"The secret things belong to the Lord our God." So says Deuteronomy 29.29. The Apostle Paul agrees: "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!"
When it comes to the life and death of author and speaker Nabeel Qureshi, these are the only truths I can cling to when I try to understand why the Lord allowed him to die of stomach cancer in 2017. By all accounts, Nabeel was poised to continue a dynamic gospel ministry to even larger platforms, reaching more people, and preaching the gospel to those who need to hear it. An accomplished apologist and communicator, Qureshi's writing and speaking were persuasive and powerful. It seemed to me that he was just beginning his rise to prominence and exposure, so that he could have the greatest impact for the kingdom. So why would God see fit to end his life at the age of 35?
"The secret things belong to the Lord our God."
Without a doubt, the process of Nabeel's death was a testimony to the goodness of God. Throughout his dying process, Nabeel created multiple videos where he talked about faith, life, and death. His grim prognosis gave him a unique perspective by which he could talk about significant spiritual and eternal issues to a large audience. You should take the time to watch some of his videos.
A couple of years ago I read Nabeel's first book, "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus" which told the story of his conversion from Islam to Christianity, and I was entirely enraptured by the book. It was fascinating to read of his Muslim upbringing to the relationships he made with Christians that challenged his views, and whom God used to ultimately bring Nabeel to saving faith in Christ. Throughout that book, Nabeel made passing comments about Muslim objections to Christian doctrine and briefly explained the intellectual process of first attempting to defend the Muslim faith, to ultimately conceding that it could not answer his questions in the way that Christianity could. If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it to you.
This year I read Nabeel's second book, "No God But One" and was once again blessed by his thought, passion, ability, heart for the lost, and love for the gospel. The difference between the two books is that "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus" is more of a biographical book about Nabeel, where as "No God But One" is an overarching defense of the Christian faith with some biographical bits scattered throughout.
"No God But One" is superficially billed as a defense of the Christian faith against the Islamic objections to it. It is that, to be sure, but it is also so much more. Rather, the strength of this book rests in Qureshi's ability to ask life's biggest questions and then to answer them from both the Muslim and Christian perspectives. Having been a devout Muslim for the first 20+ years of his life, and a Christian until the time of his death, Nabeel is uniquely qualified to answer the questions from both perspectives (not to mention, he's no intellectual slouch, holding multiple degrees in multiple fields of study). And his manner of writing is down to earth, accessible, and inherently readable and accessible to all. I whole-heartedly recommend this book to you. You will be blessed by it. Here are some things you will gain if you read "No God But One":
1. You will better know how to defend your Christian faith and answer life's biggest questions. As stated previously, the strength of this book is not so much a defense of the Christian faith as much as it is a training manual on how to answer the big questions. Throughout this process, Nabeel examines what he calls the "positive evidence" and the "negative evidence" for the answer to those questions given by both Christianity and Islam. For example, what is the "positive evidence" that Mohammed was the messenger of Allah? What is the "negative evidence" for such a claim? What is the positive and negative evidence that Jesus existed and that he died on the cross and rose again? Can those claims coexist?
2. You will know why your Muslim neighbors believe what they do about God, Jesus, and the Bible. From the Muslim perspective there is quite a bit of overlap between Christianity and Islam. For example, Muslims regard Christ as a great messenger of God, and the Bible as a message from God. Why do they believe these things and yet not see Christ as Messiah? Why do they not believe that Jesus died on the cross? Why do they not believe in a triune God? As a former Muslim, Qureshi has particular insight into why Muslims believe what they do about Christianity. This knowledge can help you gain a sympathy and love for your Muslim neighbors as you seek to share the gospel with them.
3. You will learn more about Muslim culture. In his discussion of Mohammed, Nabeel makes several connections between Muslim theology and Muslim culture. For example, why do Muslims find it offensive to depict Mohammed in cartoons? Nabeel explains the theological and cultural connections that create this offense. Because of many cultural difference between Muslims and Christians, the thought of engaging Muslims in spiritual dialogue can be somewhat overwhelming for many Christians (including myself). This book will help you see these details and know how to navigate them. If the thought of engaging your Muslim neighbor in conversation about spiritual things makes you nervous, you need to read this book.
4. You will increase your burden for the lost, especially for Muslims. And that is always a good thing. Nabeel's heart bleeds with a desire for lost people to come to know Jesus. When you read his passion, you will find yourself sharing in it.
5. You will discover what it looks like to lose the whole world and gain your soul. In Christianity, we often flippantly talk about disciples of Jesus leaving everything to follow him. Muslims like Nabeel (and a few others he mentions in the book) know exactly what it means to leave everything to follow Jesus because they actually did. Conversion to Christianity in the Muslim culture is not taken lightly. The testimony of these fellow believers will serve to strengthen you in your faith and firm up your resolution to boldly follow Christ.
6. You will increase your love of the gospel and your desire to share it with others. Nabeel does an excellent job of presenting and defending the gospel message in relevant ways. I came away from this book with a greater appreciation for God's saving work in the gospel. If a book can do that for you, it's worth a read.
There are numerous other positive elements to Nabeel's writing and thinking that would take too much room to list. The only negative aspect of Quereshi's story and writing, in my opinion, is the weight that he gives to revelatory dreams. That is, he believes that God can and does speak to people through dreams. Indeed, Nabeel himself would attribute the determining factor of his conversion to a series of dreams he had in which God appeared to him. I do not believe that such a thing is impossible, but rather the notion of God communicating with individuals through dreams is one that can get out of hand quickly, so when we declare that God has spoken through a dream, we should do so slowly, and with much thought before hand. To his credit, I believe Nabeel does this.
As an added bonus, I recommend that you consider "reading" this book as an audiobook (as I did). The book is read by the author, and he does a wonderful job of narrating his writing.