Friday, December 4, 2009
Remembering Ahmed Deedat (RA)
When I was seven years old, I remember watching a movie in which the main characters were very religious Christians, I was amazed at their piety and firm belief in their religion and it got me thinking, so I asked my mother, "How do we know that we are right and other religions are wrong? Because every religion believes they are going to Paradise and the others are going to Hell" My mum is a practicing Muslimah but not well-verses in comparative religion, she simply told me not to think like that or ask such questions.
These questions however continued to linger in my mind even after I started studying Islam at the local Darul Uloom. It would only be at the age of eighteen when I encountered the lecture videos of Ahmed Deedat (RA) that I would finally get my answers to these questions and my mind would be put to rest.
This is the first impact that Ahmed Deedat (RA) had in my life, but it was not the last. Deedat always emphasized that we should read the Quran with understanding, so after listening to his lectures, I started to do so and soon discovered things about Islam different from what I was raised with or taught in the Darul Uloom, this led me down the path of seeking the true understanding of Islam, again it started with Ahmed Deedat (RA).
My encounters with Deedat's videos were also my first encounter with actual Dawah to Non-Muslims. Before that, I was taught that Dawah is Tabligh Jamaat work to Muslim homes and not once in my seven years in the Darul uloom did we study Dawah methods, its importance or comparative religion. In fact, they were against Ahmed Deedat and Dawah in general, so through Deedat began my first clash with my teachers in our understanding of Islam which led to me eventually leaving that school of thought and seeking a purer version of Islam.
At the same time, these videos made me realize the importance of Dawah and the joy of being the means through which a person converted to Islam, which led to me studying comparative religion and dawah methodology through the IPCI, Dr Bilal Philips, Shaykh Kamal Mekki and privately, and also led to me making Dawah a priority in my life.
In short, Ahmed Deedat (RA) perhaps has had a bigger impact on my life than any other person I have ever met except my beloved teacher, Dr Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips. This is why it saddens me when I hear people talking bad about Ahmed Deedat (RA) and focusing on his mistakes.
No doubt about it, Deedat made mistakes, he was after all human, wasn't he? Yes, Yusuf Ali's translation has a lot of mistakes and deviations, but back in his day, Dr Muhsin Khan's translation nor Farooq-Azam's were not available so he made do with what he had. Yes, he was too aggressive at times, but he lived in different times and had to deal with arrogant white supremacists during apartheid times. Yes, He made a big mistake by supporting the Shia Iranian Revolution and Dr Rashad Khalifah's theory about the number 19, but he publicly repented from both those things.
Thats the point of Ahmed Deedat, he was not perfect, he was not the best, rather he was human and thats why people like me can relate to him. If I make a mistake in my Dawah, I learn from it and try again knowing well that greater people made mistakes in their Dawah too. Furthermore, when you look at the fact that Deedat had no formal education, he did not study at a university or a Darul Uloom, in fact he did not even finish school and did not know a word of English when he came to South Africa at the age of nine. Taking all that into consideration, what Deedat accomplished in his life and the amount of work Allah took from him seems even more amazing!
Finally there was his nine year illness in which he could not move and remained bed-ridden for nine whole years.My blood boils when I hear Muslims saying that Allah punished him for picking on other religions. My response to such people is what have you ever done for the Dawah? Besides, don't they know that Allah only tests those whom He loves and the closer you are to Allah, the harder the test of life will be, as stated in authentic Ahadith?
The final years of Deedat's life were amazing, he showed a level of patience, commitment and faith that most of us can't. Would you be able to keep your faith and persist in your dawah if you couldn't move a limb for nine years? Don't think I can, but he did. This alone deserves respect. I remember once learning that before a righteous slave leaves this world, Allah puts them through great tests to erase their sins so that when they die, they return to their Lord already purified with only their good deeds in their accounts. I pray that this was the case with Ahmed Deedat.
I remember that I discovered Deedat around 2004, during which time he was already bed-ridden. I would visit his bedside often and every time tears would form in my eyes when I would see the same charismatic man from the videos in this sad state and I would pray that Allah would end his suffering soon. When he passed away I was actually happy for him that the test was finally over and made dua to Allah forgive his mistakes and grant him a high stage in Paradise. This chapter of Deedat's life taught me to be ready to face great trials if I wish to follow in his footsteps, indeed it is the way of Allah that the prophets, du'aat and scholars have the hardest lives as their reward in the Afterlife is the greatest.
I would also like to mention that Deedat's son Yusuf took amazing care of him during these nine years which really impressed me, may Allah reward him greatly for it. Ahmed Deedat's wife Hawa (RA) also deserves mention, she is one of the sweetest old ladies I ever met and her care and love for her husband was clear for all to see. May Allah unite their souls in paradise.
I pray that Allah unites Ahmed and Hawa Deedat in a high stage in Paradise and forgives them for their shortcomings. I'd like to end by leaving you with this beautiful video tribute to this great man from the DVD "The Life and Times of Ahmed Deedat":