Sheikh Ahmed Deedat
Born in the Surat district of India in 1918, Ahmed Hoosen Deedat had no recollection of his father until 1926. His father a tailor by profession had migrated to South Africa shortly after the birth of Ahmed Deedat.
With no formal education and fighting off the extreme pangs of poverty, he went to South Africa in 1927 to be with his father. His farewell to his mother in India in 1927 was the last time he saw her alive for she passed away a few months later. In a foreign land, a boy of nine with no formal schooling and command of the English language began preparing for the role he was to play decades later without realizing it.
Applying himself with diligence to his studies, the little boy not only was able to overcome the language barrier but excelled in school. His avid passion for reading helped him gain promotions until he completed standard 6. Lack of finance interrupted his schooling and at the early age of about 16 he took on the first of many jobs in retailing.
The most significant of these was in 1936 where he worked at a Muslim owned store near a Christian seminary on the Natal South Coast. The incessant insults of the trainee missionaries hurled against Islam during their brief visits to the store infused a stubborn flame of desire within the young man to counteract their false propaganda.
As fate would have it, Ahmed Deedat discovered by pure chance a book entitled ‘Izharul-Haq,’ meaning the ‘Truth revealed.’ This book recorded the techniques and enormous success of the efforts of Muslims in India in turning the tables against Christian missionary harassment during the British subjugation and rule of India. In particular the idea of holding debates had a profound effect on Ahmed Deedat.
Armed with this new found zeal, Ahmed Deedat purchased his first Bible and began holding debates and discussions with the trainee missionaries. When they beat a hasty retreat in the face of his incisive counter arguments, he personally called on their teachers and even priests in the surrounding areas.
These successes spurred Ahmed Deedat in the direction of Da’wah. Not even his marriage, birth of children and a 3 year sojourn to Pakistan after its independence dampened his enthusiasm or dulled his desire to defend Islam from the deceitful distortions of the Christian missionaries.
With missionary zeal to project the Truth and beauty of Islam, Ahmed Deedat immersed himself into a host of activities over the next three decades. He conducted classes on Bible studies and gave numerous lectures. He established the ‘As-Salaam,’ an institute to train propagators of Islam. He, together with his family, almost single-handedly erected the buildings including the Masjid which is still a landmark today.
He was a founder member of the Islamic Propagation Centre International (IPCI) and became its President, a position he held until he passed away in the year 2005. He has published over 20 books and distributed millions of copies free of charge. He has delivered thousands of lectures all over the world and successfully engaged Christian Evangelists in public debates. Several thousand people have come into the fold of Islam as a result of these efforts.
In a fitting tribute to this monumental achievement, he was awarded the ‘King Faisal International Prize’ for ‘Service to Islam’ in 1986, a prestigious recognition of enormous value in the world of Islam.
No number of awards and honors can truly capture the man’s essence and zeal for Islam. His anthology of books is no exception. It demonstrates Sheikh Deedat’s analytical compilations drawn from personal encounters and experiences against Christian distortions.
In 1996 Sheikh Ahmed Deedat suffered from a serious stroke and remained paralyzed and bedridden for 9 years. On 8th August, 2005 he passed away. May Allah (swt) bless his soul with Jannatul Firdous for his path-breaking and excellent efforts for Daw’ah of Islam worldwide as well as reigniting the spirit of self-esteem and renaissance amongst millions of Muslims the world over.
Books by Sheikh Ahmed Deedat: (CAN BE AVOIDED IF NOT FITTING IN FORMAT)
The Choice - Between Islam and Christianity - Volume I
The Choice - Between Islam and Christianity - Volume II
Is the Bible God’s Word?
Al Qur’an the Miracle of Miracles What is His Name?
Christ in Islam
What was the sign of Jonah?
What the Bible says about Muhammed (pbuh)?
Resurrection or Resuscitation?
Arabs and Israel – Conflict or Conciliation?
Crucifixion or Cruci-Fiction?
In 1986, the King Faisal Foundation awarded Sheikh Deedat the King Faisal International Prize for SERVICE TO ISLAM, to a South African who is more or better known than many dignitaries in their own countries. This was the first time that this prestigious award has been awarded to a South African.
The recipient of this award was a man totally dedicated to his faith and its propagation and who was not afraid to challenge any one to a debate to settle once and for all the matter, who has the good news right?
He was none other than Sheikh Ahmed Deedat, reverently known and called UNCLE by those who hold him in high esteem and admiration.
The award came after a lifetime of struggle to propagate Islam and to defend Islam against the onslaught of the missionaries.
Finally, he was given recognition by the international Muslim community that he deserved and focused more sharply the attention of the Muslim world on the most important aspect of his work, the challenge to propagate Islam. This was his life long ambition to focus the Muslim world's attention and resources on the propagation of Islam, and at last he succeeded. What a moment of jubilation, achievement and personal gratification for Sheikh Deedat the award was, a turning point in his life.
Sheikh Deedat did not have much formal schooling, but he was self-taught through experience and a penchant for reading, debating, discussion, and a profound sense of commitment to a mission and goal. He was driven and goal oriented. He was focused and never let up until the job was done. He was sharp, perceptive, forthright, fiery, and daring in his challenge of those whom he debated, particularly against those who equal his missionary zeal and sense of audacity. Formal schooling did not destroy his creative prowess, his tenacity, ambition, drive, and sheer daring to swim upstream.
Sheikh Deedat was more a scholar of the Bible than the Qur'an, and was more familiar and adroit with its teachings. He had an insight and perspective of the Bible which made many Christians he came into contact with rethink and re-examine their faith, particularly those aspects of the Bible and the Qur'an that deal with the divine mission and life of Prophet Jesus.
Sheikh Deedat fell ill in 1996, shortly after his trip to Australia, which was a momentous tour. He gave one of his most passionate talks in front of a capacity crowd in Sydney