Meet RZIM’s newest apologist, Nabeel Qureshi, whose intellectual and spiritual journey from Islam to Christianity changed his life.
Nabeel, welcome to RZIM! Tell us a little about your background.
Thanks! The RZIM family has been truly welcoming and I am overwhelmed by the love I have received from the team and its supporters. Joining the team is an honor I would never have dreamed possible just a few short years ago. I grew up in a devout Muslim family with the dual goal of boldly representing Islam while bringing honor and support to my family as a physician. But in the course of pursuing every Muslim mother’s dream, I encountered Christ. He captivated me. His truth overwhelmed me. There was no escaping him, not for me. I became a believer in 2005. After graduating from medical school, I entered into full-time ministry, ultimately pursuing graduate study in the fields of New Testament and Islam.
So you were brought up a Muslim?
A simple “yes” would not suffice as an answer. I was passionately in love with Islam. My maternal ancestry is peppered with Muslim missionaries, men who spent their lives preaching Islam. Following their line, it was under the supervision of my mother that I read the entire Qur’an in Arabic by the age of five. By my teen years I had memorized over a dozen chapters of the Qur’an and boldly proclaimed the truth of Islam to my peers, often challenging Christians in their faith. These conversations, in turn, served to bolster my faith. Islam was more than my religion: it coursed through me, defining my being. Islam was my lifeblood.
How did you come to know Christ?
I met a friend in college who had studied apologetics, and he was the first person I met who was able to intelligently defend his Christian faith. We disagreed about pretty much everything, but in the course of our discussions and arguments, we became inseparable friends! Over a few years, we talked about the reliability of the New Testament, the resurrection of Jesus, the Trinity, substitutionary atonement, and other critical Christian issues. I realized that the core of the Christian faith was powerfully evidenced. Turning our eyes to Islam, after a time of critical examination, I found that the case for Islam fell far short. As the weight of my discoveries became unbearable, I turned to God for direct spiritual guidance. God gave me a vision and three dreams that pointed me to Jesus.
What were the challenges you faced?
Since I became a believer, my family has never been the same. My mother has never since had the gleam of joy in her eyes, and my father has never said the words “I am proud of you.” I have become a point of shame to my family. Death threats and ostracism are nothing compared to the pain of knowing I am the one who has brought immeasurable hurt to my own parents, those who loved me and sheltered me from day one. But I have relied on the promises of Jesus to get me through, especially Mark 10:29-30.
What advice would you give someone to help reach a Muslim friend?
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your Muslim neighbor as yourself. Let both of these loves be unconditional. In so loving your Muslim friends, they will see that they are not your “evangelism project,” but that they are true friends. That is how you will earn the right to speak into their lives, and that is very important for Muslims who have traditionally been steeped in authority structures. As they see your unconditional love for God through times of pain and times of plenty, they will be affected. Of course, beg the Holy Spirit to infuse your very being and provide you with wisdom and discretion for all occasions, especially during discussions. Ultimately, the Spirit is the one who does the work through us. It is a spiritual battle. Know the scriptures, deepen your spiritual discipline, and follow the Greatest Commandment in order to fulfill your role in the Great Commission.
What motivates you to do evangelism?
I am naturally an evangelist for the things I love. I’m ready to defend macs over PCs at the drop of a hat, encourage the most timid eaters to try sushi, even joyfully tell people about socks that I think are awesome! So when it comes to God, who is awesome in the truest sense of the word, how can I help but tell people? God is amazing beyond belief, and it is our distinct honor and privilege to introduce people to God. Yes, for their salvation, but also for the sheer joy of introducing someone to their Father for the first time—an infinitely loving Father, at that.
How does your past affect your evangelism?
Having been a Muslim, I know that the One, True, Triune God is worthy above all to be praised. God bore our shame, paid our price, died our death. The Muslim god would never humble himself for us, never love us unconditionally. These truths motivate me every time I tell people about Yahweh.
Having studied apologetics, I have confidence that the Gospel is true, and the truth of the message motivates me to share it with those who need or pursue truth.
Having studied medicine, I am regularly overwhelmed by simple things, like being able to use our hands and feet. I see a delicate and powerful dance of blood, electricity, bone structure, and muscle power that flows in harmony just so we can perform the simple act of pointing our fingers! There is no doubt in my mind that this dance is orchestrated by God, and I will do my best to ever point my finger in God’s direction.
What role does apologetics play in this?
Apologetics showed me that, despite everything I was taught about Christianity and everything I believed about Islam, the Gospel is true. Apologetics demolished the barriers that had been erected to keep me from seeing the truth of the Gospel. Once I saw the Truth, it was the Holy Spirit who convicted me to embrace it at all costs. In my evangelism, it is my prayer to present apologetics in a winsome manner that would leave people standing face to face with God. What these souls then do is between them and the Holy Spirit. Regardless, I pray that whether a person accepts or rejects God, they do so because of what God is, not because of what God isn’t. That is the role apologetics plays in my evangelism.
What are your hopes for the new role?
For me, the greatest pleasure in life is seeing the light turn on in peoples’ eyes that moment when they realize the holy, mighty, incomprehensible power and love of God. That “Aha!” moment, and the ensuing commitment of a broken soul to God, is what drives my ministry. My heart’s prayer is to show people that the Lord is at work all around them, that God loves them despite their sins, and that through real repentance and a resolve to follow Jesus they can be assured of an eternity with God starting today. I pray that at RZIM, through the wisdom of Ravi and a synergistic effort with the team, the Spirit will use me to broaden and deepen the impact of the Gospel for the Kingdom, and to introduce more people, more powerfully, to their Father.
How can we pray for you?
I am ever cognizant of the fact that I am a broken man, able to share the message of salvation and truth only by God’s grace and mercy. I would be eternally indebted to you if you would pray that the Holy Spirit would consume me like a fire, burning away all that is sinful man and leaving a beacon of contagious light. Please pray that God would breathe into me like a mighty rushing wind so that I can proclaim Jesus Christ from rooftops. I can do nothing without God, and I covet your prayers for the Holy Spirit’s presence in my ministry. If you can spare another prayer for me, please pray for the salvation of my family. Thank you so much.