Nabeel Qureshi is a former Muslim who converted to Christian and is author of the New York Times Best selling book “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.” He currently works with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) (a well known and respected Christian apologetics group). In his first book, “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus,” Qureshi describes his personal journey from devout Muslim to Christian. His third book, scheduled for release in August 2016, “No God but One: Allah or Jesus?” will be an in-depth exploration of Christianity and Islam, the differences between the two, and who should be worshipped based on evidence. The book I am reviewing, “Answering Jihad – A Better Way Forward,” is a book that should create a bridge between his first and third books.
I first became aware of Nabeel Qureshi through one of the RZIM’s speaking events. A friend told me RZIM had a new speaker who would be giving a lecture at Georgia Tech University in November of 2013. A video of that event can be found here, it is long, but highly educational. There is a Q & A session after the main lecture that is also good. Qureshi described his journey to Christianity and the things that drove him to reconsider the faith of his childhood: Islam.
While describing this book, Qureshi says he never intended to write the book at all. But the tragic terrorist attacks in France and San Bernardino, California convinced him to write this book. The speed with which the book was written is stunning: Qureshi wrote the book in 3 weeks. I give credit to Qureshi and his publishing team for creating this book with great speed and precision.
It should be noted, this book is not an in-depth examination of Islam, jihad, or terrorism. The book is split into 18 frequently asked questions Qureshi encounters when speaking. The questions are good and not straw-men arguments. Qureshi tackles hard subjects in the book. The brevity of the book and chapters can leave the reader feeling like more information is needed to flesh out an idea. However, Qureshi answers the questions he is posed thoroughly. I would recommend this book for laymen seeking an easy to understand primer on Islam and jihad. I believe Qureshi will provide more depth in his next book for those wanting more meat, particularly on the differences between Christianity and Islam.
The 18 question fall into 3 broad categories: “The Origins of Jihad,” “Jihad Today,” and “Jihad in the Judeo-Christian Context.” Each category has 6 questions. The book’s strengths are when Qureshi is describing the history of jihad and Islam. He provides ample explanation, historical context, and the foundations are covered. The portions that focus on the first 150 – 200 years of Islam are particularly well written.
Qureshi provides helpful context for the confusing array of schools of thought within Islam. If you’ve heard terms like Shia and Sunni on the evening news, they are explained, along with many others. Qureshi walks through those terms, the schools of thought behind them, and how they interact. This is particularly helpful when covering modern Islam.
The weakness of the book is where Qureshi tries to offer solutions on how to proceed forward. The answer he wants to give is evangelizing and bringing more Muslims to Christ. The political ramifications of dealing with ISIS and other groups is briefly mentioned, but largely untouched. Qureshi’s ideas on Christians showing love to Muslims is both good and needed. However, the book would have done better without attempts to dance around the geo-political issues surrounding the rise of Islamic terrorism. I don’t fault Qureshi for this weakness in the book. The book’s intent is to provide answers to common questions he encounters. Qureshi’s answers to those questions are good. I found the brief mentions of handling potential war with terrorist groups opened an unintended can of worms. It detracted from an otherwise excellent effort convincing Christians to reach out to Muslims in love, not react in fear.
One of the subjects Qureshi briefly touches on, but that I believe is growing in importance, is the authenticity and accuracy of the major Islamic texts. For the better part of a century, atheist skeptics have challenged the Bible on grounds of authenticity and reliability. These challenges, which made sense, forced Christian apologists to grapple with the historical record and the authenticity of the Bible. Ministries like RZIM, Joshua McDowell, and other academics have assembled the evidence answering the question of authenticity for Christianity. Islam is just beginning to grapple with these questions. The archeological record has provided ample evidence for Christianity. It’s an open question whether the same can be said for Islam.
If you’re new to the subject or want simplified answers on the origins and concepts of jihad within Islam, I recommend the book. If you’re a Christian seeking these answers, I doubly recommend the book. It will help you understand news stories happening domestic and abroad. It will also help you answer difficult questions you may receive from Muslim neighbors. If you’re familiar with the subject and want something more in-depth, I’d suggest pre-ordering Qureshi’s upcoming book.