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Remembering Nabeel Qureshi
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Friday, September 22, 2017
Alf Cengia

On the 16th of September 2017, God called 34 year old Nabeel Qureshi home to glory after a long battle with stomach cancer. He leaves a grieving wife and daughter behind, as well as parents, a sister, and countless people whose lives he touched.

I first came to know something of him through his book (Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus), and subsequent ministry videos. Qureshi was born into a loving Muslim family. They were patriots, just like most other Americans. His father served in the navy.

By his own account, Qureshi wanted to be like other American kids. From his book:

AS I GREW, I felt like my family and I never really fit in with the people around us. I have always felt disheartened thinking about it. Aside from the Islamic traditionalism, my life was a mix of 1980s cartoons, plastic toys, and temper tantrums. I should have fit in with the other boys just fine. Unfortunately, people are afraid of what they do not know, and my Muslim heritage was a deterrent for many would-be friends and their families. I was very lonely.

The events of 9/11 affected many lives, not just those directly impacted by the tragedy. I had just come out of the New Age and took it as a wake-up call. The world suddenly changed and I became more aware of Islam. Many Muslims in my home city rejoiced at the collapse of the Twin Towers. Sometimes facts aren't palatable. Did they all think that way?

Months after the event, I flew to another state on business with a colleague. The event was still raw in our minds. We both gazed around at our fellow passengers wondering about terrorists.

There's always another side to any story. Qureshi recalls the fear of retribution his family experienced after 9/11. They were horrified that Muslims could condone such an attack. It ran counter to their understanding of Islam. Even so, there were instances where members of his family were mistreated because of their connection with Islam.

Qureshi recounts how his strong commitment to Islam led him to be an apologist for his faith as he grew up. It's important to note that he was always upfront about his sect of Islam being considered unorthodox by some Islamic scholars. Nevertheless, Qureshi's god was Allah. He prayed five times a day, honored the prophet Muhammad, and believed in the Qur'an and the Hadiths.

He was proud of the fact that he could tie young Christians he met up in debates. Many weren't grounded in Scripture and couldn't adequately defend their faith. However, one day he met a young Christian apologist called David Wood. And things slowly changed.

Incidentally, I came across Wood (a stark former atheist) sometime after 9/11, while researching Islam. Wood was the perfect foil for Qureshi, challenging him on his core beliefs about Islam and Christianity.

Nabeel Qureshi's eventual decision to accept Christ as his savior was costly in earthly terms (1 Cor 2:9). It hurt his family and they became estranged. Think about the pressures former Muslims come under when they become Christians.

Wood and Qureshi became fast friends, often sharing Christian v Islam apologetic platforms. One was a balance for the other. I thought of them as good cop, bad cop. Wood has a fact confronting edge which effectively ministered to Nabeel. On the other hand Qureshi had a more gentle approach. I can appreciate both methods under certain circumstances.

Qureshi's humility and love were hallmarks of his ministry. Having unconverted family trapped in Islam gives one a unique experiential perspective. However he also showed class under personal attack from Islamic apologists, and even some Christian ones.  The latter example still annoys me whenever I think about it.

A discernment ministry once decided to go after Nabeel for speaking at a conference which the writer disapproved of. Instead of contacting Nabeel and bringing these concerns to his attention, the writer proceeded to raise several questions about the authenticity of Nabeel's conversion and ministry.

A well-known Christian apologist then waded into the conversation via a video presentation. He suggested that Qureshi should have been up front about belonging to a sect of Islam. His point being that this alleged non-disclosure hurt his credibility. This gave Nabeel's critics ammunition. Muslims quickly used the video against his ministry.

Here's the deal - there are sects in Islam. But from an Islamic apologetics perspective, it only really bothers them when there's a conversion away from Islam to Christianity. It's a pity the discernment people didn't act a little more wisely.

Qureshi didn't respond back in kind. We all might learn from that. His last words are a testament to his gracious character. Even as he lay in palliative care, Qureshi was concerned that he may have inadvertently said something to offend Muslims in an effort to evangelize them. Watch it HERE.

See also David Wood's tribute: Famous Last Words of Jesus, Muhammad, and Nabeel Qureshi

Nabeel was motivated by a love for people still trapped in Islam. His story is a reminder for those of us who constantly monitor news items relating to terrorism and the Middle East that everyone needs the Lord!

It's natural to wonder why God didn't heal his cancer. I don't have answers. Only God knows. But I can't help thinking how gracious God was in arranging for Nabeel to bunk with David Wood and become saved before his death. God then graciously used Nabeel's ministry to bring others to salvation.

What a privilege and honor!

I rather think Qureshi heard something like this moments after leaving this world:

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Matt 25:23

Finally, Nabeel Qureshi's family still needs prayer, as does the Muslim community. Let's not forget them. Nor should we forget this promise:

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Rev 21:4 

About Alf Cengia

Last week: Our Will Be Done

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