"Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus": The Book I Wish I Had 8 Years Ago
For a few months I worked for an upscale department store in D.C. before beginning my M.Div. program. It was a memorable work experience because it was the first time I had encountered Muslims.
There was the woman from Morocco. Ahmad, a half-Pakistani and half-Japanese young man more agnostic than devoted. And Olam, a second-generation twentysomething from Saudi Arabia whom I engaged in a handful of spiritual conversations over lunch.
I thoroughly enjoyed these friendships and interactions, yet I felt ill-prepared when it came to issues of faith. I didn’t understand Islam itself, let alone the Muslim experience, and there were few resources to equip me enter into that experience and help them find Jesus.
Nabeel Qureshi has solved this problem by writing the resource I needed. In Seeking Allah Finding Jesus, Qureshi uses his own dramatic journey from Islam to Christianity to equip us and our people to engage Muslims, walk with them through their spiritual journey, help them encounter Christianity, and find Jesus along the way.
This is the book I wish I had 8 years ago, because this book’s power lies in Qureshi’s own story. It transforms the grey-scale interfaith dialogue conversation into a full-color high-definition experience. To help us he uses his own story to share three vital elements we need to understand to help Muslims find Jesus:
Qureshi's Story Shows Us What It's Like to Be Muslim
First, Qureshi tears down walls by giving us non-Muslim readers an insider’s perspective into a Muslim’s heart and mind. He helps us non-Muslims understand what it’s like to be Muslim, which is where we must being.
In one illuminating chapter Qureshi explains how Muslims perceive people in the West, which affects our ability to impact them for Christ.
“[T]he average Muslim immigrant expects people in the West to be promiscuous Christians and enemies of Islam…When they come to America, their cultural differences and perceptions often cause them to remain isolated from Westerners.” (80)
He goes on to share that because of the many barriers for Muslim immigrants, “Only the exceptional blend of love, humility, hospitality can overcome [those barriers], and not enough people make the effort.” (80)
Qureshi's Story Teaches Us About Islam and the Quest for Christianity
Second, he equips us with the facts and knowledge about Islam in contrast with the strength of the gospel. While helpful callouts define key cultural and religious Islamic terms, the real power lies in how his story explores Islam and Christian beliefs.
One memorable story is one of his father ("Abba"), his college friend David, and New Testament scholars Mike Licona and Gary Habermas sharing a meal. In the story we learn that Muslims don’t believe Jesus actually died by crucifixion.
At one point Abba says, “it’s not possible that Jesus died on the cross. He was beloved by God, and he cried out to be saved. If there are verses that say he prophesied his death on the cross, those verses must have been added by Christians.” (152)
Both Licona and Habermas respond gently but deliberately to explain the unanimity of the historicity of Jesus’ death on the cross. This put Qureshi in an intellectual bind: “It seemed to me that if I wanted to hold onto an Islamic version of Jesus’ crucifixion…I would have to discard history.” (153)
Such a quandary forced Qureshi to “start considering it a remote possibility that the Christian message could possibly be true.” (154)
Qureshi's Story Reveals How Muslims Find Jesus
Finally, we experience the immense struggle Muslims have while grappling with the gospel and Jesus himself. This is a somewhat agonizing thread woven throughout the book, as it shows just how difficult it is to leave behind a faith that is deeply enmeshed in their lives. And there are costs to unweaving that mesh:
Following Jesus meant that I would immediately be ostracized from my community. For all Muslims, it means sacrificing friendships and social connections that they have built from childhood. It could mean being rejected by one’s parents, siblings, spouse, and children. (251)
We find out just how great a cost Qureshi himself would bear. And yet God was faithful. He provided community to support his journey, insight into his truth, and supernatural dreams to call him to accept the gospel.
"There is a simple reason I never listened to street preachers," Qureshi writes, "they didn't seem to care about me." Unfortunately many Christians approach evangelism the same way. Yet given the life change the gospel requires, "evangelism requires relationships." (121)
This is especially true of Muslims, as I discovered in D.C. If you have a Muslim co-worker or neighbor, dive deep into their life. Qureshi and his story will help you, and, in turn, help them find Jesus through you.
Jeremy Bouma (Th.M.) is a pastor with the Evangelical Covenant Church in West Michigan. He is the founder of THEOKLESIA, a content curator dedicated to helping the 21st century church rediscover the historic Christian faith; holds a Master of Theology in historical theology; and writes about faith and life at www.jeremybouma.com.
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