Answering Jihad

One of the most volatile and misrepresented subjects when discussing Islam is that of jihad. Yet it’s a topic that gets more than its fair share of air time. Conversations on this Islamic religious teaching tend to drift into the arena of politics, which can often be both divisive and unproductive. For these and other reasons, I tend to avoid the subject, except occasionally for a more theological and historical piece such as this previous article that discussed the crusades. Thankfully, people more skilled than I have tackled the hard questions related to jihad in a concise and coherent manner.

Answering Jihad is the latest book released by Nabeel Qureshi. Nabeel Qureshi has authored several books now, including Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, and No God but One: Allah or Jesus. He is currently on staff with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. As a former Muslim, he has a unique understanding and capacity to write on this subject with both authority and compassion.

Nabeel Qureshi shared some of the same aversions to writing about jihad as I did. In the first paragraph of his introduction, he explains that “I informed [my editor] explicitly that I never wanted to write a book on jihad because the topic is so charged that even broaching the subject makes one’s intentions appear suspect.”[i] Of course, the topic continued to come up over and over again after his talks, and so finally he relented and tackled it head on. Qureshi does not shy away from any of the tough questions, such as “Is Islam a religion of peace,” “What is Radical Islam,” and “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?” Most importantly, he approaches the questions from a balanced yet candid perspective. He puts forth this wild and little understood notion that someone can criticize Islamic teachings while simultaneously loving our Muslim neighbors.

He approaches the subject of whether or not Islam is a religion of peace in the most straightforward and unbiased perspective that I have seen. He comes at it from a number of different angles. One example comes in the chapter where he deals with the common assertion that Islam just needs to undergo a reformation. This precipitated what I thought was the best line of the book.

“I have heard many people, frustrated by the increasing frequency and scale of Islamic terrorism, suggest that Islam needs a reformation. What they may not realize is that radical Islam is the reformation.”[ii]

That indeed is the powerful and misunderstood irony of the current movements within Islam.

Unraveling Islam focuses on the differences between the god of the Qur’an and the God of the Bible. So I would be remiss if I didn’t provide Qureshi’s take on the question. He adeptly explains why people often mistakenly assume Allah and YHWH are the same being. Then he plainly spells out the errors in this line of thinking. Many articles on this blog have verbalized that the similarities between the two are superficial at best, while in-depth analysis shows how intrinsically opposite they are. Qureshi articulates this assertion in very much the same way,

“The similarities between the God of Islam and the God of Christianity are superficial and at times merely semantic. Though Islam claims that the Muslim God has done some of the same things as the Christian God and sent some of the same people, these are minor overlaps and far less essential to the reality of who God is than fundamental characteristics of his nature and persons. Islam and Christianity overlap in points on the former, but they differ fundamentally on the latter.” [iii]

That sums it up perfectly. Nevertheless, this book is not a scholarly dissertation of the theological differences between Christianity and Islam. Rather, it is a book that suggests a better way forward; a way that we as Christians can embrace the people who are currently caught and trapped within this false religion. Muslims are coming to the United States in great numbers. Rather than being afraid, the church can instead view this as an amazing opportunity. Many of those Muslims who are here now are college students who are training here in order to return to Muslim countries to be movers and shakers, people of great influence in spiritually empty places. Maintaining intellectual integrity about who Allah is not while simultaneously reaching out to Muslims amongst us showing who Jesus is for the glory of God’s kingdom is the challenge of our day. Qureshi skillfully encapsulates the tough issues that correspond to this unique and present opportunity.

[i] Qureshi, Nabeel. Answering Jihad. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016, p 9.
[ii] ibid, p. 75
[iii] ibid, p. 114

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3 Responses to Answering Jihad

  1. Jeanne T. says:

    Robert,

    Thanks for bringing attention to Nabeel’s new book. I will have to get it. I’ve read his first book, “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus”. His is an amazing story, and what impressed me was his honest search for the truth. He was willing to take up his friend David Wood’s challenges to Islam to examine Islam and Christianity for himself. It was also a glimpse into the mind of Muslims and how they think.

    The problem I see is how to reach out to Muslims in the first place, especially as a woman. I honestly do not know any, as they seem to keep to themselves in our area. I would not feel comfortable going into a mosque, and there is one five minutes from our house, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS Center). The Imam is from from Sudan, and visits the White House regularly. He was dubbed by the Huffington Post as “America’s Imam”.

    I did have one encounter with a Muslim lady at a physical therapy session a couple of years ago, as I was finishing up and she was waiting to begin her session, so it really wasn’t conducive to a meaningful conversation. However, in the course of our brief encounters, she seemed genuinely interested in being part of the conversation with the other women and therapists (also women). I sensed a loneliness in her. She was very quiet with a gentle demeanor. The second time she was there, she noticed my nail polish, of all things, saying she liked the color, but then added she could not wear it. She said, twice, “You understand”. She then said, rather defiantly, “But someday I will wear it when my husband isn’t looking!” (So much for the “gentle” demeanor!) I could have cried right there. I don’t know her name, and I have not seen her since then, but I have prayed for her many, many times.

  2. towfeeqah says:

    I think dear Robert after looking at your site that you are in the middle of Jihad….the quest of self to find enlightenment and to get close to the creator is the hardest and most noble Jihad a human can do. go well

    • Yes, towfeeqah, it is incumbent upon us all to find truth. I think you and I would both agree that Satan can be very clever in how he disguises error in ways to fool those are not paying attention.

      I also agree that getting close to God is the noblest effort one can partake in. However, I do not the see the Qur’an teaching that as the ultimate jihad. In Surah 48, verse 17, the Qur’an makes it clear that those are physically injured are excluded from jihad. This clearly is referring to physical fighting against the unbelievers. Do you believe in the Qur’an? If so, what do you do with this verse? How do you structure your life given your obligation to follow its teachings?

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