NAMEShows that God is the name of God in all the Semitic languages. • THE MUSLIM AT PRAYER Shows that Islam is the religion that was practiced by Abraham, Moses and Jesus by portraying how the Muslims prayer is reminiscent of the practices of the Prophets of the Bible.
CRITICISMS • Ahmed Deedat received many criticisms in many aspects during his lifetime from both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars. • The first aspect on which many attack him is his apologetic style. Some critics claim that debate is not the best policy to do da’wah. It is because sometimes the passionate and inflammatory style of propagating the Islamic faith used by a preacher in debate could lead to rivalry. • Secondly, some disagree with Deedat's emphasis on the inconsistencies in the Bible, as this does nothing to convince the westerners of the truth of Islam since many in the West are essentially secular.
CONTRIBUTIONS • Through his da’wah, many have converted to Islam. Among them are Gary Pelsar (Areeb Islam) who was an ex-evangelist missionary, ex-Catholic church cleric, Gabriel David Ngwane who is now Dawood Ngwane, another ex-missionary, Gary Miller who is now Abdul-Ahad Omar, Kennenth Jenkins or his Muslim name Abdullah al-Faruq, an ex-minister, and many other South Africans and Christian missionaries. • In doing da’wah, Ahmed Deedat uses various methods such as using videotape lectures for teaching his students. In fact, he is known as the pioneer in videotape lectures.
He also conducts many interfaith dialogues and public dabates as the means of da’wah and defending Islam. • Besides that, he founded several Islamic Institutions such as: Islamic Propagation Center International (IPIC) and As-Salaam. IPIC was founded by Deedat and his close friends Goolam Hussein Vanker and Taahir Rasool in 1957. The establishment of IPIC aims to print books on Islam and offer classes to new Muslims converts.
Two years later in 1958, Deedat established As-Saalam Educational Institute on a piece of donated land in Braemar in the south of Natal province. • In addition, he also widely promoted a South African version of Abdullah Yusuf 'Ali’s translation of the Holy Qur'an translation.
Influences • Ahmed Deedat encourages Muslims to be daa'ees (Islamic preachers). One of the prominent Muslim scholars who have been inspired by Deedat is Dr. Zakir Abdul Karim Naik. • Zakir Naik is a founder and president of the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF). He is also a public speaker and writer on the subject of Islam and comparative religion. Naik actually began his career as a medical doctor then became a full-time daa’ee. Hence, the similarities between Deedat and Nair are obvious.