Welcome back to Defenders Voice! This is Paul Kattupalli. Today I want to say a few things as a tribute to our dear brother Nabeel Qureshi. Nabeel Qureshi was a Christian apologist who converted from Islam. I am very saddened on hearing the passing away of our beloved brother Nabeel Quresh; it came as a shock to global Christian community. I wept a few minutes and wanted to say a few words in his remembrance.
I met Nabeel once in Chicago, Illinois in a conference; we spent some time discussing Islam and Christianity; His conversion from Islam to Christianity is amazing.
Nabeel qureshi was born in a Muslim family. His parents immigrated from Pakistan to the United States. He grew up a devout Muslim. He memorized large portions of Quran. Then he went to college and started to argue with Christians about Islam and Christianity. He made friends with David Woods, a Christian scholar who told him about Jesus. David encouraged Nabeel to seriously examine the claims of Jesus and historicity of the New Testament. Nabeel started to study the New Testament and historicity of Jesus and the gospels. He compared it with Quran’s teaching on Jesus. Quran teaches that Jesus was virgin born, he did miracles, he was sent by Allah into this world as a prophet with a lower status than that of Muhammad. Jesus did not die on the cross, let alone he resurrected from the grave. Because Allah saved Jesus from the cross, the resurrection is not even a topic for serious discussion for Muslims. So, Islam claims Jesus did not die for our sins. He is not our Savior. Based on our works, Allah decides whether each individual go to heaven or hell.
At the center of Islam, there is rejection of Jesus Christ as our God and Savior. Christian faith teaches that Jesus Christ is the God-Incarnate who went to the cross to die for our sins and to redeem us from the penalty of sins. Quran rejects the divinity of Jesus and his cross. So, Islam rejects the essence of Christian faith. Nabeel Qureshi rightfully saw the serious incompatibility between Christianity and Islam. He did not buy into contemporary interfaith nonsense which claim that Christianity and Islam teach the same message, with same God, and with same Jesus.
Nabeel graduated from medical school. With a surgeon’s skill he incised every claim of Islam and of Christianity. Like Luke the physician in the New Testament, Nabeel collected all the evidences he could. He just wanted to know the truth. It did not matter to him where his personal affections lay. After studying both the Bible and Quran very intensely for a few years, he realized that he could no longer avoid the truth: Jesus is who he claimed to be. Our God, our Messiah, our Savior, our Hope. He resurrected from the grave three days after his crucifixion. Romans chapter 10, verse 9 caught his attention.
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
How shall I get salvation? Bible says there are two things.
First, confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus.
Then, believe in your heart that God hath raised him from the dead.
So, to be saved you must accept the divinity of Christ and resurrection of Christ. There is no way to avoid either of them or both of them. Only an infinite God could pay the infinite debt we owe for our sins. Only God could defeat the grave.
Nabeel then made a major decision he never thought or imagined he would make with his life: to renounce Islam, to renounce Muhammad and to accept Lord Jesus as his personal Savior.
He invited Jesus into his life. He wanted to pay any price for following Jesus: No turning back, no stone left unturned in his pursuit of truth. His family and his friends were horrified to learn that Nabeel became a Christian. Some of them worried for his safety because Islam dictates death penalty for Muslims who leave Islam. It has no mercy for apostates.
Nabeel Qureshi was a courageous man. He did not care even for his life. He became a Christian, got baptized and like Saul of Tarsus, started to preach the gospel immediately after his salvation. Soon it was a revolution. Thousands of Muslims started to listen and watch his messages. Many of them became followers of Lord Jesus. I read in one of Nabeel’s books, some of his converts even became martyrs for their faith in Christ.
I met Nabeel in Chicago at Wheaton College. We spent some time discussing Islam and Christianity. His faith and courage inspired me a lot. Let me give you 7 inspirations I got from Nabeel Qureshi.
1.Search the truth and follow it no matter where it leads you: Nabeel was a devout Muslim. But when he came across Jesus of the New Testament he did not ignore him. He intensely studied both Bible and Quran and followed the truth where it led him: to the feet of our blessed Lord.
- Preach the gospel with love : Nabeel said behind every question there is a questioner. Behind every belief, there is a believer: a person with flesh and blood. Respect that person, love that person. I read Nabeel’s biography and it helped me see many of my preconceptions about Islam. Nabeel said he and his family loved America when he was growing up. His dad worked in US Navy. Some people say, ‘All Muslims hate America’. That’s not true. Someone recently said, ‘for the Left, there is no bad Islam and for the Right, there are no good Muslims’. Many on the Left think that Islam is just another religion among world religions, if It not better, definitely it is not worse than Christianity. Many on the Right think that all Muslims are bad. So, we should realize that while Islam is a false religion, not every Muslim hates America and Christians.
Nabeel was concerned with some Christians seething with hate towards Muslims. He asked Christians to preach the gospel with love. Muslims have precious souls. They need the saving knowledge of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Reach them with love, not hate.
Last night I watched his last message before his death. In that message he urged all of us to learn to love. Don’t preach hatred of Muslims and other unbelievers. The same day Nabeel died, there was a terrorist attack in London. A terrorist carried an IED in a subway train in London. Many people got seriously injured in this attack. These days hardly a week goes by without a Muslim terrorist blowing up something or killing people somewhere in the West. Our governments are clueless on how to combat terrorism. Millions of Muslims are now moving into the West, buying the old churches and buildings, converting them into mosques, and preaching Islam 24/7. In the prisons, they are converting many people to Islam. Many Muslim young men and women are getting radicalized. Some joining terrorist organizations and actively planning violent jihad. How can we stop Islamic terrorism? Nabeel Qureshi said many times our best tool is the gospel of Lord Jesus Christ. Without Christian gospel, the good days of the Western Civilization will soon be over.
