Born on July 1, 1918, Sheikh Deedat arrived in South Africa, from India, as a nine-year-old in August 1927. Although he hadn’t previously been exposed to the English language, he learnt it in six months, excelled at school and finished top of his class. However, due to financial considerations, his father removed him from school during his early years of secondary schooling. He was sent to work in a store in a rural area, where his mission of Da’wah began.
Students from a Christian missionary school would visit the store preaching their beliefs to him, and knowing little more than the shahadah (testifying that no god but Allah and Muhammad is His prophet), he found it difficult to defend his beliefs. He then stumbled upon a book ‘Izhar ul Haqq’ which carried a religious dialogue between a Muslim imam and a Christian priest, and this proved to be the first of many books which he would read on the subject. He began researching both religions and recording his findings in a notebook, after which he started delivering lectures in South Africa.
His first lecture was entitled “Muhammad (peace be upon him): Messenger of Peace,” at it was delivered in 1940, to 15 people at a cinema in his province. Within a short space of time, the numbers grew and people crossed the racial divides which were then prevalent in apartheid South Africa, to listen to him. Although some Christians and Muslims felt that his style was blunt, many others reverted to Islam, and Da’wah soon began to dominate his life, with the audiences at his lectures reaching forty thousand. His talks were usually followed by question and answer sessions, wherein Christians would line up with their Bibles, attempting to refute him. No question was too difficult for him, and he usually silenced them by quoting the Bible from memory. His simple English could be understood by all. Many liked him, but a few hated him – especially Christian missionaries.
He worked as a dispatch clerk for the “Simplex” furniture factory. He spent his money and printed cards talking about Islam to the Zulu [black] people. In it he also mentioned his address and tel. number, not being afraid of any backlashes. Many times they didn’t have enough money to pay the rent for their flat. It was a great struggle throughout. His wife used to make sweetmeats and sell. He was a super salesman. He could be earning a lot of money, but he gave that up to concentrate on Dawah. He lived humbly to save money for Dawah. Though money was tight, he made his family his priority. His wife says, “If I like something I didn’t even have to ask. All I would say is that’s nice and he would but it for me.” His house was very close to the mosque, and it was strategically positioned, because he used to invite people to his house, have a meal, some somosas, and explain to them what Islam is, and tell them, “You know, there is a mosque right across the road. Would you like to take a look at the mosque?” And that was part of the core Dawah strategy of Deedat in the early days. His popularity was growing nation wide. Many Muslims of the cape had been brought over from Indonesia, Malaysia, and India as slaves and political prisoners. They felt down- trodden and were tired of life as 2nd class citizens, to whom Deedat was a knight in shining armor – who had come to liberate them from the pressures of hard line missionaries. Many of them, because of the situation they found themselves in, feeling like a lesser human beings, used to change their religion, as the Christians offered something to them, food and money. Now, Deedat gave them something that they could counter with. His debates gave a hefty blow to the aggressive Christian missionaries, and he was soon invited to Cape Town, where he lectured in huge halls, attracting crowds of 30 to 40 thousand people.
IPC Along came the demand for a professional management which could manage the size of planning and money for him to continue. So, in 1957, Sheikh Deedat, together with two of his close friends, founded the Islamic Propagation Center (IPC) in Durban. Its first phase was a tiny one – room office, which was involved in printing books and organizing classes to new Muslims. They would go door to door collecting money for their activities. He developed a good rapport with his staff, although he had a reputation for being demanding. As-Salaam One night in 1958, after a lecture in a mosque, a man known as Hajee Kadwa approached him and offered to donate 75 acres of land on the south coast for the sake of Islamic propagation. Just like that! and thus As-Salaam was born. It was a Muslim seminary where students would learn comparative religion and how to pass the teachings of Islam on to others. He and his wife continued to work in the fields as well as in the classroom. His house and mosque built beside, the stage seemed set to achieve his dream of a “Muslim Daie College”, but that dream was to turn out very differently from what he envisaged. It was the idea of one person – who was far ahead of his time, but unfortunately, the community around him was not ready for such a vast institute. After 17 long years, despite his best efforts, As-salaam was failing. The lack of funding and expertise was proving to be too much. In 1973, he finally asked the trustees to relieve him of his duties there, and so without ever realizing his dream, he returned to Durban and As-salaam was made into a private Islamic school. This opened the doors to the realization of another lifelong dream.
