Update (8 August 2005): Ahmed Deedat died this morning in South Africa. For more details, see the IPCI website, Durban's newspaper Daily News, and a report by Al-Jazeera who were among the first to report it. In the coming days, this news will certainly be all over the Muslim media.

DEEDAT’S DOWNFALL

Many readers have been asking whether Ahmed Deedat, the Muslim debater, is still alive. As of this writing (July 2005) he is alive, but he cannot speak and he is completely paralysed. In fact, Deedat has been in this condition since he suffered a rare kind of stroke nine years ago. Few people outside his home city of Durban are aware of this, and even fewer, know the sequence of events leading to this tragedy.

Four weeks before Deedat was stricken he attacked the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ in front of a large audience in Australia. These provocative lectures “raised the ire of the Australian government”, causing them to “threaten to deport him unless he toned down the content of his Good Friday lecture in Sydney.” (Daily News, Durban, 6 May 1996) Incidentally, Deedat’s inflammatory reputation caused Singapore to ban him from entering their country.

If a secular entity like the Australian government was so offended, what was the Christian church feeling? And more importantly what were they doing about it? Following is the record of how Christians responded in Durban where Deedat founded and directed the Islamic Propagation Centre International.

The publication of Deedat’s book “Combat Kit” (1992) marked the beginning of the end. This vicious and ridiculing attack on the Bible set in motion events which proved to be Deedat’s undoing. During the next year a small group of Christians prayed about these provocations. Finally I wrote Mr. Deedat a personal letter, in which I refuted two of his most vile and vicious attacks. He did not acknowledge receiving the hand-delivered letter — much less answer it.

[This personal letter is now displayed here. An expanded rebuttal which correlates with this letter has been available on this page already since 1996. This article reports about another visit to Deedat that is related to the same issue.]

In the following months a group of nearly two dozen pastors from many different churches and denominations deliberated and prayed about these mocking attacks on the Holy Bible. They decided to issue a stern public rebuke through an open letter in the Daily News of Durban. They warned him of God’s judgement because Deedat refused to retract his defamatory and unscholarly attacks against the Bible.

[See this page for a reproduction of the open letter.]

This confrontation — and the stroke that Deedat suffered 21 months later — is reminiscent of another confrontation between the apostle Paul and Elymas, the sorcerer. We read that Paul sharply rebuked him, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.” (Acts 13:10,11) It should not surprise us that God vindicated his holiness by striking Elymas with temporary blindness. So also with Deedat: he suffered a severe stroke, rendering him speechless and paralysed.

God declares in his word, "Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be broken beyond repair." (Proverbs 29:1)

Some readers might object to this line of reasoning, arguing that the stroke happened 21 months after the rebuke was issued. They would argue that there is no cause/effect relationship. However, the Bible (and also the Qur’an) clearly teach that God does not always punish sin immediately (Romans 2:1-4; surah 16:61). He shows forbearance and patience. God gave Deedat ample time to repent. It seems more than coincidental that Deedat was struck down four weeks after mocking the crucifixion in his Autralia lecture tour, climaxing with another attack on Good Friday, the highest commemorative day of Christianity. We believe that the stroke which silenced Deedat was an act of judgment, timed by God to happen on the heels of this broadside attack against the cornerstone doctrine of salvation. This particular provocation needs to be understood against the backdrop of Deedat’s repeated disregard to refutations and finally to a public warning. His mouth was shut and continues to be shut as long as he remains obstinate.

Giving a sharp rebuke should not be misunderstood as a vengeful act. Deedat was reminded — in the open letter of rebuke — that God could forgive him if he would admit his wrong. Unfortunately, neither at that time, nor on subsequent occasions when we visited him in his paralysed condition, did he stop attacking the Bible. Interestingly, he allowed me (and one of my friends) to pray for him when we visited him at his home — without any apparent healing taking place. On our next visit we followed up this unfinished matter by reminding Deedat that God’s Word says sin hinders our prayers from being answered. We read King David’s words, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” (Psalm 66:18) Then we reminded Deedat of the open letter of rebuke which preceded his stroke. We asked him whether he was now prepared to admit having done wrong.

