JEDDAH, 9 August 2005 — Sheikh Ahmed Hussein Deedat died at the age of 87 in South Africa early yesterday morning. After suffering a stroke in 1996, Sheikh Deedat, founder of Islamic Propagation Center (IPCI) was paralyzed for the past nine years. Yusuf Deedat, Sheikh Ahmad Deedat’s son told Arab News that “It’s a nation’s great loss; he was an incredible debater who will be hard to replace.”
He said that his father’s health has been deteriorating constantly for the past nine years.
In a statement issued yesterday, IPCI, said: “Throughout this period, he gracefully persevered under the most difficult personal conditions; however, not forgetting his task as an Islamic preacher and an ambassador of Islam, he continued to inspire, educate, challenge and inform people about the universal message of Islam.”
The statement, issued on behalf of Trustees, director and staff of IPCI, said, “It is on this solemn occasion of his demise that we salute the courageous spirit and phenomenal work of this world-renowned personality, a hero of the Muslim world, nay, a true hero of believers all around the globe!”
Essam Ahmed Mudeer, son in law of Deedat, said it is a great loss. The world, especially the Muslim world, lost a great flame of inspiration. He was a man who has been in dawa for the past 60 years.
Born on July 1, 1918 in Surat, India, his family emigrated to South Africa in 1927. Ahmed Deedat was a very bright student and excelled in school. Lack of finance interrupted his schooling and at age of 16 he took on the first of many jobs in retailing.
After reading a book called Izharul Haq — “The Truth Revealed” — a book about a debate with Christian Missionaries in the then British India, Sheikh Deedat was spurred on in the direction of dawa — Islamic missionary activity.
Over the next four decades, he immersed himself in a host of activities. Conducting Bible classes, lectures and debates all over world. He established the first Islamic seminary in Southern Africa to train missionaries at Assalaam Educational Institute — Braemar.
He published more than 20 books and distributed millions of copies of free literature and pamphlets the world over which were translated into many languages.
He also delivered thousands of lectures all over the world, crossing all the continents and successfully engaging some of the major Christian evangelists in public debates.
His career in the field of Comparative Religion took him across all five continents and dialogue with the heads of the Christian world, including the late Pope John Paul.
So fearless was his stand in defending what he believed was the truth that Deedat was refused entry into France and Nigeria on the grounds that “he would cause civil unrest”.
Deedat also received a personal phone call at the IPCI from former President Nelson Mandela, who was in Saudi Arabia at the time, congratulating Deedat for his iconic status in the Muslim world.
He was awarded the prestigious King Faisal Award in 1986 for his services to Islam in the field of Propagation.
Local businessmen and recognized members of society expressed their grief over his death.
Zulqernain Ali Khan, general manager of Zultec, said “Deedat’s death is a loss to the whole world and the revered scholar’s accomplishments would be remembered by both Muslims and non-Muslims across the world.”
Abu Ammar, a former Saudi student who used to study in Boston in 1993, said that Deedat once visited Boston University to give a lecture on Islam. “I was very excited to see him because it was the first time I had seen him. I remember many people coming from states around Boston. We filled the hall and the majority inside the hall was Muslim.
“When Deedat entered the hall he looked at us for a while before he said ‘How many Muslims here?’ More than 90 percent of the audience raised their hands and then he laughed, saying ‘I came hear to teach Islam to non-Muslims and since you are all Muslims then I think you all should leave the hall and leave some room for them.’”
“He was a great man and he will be remembered forever for his service to Islam and presenting the good image of Islam.”