His first opportunity to go abroad arose in 1976, when a good friend, Ebrahim Jadwat, traveled to Riyadh for a conference. “ When I asked the people from Saudi television to interview him, they laughed at me, saying that they had 50 or 60 of the greatest scholars from all over the world, so why should they interview him?” recalls Jadwat. “So I said, ‘Give him two minutes of your time and I’m sure you’ll find something interesting.’ So they humored me and gave him the opportunity to come on television.” The rest, as they say, is history... Sheikh Deedat with his entertaining approach, dynamic personality, deep knowledge of Christianity and unique ideas, was an instant hit, and swept the Arab world off its feet. Going to Riyadh opened up many doors for him, and his dream of printing and distributing the Qur’an and other literature soon become a reality. In July 1985, Sheikh Deedat agreed to a debate with an American missionary, Prof. Floyd E. Clark, at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The debate attracted Muslim holidaymakers from all over the world, and Sheikh Deedat proved to be an instant hit.
The king Faisal Foundation awarded him the King Faisal International Prize for SERVICE TO ISLAM, jointly with the French Philosopher Dr. Roger Gharoudi. He soon found himself swept up in a whirlwind of tours: Morocco, Kenya, Sweden, Australia, Denmark. The world was too small a stage for him. And at last a person who was finally to his level agreed to a match. A giant - Reverend Jimmy Swaggart of USA , who was the head of a $100 million ministry, and whose sermons were televised in over 30 countries. It became known as the “ Great Debate.” Eight thousand people showed up, to watch Sheikh Deedat debate the topic, “Is the Bible the Word of God?”
On May 3, 1996, Sheikh Ahmed Deedat suffered a stroke, known as “lock in syndrome,” which left him paralyzed from the neck down. It also meant that he was no longer able to speak or swallow. Soon thereafter he was taken to Saudi Arabia on a medical jet, especially flown in by the royal family. He received specialized treatment and care at the King Faisal hospital in Riyadh, where he was taught to communicate by coordinating his eye movements with an alphabetical chart which he memorized. His wife checked his blood as he was a diabetic, gave him injections, and changed his clothes. she, whom Sheikh Deedat used to call as his “Backbone”, spent her last 9 years nursing her husband and administering his daily injections, making him comfortable in his uneasy condition, was present at his time of death. Despite her age, [now 84], she was always positive, never complaining about his condition. He died on Monday, august 8th, 2005 at the age of 87, leaving behind a legacy of propagating Islam and defending it against missionaries.
Hundreds of people from across SA, participated in the funeral prayer, for the person who had made them proud, a man who at a time when the Asian community had everything going against it, raised the morale of Muslims. His body was laid in the living room of his house, where his 84-year old wife, clad in a white abaya and jilbaab, sat at his side, and embraced the many women who came to express their condolences, assuring them that her husband had experienced a quick, beautiful and painless death. His body left his home at about 5.00 pm, in a coffin, covered in a green cloth. The coffin was passed from man to man, until it reached the hearse which carried it to the main street mosque, where the funeral prayer was performed by about a thousand men, led by well-known Zambian Muslim Scholar – Mufti Ismail Menk.
05/14/131HOW DO WE REMEMBERHOW DO WE REMEMBERPrepared by:Fatima KhanAhmad FirozMuhammad AyubiFacilitated by:Khalid I. Al-Dossary
05/14/132ChildhoodChildhoodBorn in a village in SuratDistrict in India on 1st of July1918In 1927, he migrated to SouthAfrica at the age of 9Completed only standard 6 inschool but due to financialdifficulties he did not continue.
05/14/133Birth of an Islamic ScholarBirth of an Islamic Scholar Targeted for conversion by Christianmissionaries (Adams MissionComplex Institute) Worked as shopkeeper next to theInstitute Constant Attack against Islam (Whatwas I to do?) Stumbled across the book, ‘Izhar ulHaqq’ which changed his life Acquired extensive knowledge on theQuran and the Bible (University ofHard knock)
05/14/134First speech in Durban in 1940entitled “Muhammad:Messenger of Peace,” – 15people in audience - AvalonDurban big audience 2000Angry & frustrated the Hinduand Christian missionaries byquoting contradicting versesfrom their own holy scripturesHis memory – A special giftfrom AllahBirth Of An Outstanding OratorBirth Of An Outstanding Orator
05/14/135Humble LivingHumble Living Worked as a Dispatch Clerk for aFurniture Factory (“Simplex”furniture factory). Converted Daddan Bingo & Printed cards for Zulu He Spent His Money to Print CardsTalking About Islam to the ZuluPeople. He Was a Super Salesman. HeCould Have Earned a Lot of Money,But He Gave It Up for Dawah. Many Times He and His WifeDidn’t Have Enough Money to Paythe Rent.
