Qureshi begins his memoir in prayer, weeping silently in an empty mosque. He begs Allah to show him the truth, the real truth of who God is. It’s a dangerous prayer, but one that made with sincerity and humility never goes unanswered. I’m sure much of his family wishes it had. Much to the grief of his family, Nabeel Qureshi converted to Christianity and within a few short years began a life of ministry. This book chronicles the memoir of his conversion.
- Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
- Themes: Islam, Christian-Muslim Dialogue, Sharia Law, Hadith, Quran, Apologetics, Eastern & Western culture, truth, conversion, convert, testimony, family, Sunni Islam, Almadi Islam, Prayer, Dreams, Miracles
- Author’s Worldview: Protestant Christian Baptist
- Year Published: 2014
- Audience: Adult
Though many moments in Qureshi’s conversion story remain universal, there is much about his insight into both the Muslim and Christian world that I found enlightening. The first part of the book recounts his childhood with devout and loving parents. His mother is the daughter of peaceful missionaries and his father a proud soldier in the US navy. He takes readers into the heart of Muslim family life and portrays a rather idyllic community. However, this doesn’t mean that he is without criticism for his old faith. He repeats often that if Christians want to convert their Muslim neighbors, they must first understand exactly what they would be asking them to give up.
His description of the authority structure in Islam and the various sects within is also enlightening. Qureshi grew up in the Almadi sect of Islam, a very pacifist sect. Of course, as he begins to research Christianity and his own faith, he is horrified to discover the violent nature of Islam, but this is an aspect that he and his whole family and religious community are sincerely unaware of.
Qureshi explains how Islam’s unique authority structure and practice of learning to quote passages of the Qaran without having read the full text leads to so many different versions of Islam. This is why he says, when foreigners ask Muslims (usually Muslims in the west or a part of liberal sects like the Almadi) about Sharia or other sticky subjects, they insist that Islam is a religion of peace and that it is in their holy book not to force religion on anyone. When asked the same question, other Muslims have no qualms about saying that Islam will one day take over the world by whatever means necessary. Both groups, he says, are telling the truth about what they sincerely believe. If we as Christians want to reach Muslims, we must ask them individually. In the same way that we as Catholics are often frustrated when others insist our faith professes something it does not, we must trust that Muslims are not lying to us about their own personal beliefs.
This insight into Muslim culture and thinking is invaluable. I do not think I have yet read a book that so clearly and concisely explains the similarities and differences. For this reason, Qureshi’s book is one that I think any western reader, of any faith, would find interesting and enlightening.
Things begin to change for Qureshi when he becomes friends with a young Christian boy in college. He, and not his friend, is the one to first broach the subject of religion and the two quickly find they share a love for truth, humor and debate that makes their dialogue enjoyable for both. At first, his friend agrees to let Qureshi try and dismantle Christianity first before discussing Islam. The book then takes us through the line of argument and defense interwoven with the stories of Qureshi’s college days and then through their debates about Islam.
I found it surprising that even when Qureshi is led to admit that the proof for Jesus’s death and resurrection is pretty solid, he remains steadfast in his belief that those facts do not necessarily prove that Jesus is God or that God did not also send Muhammad.
When, in the end, he runs out of all defenses for his faith, he turns to begging God for a sign. In tears he prays, “Allah I do not know you, but I know that you are all that matters.” God answers with a vision and three profound dreams that let Qureshi know that God isn’t going to let him get away that easily.
At the end of Qureshi’s journey, he leaves his career in medicine to go into ministry fulltime. I found out later that he married a Christian woman, had a daughter and worked tireless for the redemption of other Muslims. Sadly, he died Sept 16th, 2017 from a sudden and aggressive fight with stomach cancer. He was only thirty-four years old. The last prayer he recorded from his hospital bed is still active online. I hope that all who learn of this remarkable man will keep him and his family in their prayers.
Though he remained a Protestant, he is still a powerful apologist that Catholics and any Christian can learn from, though he does seem to share much of the misunderstandings about Catholicism that many Protestants do. Still, his old lectures and debates are invigorating to watch on YouTube. His website with its resources for defending the faith and reaching Muslims is still active. Anyone of any faith or creed will find Qureshi’s testimony a moving portrait of a man willing to give up everything to find the truth.