‘On Saturday, September 16, 2017, Nabeel Qureshi, age 34, Apologist and partner of Ravi Zaccharias Ministry departed into glory, after enduring a yearlong battle with cancer. In honor of his exemplary life and ministry, we share his testimony of conversion.’
“Allahu Akbar. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah. I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” These are the first words of the Muslim call to prayer. They were also the first words ever spoken to me. Every day I sat next to my mother as she taught me to recite the Qur’an in Arabic. Five times a day, I stood behind my father as he led our family in congregational prayer.By age 5, I had recited the entire Qur’an in Arabic and memorized the last seven chapters. By age 15, I had committed the last 15 chapters of the Qur’an to memory in both English and Arabic.
But it is one thing to be steeped in remembrance, and it is quite another to bear witness. I come from a long line of Muslim missionaries and by middle school, I had learned how to challenge Christians, whose theology I could break down just by asking questions. Focusing on the identity of Jesus, I would ask, “Jesus worshipped God, so why do you worship Jesus?” or, “Jesus said, ‘the Father is greater than I.’ How could he be God?” If I really wanted to throw Christians for a loop, I would ask them to explain the Trinity. They usually responded, “It’s a mystery.” In my heart, I mocked their ignorance and thought their faith was ridiculous.
Islam was my identity, and I loved it. I boldly issued the call of Islam to anyone and everyone who would listen, proclaiming that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger.
NOT THE MAN I THOUGHT
As a freshman at Old Dominion University in Virginia, I was befriended by a sophomore, David Wood. Soon after, I found him reading a Bible. Incredulous that someone as clearly intelligent as he would actually read Christians’ sacred text, I launched a barrage of apologetic attacks, from questioning the reliability of Scripture to denying Jesus’ crucifixion to, of course, challenging the Trinity and the deity of Christ.
David didn’t react like other Christians I had challenged. He did not waver in his witness, nor did he waver in his friendship with me. Far from it he became even more engaged, answering the questions he could respond to, investigating the questions he couldn’t respond to, and spending time with me through it all. His zeal for God was something I understood and respected. We quickly became best friends, signing up for events together, going to classes together, and studying for exams together. All the while we argued about the historical foundations of Christianity.
THE KORAN AND THE BIBLE
Ultimately, he challenged me to contrast the history of the Bible with that of the Koran. It was then that I discovered there had been so much dispute over the Koran early in its history that an official edict established one standard Koran and ordered all the rest destroyed (Sahih Bukhari 6:61:509-510).
There was no occasion for the Bible to have been officially altered throughout Christendom, but there was certainly an occasion for the Koran to have been modified throughout the House of Islam, and records remain of old variants that testify to former versions.
JESUS AND MOHAMMED
While discussing the Bible and the Koran, I also challenged David on the divine authority of Jesus. He responded to my points, but he also challenged me to contrast my arguments with a case for the authority of Muhammad. It was then that I realized my standards for criticising the origins of Christianity would raze the foundations of Islam if I applied them consistently.
The earliest account of Muhammad’s life is only known to us because one devout Muslim preserved it, and he uses no uncertain words to say that what he received contained fabrications and false reports (Ibn Hisham, who edited Ibn Ishaq’s Sirah Rasul Allah).
By contrast, the case for Jesus’ death, deity and resurrection was very strong, built on early records that were most coherently explained by orthodox Christian positions. It was through this contrast that matters became clear.
THE CASE FOR THE CRUCIFIXION
While still contemplating these issues as a Muslim, I attended a debate between a Christian called Michael Licona and a Muslim called Shabir Ally on the topic of Jesus’ resurrection. A trend in Ally’s thinking emerged through the course of the debate, and what I saw shook me.
Multiple ancient sources report Jesus’ death by crucifixion, including Jewish, Gentile, and Christian records. These reports are so numerous and the surrounding circumstances so clear that even atheist and agnostic scholars say Jesus’ crucifixion is among the surest facts of history. Ally advanced the Koranic view of Jesus: that, despite all the reports, Jesus did not die by crucifixion.
But what reason is there to stand by the Koranic claims about Jesus when all the other records disagree? The Koran was written 600 years after Jesus and 600 miles away. The only reason to believe the Koran is in a priori faith in Islam. That is why only Muslim scholars deny Jesus’ death by crucifixion. Ally was very sceptical about the Christian case but not nearly as critical of the Islamic perspective. No contrast, just one-sided criticism.
With nowhere left to go, I opened up the New Testament and started reading. Very quickly, I came to the passage that said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Electric, the words leapt off the page and jump-started my heart. I could not put the Bible down. I began reading fervently, reaching Matthew 10:37, which taught me that I must love God more than my mother and father. “But Jesus,” I said, “accepting you would be like dying. I will have to give up everything.”
The next verses spoke to me, saying, “He who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for my sake will find it” (NASB). Jesus was being very blunt: For Muslims, following the gospel is more than a call to prayer. It is a call to die.
I knelt at the foot of my bed and gave up my life.
CREDIT: christianitytoday.com and premier.org.uk