Conversion is always a big deal. No matter which way it goes, whether it is the loss of faith, the discovery of faith or a change of faith, the decision to change your beliefs is significant. However, in different cultures and different parts of the world the personal cost to these decisions can vary immensely.
There is, currently, a high price to pay for those who choose to leave Islam and for many that may mean death. For Nabeel Qureshi it meant risking losing his family.
Born into a devout Muslim family of Pakistani origins, Nabeel expertly paints a picture of what it was like to grow up as Muslim in Europe and America. He describes well the challenges of being third culture (faced by second generation immigrants where they neither truly belong to their parents culture nor the host country culture) and his strong convictions in matters of faith. The book is a very helpful and respectful introduction to Islam for those that may know little or nothing about it.
The author manages to convey respect for Islam while at the same time explaining why and how he came to be convinced that Islam had misled him and that Christianity was true. Through friendship with a committed Christian Nabeel began to debate several key differences between Christianity and Islam – namely the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the identity of Jesus (was He the Son of God?).
From there he began to question two central pillars in Islam (the prophet Muhammed and the Qu’ran) and found to his great shock that the case was far, far weaker than the case for Christianity.
While the treatment of the apologetics is not especially in depth there is sufficient information to explain the change of course and this helps to keep the narrative flowing and the story moving.
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus does a number of things really well – it introduces Islam, it defends Christianity, it exposes the weakness of Islam and gives insight into the evangelistic task. It manages to do all these things, in my judgement, respectfully and convincingly which is no small feat.
There are a number of very important take aways that are worth reflecting on. The journey to conversion took many years of questioning and that required a deep friendship. I asked myself the question, am I willing to build those bridges of friendship with my Muslim neighbours?
Secondly, Nabeel shows that many Christians have an inadequate understanding of their faith and are unable to defend it and this reflects poorly on us. In a pluralistic society, the apologetic task is crucial.
Thirdly, culture and worldview is massive and the fundamental differences between a western enlightenment worldview and the rest of the world should not be underestimated. Churches that are in multicultural cities need to give time and thought to this issue.
Fourthly, we have good reasons to be confident of the claims of Jesus against the claims of Islam, yet the witness of the western church often undermines our case. This is linked to all the above points and I’m not sure I know what the answer is, it’s complex!
I’d highly recommend this book and I intend, where opportunity allows of sharing it with my Christian and Muslim friends.