"Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A devout Muslim Encounters Christianity" by Nabeel Qureshi
Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids Michigan, Copyright 2014
Aided by an impressive cohort of mentors and legendary Christian Apologists, Qureshi brings to print a very valuable book, showing step by long step his transition from being an active Muslim to accepting Christ. Rarely do I put all other reading materials on hold to focus on one book at a time. Normally I'm reading at least six books simultaneously, but when I began reading Nabeel's narrative, I devoted myself to reading his story straight through. Written like a memoir, "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus" illustrates the Biblical truth that those who have eyes to see, will see. This book is nearly 300 pages long, but I read through it in just three or four sittings -- it was that captivating.
Written with the utmost respect for his Islamic heritage, Qureshi sets out his journey of faith from being fully immersed in the Muslim world of his youth, through his long emotional trek to embracing the Christian faith. The grandchild of Muslim missionaries, Qureshi was brought up in a loving home where the Quran was revered and his parents professed their undying allegiance to Allah and his prophet, Muhammad.
Nabeel's story is engaging for several reasons. For starters, we read about his admirable upbringing in a very devout Islamic setting; he is raised in an idyllic loving home where he gives insight into the mysterious world of Islam. Most Westerners have no idea what happens within the subculture of transplanted Muslims (Qureshi's family moved to the US from Pakistan) and this glimpse into Nabeel's world is captivating. I found myself more than once infatuated with his homelife as a youth; their devotion to prayer and congregational life was seriously impressive. Secondly, this book is so mesmerizing, because Nabeel is transparent about his wrestling match seeking the truth of Who God is. It's not easy to ask God, "Who are you?" and then to go through the process of analyzing all that you've been taught to believe.
This book is fitting for several audience: For Muslims seeking to know the truth about the Identity of the True God, for those interested in reaching Muslims, for people who are simply interested in learning more about Islam, for those in the pulpit who would like to address this topic more intelligently in a post 9/11 world, and though it is not a textbook, it would serve well in a Seminary classroom too. I add this last part based on my Seminary experience; I learned more about Islamic culture and the Muslim faith in Qureshi's book than in an entire semester of Communicating Cross-Culturally with Muslims.
One of the real gems in this book is the masterful way Qureshi weaves in Islamic terms into the narrative, and then in the margins, with shaded text-boxes he unpacks these unfamiliar terms. The terms are all categorized in a helpful Glossary at the end of the book, for further study. Without employing a dry lecture or boring you with factoids, Qureshi teaches you several key terms throughout the story. It is a very clever and interesting way to impart the knowledge of the intricacies of the Muslim world without making the reader feel like they are working hard to learn new words.
Towards the end of the book, once God breaks down all the barriers in his heart and mind, Qureshi experiences one vision and a few dreams from God. I wish Qureshi had elaborated more on the dreams that helped confirm God was guiding him to become a Christian. He goes into detail recording the content of the dreams, but I felt since these dreams were the capstone to his years of researching both faiths, and his impassioned debates along the way, more coverage of this supernatural intervention on God's part would've helped enrich this wonderful book.
It's hard not to conclude after reading this book that Christianity has too much fragmentation and petty infighting, and see how this book inadvertently highlights the fact we have bigger issues to address than our personal preferences. We need to look past our denominational squabbles and see there is a field white for the harvest. A major lesson I took away from reading this book is that no one is too far gone or beyond the reach of the Gospel. We can never look at a person who is indoctrinated in another religion (even a Muslim) and think, they won't respond to the message of Jesus. Also, this book reminds us, key relationships are essential in leading someone to Christ. Qureshi had seeds that were planted and watered by some incredible people who were close to him, who loved him, and who were willing to invest in a long-term commitment.
I wouldn't be surprised to see this story one day picked up and adapted for the Big Screen. Filled with anticipation, it is a moving narrative with an incredible character arc that has all of the tension, conflict and suspense that makes all stories great. We are indebted to Qureshi for sharing his path from the Crescent to the Cross. May we all be sensitive to the great cost he and other Muslims make, who by turning to Jesus leave loved-ones feeling betrayed and abandoned.