Refuting "COMBAT KIT"

For many years Ahmed Deedat has been promoting Islam primarily by attacking other faiths. In an effort to degrade and discredit the Bible, he has resorted to the use of ridicule and vulgar language. He has twisted the true meaning of many Biblical quotations by taking them out of context. His recent booklet, "Combat Kit", is an example of this. It is unacceptable and offensive.

Many people are curious to know how Deedat's accusations against the Holy Bible (in "Combat Kit") have been refuted. The following examples will make it quite clear that "Combat Kit" as a whole is neither accurate nor reliable in what it says about the Bible.

Example 1

In 2 Kings 18:27 the Bible makes reference to eating filth and drinking urine. Deedat takes offense at the mere mention of such words in a Holy Book, and then, without giving any consideration to who has said them, calls it an "absurdity". This statement is not made by God nor is it an instruction given by God. Rather, it is part of an historical account recording the words of the commander of the Assyrian army who was an-idol worshipper and an enemy of the Jews who worshipped the One true God.

Some knowledge of the setting of this story will be helpful. The Assyrian army was besieging the city of Jerusalem. As the siege progressed the Assyrians were trying to demoralise the Israelites by taunting them, saying that they would eventually become so starved that they would resort to eating their own excrement and drinking their own urine. An understanding of the context makes it clear that the Bible records but does not endorse the filthy words of this evil man as Deedat implies. (Read the whole chapter 2 Kings 18 in context.)

Whenever a person ignores the context, he can make the Bible appear to say anything he likes. An example makes this very clear. Using Deedat's approach it could be argued that the Bible teaches `there is no God'. These words are found in Psalm 14:1 but who are they spoken by? A proper reading of the context shows that they are spoken by a fool, for the full sentence reads, "The fool says in his heart, `There is no God'".

A basic principle of understanding any book, be it the Bible, the Qur'an or even secular literature is that its details must not be taken out of context but understood in their context. This means one must read the whole sentence and paragraph in order to understand what any individual phrase means. It is surprising that a scholar like Deedat doesn't seem to know such a fundamental principle - or is it more accurate to say that his bias makes him deliberately ignore this principle when dealing with the Bible? The discerning reader who is really seeking truth will see how Deedat misrepresents and distorts the Bible throughout the rest of "Combat Kit" by consistently ignoring the context.


Example 2

Ezekiel 4:9-17 mentions how the prophet Ezekiel was instructed to eat cake baked on a fire made from human dung. Deedat ridicules this and misconstrues it, saying that Ezekiel is instructed "to eat cake with shit". Deedat is obviously taking it to mean that the dung is to be eaten along with the cake.

What the Bible actually says, however, is that God instructed Ezekiel to bake the cake using human excrement, not as an ingredient of the cake, but as fuel for the fire. The fact that the cake was to be cooked over burning dung is supported by 3 evidences:

Fires fueled by animal dung were not an uncommon practice in the Middle East. Significantly, in this account, God conceeds to Ezekiel's request by allowing him to use cow dung instead of human excrement.
The instructions specified 6 ingredients which were to be mixed to form a cake (including various grains and lentils). The exact amount or rather, ration, of cake that was to be eaten daily was also specified along with a precise amount of water. If dung was to be eaten it is surprising that no amount is given as it is with the portion of cake and water. It is significant that dung is not mentioned until 5 sentences after a summary statement about putting the grains and lentils "into a single vessel". The dung obviously has nothing to do with the food products except that it provides the heat for baking them.
The final and most important reason for interpreting the dung as fuel is that the Bible says the cake was to be cooked "on" or "over" the dung. The Hebrew word 'al corresponding to "on" or "over" does not mean "with" as Deedat alleges. Any Hebrew lexicon or concordance will show this. Therefore, the cake that Ezekiel was to eat was not meant to be eaten along with the dung. Rather, the dung was the means, the fuel, for baking the cake.

