In chapter 15 of No God but One: Allah or Jesus? Dr Nabeel Qureshi writes distastefully about Shk. Ahmed Deedat:
Along with Deedat’s fame grew his inflammatory rhetoric. As a response to the pope’s positive stance to interfaith dialogue, Deedat challenged John Paul II to a debate. When the pope refused, Deedat published a pamphlet titled “His Holiness Plays Hide and Seek with Muslims.” He also famously began to argue that the Bible was pornographic. Further inflammatory speech during a Good Friday lecture earned him the castigation of the Australian government, and he was even banned from entry into Singapore.
In 1996, at the height of his career, Deedat suffered a severe stroke. Among other neurological deficiencies, Deedat was no longer able to speak, and he remained bedridden until his passing in 2005. Some suggested that God had punished him for his words, and other rumours spread that Deedat repudiated Islam just before his passing. Within the Islamic world both these suggestions are resolutely dismissed. Deedat’s fame continues to grow, even after his death, into legendary status.
The problem here is Nabeel lists 3 inflammatory incidents in the career of Shk. Deedat and then he veers off to talk about how he died. OK, not such a big problem…yet. The problem is, straight after this he inexplicably throws in a statement informing the reader what “some” people suggested after his death. He leaves it open ended – he doesn’t opine on what these “some” people suggested so we don’t know whether he thinks there could be truth in what these “some” or “other” people suggested. He doesn’t say who these “some” people are so we don’t know whether he’s talking about internet trolls or serious theologians and scholars.
As a professional author one suspects the editing and proof-reading assistance Dr Nabeel Qureshi gets is considerable and the fact he is an experienced author one is left aghast at how this statement wound up in there – it’s almost like a deliberate ploy to sow seeds into the mind of the reader. Seeds suggesting that these “some” people may be right!
Here’s the thing, a teacher could walk into a classroom full of kids and start teaching them about the moon. These kids don’t know anything about the moon and they are relying on the teacher to teach them. If the teacher slips in the old “some people say” tactic and leaves it at that he/she could get the kids going away thinking the moon may be made out of cheese: “The moon is not a planet, it’s a satellite of the Earth and it rotates at 10 miles per hour. Some people say the moon is made of cheese. OK folks let’s open up those maths books, that’s enough about the moon!”
Do you see what the teacher did there? The teacher tossed a few facts about the moon so the kids were seriously invested in what was being discussed and then boom, the “some people say” tactic is tossed in!
The suggestion Shk. Deedat repudiated Islam while bed-ridden
Let’s be clear here, these “other” people who claim Shk Deedat repudiated Islam on his deathbed are internet trolls. There’s no evidence for this whatsoever. Why is Nabeel paying heed to baseless claims from internet trolls in a professional publication?
In fact just by reading his biography or news reports concerning Shk. Deedat’s passing away Nabeel can see this claim is a load of nonsense as he was serving Islam even whilst bed-ridden up to his passing away:
August 8 marks 10 years since Deedat’s death of kidney failure at the age of 87. He was bedridden for the final 10 years of his life, after suffering a stroke that left him paralysed and unable to speak.
Though doctors initially gave him little chance to live, Deedat continued to engage in religious work until his death – communicating by using a grid of the alphabet, which he used to spell out words letter-by-letter by signalling with his eyes. [Al Jazeera]
The punished by God claim
More upsetting, why is Dr Nabeel Qureshi leaving the door open for Christians (I’d imagine the bulk of his readership will be Christian) to think Shk. Deedat’s stroke and subsequent paralysis was divine punishment for his words against Christianity.
The “some suggested that God had punished him for his words” statement is a minefield of problems. Nabeel doesn’t tell us his theological views on this. Why leave it open ended at such a critical juncture? You know his Christian readers are left wondering whether (or even believing!) Jesus punishes people with strokes for things they have said against Trinitarian Christianity.
Why did Nabeel mention these people’s suggestion and remain silent on it?
I’ve been aware of this Christian internet smear to try and undermine the impact of Shk. Ahmed Deedat’s work for a number of years. I wrote about this smear years ago.
Dr Nabeel Qureshi is medically trained so he will know that it really isn’t anything unusual for an aged man of 78 (yes, he was 78 when he had the stroke!) to have a stroke as yearly “around 110,000 people have a stroke in England and it is the third largest cause of death”. It’s even less unusual for an aged man of a south Asian ethnicity (Shk. Deedat was of Indian origin) as this ethnicity along with those of African and Caribbean heritage are predisposed to developing higher blood pressure thus more likely to have strokes! [Medical information and stats on stroke taken from the NHS]
So why the big deal about him having a stroke at 78?
On top of this, Dr Nabeel Qureshi would know having communication problems after a stroke is common: Many people have communication problems after a stroke. About a third of stroke survivors have some difficulty with speaking or understanding what others say [Source]
But, the fact he had problems speaking is neither here nor there as Shk. Deedat was blessed by God to be able to communicate still to the extent of debating members of the clergy whilst bed-ridden:
Despite his condition, Deedat was able to discuss politics and debate with members of the Christian clergy who visited him. Using a grid of the alphabet, Deedat signalled with a blink for ‘yes’ or a widening of the eyes for ‘no’, guiding his son to spell out words letter by letter. [Al Jazeera]
Dr Nabeel Qureshi and these “some” people need to be careful as this opens the door to stigmatise all stroke victims and all those, young and old, who are disabled and have difficulties speaking.
If Dr Nabeel just doesn’t want to directly say he believes Jesus *may* have punished Shk. Deedat due to it impacting the “Jesus loves you” emotionalism Dr Nabeel and his colleagues preach then why be indirect about it by hiding behind internet trolls? If Nabeel truly believes this *may* be the case, why not say it upfront? Right now, it’s all rather unclear but it doesn’t paint Nabeel in a positive hue as it stands.
Well, let’s wait for Dr Nabeel Qureshi to answer. He’s producing vlogs – I’ve been keeping tabs on them as well as praying and fasting for him – so it will not be an issue for him to spend a couple of mins just explaining his comments in his book as this is both upsetting and disappointing.
Questions for Nabeel to touch on with grace
- Why did you write about what some people suggest (internet trolls) with, what appears to be, strategic placement to sow the seeds of thought that these “suggestions” may be true?
- Do you believe Jesus may have punished Shk. Deedat, yes or no? I know as a Trinitarian you do believe Jesus allowed the severe beating of female slaves in Exodus 21:20-21 and ordered the killing of children and mothers in 1 Samuel 15:3.
- Will you apologise for any offense caused?
Ending with positivity and respect
A few thoughts on Shk. Ahmed Deedat. He showed tenacity in character and conviction in Allah when he was afflicted at an old age with health problems. If anything, Shk. Deedat should be heralded as an inspiration to people who are suffering from health problems – he not only continued with his work but he also continued to resolutely affirm Allah’s mercy:
Right up to his death, Deedat was studying. He dictated tracts and continued his communication with people around the world.”The latter part of the shaikh’s career was extremely focused,” Hendricks said. In his room, Deedat had two framed quotations by his bedside.
One was a verse from the Quran, Chapter 21, The Prophets: “And (remember) Job, when He cried to his Lord, ‘Truly distress has seized me, but Thou art the Most Merciful of those that are merciful’.”
The second read: “There is no end to what a man can achieve if he does not mind who gets the credit.” [Al Jazeera]