Terrorism is not our only problem. Listen to the breaking news: Racial tensions, opioid epidemic, rising suicides, violent streets and intolerant college campuses. The first step in salvaging our society is to preach the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our secular culture is not going to love us. Look at Hollywood. Recent movie mother! mocks and ridicules Christian worldview. It encourages the worship of nature rather than the worship of Creator God. The cult of mother nature is on ascendance. The Handmaid’s Tale won an Emmy award last night. This dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood is about Christian fanatics overthrowing the United States government and imposing totalitarianism on people. The godless media in our time is propagating this big lie: Christians will overthrow government and take away your freedom. It’s a dystopia, there is no hope. Nabeel reminded us that our hope is not in this world, our hope is in the glory and promises of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Live with passion: Nabeel had so much passion for Christ. His zeal for Christ put us to shame. Last year, throughout the year, he was on the road visiting churches, college campuses, universities, street corners preaching the gospel of our Lord. His enthusiasm, his wholehearted dedication to the gospel should inspire every Christian. Last year he was diagnosed with stomach cancer, stage 4. His prognosis was grim. He was started on chemotherapy and radiation. But he did not stop preaching the gospel here in America or abroad. He went to Malaysia with Ravi Zacharias and preached in conferences. Even with frail health, he wanted to reach the lost with the gospel.
- Be faithful to the Word of God: Nabeel derived his messages from the Bible. He did not suppress the truths of the Bible, nor did he add his own opinions to the Word of God. We have many Christian leaders in our time who don’t even believe in certain teachings of the Bible. They think Bible is outdated. They think we should rather teach positive thinking and psychology to the people. They think it is better to do some social service instead of preaching the Bible. But Nabeel said our first and foremost task is to preach the Word of God. He believed in 2 Timothy 4:2 ‘Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine’. Nabeel upheld the doctrines of the Bible. He did not forsake them for the sake of unity and acceptance.
5.Pray fervently: Throughout his ministry, Nabeel believed in prayer. He prayed incessantly. He did not believe in his own skills and talents. He relied on the power of prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit. That is something everyone of us should learn. There are no ‘points of no return’ for the Christians. We can always pray and expect great things from our Lord.
6.Praise God in all circumstances: From the day he was diagnosed with stomach cancer to the day he died, Nabeel Qureshi never uttered a single word disrespectful of God, never cursed God, never spoke with ingratitude. In good times, it is easy to praise God. But only people with real faith can praise God in bad times.
Nabeel expected a miracle from God. God did not take away his cancer. We don’t know the reasons. Only God knows what He is doing. Let us not be presumptuous. If you see on Youtube, many people are making heartless comments like, ‘Nabeel got cancer because he left Islam’, ‘Nabeel did not get healing from cancer because he did not have enough faith’.
God could have healed Nabeel and gave him many more years of life. We don’t know why He did not. He had his own reasons. Let me illustrate this point. Let us say you are raising money for helping the poor. You wanted to raise some funds. You need 10,000 dollars. You started a charity and went to Bill Gates for donation: ‘Mr.Gates, I want to help the poor. You are a billionaire. Please help me 10,000 dollars’. Bill Gates listened to you but declined your request. He did not want to donate to your charity’. When you left Bill Gates’ office, what are you going to say about him? Bill Gates doesn’t care about the poor? Bill Gates doesn’t believe in helping charities? Bill Gates is a penny-pincher? Bill Gates had his own reasons for not making a donation to your charity.
In the same way, God may not answer our prayers in the way we want them to be answered. God has his own reasons for not healing Nabeel from cancer. But I can say God is good always. God is always faithful to his children. My dad and mum are suffering from cancer. My family members have asked me, ‘Why did dad get cancer? Why did mum get cancer’ I don’t know, God has his own reasons. In John chapter 21, we see Peter talking to Jesus about the future of John. Peter asked Jesus, ‘Jesus, what happens to John in the future?’. Jesus replied, ‘Peter, don’t worry about John’s future. You follow me’. We don’t know the future of our loved ones. We pray for them and follow Jesus.
- Fight the Good fight
Finally fight the good fight. Nabeel fought the good fight for Christ, no matter what the price.
As he approached his death, Apostle Paul wrote
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. That’s from 2 Timothy 4:7.
Satan tells many Christians that Christian life is a festival full of entertainment. As a result, when suffering comes, these believers feel God failed them. Christian life is a fight, not a festival. Our brother Nabeel fought a good fight, he finished his course and he kept his faith. Now he is in heaven enjoying the wonderful and indescribable joy in the fellowship with Jesus.
‘Dear Lord Jesus, you loved us, paid the penalty for our sins and rose again from the grave to give us the hope of eternal life. We thank you for choosing Nabeel before the foundation of this world to be your child and your messenger. We prayed for his healing, but we thank you today for what you chose for our brother Nabeel Qureshi. We thank you for calling him home to be with you. Help us remember his testimony and follow you the rest of our lives. With painful hearts, we pray for his wife and daughter. We pray that you comfort them and give them support. In your precious and mighty name we pray. Amen’