Ahmed Deedat (1918-2005) was, in his time, one of the more effective Muslim critics of Christianity that I’d come across, and I suspect he’s been a pathfinder for Muslim apologists ever since. He seems to have spent the major part of his life crusading against Christianity, proving himself to be an avowed enemy of God, even though he thought he was serving him. Although he memorised many verses of the Bible, his poor understanding of it is obvious to any bible-believing Christian, and he doesn’t hesitate to correct we “ignorant” Christians who don’t know our Bible as well as he thinks he does. Being a child of hell himself, he is also responsible for leading many others there as well, as he promotes his false religion of Islam at the expense of the Truth of Christianity. However, his effectiveness has most likely been mainly in the lands of Islam and among Middle Eastern and Muslim communities rather than in the West.
Although he doesn’t understand Christianity, he does bring to bear against us the standard historical-critical theology of Western liberal scholars as well as his own observations based on his experience and, at first contact, can appear to be quite formidable. But Christians have nothing to fear from such enemies; the scripture says “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kings 6:16).
He cleverly portrays his Christian opponents as being absolute fools as he shows them how embarrassingly insufficient the Christian Bible is, especially when compared to the “Glorious Qur’an”. On one occasion, he tells us, when addressing the supervisor of the Bible House in Johannesburg, he quoted in Arabic the “most noble, elevated and sublime language” of the account of the virgin birth of Jesus as described in the Qur’an, and compared it to the “distasteful gutter language” of the Bible account (see Luke 1:35). He then challenged the supervisor, an ordained minister, by asking him which version he would rather give his daughter. The minister, Mr Deedat tells us, bowed his head in humility and admitted: “The Quranic version” (“Christ in Islam” Chapter 5). I burst out laughing as I read this account, a not unusual occurrence in Deedat’s writings, as he heroically does battle with various types of Christians, vanquishing each of them in turn, and leaving them defeated and humiliated, along with the Bible and Christianity itself; and as I chuckled to myself I wondered “Are these people real? Where does he get them from?”
And as for that Christian minister who abjectly grovelled before Mr Deedat, denying God and the Bible – if he is a real person, he is certainly not a Christian, and he doesn’t believe that the Bible is the word of God. He has denied Jesus before men, so Jesus will deny him before God and the angels, for he warned, “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mk 8:38).
Did Jesus Claim to be God?
YouTube has a film clip which has Ahmed Deedat speaking to an obviously Muslim audience. In it he issues a challenge to anybody to give a single verse where Jesus claims to be God. Contrary to what Mr Deedat and the many Muslim apologists insist, that Jesus never once claimed to be God, a simple reading of the gospels will show their claim to be ignorance and wishful thinking at best. But they have to say this because the Qur’an only has Jesus as a prophet. And in the Qur’an, Allah states that he has no son and pronounces a curse on all who say he does. It is understandable that they do not wish to disagree with their holy book, and nobody has a problem with that. If they profess Islam, then they must do what Muslims do and believe what Muslims believe. If they didn’t, they would be unfaithful to their religion. But Mr Deedat and the multitude of Muslim apologists go much further than that and claim that Jesus never said he was God. They speak with an assumed and assured authority about a holy book which isn’t theirs. They claim to know all about the central figure in the Bible – Jesus Christ. And they cherry-pick verses from the Bible which they vainly think bolster their claims; but these verses are taken out of their context and do not mean what these Muslims would have them to mean.
Ahmed Deedat has no right to do anything with or to the Bible unless he is seeking to be right with the God of the Bible. Just like all critics of God and the Bible, he approaches it with a mind already made up. So, instead of placing himself in submission to God’s words, he approaches it with the intention of disproving and even ridiculing it, despite that the Qur’an accepts it as revelation from God. For example: “To thee We sent the Scripture In truth, confirming The scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety…” (Sura 2:48). “And this is a Book which We have sent down, Bringing blessings, and confirming (The revelations) which came Before….” (Sura 6:92).
