Nabeel Qureshi, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus (a book review)

Nabeel Qureshi, once a devout Ahmadiyya Muslim, is now a Christian apologist. Qureshi holds an MA in Christian apologetics from Biola University as well as an MA in religion from Duke University. So, Qureshi is qualified to write on the subject. He is personally knowledgeable not only about the academic aspects of Islam but also the relational and experiential aspects as well.
Importance of the Book
It was enlightening to see how difficult it is for a Muslim to convert to Christianity. Qureshi at one point questions whether or not Christians understood what an impact their message would have on him (p. 120). He even said, “My battle against the lordship of Jesus was an organic outgrowth of everything that defined me” (p. 172). Qureshi knew that if he decided to become a Christian he would shame his family with incredible dishonor. He was not sure if he could do that to his family after they had done so much for him (p. 252).

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).

Evaluation
Qureshi clearly lays out the purpose of the book (pp. 17-18) which is very helpful. The purpose being (1) “to tear down walls by giving non-Muslims an insider’s perspective into a Muslim’s heart and mind,” (2) “to equip you with facts and knowledge, showing the strength for the case of the gospel in contrast with the case for Islam,” and (3) “to portray the immense inner struggle of Muslims grappling with the gospel, including sacrifices and doubts.” Qureshi certainly accomplished his purpose.

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.

Conclusion
Qureshi taught me about Islam in a unique way. I not only learned more about Islam, I learned about his personal experience coming out of Islam to Christianity. He was real in his recounting of the events and his struggles. He did not recount his story to make it seem as if he never struggled.
Very good and insightful book. Here is a quote from the book that I appreciated because it is an example that shows the struggle that Qureshi went through:
“…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).
The worldviews that we hold are important but also difficult; difficult to be true to, difficult to see, difficult to switch, difficult to talk about. Nevertheless, our worldviews are of eminent importance. This book is about a man who sought hard and gave up much in his pursuit of a view of the world that accords with reality.
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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 9 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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