Deedat spelled out his emphatic reply, one letter at a time, “I have no guilt on my head.” (Such communiques from Deedat are obviously inaudible. He indicates his choice of individual letters by blinking his eye.) It was — and still is — our sincere prayer that Deedat would humble himself and experience God’s mercy and healing.

David Foster
Durban, 10 July 2005

Postscript

Some readers have wondered why this article was written such a long time after the events had happened. Considering that it vindicates the Christian worldview, why did the author not report on the events leading up to Deedat’s downfall much sooner?

My refutation of ‘Combat Kit’ — an article similar to the personal letter I had given Deedat, but slightly longer — was offered to the public in an advertisement in the Daily News on the same page as the open letter to Deedat. But I did not follow this up with a report explaining our Christian interpretation of Deedat’s subsequent stroke (21 months later). Only my ‘Combat Kit’ refutation was published on the internet in 1996.

In the early months after Deedat was stricken, I reasoned that, as much as the warning against Deedat had been public knowledge so also, when he was stricken, those who lived in Durban (and probably other South Africans too) would connect the dotted lines and interpret this humbling event as punishment for his continued attacks on the Bible. What I did not fully realise was that the general public often does not clearly discern such implications, especially when these events stretched out over a 21 month period. Furthermore, many people outside of South Africa, who were aware of Deedat's mockeries, did not know he had been corrected and warned so they could not draw proper conclusions. They lacked the basic facts to come to understand that, indeed, God was vindicating and glorifying himself through these events.

As time passed I felt increasingly uneasy — even guilty — about not clarifying these matters. I realised that God vindicated his Word and his holiness by fulfilling the warning his servants had proclaimed 21 months earlier. It made more and more sense to me that we ought to now write an article which clearly explains how God glorified himself by punishing Deedat (note well: God did not immediately strike him dead). In 2002, I was grateful for the opportunity to write up salient aspects of this story in a Christian magazine but this still fell far short of making a widespread public announcement.

From time to time, during these last 9 years of Deedat’s confinement, I remember having misgivings about writing the story of Deedat's downfall. I wanted to keep my focus on loving Muslims by acts of kindness and witnessing to them with ‘gentleness’. I rationalized that, to divert my energies into writing this kind of an article, would undermine my main calling. Eventually, after consulting with other ministers of the gospel, the growing conviction I felt in my conscience was confirmed and I wrote the article, ‘Deedat's Downfall’. Let me assure you: writing it was not at all easy. Many times I either wanted to put it off or wanted to do other things.

I pondered the question of whether this story should be circulated primarily in Durban or on the worldwide web. I came to the conclusion, it should not be restricted to a local Durban audience since Deedat’s mockeries and attacks impacted the wider world, and indeed they still do — though perhaps to a lesser degree.

The above article on Deedat’s downfall was originally written in September 2004, but the editor of Answering Islam insisted that all claims need to be meticulously documented before it could be published. Since I was out of the country for twelve months, I was only able to access the text of my personal letter to Deedat and of the open letter published in the newspaper in July 2005.


Further Documentation
(Researched and compiled by Jochen Katz)

Appendix 1

On Monday May 6, 1996, the following made the front page of the Daily News, Durban’s main newspaper:

Deedat in Fight for Life

by Karen Jackman, Medical Reporter

Controversial Muslim leader Mr. Ahmed Deedat is fighting for his life in Durban's Entabeni Hospital after suffering a stroke Mr. Deedat is in the neurological ward and is in a "very poor condition", ward staff said this morning.

Mr. Deedat, head of the Islamic Propagation Centre in Grey Street, Durban, collapsed on Friday afternoon immediately after a meeting with the centre's trustees, a distraught relative told the Daily News.

"We rushed him to Wentworth Hospital for a brain scan and later to Entabeni where he underwent another scan," said the relative.

