Nabeel Qureshi, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus (a book review)
Qureshi, Nabeel. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2014.
Hearing about Qureshi’ struggle as he thought about what it would mean to convert to Christianity was helpful. It will help me to be appropriately empathetic will discussing Christianity with Muslims. It is helpful to realize that “Muslims often risk everything to embrace the cross” (p. 253). I appreciated hearing his prayer: “O God! Give me time to mourn. More time to mourn the upcoming loss of my family, more time to mourn the life I’ve always lived” (p. 275). I also appreciated what he said about the cost of discipleship: “I had to give my life in order to receive His life. This was not some cliché. The gospel was calling me to die” (p. 278).
The “facts and knowledge” were communicated in a very natural way. For instance, the Five Pillars of Islam and the Six Articles of Faith were briefly explained (p. 54). I also appreciated the tables in the book that explained different Arabic words. The purpose of the book was not to give scriptural augmentation for everything that was said; nevertheless, there was a lot of quotation from the Qur’an as well as references to the Christian Scriptures.
I also enjoyed the biographical style with which the book was presented. It kept me engaged and also relayed important information and helped me to understand the experience of converting to Christianity from Islam. It was much more powerful and real to see the emotional struggle that Qureshi went through. It reminds me of the importance of not just augmentation but also of a loving community. When a person is forced out of their family and community because they convert to Christianity it is vital that they are welcomed into a new family and community. Thankfully Qureshi was welcomed in and loved by his friend, David.
Throughout the book, Qureshi gives various places where his friend, David, challenges his faith. For example, David pointed out that “Islam commands Muslims to have no more than four wives at a time, yet Muhammad had at least seven at one point” (p. 224). Also very concerning is that Muhammad married Aisha when she was six and consummated the marriage with her three years later, when Muhammad was fifty-two (pp. 224-25). These examples are concerning, especially if Muhammad is supposed to be someone to emulate.
I was edified by seeing how God worked in powerful and unexpected ways to save Qureshi. For instance, the way that God lined up Qureshi’s meeting and friendship with David as well as the way that God used the lecture on resonance structure in his life to help him work through the doctrine of the Trinity (p. 194). It is encouraging to remember that God has many people in our communities that are His so we just have to be faithful ambassadors speaking His truth (cf. Acts 18:9-10). God uses us to bring people to Him (2 Cor. 5:20) but we can be assured that He is working in supernatural ways that are outside of our control.
As we evaluate this book, we should understand that Qureshi has somewhat of a unique perspective. Islam has many expressions. It is not monolithic. If we think we understand Muslims because we have meant one, read a book, or even read the Qur’an we are wrong.
Qureshi’s expression of Islam is not very typical of the Muslim population. He is also Western and more intellectual than is normal for the typical person (as seen from example through his multiple degrees). This is important to note. We must remember that different people will have different problems and questions with Christianity and different people will also have different struggles converting from Islam to Christianity. However, that being the case, I appreciate that Qureshi was honest to his experience. I found the recounting of his story profound at many places; particularly the way he described his inner spiritual fight over converting to Christianity.
“…The edifice of my worldview, all I had ever known, had slowly been dismantled over the past few years. On this day, my world came crashing down…” (p. 21).