I am a skeptic but I didn’t necessarily start out that way. Life can do that to you. Whether from mistrust, education, life experiences, or a desire for the truth and nothing but the truth, it happens and its not always bad. In my medical profession, I have been trained to weigh and balance both subjective and objective information. Objective being the unbiased facts not influenced by feelings, opinions, or personal perspective and subjective referring to your perspective, feelings, and opinions. I don’t appreciate generalizations of groups of people and realize there are often two sides of every story but I also realize that clichés are often true. Even if you are my best friend talking about a problem you are having with someone, I am probably wondering what the other person would say if I were talking to them. I value truth above all else. After all, Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to God except through me” (John 14:6). He also said “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). As you can see, downplaying the importance of truth can rob us of life, a relationship with God, and freedom.
While my skepticism often has many downfalls, one benefit is the high standard of someone whose writing and speaking I respect, value, and invest in. We need authors and speakers whom we can put our trust in to deliver the truth amid a world of deception and propaganda. Today we face a radicalism that has claimed thousands of lives, wrought fear into the hearts of many, changed government systems, threatened wars, been to blame for massacres, beheadings, persecutions, and more;yet, we are told the terrorist’s proclaimed motivating religion is a religion of peace. This is confusing. We know Muslims who are peaceful, kind, gentle, and loving people yet terrorists proclaim their actions are in the name of and for Allah - their same god. What should we believe?
We can easily all be fed what we want to hear and know; but truth comes when we are open to being exposed to a different narrative than what we ascribe to, all the while clinging to the one true Truth. I want to be informed and knowledgeable about the true Islam but not from a devout Christian who has never walked in a Muslim’s steps or had deeply woven lifetime relationships with Muslims; neither do I want it from a devout Muslim who knows no other way of life or culture than what he or she was brought up to believe through Islam.
As a Christian, the credible, valuable insight must come from a mixture of both – one who has spent a large part of their life as a devout Muslim, immersed in a Muslim family, and in Muslim culture. One who investigated Christianity out of curiosity or to prove it wrong. Maybe one who had the whole Quran read and parts of it memorized by age 5. One that had engaged in the required daily 5 prayers facing Mecca plus numerous other memorized prayers throughout the day to Allah. One whose loved ones and family were devout along with them. One who was essentially cast away from his or her family for giving up Islam and turning to Jesus. One who ended up losing his or her world but gained Christ.
Such a person has a perspective like no other. They had the highest degree of love and devotion to a religion, a culture, and their family; yet, they found something worth sacrificing and surrendering it all for.
Nabeel Qureshi is that person and has written perhaps the timeliest book of our times. Answering Jihad was written so recently and so quickly, albeit with precision and careful thought, that the Paris shooting, San Bernandido attack, and even Trump’s ban on Muslims is mentioned within the pages. He discusses the terrorists groups of ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al Qaeda as well as CAIR, who is labeled a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates but welcomed by the USA. Questions we all want the true answer to are answered within the easy to read book. I read it in 3 days, with working and a life to carry on.
The book is broken down into 18 questions, the chapters are short (which I always appreciate), and each page compels you to read more. If you don’t know much about Islam, Jihad, and Sharia Law, the book gives a brief but valuable overview. If you wonder why Islam is referred to as a “religion of peace” when it seems so violent, he answers this. If you want to know if terrorists are truly practicing Islam, he explains. Maybe you wonder if Allah and God are the same? He clarifies. He also gives insight into “the crusades,” and answers 14 other questions most of us have wondered in regard to the relationships between Islam, radicalism, and Christianity. Finally, he proposes the key approach in the way forward.
Politics aside, culture aside, political correctness aside, he writes from a perspective that heralds truth but bathes it in compassion, drawn from the teachings of Jesus and Christianity. In the same way that as Christians we do not define the practice of Christianity by how Christians practice it but rather by the teachings of Jesus, so Nabeel explains that we don’t define Islam as the practice of Muslims but by the teachings of Muhammad. So the question is, what is traditional, foundational Islam and what is progressive Islam? What is Islam truthfully? As Nabeel said in his book, “Without truth we won’t be able to identify the real problem and without love we won’t be able to formulate an enduring answer.”
Can I challenge you to stop repeating what your friend, family member, the media, or your coworkers say about Islam? I want to encourage you to quit assuming what you “hear” and “read” randomly on the internet is true – both good and bad. Quit attacking Muslims when you don’t have any credible truth or knowledge to base it on and quit taking up for Islam when you don’t truly understand the roots of their faith. A better way forward: educate yourself. Nabeel Qureshi’s book Answering Jihad is a perfect place to start.
As a Christian who has zero first-hand experience with Islam, I realize the importance of being educated about Islam so that I approach it's followers and the religion with both truth and love. Boiled down to four words, our calling as Christians IS to "Love God and love People" (Mark 12:30-31) and to "Go and make disciples of ALL nationals baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teach them to obey God’s commands" (Matthew 28:19-20). This doesn’t exclude loving Muslims and making disciples of them. This is all-inclusive of every nation, tongue, and tribe in the world. Making disciples won't be achieved through hate, fear, avoidance, or ostracizing Muslims. Because of this book, I am more knowledgeable and confident in engaging Muslims and as a result, am praying God will place a Muslim in my life with whom I can share the gospel.
I hope if you didn’t start out a skeptic of your beliefs on Islam and how to approach them as a Christian, you are now, and that Answering Jihad will give you the answers you need.
Side Note and Other Reading:
Answering Jihad makes the 4th book I have read by a Muslim turned Christian or someone who grew up in a Muslim family. Click the highlighted links to buy or check them out.
- Nabeel Qureshi’s “Seeking Allah Finding Jesus” was a great read which describes his quest of finding Jesus and it educated me a lot throughout the book about Islam and the questions skeptics outside of Christianity have about our faith.
- Abu Murray’s book “Apocalypse Later,” although written in 2009 gives incredible insight into how we should approach Muslims, the Middle East, and terrorism as Christians who seek to fulfill the Great Commission and follow Jesus.
- Rifqa Barry’s book “Hiding in the Light” is her story of growing up in a devout Muslim family but finding Jesus as a child. Her story also was in the media years ago as she was put in danger. You will find it encouraging and inspiring.
- Nabeel Qureshi's "Answering Jihad" - described in this post.
Nabbed Qureshi, Author of Answering Jihad, is a devoted follower of Christ who works with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. He has lectured at more than 100 universities and holds a medical degree (MD), a Christian apologetics degree, a religion degree, and is pursuing a doctorate degree in New Testament Studies. This is his second book with a 3rd coming out in August.