I am currently reading the book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. This book is Nabeel Qureshi’s personal account of his life as he went from a devout upbringing in the Muslim faith to find that Jesus Christ was indeed his personal savior. Throughout the book, the author talks of how simple it often was to shut down any Christian that tried to talk to him about faith in Christ. The reason it was so simple: the Christians had only a head knowledge of the “whys” of their own beliefs. They could not back up the normal rhetoric that is given to prove their beliefs.
I have been struck by many parts of this book. Most of all, I have to face that many of us cannot defend the faith we say that we have. Nabeel studied the Bible to be able to refute the usual comments. It wasn’t until he met someone who was willing and able to give him facts that Nabeel began to truly “hear” the message. On the flip side, Nabeel also had to come to terms with the fact that much of what he knew of his Muslim beliefs were based on what he had been told. Studying the Qur’an and other documents as he defended his childhood religion was very unsettling for him. Even though he have read the entire Qur’an by the time he was 5 years old, he didn’t know or understand much of the basics of his faith.
Nabeel Qureshi’s decision to follow Christ was not an easy choice. It took years to get to that decision. He had to weigh giving up EVERYTHING in order to follow the Christ of the Bible. This decision caused immense pain for both of his parents. In “Christianity Today”, he made this spoke about the effect his conversion had on his family:
“A few days later, the two people I loved most in this world were shattered by my betrayal. To this day my family is broken by the decision I made, and it is excruciating every time I see the cost I had to pay.
But Jesus is the God of reversal and redemption. He redeemed sinners to life by his death, and he redeemed a symbol of execution by repurposing it for salvation. He redeemed my suffering by making me rely upon him for my every moment, bending my heart toward him. It was there in my pain that I knew him intimately. He reached me through investigations, dreams, and visions, and called me to prayer in my suffering. It was there that I found Jesus. To follow him is worth giving up everything.”
I have to ask myself, “Would I do this?” I’ve lived a pretty easy life. Sure there have been bumps along the way, some of them very big bumps. When my first husband died, I struggled with my faith. I reviewed all that I said that I believed. And, I concluded that my faith in God was correct and real. But, I was never required to give up everything: my family, my core beliefs, the familiar. Would I do that? Could I defend my beliefs to another in a logical and cohesive manner? Would I be able to give details and truth? I wish I could give a resounding YES, but I’m not sure.
My family and I have been watching the Leah Remini show on Scientology. I often sit in astonishment at what people are willing to do and to give up for their beliefs in this “religion”. While reading Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, I have a different understanding of the Scientology followers: they too risk everything for their beliefs. The difference? Nabeel Qureshi’s Muslim upbringing did acknowledge parts of the Bible and recognize some of the same people as Christianity (although differently), he had a basis to build upon when confronted for Christianity. He was willing to debate and discuss to prove his point. Scientology doesn’t allow any questions. There is no debate. It’s all or nothing. As we have listened to people who have left Scientology, it is so sad to see that most have still not found salvation in Jesus. How do we as Christians help to fill the void? How do we take steps in this tender and painful area of trust for people’s of any faith that are hurt and searching? Do we really care? Do we really want to step out?
Again, I’m not sure. It’s more convenient to throw a tract or book at someone than to interact with them in any depth. It’s emotionally safer to invite someone to church than to sit down and have coffee and talk over and over again. It’s easier to only communicate about God when you need something by asking for “a little prayer for _____” instead of getting involved with God on a daily basis with His people. It’s less intimidating to just mind my own business and let someone else do the hands on stuff.
I’m challenged. I’m struggling.
For you see, standing up for one’s beliefs to those in your closest circle of family and friends can be hard, especially if they don’t agree. It takes balance to lovingly rebuke those who claim to be Christian and do not live as such. It takes a measured patience to be ridiculed as “old-fashioned” and “out of touch” when you have lived and may actually have a basis for this “old-fashioned” and “out of touch” advise. The easiest road may not be the best choice and momentary laughter does not mean a lifetime of joy.
Nabeel Qureshi passed away after a year-long battle with stomach cancer on September 16, 2017 at the age of 34. His parents were helping to care for him during his illness. I am so fortunate to have his story from which to learn. He has touched and continues to touch many lives with his stand for Christ.
Would you follow?