“I was standing atop the minaret of Islamic life when Jesus called out to me,” Nabeel Qureshi says
Raised by a devout American Muslim family, Nabeel Qureshi could recite the entire Qur'an in Arabic and had memorised the last seven chapters by the age of five.
As he grew older Nabeel loved Islam with all his heart, saying his "genes carried their zeal" as he learned to challenge other religions, particularly Christianity.
"Bolstered by every conversation I had with Christians, I felt confident in the truth of Islam. I boldly issued the call of Islam to anyone and everyone who would listen, proclaiming that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger."
Then, as a freshman at Old Dominion University in Virginia, he befriended a sophomore named David Wood and was surprised to find him reading a Bible one night.
"Incredulous that someone as clearly intelligent as he would actually read Christians' sacred text," Nabeel explains, "I launched a barrage of apologetic attacks, from questioning the reliability of Scripture to denying Jesus' crucifixion to, of course, challenging the Trinity and the deity of Christ."
David stood unwavering in his witness and his friendship with Nabeel and the two grew closer as they spent more time discussing the historical foundations of Christianity amidst classes, events and study sessions together.
"After three years of investigating the origins of Christianity, I concluded that the case for Christianity was strong – that the Bible could be trusted and that Jesus died on the cross, rose from the dead, and claimed to be God," Nabeel confesses.
Then David challenged Nabeel to study Islam as critically as he had studied Christianity from the historical sources themselves.
Nabeel says he was disappointed when he read early biographies of a revered prophet and explored the accuracy of key texts.
"Overwhelmed and confused by the evidence for Christianity and the weakness of the Islamic case, I began seeking Allah for help. Or was he Jesus? I didn't know any longer," he says.
Nabeel cried out to God to reveal himself so that he would know beyond any doubt whom to trust in. He believes God responded to him with one vision and three dreams, the second of which was most powerful.
In his second dream, Nabeel recounts he was standing at a narrow door watching people take their seats at a wedding feast but he could not enter because he had not yet accepted David Wood's invitation to the wedding.
“When I awoke, I knew what God was telling me but I sought further verification. It was then that I found the parable of the narrow door in the Bible [Luke 13:22–30]. God was showing me where I stood,” he explains.
Nabeel began mourning the impact of his inescapable decision, knowing that if he committed his life to Jesus he would betray his entire family and lose honour and all connection to his Muslim community.
“My decision would not only destroy me, it would also destroy my family, the ones who loved me most and sacrificed so much for me,” he says.
He wanted to further verify his conclusions and travelled to Washington D.C., Canada, and England in search of knowledgeable Muslims to answer his questions but none could satisfy his concerns.
Then, on his first day of second year in medical school, things became too much to bear and he skipped class to retreat back to his apartment.
He opened up the New Testament of the Bible and began reading fervently, reaching Matthew chapter 10, verse 37, which says that people must love God more than their mother and father.
Nabeel pleaded with God, knowing that he would have to give up everything.
“The next verses spoke to me, saying, ‘He who does not take his cross and follow after me [Jesus] is not worthy of me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for my sake will find it’.
“Jesus was being very blunt: For Muslims, following the gospel [about Jesus] is more than a call to prayer. It is a call to die.”
In that moment Nabeel not only understood, he acted. “I said to God, ‘I submit. I submit that Jesus Christ is Lord of Heaven and Earth, and that He came to this world to die for my sins. I am a sinner, and I need Him for redemption. Christ, I accept You into my life’,”he recalls.
Then came the gut-wrenching conversation with his parents who reacted as expected, feeling utterly betrayed and devastated.
“To this day my family is broken by the decision I made, and it is excruciating every time I see the cost I had to pay,” Nabeel says sadly.
“[But Jesus] redeemed my suffering by making me rely upon Him for my every moment, bending my heart toward Him. It was there in my pain that I knew Him intimately. He reached me through investigations, dreams, and visions, and called me to prayer in my suffering. It was there that I found Jesus. To follow Him is worth giving up everything.” ?
Nabeel Qureshi is an itinerant speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and author of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim's Journey to Christ (Zondervan). More of Nabeel’s testimony can also be found at www.answering-islam.org