Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi (Zondervan, 2014), 287 pages.
Summary of the book:
Coming from a committed Muslim family, the author tells of the personal struggles he experienced that resulted from his acceptance of Christianity as the true path to God.
His father served in the American navy and Nabeel attended American schools. He felt like a person without a country as his Muslim faith made it difficult for him to fit in and have friends.
The first section of the book explains many terms relating to Muslim beliefs and practices. Being passionate about his faith, he defended and promoted Islam.
Nabeel states a key difference between Muslim countries and America, “The people from Eastern Islamic cultures generally assess truth through lines of authority, not individual reasoning.” (79) “Islamic cultures tend to establish people of high status as authorities, whereas the authority in Western culture is reason itself. . . .Positional authority yields a society that determines right and wrong based on honor and shame. . . . Rational authority creates a society that determines right and wrong based on innocence and guilt.” (108) He said the second-generation Western Muslims “wrestle with the honor-shame principle that tells us, ‘It’s okay as long as you don’t get caught.’ If there is no dishonor, it is not wrong.” (109)
He said Muslim immigrant children have been taught that people in the West are Christian, promiscuous, and enemies of Islam. Islamic parents try to keep them from being “Americanized.” Conflicts arise when these young people see Americans who do not fit this pattern and when they learn to think critically and continue affirming their family’s adherence to Islam.
As he defended and promoted Islam, and since he denied postmodernism’s relativism, he concluded that both Islam and Christianity could not both be true. He wrote, “To me, it was self-evident that truth exists. If truth doesn’t exist, then it would be true that truth doesn’t exist, and once again we arrive at truth.” (83)
At college, Nabeel developed a friendship with David who believed Christianity was true as strongly as Nabeel believed Islam was true. They had in common that they both believed in the existence of God.
In his efforts to convert David, Nabeel stated his reasons why Christianity was not true. According to the Quran, Jesus was a prophet and to consider him God incarnate would condemn a person to hell. It also denies that Jesus claimed to be God and that he died on the cross. Much of what Muslims believe and practice is based on the hadith (Mohammad’s words and actions recorded in traditions). He asked his parents why some hadith were considered more accurate than others. He also had been taught that the Bible had been changed over time, but the text of the Quran had not been changed.
Western Muslims are taught Islam is a religion of peace and are “taught that Muhammad fought only defensive battles and that violent verses in the Quran refer to specific, defensive contexts. Jihad is here defined as primarily a peaceful endeavor, an internal struggle against one’s baser desires.” (116)
In the East, Muslims are taught that Islam is superior to all religions of the world and Allah seeks to see it established and dominant throughout the world. Jihad is seen as a physical struggle against the enemies of Islam. (116)
In his intense investigation seeking to verify Islam and refute Christianity, he visited with and read the works of both Muslim and Christian scholars. One by one he found that evidence did not support his objections to the Bible, Christ, and Christianity. He also found that evidence showed that Muhammad did engage in offensive battles, that Muslim armies used captive women sexually which behavior the Quran supported, and that the Quran had been changed.
After being intellectually convinced that evidence supported the truth of Christianity and also that evidence did not support his defense of Islam, Nabeel still had a titanic struggle in his soul. He did not want to hurt his parents. He did not want to lose his family. He said, “Of course, following Jesus meant that I would immediately be sacrificing the friendships and social connections that they have built from childhood. It could mean being rejected by one’s parents, siblings, spouse, and children.” (251) As he contemplated accepting Christ, “I was beset with hidden guilt. How could I destroy this family? What was I about to do?” (275)
Nabeel prayed earnestly that Allah or Jesus would answer his prayer through dreams or visions or some way would show him the truth. “I had full faith that God—whether Allah or Jesus, whether the God of the Quran or the God of the Bible—would answer the prayers of my heart.” (255)
As he began his second year of medical school Nabeel began to mourn the impending loss he would face by following Jesus. He opened his Quran “looking for verses of comfort.” “There was nothing for me. It depicted a god of conditional concern, one who would not love me if I did not perform to my utmost in pleasing him, one who seemed to take joy in sending his enemies into the hellfire. It did not speak to the broken nature of man, let alone directly to the broken man in need of God’s love. It was a book of laws, written for the seventh century.” (275)
He said, “Looking for a living word, I put the Quran down and picked up the Bible. . . . My heart was filled with a new joy, the joy of meeting God Himself. . . .I read my Bible relentlessly, living on each word.” (276-277) On August 24, 2005, he submitted his life to Jesus Christ the Lord of heaven and earth. (278)
Upon learning that he had become a Christian, his parents were devastated and tried to dissuade him. His father, “who stood tallest in my life,” said, “Nabeel, this day, I feel as if my backbone has been ripped out from inside me.” (280) With tears in her eyes and deep sadness in her heart, his mother told her son, “Why have you betrayed me, Billoo?” (281) However, his family live has never been the same as before, his parents still love him, and he remained a part of the family.
Nabeel chose to suffer loss that he might gain the indescribable riches of knowing Christ.
Being interested in apologetics, I wanted to understand more clearly the arguments Muslims use against Christianity and the reasons and evidences that convinced Nabeel that Christianity was, in fact, true. The book was helpful in both respects.
In the book, you will engage a brilliant Muslim who loves truth more than tradition and comfort. This gripping biography of an honest search for truth will inform your mind and touch your heart.
Note: In 2016 Nabeel Qureshi was diagnosed with an aggressive stomach cancer. In his website he stated: “The clinical prognosis is quite grim, nonetheless we are going to pursue healing aggressively, both medical and miraculous, relying on God and the fact that He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”