Biography of Ahmed Deedat

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Seminar Date
February 27, 2008
Ahmed Hoosen Deedat, president of the Durban-based Islamic Propagation Centre International (IPCI), died on 8 August 2005. He had been bed-ridden for almost a decade after being paralysed from a severe stroke in 1996. Deedat, who was born in the tiny village of Tadkeshwar in Gujarat, went on to become one of the most combative exponents of religious polemics in South Africa and a figure of international renown in the Muslim world. Even in death, Ahmed Deedat continues to inspire and exasperate. The IPCI daily receives mail from far-off places like Mexico, Papua New Guinea, and Kazakhstan for his books and recordings. A cursory Google search in January 2008 threw up 329,000 websites containing the word ‘Deedat.’ In reconstructing his biography, this paper seeks to examine questions such as: What qualities were most influential in shaping his life? What beliefs dictated the choices he made? Was he consistent in acting according to these? How did his mission change over time? What impact did this have on his relationship with friends, family, and constituency? How did he negotiate transformations in the wider society and the people around him? Why did some find him offensive while others regarded him as a hero? Why did so many Muslims embrace a personality from the Muslim “periphery” rather than one from the “heartlands” of Islam? What is his importance / relevance in the post-9/11 period?
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