Today’s interview is with Nabeel Qureshi, a former devout Muslim who was convinced of the gospel’s truth through historical reasoning and a spiritual search for God. Since his conversion to Christianity, Qureshi joined the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias ministries, and has dedicated his life to spreading the gospel through teaching, preaching, writing, and debating. In Qureshi’s first book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim’s Journey to Christ, he details his emotional journey from Islam to Christianity, while setting forth powerful arguments for Christianity. The book offers both a personal account and scholarly research, and aims to break down the barriers between Christians and Muslims—download it today on Vyrso.
1. What are the biggest factors that keep Muslims from converting to Christianity?
The environment and community they’ve been raised in keeps them from converting. For Muslims, Christianity is shameful, so to become a Christian would be dishonorable.
Also, for Muslims, believing Jesus is God is a sin. In fact, it’s the biggest sin there is. When I told my mom I’d converted, she said she’d rather I was an atheist or a homosexual. This belief precludes them from ever thinking about Christianity.
2. You said Christians’ reputation also keeps Muslims from converting—what sort of reputation do they have in the Muslim world?
Within Muslim culture, especially in places where there aren’t many Christians, Christianity is seen as a religion for lesser people, for people who need a crutch—who need forgiveness, and status. Especially in Pakistan and Indonesia, Christianity is viewed as a religion for lower-class people. Also, the Koran views the Trinity as polytheistic, so if you’re a Christian, you’re a polytheist. This isn’t the view all Muslims have, but it is in places where there are few Christians—like Pakistan, where my family is from.
3. How can Christians better understand and reach out to Muslims?
By spending time with them and being good witnesses. Everyone thinks other people are the same as them, so we transpose our character and feelings on other people. But not everyone thinks like a Westerner; this is why we have to build relationships. And this is why Christ spent time with the prostitutes and tax collectors—so he could relate personally to them, and that’s what Christians need to do too.
We need to show Muslims that Christians are loving, are intelligent, have thought through their faith, and honor God. Words won’t fix our reputation, but witnessing will. To reach Muslims, you must build relationships and friendships so they have a corrected image of what the gospel is.
4. What led you to first start pursuing Christianity?
I’d been challenging a Christian friend, telling him that the Bible wasn’t trustworthy and the Trinity was blasphemous. But throughout our debate, he gave me strong arguments for Christianity, and I began to see the strength in his case. He then asked me if I’d ever applied the same level of skepticism to Islam, which I hadn’t. When I began to apply the same critical criteria to my own religion, I realized the case for Christianity wasn’t just strong—it was the strongest. That’s when I began to accept the gospel.
5. In what ways are Islam and Christianity similar?
Christianity and Islam have two of the most similar views out there. They both believe in one omnipotent, omniscient creator; they both believe this creator established morality and that our eternal life is based on our sins, which send us to hell or heaven; they believe in angels and demons, and that there are holy scriptures that have been sent to us. We also share many of the same biblical characters—Adam, Eve, Abraham, Job, Noah, and many more—they’re all in the Koran.
They also believe in Jesus’ miraculous birth, his ability to perform miracles, and that his return to earth will initiate the final days. So superficially, Christianity and Islam are quite similar.
6. In what ways are Islam and Christianity most different?
In their understanding of who God is. In Christianity, God is your unconditionally loving father. He’s the most humble being in the universe, he’s willing to suffer for our sake, and he makes a way to heaven for everyone. That’s not the case for Islam. For Muslims, God is very conditional, he’s not willing to lower himself and enter the world, he’s unknowable, and unlike Jesus, he doesn’t live within you. This ultimately means he’s a more arbitrary God who chooses who to forgive and who not to forgive; he can send anyone to hell or heaven.
For Christians, we are children of God. We do things out of love for him—not to earn his favor. Whereas with Islam, most of what’s done is to please God and earn his favor so you don’t go to hell.
7. What are Christians doing wrong when it comes to Muslims?
If the Christian message is true, then the reason we’re here on earth instead of heaven is so that we can proclaim it. We are here to know him and to make him known. It’s not just a thing we can do—reach out to Muslims—it’s why we’re here: to love our God with all our hearts, and love our neighbors as ourselves.
We need to put aside our comforts and keep our eyes on God’s mission—to spread his name. And frankly, we’ve only sent one missionary per every million Muslims, and that’s shameful. We’re not reaching out to Muslims ourselves, so the Lord is sending immigrants here, so love them and share the gospel. Don’t just love people to convert them. No—God loves us because we’re his children. Love the Muslims in your life because that’s what God wants us to do—and that’s our whole purpose for being here.
8. What was your experience like being raised Muslim in the US?
We were very proud to be Muslim. We believed we had the truth, and that Christianity was false. We felt like a small group of people who had the truth amongst a sea of darkness. And looking at the immorality in culture and TV—like promiscuity, adultery, and immodesty—we set ourselves apart from that. I was taught to always tell the truth, to be the best student, and to be the best in everything I do, so we were proud to be Muslim.
Obviously, being Muslim in the US was difficult at times—9/11 and Desert Storm, especially. After 9/11, people broke the windows of our mosque. In Desert Storm, my aunt got punched in the stomach and my grandpa was refused service at a gas station. But we viewed all of this as suffering for the sake of the truth.
9. What do you hope to achieve with your book?
I hope to accomplish two things: one, to help Muslims understand the gospels and why they’re true, and two, to help Christians understand Muslims and love them as their neighbors and as themselves. I want my book to serve as a bridge to start sharing the gospel.
* * *
Learn more about Qureshi’s powerful story and how Christians can effectively reach and understand Muslims: download Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus on Vyrso today.
Today’s interview is with Nabeel Qureshi, a former devout Muslim who was convinced of the gospel’s truth through historical reasoning and a spiritual search for God. Since his conversion to Christianity, Qureshi joined the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias ministries, and has dedicated his life to spreading the gospel through teaching, preaching, writing, and debating. […]