Saturday, May 16, 2015

At What Cost?

Good morning,

I want to depart from my usual exegetical approach to share with you about a book I just finished reading.  It had been recommended to me by members of my Sunday School class.  Up until a couple of days ago, I had not had time to read a book for months.  The name of the book is Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, by Dr. Nabeel Qureshi.

If you truly want to understand more about the Muslim faith, I highly recommend this book.  Nabeel was steeped in the Ahmadhi sect of Islam from his birth.  Nabeel reports that devout Ahmadhi fathers whisper in their sons' ears the first prayer to Allah as soon as the newborn emerges from the mother's body. Nabeel carefully documents the cultural and historical backgrounds of Islam, which admittedly can be tedious reading at times.  But, he makes clear even to the non-Muslim that the Quran is an extremely troubling book that often contradicts itself.  This is why you have sects of Islam that are bent on jihad (killing infidels if they don't convert) and the more peaceful Muslims (equally devout), such as the Ahmadhi sect.

Not only was Nabeel reared in a very devout Muslim home, he himself earnestly pursued Allah, witnessing for his faith from his childhood and even giving lectures to further the cause of Islam in his early-to-mid-twenties.  Out of his friendships in college, he began to learn the truth about Jesus and the Bible.  This information he ... a rigorous scholar, championship college debater, brilliant young man ... did not take at face-value.  The stakes for forsaking his Muslim faith were so high, he was determined to prove Jesus false and Christianity a false religion.  After all, the Quran says that anyone who declares that Jesus is God will go to Hell (5:72).

But, it was not just the fate of his eternal soul at stake.  Nabeel enjoyed a beautifully close relationship with his family and extended family and circle of Muslim friends.  He realized that if he accepted Jesus as Lord he would be fracturing those loving relationships, perhaps forever.  One of the things I admire most about Nabeel is that he didn't merely reject his parents' faith out-of-hand, falling back on the Western glorification of "reason" as his justification.  No, he delved deeply into his own faith, Islam, to see if what he had been taught, mostly by oral tradition, was true.  The more he dug into and studied the Quran and the hadithic (companion, explanatory) texts, the more disturbed he became by the many, many problems he found, both with the textual integrity of the book, but also with the person of Mohammed. His concurrent study of Christianity alarmed him even more, as he began to realize the Truth of Jesus Christ, His revelation in the Word of God.

One of the most amazing things about Nabeel's conversion was that, the whole time, he was praying to Allah that he would reveal himself.  Yet, the one true God, Yahweh, was listening; and He answered.  Nabeel recounts how the Three-in-One did reveal Himself to him.  God has promised to reveal the Truth to anyone who earnestly seeks Him. (Jeremiah 29:13)

When you look at Nabeel Qureshi's Facebook page, you will see very hateful things written to him by Muslims.  As I read the last chapter of the book I cried.  Jesus said in Matthew 10:37,
"Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."  
Those of us who grew up in a Christian household read those words and superficially think, "La-la-la-la-LA!"  I mean, they have no meaning for us.  But, for someone like Nabeel ... well, he had to give up everything.  I had to look into my own soul and ask, "Faced with a similar choice, what would I do?"  What would you do?

Father, thank you for revealing Yourself to those who truly seek You.  Your revelation is unchanging; yet, You approach each of us in ways that resonate with our individual differences.  I thank you for the friendships between Nabeel and Zach and David, which You used as the fertile ground in which to sow the seeds of the Gospel.  Please use Nabeel's testimony to call more and more Muslims to Yourself.  In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

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