Mr Deedat can’t learn anything from the Bible because he disbelieved before he’d even turned the cover; he cannot and will not hear what God might say to him because his only reason for opening its pages is to tear them apart. He knows nothing about God or the Bible, but in his pride and arrogance he thinks he knows it all. Even the best Muslim apologists reveal a wrong understanding of the bible and promote wrong theology. But this is to be expected because their sources are all from enemies of the gospel and they don’t read the works of scholars who believe that the bible, despite its seeming discrepancies, is the preserved word of God. Instead of doing honest and legitimate research by reading the defences of the Bible and not just the criticisms of it, they only take those books which support their preconceived unbelieving views and reject all else. So of course they’re going to see the Bible as a hotch-potch of errors which can’t be relied on. And this, no doubt, characterises Ahmed Deedat
Jesus Did Say he is God
Although Jesus did not come to demonstrate his deity, he nevertheless did make this claim on several occasions; but his primary focus was not to glorify himself but the Father, who had sent him to redeem fallen humanity. In prayer to the Father, Jesus prayed, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do….I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world….” (Jn 17:4, 6). And the apostle Paul tells us of Jesus: “…Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). Jesus didn’t claim deity, because he came as a man to die in humanity’s place so that he could reconcile us to God (2 Cor 5:19). But when he returns, the deniers will become believers; but by then it is too late for repentance and they will be lost forever; for Paul goes on to say of Jesus: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:9-11).
Jesus equated himself with the Father
When Jesus healed the lame man at the pool at Bethesda, the Jews (on this occasion the religious leaders) persecuted him because he healed the man on the Sabbath. His response, and then theirs to him, is very enlightening: “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18).
Jesus knew what he was saying and what his claims signified. Likewise, the Jews, who knew the law thoroughly, also knew what he was claiming. By calling himself the Son of God, he claimed deity. This is evident from the following verses in which he claimed the attributes of God: power to raise the dead and to give life to whomever he chooses (Jn 5:21, 25-26, 28); and authority to judge each and every person who ever lived (Jn 5:22, 27, 29), so that the Father and the Son may receive equal honour (Jn 5:23). When he says “the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do” (Jn 5:19), he is not saying he is less than God. He indicated that despite his equality with God as second Person of the Trinity, he subordinated himself to the Father in order to complete the mission for which he had been sent, as I pointed out in Philippians chapter 2. He shows his equality with God – which means he is God, as the Jews correctly concluded – and that he is separate from the Father. John earlier stated it succinctly: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14).
It is also significant that Jesus made this same claim after his arrest and interrogation by the Jews. Matthew tells us: “…the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death” (Matt 26:63-67).
So again, Jesus claimed equality with God, not only by claiming the title “Son of God” but also “Son of Man”, a reference to Daniel 7:9-14. And he was consequently sentenced to death for blasphemy. These titles signify his equality with God (Son of God) and his subordination to God (Son of Man).
Jesus claimed to be the God of the Old Testament
On another occasion when Jesus was speaking with the Jews, in response to what Jesus said about Abraham, they said, “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then they took up stones to cast at him; but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple” (Jn 8:57-59). No wonder the Jews were so riled! Jesus was identifying himself with God who spoke to Moses from the burning bush. When God was telling Moses what he wanted him to do, Moses said to God, “Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say unto me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you…..this is my name for ever” (Exodus 3:13-15).
Jesus claimed attributes and titles of God
But Jesus claimed other names and attributes of God. To start with, the opening words of the Revelation (1:1; also 1:11, 19) tell us that this revelation is given by Jesus Christ; thus Jesus is telling John what to write: a record of the future which is to become Scripture. This is the prerogative of God alone (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:21). Incidentally, notice that in Rev 1:1 God gave Jesus the revelation to show to the Church, and in 2 Peter 1:21, the Holy Spirit brings the inspired word to men. Here we see that the three Persons of the Trinity are the authors of Scripture.
Then we hear Jesus saying: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, says the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Rev 1:8 KJV). He repeats this claim in verse 11, saying, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last” (KJV).
After this (Rev 1:12-16), we’re given a description of a being who in appearance is just like the visions of God given to Ezekiel (1:26-28) and Daniel (7:9-10; 10:2-9). And this being is Jesus. And he again takes to himself the name and attributes of God: “Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Rev 1:17-18).
The Old Testament names of God that Jesus takes to himself are found in Isaiah: “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer, the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God” (Isa 44:6; see also 48:12-13).
The Good Shepherd
Jesus said he was the shepherd of the sheep (Jn 10:2), and the good shepherd (Jn 10:11, 14). This is a title of deity. In Ezekiel chapter 34, God rebukes and condemns the leaders of Israel for being unfaithful shepherds of his sheep, the people of Israel. In order to rescue his sheep, God says: “Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day….I will feed them in a good pasture….I will cause them to lie down….I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and I will strengthen that which was sick…” (Ezek 34:11-12, 14-16). Here is God calling himself the shepherd….just as Jesus calls himself the shepherd. Jesus even said of his sheep, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one” (Jn 10:28-30). A big claim indeed; one which only God could make. The Jews recognised that Jesus was claiming deity because “the Jews took up stones again to stone him” (Jn 10:31).
