Humility — Ahmed Deedat’s Missing Virtue

The Bible states:   “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

My experience with Ahmed Deedat shows how true this proverb is. Not long after Deedat was awarded the prestigious King Faizal Award for service to Islam, I met with him. I raised a question based on my observation that each of Deedat’s booklets attacking the Bible had been capably refuted by a reputed South African lawyer named John Gilchrist. I asked Deedat, “How can you claim to be a genuine scholar and yet continue reprinting these books as if no one had refuted them? In other fields of scholarly endeavour, leaders at least admit the arguments their detractors raise and interact with them, but in your case, you don't seem to acknowledge these arguments exist, much less try to disprove them.”

Deedat's reply exuded a haughty spirit. He told me, “I am like a man riding along in a caravan. A dog barking at the side of the road doesn't really pose a problem to me.” This cocky attitude became even more evident when Deedat wrote a book that mocked the Bible. He alleges in ‘Combat Kit’ that the Bible tells Christians to “eat shit”. I wrote him a personal letter refuting two of his more vulgar and insulting attacks on the Bible. But Deedat did not acknowledge receiving this hand-delivered letter — much less answer it. This response was in keeping with the conceited attitude he had earlier shown me in regard to John Gilchrist’s professionally published books. Accordingly, he deemed it beneath his dignity to acknowledge a puny 2 page personal letter from some lesser known personality like myself.

Several months after receiving this letter, he was publically warned in an open letter, signed by 30 pastors and published in the Daily News. This letter was necessary because he refused to retract his ridicule of the Bible. It stated “that unless you repent of your mockery, you will draw upon yourself the judgment of God in due course.”

This warning proved prophetic — the stroke which rendered Deedat speechless, happened 21 months after this warning and 4 weeks after he delivered “one of his most passionate talks” on Easter Friday in Australia. The word “passionate” in this quote from a reporter on Al Jazeera, reflects the Muslim mindset of the speaker. The fact is, Deedat’s lectures in Australia were so offensive as to “raise the ire of the Australian government ... [who] threatened to deport him” (quote from Daily News, May 6, 1996). The official website of the New South Wales state government of Australia, voiced deep consternation, saying that Deedat “indulged in Bible bashing and incited racial hatred.”

South Africa, where Deedat resides, has had anti-hate laws for some time, but now a new, stricter version of these laws is being drafted. One hopes that insulting, provocative literature like Deedat’s last booklet, ‘Combat Kit’, won't be reprinted. Perhaps, if the IPCI refrained from circulating this kind of publication it would help lessen the deepening polarization that we are now seeing between our respective faith-communities.

Do Christians feel glad that Deedat is dead? No. Neither did we shun him while he was ill. Many of us prayed for him from our homes. Some Christians even prayed with him for healing while he was at the hospital and at his home. We recalled controversial moments and even asked him whether he had a change of mind about his earlier allegations. It pains us to say he didn't. Deedat was completely paralysed and unable to speak for these last 9 years, but his mind was lucid and he communicated by choosing letters through the blink of an eye.

We see it as a tragedy that Ahmed Deedat did not heed the words of the scripture which he so vociferously ridiculed, “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Galatians 6:7

David Foster

For more details on what happened to Ahmed Deedat, see this article.

Responses to Ahmed Deedat
Answering Islam Home Page