05/14/136Simple, But Effective DawaSimple, But Effective DawaHis House (Apt. #45 )WasVery Close to the Mosque.Used to Invite People toHis House to Have a Meal .Explain to Them WhatIslam Is, and Tell Them,“You Know, There is aMosque Right Across theRoad. Would You Like toTake a Look at theMosque?”
05/14/137Knight in Shining ArmorKnight in Shining Armor Many Muslims of the Cape town HadBeen Brought Over as Slaves andPolitical Prisoners. Good Hope Center They Felt Down and Were Tired of Lifeas 2nd Class Citizens, and From thePressures of Hard Line Missionaries. His Debates Gave a Hefty Blow to theAggressive Christian Missionaries. Growing Popularity & Raising ofMorale
05/14/138Birth Of IPC & As-salamBirth Of IPC & As-salam In 1957, Founded IPC in Durban(3 founders) In 1958, Founded As-Salaam; AMuslim Daee Training Seminary Hajee Kadwa donation of 75 acresof Land Dream of Islamic Version ofAdams Mission-Dawah College In 1973, Resignation from beinga trustee-Return to Durban
05/14/139First Overseas SpeechFirst Overseas Speech In 1976, Visit to Riyadh to attenda conference by WAMY – aturning point / A TV interview. “Riyadh opened up the West forme” His dream of printing anddistributing the Qur’an andliterature become a reality. In 1985, Debate in London withProf. Floyd E. Clark titled“Crucifixion of Jesus?” – RoyalAlbert Hall
05/14/1310International RecognitionInternational RecognitionIn 1986, King Faisal Awardfor “SERVICE TO ISLAM”Whirlwind of tours to placeslike Morocco, Kenya, Sweden,Australia, DenmarkIn 1985, The “Great Debate”with Jimmy Swaggart of USA“Is the Bible the Wordof God?”
05/14/1311The RiseThe Rise More Financial Support Came, andHe Was Now Able to Open NewDoors. He Moved the IPC to a LargerBuilding, Which Became Known asthe IPCI - Islamic PropagationCenter International. Deedat Distributed More Than 20Million Copies of His Books &Tapes Free of Charge for thePurpose of Da’wah.
05/14/1312Excellent LiteratureExcellent LiteratureSheikh Ahmed Deedat’s interesting andinformative literary material (24 booklets &around to 250 lectures and debates)The Choice - Between Islam and Christianity- Volume I & IIIs the Bible Gods Word?Al Quran the Miracle of MiraclesWhat is His NameChrist in IslamWhat was the sign of JonahWhat the Bible says about Muhammed(pbuh)Resurrection or ResuscitationArabs and Israel Conflict or ConciliationCrucifixion or Cruci-Fiction
05/14/1313An Inspirational FigureAn Inspirational Figure For many Muslims All Over the WorldShaikh Ahmed Deedats Dawah Was aSource of Inspiration for Them. He Retained His Humility and Simplicity,Even Though He Could Have Driven aFancy Car And Lived in a Fancy House. Muslims of His Caliber are EspeciallyNeeded in Present Times As ThisUmmah is Facing Many Trails andTribulations. Conversion of Dawud Ngwani at the ageof 63 (Former Catholic leader)
05/14/1314The LegacyThe LegacySheikh Deedat Was a GlobalCaller to Islam.No Other Muslim That WeKnow of Wrote to the Pope –inviting Him to Islam, ButSheikh Deedat Did So.He Left Behind a Legacy ofPropagating Islam andDefending It AgainstMissionaries.
05/14/1315Declining HealthDeclining Health On May 3, 1996, Stroke knownas “lock in syndrome” Special treatment at King Faisalhospital in Riyadh Taught to communicate bycoordinating his eye movementswith an alphabetical chartwhich he memorized. For 9-Years to Come, HeReceived Unconditional CareFrom His Wife (Hawa)
05/14/1316End of an era…End of an era…On Monday, August 8 2005, theblessed soul departs; the Muslimworld lost one of its most devotedservant.…a Great Caller to Islam,…an Inspirational Mentor,…a Devout BrotherMay Allah ST rest his soul in peaceand grant him place inALFIRDOUS…Ameen!
05/14/1317Let’s Carry the Torch…Let’s keepLet’s Carry the Torch…Let’s keepThe Flame Burning…The Flame Burning… We can pay homage to this greatdeparted soul by carrying on thelegacy he left behind Spread the Message of Islam as farand wide as we possibly can Encourage every Muslim to be a Daee Be a role model by conductingourselves in the manner prescribed inthe Qur’an & Sunnah His last Will to all Muslims is to FearYour Rabb And Defend Your Prophet,Muhammad (pbuh)