"He is able to focus and is aware of what is going on around him, but he can't move. He is communicating with us by blinking his eyes."

The charismatic Mr. Deedat, 78, has had a life fraught with controversy, the most recent last month when he raised the ire of the Australian government.

The immigration authorities there had threatened to deport him unless he toned down the content of his Good Friday lecture in Sydney. The news of his illness had been received with shock in the Muslim world, particularly in Saudi Arabia.

(Source: originally discovered in this public mailing list archive (*), this article was verified directly with the newspaper.)


Appendix 2

The following paragraph reveals how Deedat came to “sow the seed of religious hatred”. It is found on the offical Hansard website of the government of New South Wales, one of the states in the nation of Australia.

Of course, other victims of racism are often Australians who are visibly different, especially women who wear Muslim attire. While I condemn such attacks, I also condemn attacks against Christians by Muslims who come to Australia to sow the seed of religious hatred. In this regard I refer to Islamic evangelist Sheik Ahmed Deedat, a South African who, on Good Friday, spoke about Easter, indulged in bible-bashing and incited racial hatred. I am all for freedom of speech, but our leaders should show some understanding and, above all, respect for the views and beliefs of others. Australia can do without people like Sheik Deedat. I do not know why he came to Australia or why he adopted such a confrontationist approach on Good Friday at a big public meeting at Sydney Town Hall when he disparaged the Christian faith. I certainly do not support such an approach. (Source)


Appendix 3

The official website of the Islamic Propagation Centre International states the following about its founder, Ahmed Deedat:

It was a sad day for us, particularly at the IPCI, when Sheikh Ahmed Deedat suffered a stroke, and lost his speech, his most potent gift that he used so effectively in his debates to propagate Islam.

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, on the theme Easter: A Muslim viewpoint.

This was his last lecture before he suffered a stroke, and he has been bedridden since then. ...

(Source, accessed on 6 July 2005; bold and underline emphasis ours)

“Momentous” and “most passionate” may be the view of the representatives of this center of vicious anti-Christian polemics. In the end, it is God's view that counts.


Addition after the death of Deedat: Even the memorial message on the entry page of the IPCI website (published on the day of Deedat's death), indirectly admits to the charge of stirring up religious hatred when they state in their eulogy:

So fearless was his stand in defending the truth that Sheikh Deedat was refused entry into France and Nigeria on the pretext that ‘he would cause a civil unrest’. (Source, accessed on 8 August 2005)


Appendix 4

The information about Deedat's physical conditions given at the official IPCI website is so technically medical that a layperson can hardly understand what it means. However, there are a number of articles on the internet in which Muslims who love and admire Ahmed Deedat report about their visits of him. The following cuts out most of the eulogies and focuses on the health conditions. The full articles can be found at the links given as sources.

Bala A. Muhammad reports:

But perhaps a greater miracle than his existence, according to the Shaikh himself, is his ability to communicate, using his eyes only. Yusuf Deedat, who is almost always at the side of his father, has devised a simple method of communicating with the Shaikh using the letters of the alphabet. The 26 letters A-Z are grouped into five lines, each given a number from one to five. In this method A-E, for example, fall in Line One, F-J in Line Two, and so following. So, if for example the Shaikh wants Yusuf to call someone with the name Jabir, the Shaikh would indicate with his eyes that he wants to say something. Yusuf would then ask: Line One? (or just: One?) and the Shaikh would shake his head, meaning no, as the first letter of the name Jabir does not fall in Line One. Line Two? The Shaikh would nod his agreement as J is in Line Two. Yusuf would call out the letters F, G, H, I, J? On the correct letter, the Shaikh would nod yes. Back again to Line One for the next letter. By the time Yusuf spells J.A. he knows that his father wants a JABIR.

... Mrs Deedat told me that the last doctor to visit the Shaikh came many years ago, as she has learnt all there is to treat her husband: she is now very familiar with all things intravenous and intra-muscular, she feeds the Shaikh through a tube directly inserted into his stomach, and prepares all the necessary medicaments. ...

