Loving requires knowing. And in a new book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim’s Journey to Christ (Zondervan), Nabeel Qureshi aims to help Christians better love their Muslim neighbors by providing an insider’s perspective into a Muslim’s heart and mind.
Through personal narrative, Qureshi covers a range of topics including the relationship between the Qur’an (Islam’s sacred text) and Hadith (Muhammad’s words and actions recorded in tradition) as well as the cultural challenges between East (honor-shame cultures) and West (innocence-guilt cultures) in dialogue and evangelism. As one of the newest members of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, Qureshi has the unique ability to address misconceptions on both sides between Christians and Muslims.
I corresponded with Qureshi about what he appreciates about Islam, consequences Muslim converts face, what Western Christians can learn, and more.
As the son of Pakistani immigrants to the United States, you share candidly about the ignorance of many American neighbors and classmates concerning Muslims. What would you like to share with those same people concerning what you appreciate most about Islam?
What I appreciate most about Islam is the discipline it instills in its adherents, the reverence Muslims have toward the Creator, and Muslims’ commitment to memorizing the Qur’an. I think Christians could learn a lot from their Muslim neighbors about memorizing Scripture, approaching God with respect, and pursuing personal discipline.
What are Islam’s main objections to Christianity?
The primary objection Islam poses to Christianity revolves around the person of Jesus. Orthodox Christianity teaches Jesus is the ultimate revelation, God himself, who through his sacrifice on the cross has paid for the penalty of all mankind. The message doesn’t just come through Jesus; the message is Jesus.
Islam, on the other hand, teaches that Christianity is just one of a series of revelations. It teaches that many religious figures have come throughout time, sent by God, Jesus being one of them. He’s no more than a messenger. He didn’t die on the cross, let alone for the sins of mankind. God hasn’t paid our penalty, and we are unsure of our destiny until after the judgment has been cast.
In all these things, Islam challenges the person of Jesus and the path to salvation as taught in Christianity.
Although protected from anti-conversion laws in the West, what real consequences do Muslims still face in converting to Christianity?
Even in the West, Muslims potentially face great sacrifices in following Jesus. Devout families, and even many that are nominal, will dissociate with members who have left Islam. Islam isn’t just a set of beliefs but is seen as a family’s heritage and cultural identity. When a member of the family leaves Islam, it’s often viewed as betrayal. For Muslim women, this may even mean getting kicked out of the home by their husbands and potentially losing custody of their kids.
For Muslims, the decision to follow Jesus often means sacrificing everything. One must truly pick up his or her cross to follow Jesus.
In light of the significant consequences one might face for conversion, why would you tell someone that following Jesus is worth the cost?
As great as the cost can be, there’s nothing worth more than following our Creator in truth and fulfilling the tasks he’s given us. The Christian God is a God of unconditional love, one who grants us peace and directs our every step. To know and be in relationship with him is worth every sacrifice, and he is faithful to restore what’s been lost. Jesus makes it clear that to follow him is to sacrifice and be persecuted. That’s what all the disciples went through, that’s what the early church went through, and that’s what the New Testament teaches us to expect. In our sufferings for Jesus, we are bonded to him and his sufferings for us (experientially, not savingly). It’s worth every sacrifice to be so connected to God, who loves us and created us for this purpose.