It is important to notice that Mr. Deedat not only misinterprets the Bible at this point, he actually misquotes it when he alleges that Ezekiel was to "eat cake WITH shit."

As much as we need to settle the issue of whether the dung was to be eaten, there is still another, even more important, question to be answered. What was the purpose of the whole incident that Ezekiel enacted? What was this `acted out' story meant to teach the people? And, assuming that the lesson was worthwhile, why would a pure God use something so utterly filthy like dung-cooked food as a way of teaching the people something righteous and good?

Because God is pure and holy He hates sin and is repulsed by it. God instructed His prophet to warn the disobedient Israelites that He was going to punish them. The punishment, in this case, was to be pictured by a drama that Ezekiel would act out. The drama of eating a daily ration of cake showed what the judgement would be like. But why was it necessary to mention the use of human filth at all in the drama?

By using filth for the fire, Ezekiel was showing that God's judgement would be an awful and repulsive experience for the Israelites. His action foretold in a graphic way the terrible conditions that the Israelites would have to endure in exile. God did not leave us to guess the meaning of the `cake eating drama'. He Himself explains what the drama means in verses 13-17, saying, "Thus shall the people of Israel eat their bread unclean, among the nations whither I will drive them ... Behold I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem; they shall eat bread by weight ... and they shall drink water by measure ... I will do this that they may lack bread and water, and look at one another in dismay, and waste away under their punishment."

This prophecy that God would drive the Israelites into exile came true 6 years later in 586 B.C. (Ezekiel 1:2, also 2 Kings 24,25). During the Babylonian siege on Jerusalem food and water did become very scarce. The people were taken into exile where circumstances made it practically impossible for them to avoid eating ritually unclean food. In exile they would be subject to unbelieving masters who did not care if they could prepare their food according to their own laws of clean and unclean food. This situation was portrayed in advance by the drama of food cooked over a filthy fire.

Looking at the similarities between Ezekiel's drama and the punishment the Israelites experienced certainly helps us make sense of the drama but there is one more aspect of the problem that remains unanswered. "How can it be that a pure God could require one of His holy prophets to do something so filthy as to cook his food on a burning dung heap?"

To understand this we must look at another dilemma caused by another difficult instruction from God. Muslims and Christians must both wrestle with God's instruction to Abraham. God told Abraham to do something that seemed to contradict the rules of morality, that is, to kill his son. For Abraham to do this must have seemed almost as unthinkable as for Ezekiel to cook his food over a burning heap of human dung. Both men were faced with a moral problem and a shock to their emotions that had no simple answer. If someone today were to look at Abraham's sacrifice and Ezekiel's drama with a skeptical or biased attitude, he could easily find reason to criticise this apparent inconsistency in God's moral nature. But an attitude of humility and earnest seeking will help us grasp the wise purpose God had for each of these unusual events.

In the end, the actions of both prophets, Abraham and Ezekiel proved to be important demonstrations of truth. Their actions were pictures of what God was planning to do.

God is pure and has a good reason for everything He does. The Bible tells the story of God's desire to have a personal relationship with human beings as He had when He first created them. Humans, however, became sinful so this close relationship became impossible because one can never mix pure with impure. The Bible tells the miracle God has done to overcome this problem so that we can once again have a beautiful personal relationship with the Most Holy God.

In the Bible you can read for yourself about God's love for you and His plan for removing sin from our lives. To learn more about why God asked Abraham to sacrifice His son, see these two articles: [1], [2].

David Foster

(Published on Answering Islam in 1996.)

Much of the material in the "Combat Kit" is like the above taken out of context, and everyone can answer it for himself by just reading the chapter the reference if found in. There is no need to grace him with more attention. Most of the claimed Bible contradictions are answered on our Bible Contradictions? page.

The publication of "Combat Kit" eventually had severe consequences for Ahmed Deedat, see Deedat's Downfall.

Ahmed Deedat Rebuttal Page
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