The Legacy of Ahmed Deedat (1918-2005)

We’ve all heard of Dr. Zakir Naik—the India-born Muslim preacher or Da’i, currently in exile in Malaysia due to India’s Hindu nationalist government. He has contributed, through his Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) and Peace TV, towards the conversions of thousands of people to Islam.

Jay Smith, a veteran American-Christian apologist who strives to distort the faith of Muslims, himself admits that Dr. Zakir Naik has brought “hundreds of thousands” to Islam:

But without Ahmed Deedat there’d be no Dr. Zakir Naik.

One could easily conclude that the very dynamic contemporary Da’wah that we witness today is basically a fruit of Deedat’s efforts, and the fact that he passed away 17 years ago (on August 8, 2005) makes it fitting for us to reflect upon his legacy.

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Ahmed Deedat and the Renewal of Inter-Religious Polemics

Ahmed Deedat was born during 1918 in Surat, a city in the western Indian state of Gujarat.

Surat was one of the world’s busiest seaports under the Mughals, thus attracting traders from all over the Islamic world; something which is manifested in the genetic diversity of the locals.

Even among Gujarati-Muslims, the cosmopolitan Indian-Muslim group par excellence, the “Surti-Muslims” subgroup has a cultural ethos of their own due to their even more expansive “multicultural” nature.

RELATED: India, 20 Years Ago: The 2002 Gujarat Pogrom Against Muslims

Surat later lost its trading prominence to Bombay (now Mumbai) with the emergence of European colonialism.

It is important that we detail these facts regarding Deedat’s early life because they actually play a part in his later Da’wah. Through their “civilizing mission,” the Europeans not only aimed for physical domination (loss of economic activity, like in Surat) but also spiritual domination. They desired to spread Christianity among the natives.

Deedat said that he himself became interested in inter-religious polemics by reading Rahmatullah al-Kayranawi al-Hindi, who passed away in 1891—a scholar renowned for challenging the European attempts at the Christianization of India.

Rahmatullah al-Hindi belonged to an illustrious scholarly family descending from caliph ‘Uthman (radiyAllahu ‘anhu). He became famous for his decisive victory in a well-publicized 1854 public debate against Karl Gottlieb Pfander, a German missionary who could be considered the David Wood of his day due to the venomous zeal with which he aimed to corrupt the faith of Muslims.

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Many Christians still refuse to admit that Pfander lost. This is for the simple reason that Pfander is often described as the “best ever” Christian debater against Islam.

In fact, Jay Smith (who we mentioned earlier) named his organization PfanderFilms after Karl Gottlieb Pfander.

However, not all Christians are this dishonest.

Albert Hourani writes in his book, Islam in European Thought, on p. 18:

It is clear from the reports that he [Pfander] did not get the better of the exchanges; Rahmatullah had some knowledge of the new German science of biblical criticism, which he had derived from an Indian Muslim doctor who knew English well, and he used this to put the question of the authenticity and authority of the Bible in a new light.

Anyway, this humiliating loss made Rahmatullah al-Hindi a greatly acclaimed personality; to the extent that Abdul Hamid II of the Ottoman Empire had personally asked him to transcribe the public debate into book form. Rahmatullah al-Hindi complied, writing the book in Arabic and naming it Izhar-ul-Haqq, which translates into English as “The Manifestation of Truth.” He later retired to the Hijaz, building influential seminaries which are still running today.

As a teenager Deedat read this book, which still remains the best in Islamic apologetics against Christianity—the reason it is celebrated and widely read even now. Deedat was thus inspired to debate Christians, whereas prior to this he remained passive against the endeavors of missionaries.

During these early decades Deedat’s activities were mainly concentrated within South Africa—where his father moved for work (we thus return to the cosmopolitanism of Gujarati-Muslims)—even if he had lived in Pakistan for a few years.

It was only in the late ’80s that he received international recognition. This is when he shared the 1986 King Faisal Award in Saudi Arabia for “Service to Islam” with former French Communist philosopher Roger Garaudy.

Thereafter he toured all over the world doing his unique Da’wah work, often in the form of public debates with famous Christian missionaries such as Jimmy Swaggart (now known for his prostitution scandals) and Anis Shorrosh (known for being arrested for arson).

Deedat, like his inspiration Rahmatullah, also transcribed his public lectures and debates in the form of books and booklets, and these are still very popular.

And this is his legacy. Dr. Zakir Naik encapsulates it well: It’s a new form of unapologetic Da’wah geared towards inter-religious polemics, a field that was left dormant for decades before Deedat’s public appearances.

Literally millions of Muslims, myself included, have benefited from this renewal of inter-religious debates.

Such a legacy becomes even more important in our time when sinister agendas such as the “Abrahamic Religion” aim to blur the differences between religions. This in turn heavily downplays the need for having “polemics” about how and why Islam is indeed superior.

Deedat was the polar opposite of the “Compassionate Imams.”

May Allah (subhanaHu wa ta’ala) accept his good deeds and may He allow us to follow his path in making Islam triumphant.

RELATED: What is the Main Objective of the Abrahamic Religion?

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The first time I watched him I didn’t like him because he was very hard and he was laughing etc but then SubhanAllah I started loving him and understand how poor and false is the bible and how Quran is the only truth. إِنَّا لِلَّٰهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ

I’m a revert اَلْحَمْدُ لِله


even we don’t have a state neither power yet they fear us they fear ISLAM because they know how strong and powerfull it is because it is ALHAQQ

Last edited 7 months ago by amel

I watched Ahmad deedat the first time ever was back in 1999. His debate with jimmy swaggert was awesome. Loved Ahmad Deedat’s poise, confidence and no nonsense attitude. He said it like it is. May Allah swt honor him. Ameen..He became paralysed which I suspect as some kind of poisoning. They have to shut up great courageous muslim speakers like Muhammad Ali, and Ahmad deedat. People like Malcolm X who became influencers in political arena have to be eliminated as they are a greater threat.


Debate and intellectual confrontation and refutation of kufr is being portrayed as bad adab by the so called compassionate imams.

Refutation of kufr was the life’s mission of every prophet as commanded by Allah. And the sending of prophets to teach mankind Tawhid is from the Infinite Mercy of Allah.

These fools don’t know that the shahadah itself is a polemical and refutational statement.

La ilaha il-Allah, Muhammadur Rasul Allah.


La ilaha il-Allah in and of itself negates, refutes and destroys anything that doesn’t conform to it.

If only the “bridge-builder” lapdogs of the kuffar, who like to “build a bridge” between Islam and kufr, knew!!!


The second part of the shahadah ascertains that there is no belief in Allah by denying His Prophets, as they are His appointed representatives in creation.

Acceptance of our Master RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم is acceptance of all the preceding prophets of Allah, and all that He wants us to believe in – angels, heaven & hell, resurrection, judgement day, fate, and all heavenly books from Allah.

Woe to the lapdogs of the kuffar!


Zakir Naik seems to be inactive these days. I really hope he travels to other countries and does the kind of Dawah he used to, if not in India because of the its fascist BJP government. More debates and seminars from him will benefit thousands of Muslims. Only QnA sessions won’t help much.
May Allah help him in his work.

Bukenya Lukman

Hahahah………I love how jay Smith put it. He knows that Dr Naik tears consistences and puts them on the table for a lay person to see