Shaykh Ahmad Deedat’s Role in Modern Muslim Apologetics


The legacy of Shaykh Ahmad Deedat is and continues to be undisputed, as it should be. In the post-colonial era where Muslim lands had been subject to metrople rule for centuries, and where Orientalist scholarship had dominated the religious discourse, his voice was a light in an era of darkness. Most believe that by his efforts, the Shaykh effectively kickstarted the modern da’wah and apologetics movement. To this day, his debates are still studied, watched, shared and treasured. His works and efforts stand as a testimony of his contribution, to the extent that some 30 years later, generations of Muslims still stand in awe of his legacy. There are many things we can learn from the example of Shaykh Deedat, but the most important lessons we can derive from his legacy was his willingness to learn, develop new arguments and sincerely study his religion. Shaykh Deedat did not simply stagnate in age old arguments, with every new debate he introduced a better, stronger argument. Similarly, he didn’t repeat the same arguments ad nauseum, he invested his time into studying the scriptures of Islam and Christianity. This is what made him a potent speaker, he brought something new to the table and spent his time perfecting his trade.

I previously mentioned that to this day, many Muslims who are interested in interfaith dialogue and debate, spend their time studying the Shaykh’s debates. While I do agree that there are many good arguments we can derive from the Shaykh’s debates, we should not be over reliant on them. Most of his debates occurred some 20 to 30 years ago. Muslims today, especially young Muslims must understand that Christians have had 30 years to develop responses to his arguments. A cursory search of YouTube will return dozens upon dozens of video responses to the Shaykh’s arguments. In that 30 year period of time, Muslim interfaith argumentation has stagnated. This stagnation wholly contradicts the ethos and legacy of Shaykh Ahmad Deedat. He did not wait or depend upon a few arguments, and he did not give the missionaries time to catch up to him. As he used one argument in one debate, he’d develop a new argument for the next. This is why he was a popular debater, he offered something new, something different, something challenging. Unfortunately, the young debaters of today have no interest in following the Shaykh’s example, they’re more interested in repeating his arguments.

What’s worse is that most young debaters today repeat those arguments without understanding them. That might sound silly, but I’ve repeatedly seen young Muslims be quick to point out apparent contradictions in the Bible and when challenged, they are unable to explain their reasoning. In other words, they know it’s a contradiction because the Shaykh mentioned it but they don’t understand how it’s a contradiction! Shaykh Deedat also spent his time studying his own religion and in many videos we see him spontaneously recalling Qura’nic ayah after Qur’anic ayah. Most young Muslim debaters today read the Bible more than the Qur’an, while being ignorant of the basic tenets of Islamic belief (re: creed; ‘aqeedah). This behaviour betrays the legacy of Shaykh Deedat. Most young Muslims today either misunderstand or rather, neglect to understand what they’re supposed to adopt from the Shaykh’s legacy and this is very upsetting. If Muslim debaters today want to live up to the legacy of Shaykh Deedat and if they want to attain his level of success, then they need to invest more time in studying and less time in vapid argumentation.

The legacy of Shaykh Deedat is one of rigorous study, sincere seeking of knowledge and honest intentions. Anything less, and I can definitely say that they have the wrong motivations.

and Allah knows best.

3 comments

  • A good post. Ahmed Deedat is father of the modern Muslim-Christian dialogue. He was the right man at the right time and he made the most of it for Islam. I don’t think he would go as well today as Christians have had time to learn about Islam now. In Deedat’s day Islam did not exist for most Western Christians.

  • samuel, if jesus was hiding around the corner from the tomb , why did mark LIE to his audience and fill them in on the detail that the women said NOTHING to anyone ? if mark knew that the women touched and CONVERSED with jesus ,after they ran from the tomb , why did he lie and say that they said NOTHING to anyone ?

    mark repeated DETAILS in his story that the audience already knew, right?

    why didn’t he go all the way and repeat the conversation between post ressurected jesus and the two mary’s?

    samuel is it possible that when mark wrote his account nobody contradicted his version of the story which said that the women did not get the story to the FAILED disciples of jesus ?

    the biggest disaster for christianity, bart d ehrman recently wrote

    Mark makes a special point throughout his narrative that the male disciples never do understand who Jesus is. Despite all his miracles, despite all his teachings, despite everything they see him do and say, they never do get it. And so at the end of the Gospel, who is it who learns that Jesus has not stayed dead but has been raised? It is the women. Not the male disciples. The women never tell. As a result, the male disciples never do come to understand. That is all consistent with Mark’s view.

    in marks gospel , the women are requested by the angel to tell the disciples to link up with jesus in galilee. in other words they are looking for him in the WRONG place.
    the women forget and are reminded about galilee.

    doesn’t it seem like that the news about jesus visions in galilee aren’t dependent on whether the women tell the disciples or not ?

  • ” I don’t think he would go as well today as Christians have had time to learn about Islam now”

    Shaykh Ahmed Deedat (may Allah be pleased with him) rose to prominent as a result of the onslaught of ‘well prepared” christian missionaries into muslim community went unchallenged , Islamic apologetics now is in now in much better position after his legacy as many muslims had taken on Deedat responsibilities this time they are well equipped with many new argument against Christianity.
    Nowadays missionaries find it even more difficult to knock on Muslim doors, attacking their religion and prophet then selling christianity as Muslims are more knowledgeable with christianity and arguments against Islam.