(Source: Published originally in Weekly Trust, 29 March 2002, quoted as found on this page.)

The report of Muhammad Bin Abdullah Caraballo first circulated on various mailing lists, then posted on some forums and published in at least one Muslim magazine. This is an excerpt:

... Sheikh Ahmed Deedat has the locked in syndrome because of a cerebral vascular accident affecting the brain stem about 7 years ago. When this happened he was taken to Saudi Arabia for treatment together with his wife for about nine month after that the returned back to his house at Verulam and now being nursed by his wife. All I can say is to pray to Allah Subhana wataallah to give him shifaa. He obtains his nutrition via a gastrotomy (a pipe through his stomach). His wife has looked after him remarkably well considering the fact he has no bed sores whatsoever. His current medication comprises a twice daily regimen of humulin 30/70 as well as daily heparin. He requires ferrimed, one daily for his iron deficiency anaemia.

Although his body is total paralysed apart from his upper part of his head (from his nose upward) he cannot eat, drink, speak or swallow anything, but he is fully alert and he can communicate via a chart (on the wall at the back of his head-see the photo Attached), whereby each word is formed by him looking at the letters of the alphabet and in turn he nods his head with the appropriate word. In this way he is able to communicate with complete sentences. Subhanallah, he is paralysed but he hears what is so ever conveyed to him, understand and answer back using the chart.

(Source: A posting on this forum, dated 30 March 2004, (this forum is currently closed); most of this report — including a photo of Deedat — was also published in Islamic Voice, April 2004, online edition)

This posting (on a public discussion forum) displays another newspaper article about Deedat, New hi-tech bed for ailing scholar, Sunday Times, Durban, South Africa, Sunday 26 January 2003.

The World Islamic Propagation Establishment (UK) / The Comparative Religion Centre (WIPE(UK) / CRC Ltd.) published some photographs of Deedat taken in 1996 and February 1998. Their website, www.wipecrc.com, is now defunct, but another Muslim site has archived those pictures here. IPCI published one picture in its May/June 2004 newsletter. The IIS Photo Gallery has pictures of Deedat dated September 2004.

[Added on 14 August 2005] In a memorial article for Deedat by IslamOnline.net the following statements again confirmed the above reported details:

On May 3, 1996, Sheikh Ahmed Deedat suffered a stroke which left him paralyzed from the neck down, and also meant that he could no longer speak or swallow. He was flown to a hospital in Riyadh, where he was taught to communicate through a series of eye-movements. He spent the last nine years of his life in a bed in his home in Verulam, South Africa, ... (Source; accessed on 14 August 2005)


Postscript:

One should not make too much of such observations, but it is nevertheless interesting to note the timing of events.

6 April 1996     (Good Friday) Deedat gave a highly offensive talk in Sydney, mocking the death and resurrection of Jesus.
3 May 1996     Four weeks later, Friday afternoon in Durban (late night in Sydney), Deedat is cut down by a stroke and remains totally paralyzed.

11 July 2005     (Monday, 10 AM German and South African time), Answering Islam published the story behind Deedat's downfall.
8 August 2005     Four weeks later, Monday morning, Deedat died.

Along with many other Christians, we have prayed for Mr. Deedat to repent, to turn to Jesus, and to be healed. Deedat has certainly had more occasions than most people to learn about God's true message and offer of salvation, and God has given him much time to respond. Yet, he persisted in his rejection of the Gospel.

I want to leave the reader with two verses from the Word of God.

"Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’" Ezekiel 33:11

God commanded Ezekiel to speak this warning to Israel in its disobedience, but the heart of God is the same today. He still desires that sinners repent instead of dying in their sins and perish. Yet the other is equally true when people persist in their rejection of God's message:

"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." Galatians 6:7

In the case of Ahmed Deedat, God has shown both his patience and his punishment.


Responses to Ahmed Deedat
Answering Islam Home Page