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The Costs Muslims Face for Embracing the Gospel— An Excerpt from "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus" by Nabeel Qureshi

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9780310515029Western Christians often forget there is a tangible cost to embracing the gospel. Sure we might lose a friend here or there. We might even lose our professional standing.

How about our entire family? All of our other social connections? Even life itself?

That’s the dilemma Muslims face when confronted with the choice of embracing the cross, Jesus, and the gospel.

It’s a dilemma illustrated authentically and poignantly by Muslim-turned-Christian Nabeel Qureshi in his new book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.

In the excerpt below Qureshi shares the consequences of his own conversion after finding Jesus, writing, “It is no understatement to say that Muslims often risk everything to embrace the cross.”

Read it to better understand your Muslim neighbors. Pass it along to help your people do the same. And pray for them as they travel the long, windswept road toward Christ.

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The Cost of Embracing the Cross

The cost for a Muslim to accept the gospel can be tremendous. Of course, following Jesus meant that I would immediately be ostracized from my community. For all devout Muslims, it means sacrificing the friendships and social connections that they have built from childhood. It could mean being rejected by one's parents, siblings, spouse, and children.

If there were traits my family was known for in the Muslim community, they were my parents' joyfulness, our close-knit relationships, and the honor we had garnered by faithfully following Islam. My choice to follow Jesus meant razing all three. My decision would shame my family with incredible dishonor. Even if I were right about Jesus, could I do such a terrible thing to my family? After everything they had done for me. 

These are the costs Muslims must calculate when considering the gospel: losing the relationships they have built in this life, potentially losing this life itself, and if they are wrong, losing their afterlife in paradise. It is no understatement to say that Muslims often risk everything to embrace the cross.

But then again, it is the cross. There is a reason Jesus said, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it" (Mark 8:34 – 35)...

Now more than ever, the stakes were clear, and I needed to know who He was…I began begging Him to reveal Himself. Standing, walking, praying, lying in bed, I implored Him to show me His truth. Because [He had] guided me before, I had full faith that He would guide me once again. But the interim was agonizing. I traveled from mosque to mosque, asking imams and scholars to help me with my struggles. None came close to vindicating either Muhammad or the Quran, all of them selectively denying traditions that were problematic and cherry-picking traditions that fit their views. They did not help. 

"Whoever Loses Their Life for My Sake Will Find It."

Just after midnight one evening ... I found these words in Matthew 10:32 – 33: "Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven." 

My heart sank. I had not even acknowledged Jesus to Jesus, let alone to others. But to acknowledge Him meant destroying my family. Could He really charge me to do such a thing?... But how? How could I bear the pain?

He assured me that inconceivable pain and social rejection is part of the Christian walk: "Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me." To be a Christian means suffering real pain for the sake of God. Not as a Muslim would suffer for God, because Allah so commands him by fiat, but as the heartfelt expression of a grateful child whose God first suffered for him...

I had to give up my life in order to receive His life…The gospel was calling me to die…

Finding Jesus

Though [my father] did not say much, what he did say has haunted me ever since.  "Nabeel, this day, I feel as if my backbone has been ripped out from inside me." The words tore through me. It felt like patricide. I had not given up just my life to follow Jesus, I was killing my father. He has never stood as tall since that day. I extinguished his pride.

"Why, God ... ?"

[My mother] had even fewer words … but her eyes said more. "You are my only son … Why have you betrayed me?"

Her eyes seared my soul and remain branded in my memory.

Decimated before God, eyes pouring, nose and mouth unable to withhold the grief, I was finally able to sputter my question through tears:

"Why didn't You kill me?" I pleaded with God, full of despair because it was too late…This is far worse for them than my death would have been. At least our love would have lived on. At least our family would have always been one.

"Why, God?"

At that moment, the most agonizing moment of my life, something happened that was beyond my theology and imagination. As if God picked up a megaphone and spoke through my conscience, I heard these words resonate through my very being: "Because this is not about you."

“Go and Love One Another…”

When I was able to move, I felt no sorrow, none whatsoever. It was as if my prayers of anguish and self-pity had been words uttered in a previous life. Rising from the ground and walking out of the apartment, I gazed at everything intently — the trees, the sky, even the stairs I stood upon. 

Yet again, I was seeing the potential of the world in a new light. I had been wearing colored glasses my entire life, and they had been taken off. Everything looked different, and I wanted to examine it all more carefully.

While I was wallowing in self-pity, focused on myself, there was a whole world with literally billions of people who had no idea who God is, how amazing He is, and the wonders He has done for us. They are the ones who are really suffering. They don't know His hope, His peace, and His love that transcends all understanding. They don't know the message of the gospel.

After loving us with the most humble life and the most horrific death, Jesus told us, "As I have loved you, go and love one another." How could I consider myself a follower of Jesus if I was not willing to live as He lived?

This is not about me. It is about Him and His love for His children.

Now I had found Jesus.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus

By Nabeel Qureshi

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