Monday, May 22, 2006

Shaykh Ahmed Deedat

SHAYKH AHMED DEEDAT [1918 - 2005 A.D.]
Born in the Surat District of India in 1918, Shaykh Ahmed Deedat at the age of 9 migrated to South Africa in 1927 with his father. At the age of 16 he took on a job in a retail store. Here he encountered students from a nearby missionary school who tried to convert him to Christianity. At the store he found a book that enabled him to defend his beliefs. This was the first of many books he read on the subject of comparative religion.

In 1940 after acquiring extensive knowledge of both the Bible and the Qur’an, he took to the stage of a local cinema to deliver a lecture called "Muhammad (Peace be upon Him), the Messenger of Peace," to an audience of under fifteen.

Word about his knowledge and amazing ability to quote religious texts from memory spread and he was soon addressing audiences of up to 40 000 in other areas of the country. In 1957 he formed an organisation called the Islamic Propagation Centre together with two of his friends.

He visited Saudi Arabia in 1976, and enthralled television audiences with his witty approach and dynamic personality. This opened the doors of financial assistance to him, and meant that his dream of printing and mass-distributing the Qur’an and other literature soon became a reality.

In 1985, Shaykh Ahmed Deedat agreed to a debate with American missionary, Floyd E Clark, at London’s Royal Albert Hall. He proved to be an instant hit, and was soon visiting other parts of the world on lecture and debate tours. In America he became famous for what is known as ‘The Great Debate’ – eight thousand people watched him debate the topic "Is the Bible God’s Word?" with American Reverend Jimmy Swaggart.

He was awarded the prestigious King Faisal Award in 1986 for his sterling services to Islam in the field of Propagation.

Shaykh Ahmed Deedat delivered his last lecture in Australia in 1996. Shortly thereafter he suffered from a stroke which left him paralysed from his neck down and unable to speak. He was flown to Saudi Arabia on a medical jet, specially flown in by the Saudi Royal family, and received specialized treatment at the King Faisal hospital in Riyadh, where he was taught to communicate using a series of eye movements.

He spent the last nine years of his life, confined to a bed in his home in Verulam, but was visited by many Muslims and non-Muslims from around the world. When asked what his message for the Ummah was, he would usually respond with one statement: "Do Da’wah."

On the 8th of August 2005 / 2 Rajab 1426, Shaykh Ahmed Hoosen Deedat departed from this world to meet his creator.

May Almighty Allah bless his soul, accept his efforts for the cause of da’wah and grant him Jannah, Ameen.

Related reading:
Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi
Maulana Abdul Hayy Lucknawi
Shaykh al-Hadith Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi