by Joshua Rogers
Nabeel Qureshi was raised in a Pakistani-American family and grew up a devout Muslim. While he was in medical school, he read the Bible for research in his debate against a Christian friend, and this began a journey that eventually led to his becoming a Christian. He shared his conversion story in his book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, and he also works with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries telling his story and providing encouragement to those who seek to share their faith with a changing world.
In light of the fact that the Muslim world is front and center in the international press right now, we thought it would be particularly helpful to talk with Qureshi. He began by sharing his insights into some common misconceptions about Muslims.
1. What are a few common misconceptions evangelical Christians have about Muslims?
The unfortunate truth is that most people who call themselves Christians live nothing like Christ and just take His name in vain. Jesus was willing to eschew the company of the religious to live among the lost, even suffering scorn to be with them (Mark 2:15-17). From what I’ve seen, many evangelical Christians live in what I call “Christian bubbles” instead of living life with those who are not covered by the blood of Jesus (for example, Muslims). Because of this, they maintain unfortunate misconceptions about their Muslim neighbors. Here are the three most prevalent misconceptions I have seen:
Misconception #1: “Muslims are violent people.” Of the thousands of Muslims I grew up with and knew as a child, not a single one promoted violence. Without commenting on whether historical Islam teaches violence, I can unequivocally say the vast majority of Muslims in the West are truly peaceful people.
Misconception #2: “Muslims are all the same.” From Sufis to Salafis, Arabs to Bosnians, nominals to zealots, that could not be further from the truth.
Misconception #3: “Muslims are godless.” Devout Muslims live their lives in constant remembrance of Allah, trying to follow their creator in prayers, fasts, scripture memorization, sacrificial alms, adherence to tradition, and Sabbath congregations.
2. There are agnostics who would say that your conversion really wasn't a conversion at all — that Allah and the Christian God are the same, and you're just swimming in a different river that leads to the same ocean. What would you say to those people?
In one sense, I’d agree with them. A universe without a god would by necessity be a place without absolute morals, without ultimate hope, without true meaning, without altruistic love, and without inherent value. It would be a chaotic and ruthless system of despair. By contrast, a theistic world allows for morality, hope, meaning, love and value. As Islam and Christianity are both theistic worldviews, they are far closer to each other than the distant and bleak outlook of atheism. But that does not mean they are the same. The God of the Gospel is a Father, whereas the god of Islam explicitly denies being a father. Yahweh is triune, whereas Allah is a simple unity. Yahweh is infinitely merciful and infinitely just, whereas Allah grants mercy to some and exacts justice on whosoever he wills. Their characteristics are quite different.
The Gospel is this: that God saw our sin and suffering, and instead of standing removed from the world, watching and judging, He entered into the world and suffered alongside us, taking our burden from us, paying our penalty for us. He secured our eternity for us because we cannot earn our own salvation, and He offered proof of eternal life by rising from the grave and defeating death. Allah did not do and would never do any such things. These two conceptions of God might look similar from afar, but there’s a world of difference between them…
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