Qureshi, Nabeel. 2014. Seeking Allah, finding Jesus: A devout Muslim encounters Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Nabeel Qureshi died of stomach cancer on September 16, 2017, leaving a wife and young daughter. Qureshi was raised as a devout Muslim and held Two MA degrees, an MD and an MPhil in Judaism and Christianity from Oxford University. He lectured to students in more than 100 universities and participated in numerous public debates in several countries. (For additional information see www.nabeelqureshi.com.)
In Seeking Allah, finding Jesus (SAFJ), Qureshi provides his account of a conscientious and sustained journey to understand the truth about Muhammed the Prophet and Jesus the Messiah, as well as about the Quran and Bible. His worldview of Islam is sympathetic, even as he outlines stories about the obligations of Islam, including detailed descriptions of the Muslim rituals and the Arabic words and phrases inherent in them.
The turning point in his life—although he did not realize it at the time—was his continuing friendship with a Christian named David. Together they not only studied, but also had intense and well researched debates about the claims of Islam on the one hand and Christianity on the other.
The devout Muslim sees the Quran as the final authority from God, dictated as it was from the angel Gabriel to the Prophet. Therefore, in the Muslim view, it must be more authentic than the Bible because it was written later and nothing can supplant or contradict its account. The many versions and translations of the Bible, dependent on a multitude of manuscripts, must somehow be accepted as a lesser dogma, in that the Quran is only in Arabic and defies any translation—although there many interpretations and commentaries by Muslim scholars.
In SAFJ, we learn the stages by which Qureshi began to reason through the claims of the Muslim scholars, especially their claims that Quran contains “miraculously advanced scientific truths” (p. 232) to the extent that science was the divine origin of it. In addition the Quranic text was held to have divine preservation—nothing had changed since Muhammed recorded what he had heard from Gabriel.
It is somewhat of a sacrilege for Muslims to investigate the life of their Prophet and Qureshi knew that he was on dangerous ground. However, as he did so, he found that the Quran had indeed been changed, coming as it did from an oral tradition. It turns out that the four best teachers of the Quran did not agree with the final Quran and often they did not agree with each other. There were missing verses, disputes over some of the Quranic versions and other factors that made Qureshi begin to question the celebrated and claimed perfect dictation of the Quran.
Another factor that was hard for Qureshi to comprehend was the verses in the Quran demonstrating that Islam allowed for, even condoned, slavery, and Muslim men having intercourse with captured women.
Qureshi has empathy and compassion toward all that is Muslim, which makes it clear how difficult it was for him to question his faith. However, as he did so, God spoke to him in a dream and, eventually, he knew he had to make the choice for Jesus and the cross. His own cross to bear would be his rejection by fellow Muslims, particularly his family, and specially the lack of fellowship in mosques with Muslims that he loved.
Despite this, Qureshi made the choice to become a Christian despite that “opposing forces,t he uncertainty, the potential costs almost paralyzed me” (p. 267). He knew the cost and he was willing to pay it.
God is faithful and it was his Word, the Bible that helped Qureshi the most: “I could not put the Bible down. I literally could not. It felt as if my heart would stop beating, perhaps implode, if I put it down. I…really had no choice in the matter. The Bible was my lifeline” (p. 276).
Qureshi went on to marry in 2008 and, after graduating from medical school, founded a ministry of his own. He had his setbacks and emotionally draining times but, in his words, “The suffering is what transformed me into a true follower of Jesus…. All suffering is worth it to follow Jesus” (p.287).
SAFJ is a remarkable book, filled with insight into the inner thoughts and workings of the Islam faith. It is not an in-your-face account, but a deeply insightful, challenging and historical account of how a Muslim seeker found Christ.
I highly recommend the book to anyone who wishes to understand the Muslim worldview more clearly, and why it ultimately contrasts with that of Christianity.