Friday, 28 February 2014

Book review: Seeking Allah, finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity

In Seeking Allah, finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity, Nabeel paints a wonderful picture of growing up in an Islamic family. For an outsider, one can see the appeal Islam has on its adherents. The devotion of the parents for their child to have a thorough knowledge of the Quran shows the love and care the parents have for their child to grow up in the knowledge of Allah. Nabeel's mother was a daughter of missionaries and his father 'was a self-sacrificial, loving man who bore the noble name of Qureshi. Qureshi are the tribe of the prophet Muhammad.

Nabeel in this book shares his experience of growing up in an Islamic family in the west and writes, “The mystical beauty of Islam that enchants billions cannot be grasped by merely sharing facts.” You had to live it which is something that we outsiders cannot comprehend. Nabeel loved Islam, and before he was six he had read the whole Quran. In high school Nabeel was ready to defend the Islamic view of Jesus against any Christian, but at university, everything he thought he knew about Christianity and the Quran would be challenged.

In my experience at university, I spoke with many Muslims about Jesus and the bible. The Muslims would repeatedly bring the same objections and declare that the bible has been corrupted, and that no where in the bible does Jesus say that I am God. This response was universal from the Muslims I spoke too. I found a possible explanation from Nabeel's experience why this may be the case. Nabeel writes, 'Now I knew as did David (Christian) and Zach (Buddhist), that I had not studied Islam with as much scrutiny as I had Christianity. But for me, as for many Muslims, an uncritically reverential and fulsome assessment of Islam was a given.'

For the Muslims I was speaking too, it was clear that most of them had an uncritically reverential and fulsome assessment for Islam. Perhaps like Nabeel, many had innocently accepted the world that have been built for them by their family and culture, a world in which Islam was unassailable.

For my Muslim friends, Islam was unassailable and to question it would be to show a disrespect for authority.  

For example, in Pakistani culture parents rarely said I love you. 'Love is implicit and understood, expressed through provision by the parents and obeisance by children.' Confessing Islam was showing obeisance to his parents but denying it would portray the opposite.

At university, Nabeel became friends with David wood who was a Christian, and through their deep friendship, both engaged in religious discussions which challenged Nabeel to review what he thought he knew about Jesus and the Quran. This discussions happened in the context of sharing life together. Their friendship was more than just religious discussions, they deeply cared about each other whether or not they saw eye to eye regarding each other's religious faith.  

In order to show that the message of the Quran was true and divinely inspired, Nabeel decided to hold the Quran under the same scrutiny which he had applied to the bible. His findings were life changing. In a large Muslim prayer hall, broken before God, Nabeel in his mind began to question everything he thought he knew about God. “But maybe You are showing me that the Quran is not Your word after all? So much of what I've been taught about it has turned out to be false. I was taught that it has never been changed, but hadith and history show that it has. I was taught that it has supernatural knowledge of science and the future, but when I asked you to help me see it with my own eyes, I could find none. So much that I thought I knew about the Quran simply is not true...”  

I invite you to pick up this book whether you are a Christian, Muslim, agnostic, Buddhist, atheist or etc, because this book will challenge, excite and intrigue your curiosity on what it means to follow Jesus. If you are a Muslim, ask yourself the same questions Nabeel asked himself about the Quran, Muhammad and Jesus. If you are a Christian, can you identify yourself with David wood? Do you understand the cost of what it means to follow Jesus for yourself and especially for those who are from an Islamic background? If you are an atheist, agnostic and Buddhist, are you willing to follow the evidence fearlessly wherever it may lead. 

You can get a copy of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus at Amazon


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