Rushdī comments that almost every story has a hero and that Ahmad Didāt is the hero of the inter-faith dialogue [Editor AWR: the author did indeed use the word dialogue but I believe this is a misnomer for Ahmad Didāt who was not interested in dialogue but in defending Islam against the intrusions of Western missionaries and thus he was ready to engage in various debates but neither the contribution of Ahmad Didāt nor that of the involved Western missionaries should be described as dialogue] story. Many Egyptians, Arabs and Muslims have at least one copy of his public debate with a pastor and they exchange that episode and this emphasizes Muslims’ need for victory.
Away from the calls for reasonable inter-faith dialogue or for building permanent centers for inter-faith dialogue [Editor: see comment above], Didāt and Shaykh Kishk with their public debates remain abreast of Muslims’ interest in this domain because they represent popular opinion and the actual confrontation which people want to see take place [Editor: also Shaykh Kishk was not a man of dialogue but a man of defending Islam through highly polemic sermons].
This is exactly what the majority of people want: Direct confrontation and face-to-face debates to see who will win and who will be defeated. They do not want events such as conferences in which the Cross is shown beside the Crescent in vain.
People want real inter-faith dialogue that can create a common ground without fanaticism.
The author said though Shaykh Kishk [a well-known Egyptian preacher, scholar of Islam, activist, and author, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abd_al-Hamid_Kishk] plays a considerable role in this field, Didāt [Muslim author, lecturer and orator best known for his numerous inter-faith public debates with Evangelical Christians, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmed_Deedat] remains the superstar perhaps because Shaykh Kishk was best known as an orator rather than a debater.
Didāt was born in India in 1918 and rose to fame in the field of inter-faith public debates. His debates with [Pentecostal] Preacher Jimmy Swaggart [see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Swaggart], which were witnessed by about 8,000 people made headlines and created ripples throughout Western and Islamic countries.
Didāt died at the age of 87 after an illness which made him bedridden. But though sick, Didāt kept working. He is the author of many books which are available in markets and popular bookshops. Most importantly, some houses, whose inhabitants can neither read not write, have a copy of Didāt’s books just to remember unreal victories made by a man on their behalf. Didāt was trying to reach a common ground and create understanding without fanaticism.