Ahmed Deedat : biography
Ahmed Hoosen Deedat ( July 1918 – 8 August 2005) was a South African writer and public speaker of Indian descent., by Fatima Asmal, Islamic Voice, September 2005 He was best known as a Muslim missionary who held numerous inter-religious public debates with evangelical Christians, as well as video lectures, most of which centred around Islam, Christianity and the Bible. He also established the IPCI, an international Islamic missionary organisation, and wrote several booklets on Islam and Christianity which were widely distributed by the organisation. He was awarded the prestigious King Faisal International Prize in 1986 for his 50 years of missionary work. One focus of his work was providing Muslims with theological tools for defending themselves against active proselytising by Christian missionaries. He used English to get his message across to Muslims and non-Muslims in the western world.David Westerlund, Ahmed Deedat's Theology of Religion: Apologetics through Polemics. Journal of Religion in Africa, 33(3). 2003 "
Early Years 1918–1942
Deedat was born in town of Tadkeshwar, Surat, Bombay Presidency, British India in 1918. Islamic Research Foundation. Retrieved on 29 July 2009. His father had emigrated to South Africa shortly after his birth. At the age of 9, Deedat left India to join his father in what is now known as Kwazulu-Natal. His mother died only a few months after his departure. Arriving in South Africa, Deedat applied himself with diligence to his studies, overcoming the language barrier and excelling in school, even getting promoted until he completed standard 6. However, due to financial circumstances, he had to quit school and start working by the time he was the age of 16. By Asim Khan, 21 January 2006, on Aljazeera.net
In 1936, while working as a furniture salesman, he met a group of missionaries at a Christian seminary on the Natal South Coast who, during their efforts to convert people of Muslim faith, often accused the Islamic Prophet Muhammad of having "used the sword" to bring people to Islam. Such accusations offended Deedat and created his interest in comparative religion.: Ahmed Hoosen Deedat (1918–2005): by Goolam Vahed, Department of History, University of KwaZulu Natal
Deedat took a more active interest in religious debate after he came across the book "Izhar ul-Huqq" (Truth Revealed), written by Rahmatullah Kairanawi, while he was rummaging for reading material in his employer's basement. Interview. Retrieved on 18 March 2012. This book chronicled the efforts of Christian missionaries in India a century earlier. The book had a profound effect on Deedat, who bought a Bible and held debates and discussions with trainee missionaries, whose questions he had previously been unable to answer.
He started attending Islamic study classes held by a local Muslim convert named Mr. Fairfax. Seeing the popularity of the classes, Mr. Fairfax offered to teach an extra session on the Bible and how to preach to Christians about Islam. Deedat and a few others were delighted at the opportunity. Shortly thereafter, Fairfax had to pull out and Deedat, by this point quite knowledgeable about the Bible, took over teaching the class, which he did for three years. He later credited this experience for expanding his horizons significantly towards missionary work.
Early missionary work 1942–1956
Deedat's first lecture, entitled "Muhammad: Messenger of Peace", was delivered in 1942 to an audience of fifteen people at a Durban cinema named Avalon Cinema., Imran Garda, 2006 Over time Deedat's popularity as a public speaker grew in Durban, to the point that he was invited to speak in other cities in South Africa. A decade later he was filling city halls in cities such as Johannesburg and Cape Town.
A major vehicle of Deedat's early missionary activity was the 'Guided Tours' of the Jumma Mosque in Durban. The vast ornamental Jumma Mosque was a landmark site in the tourist-friendly city of Durban. A program of luncheons, speeches and free hand-outs was created to give an increasingly large number of international tourists what was often their first look at Islam. Deedat himself was one of the guides, hosting tourists and giving introductions to Islam and its relationship with Christianity.
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