It is so interesting and revealing that in Ezekiel chapter 34 where God identifies himself as the shepherd of Israel (which title Jesus also claims), he also said he would send an under-shepherd; and this would be none other than Jesus, known in the New Testament as the Son of David. “Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them” (Ezek 34:22-24). This is comparable to Isaiah chapter 49 where God the Father and God the Son covenant that Jesus will be born as a man, and that he will rescue his people; and comparable to Daniel chapter 7:9-27 where God the Father and God the Son appear together and where their people will possess the kingdom (Dan 7:22, 27). Jesus therefore repeatedly identifies himself as God but distinguishes between himself and the Father. He is God, yet a separate and distinct Person from the Father. He repeatedly says that God the Father sent him as his messenger to rescue his people. “Thus they shall know that I the LORD their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel are my people, saith the Lord GOD. And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God” (Ezek 34:30-31).
Jesus is the only Mediator between God and humans because he is God: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5). Of this man called Jesus who was also God, we’re told, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Tim 3:16 KJV). “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matt 1:23).
Jehovah and Allah are not the same God
The God of the Bible is not the God of Islam. And the Jesus of the Bible is not the Jesus of Islam. Islam is not the final revelation of God; Christianity is. Islam is not even a revelation of God of any kind – it is a false religion. Islam is not connected to Christianity in any way. Christianity and Islam are two separate religions with two different Gods and two totally different ways of relating to God. A Muslim cannot be a Christian unless he first renounces Islam. And if a Christian adopts Islam, he at the same time renounces Christ and the Gospel and loses salvation, condemning himself to hell. Christianity and Islam are diametrically opposed to and incompatible with each other and can never worship together; if they do, they cease to be either Christian or Muslim.
The following passage from the Bible flies in the face of everything that Islam says about Jesus, “Who being the brightness of his (God’s) glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, Let all the angels of God worship Him. And of the angels he saith, Who He maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture (garment) shalt thou roll them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail” (Hebrews 1:1-13).
This passage from the Bible, among many, shows that Christianity and Islam can never be reconciled. Christian teaching about Jesus is anathema to Islam, so all the “Christian” namby-pamby do-gooders who try to find common ground between the two religions, and who say that Allah is the same God of Islam and Christianity, are deceivers and false teachers, and will bring all who listen to and believe them, into the same hell to which they are destined. Here we have Jesus as being the final revelation of God – he is not just a prophet or the final prophet – he is the final revelation itself. He is the end, the goal, the purpose, the fulfillment, of all prophecy. The next revelation from heaven will be when Jesus returns in great power and glory to put all things right, make an end of this sinful world, and judge all mankind.
This passage also reveals very clearly, unequivocally, and unapologetically, that Jesus is the Son, eternally begotten of the Father, Creator of heaven and earth, and is so because he is God. He is not the Father and the Father is not the Son; BUT both are God; as it says in the passage: “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever”; and, “therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows”. And though the Father and the Son are both equal and of the same substance, the Son willingly subordinates himself to the Father: “But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?”
Ahmed Deedat loves to mock Christians for believing that God can be three-yet-One, a trinity of Persons but one God. And the concept to him is open to question because it seems impossible according to all known laws and principles of physics and any other discipline or science. But God is not bound by the physical laws which bind us. He created the vast universe yet is greater than it, he stands outside it; he holds it in his hand; he transcends it; he is not bound by its laws. He is God!! We finite creatures can never comprehend the being of God – he is unique and words can never come near to describing him. All we know about God is what he has revealed to us. We can never know any more about him than this. And we don’t need to. So to try and analyse and explain his triune being is futile – we just need to believe what God has revealed about himself.
So when Jesus does identify and equate himself with the Father, he always reveals a triune Godhead: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” (1 John 5:7 KJV).
Thus he cannot be Allah because Allah identifies himself as a unity; and he insists he has no son. “On the Day when We will gather the righteous to the Most Merciful, as guests. And herd the sinners into hell, like animals to water. They will have no power of intercession, except for someone who has an agreement with the Most Merciful. And they say, ‘The Most Merciful has begotten a son.’ You have come up with something monstrous. At which the heavens almost rupture, and the earth splits, and the mountains fall and crumble. Because they attribute a son to the Most Merciful. It is not fitting for the Most Merciful to have a son” (Itani, T. 2014, p131, “Qur’an in English, surah “Mary (Maryam”) verses 85-92.
Itani, Talal, translator, 2014, Qur’an in English, pub. ClearQur’an.com (for Kindle)
Strong, J. Greek Dictionary of the New Testament (Ref: 5481) in “The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible”, 2001 Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN