Don’t you just love that feeling where a book really grabs you and you can’t put it down? That’s how this was for me. The cover gives the general story away, but the journey is what makes it worth reading.
So while I cover some of the top insights that struck me, you’ll want to pick it up for yourself to see this perspective that’s radically different from mine (and most of my readers), but in some ways familiar to anyone who’s grappled with questions of faith.
1. Beauty of Muslim tradition, community, and devotion
The beginning of the book describes the family and faith of Nabeel. And you get a picture of very loving and devoted parents. As Pakistanis growing up in the West, the seemed to do an excellent job of helping their children learn about the culture they came from.
Personally, I enjoyed the detailed background on the Islamic faith and this portrayal of the religion that wasn’t violent, radicalized, or oppressive. The community their family was immersed seems like a wonderful place for any child to grow up in.
He actually addresses the question of whether or not Islam is a religion of peace or violence. His opinion is it depends where one grows up. Since Islam is largely authority-centric, whoever is doing the teaching can emphasize certain portions of their teachings, while omitting others. Because both peaceful and violent texts exist, a teacher can highlight whichever part he chooses.
Though he does say that any teacher advocating a peaceful version will have to overlook the vast historical evidence to the contrary.
Thankfully, Nabeel grew out of community that encouraged learning, excellence, kindness, and peaceful living.
2. Importance of Relationships
The beginning of this whole journey of faith began with a college classmate who became his best friend. His friend was a Christian who really wanted to share his faith with him, but who was also a genuine friend apart from the faith question. They had common interests, shared activities, and real conversations.
In fact, any student who wishes to share their faith with their classmates should read this for the way his friend engaged him. It wasn’t a drive-by preaching. It was real shared lives. It brought me back to my college friends and years of cutting class, CounterStrike, and conversations about Christ.
3. Reason for Jesus
What brought Nabeel to question his own teachings and to eventually embrace Christianity wasn’t just emotions or social pressure. It was the realization of the truth about Jesus, His death and resurrection, the trustworthiness of the Bible, and consistency of the Christian message. In short, Christianity doesn’t ask one to leave their intellect at the door. Instead, we are all invited to consider the facts for ourselves and come to our own conclusion.
Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord (Isaiah 1:18)
Anyone who is honestly, sincerely, searching for the truth will find it because God makes it available to us. The author describes moments where his findings tempted him to stop and abandon the search for truth, but by God’s grace, he continued anyway.
This book is a great introduction into not just what to say in apologetics, but how to say it.
4. Challenge of Leaving Islam
I appreciated the book for giving a much deeper context for the challenge of any Muslim to believe in Jesus. The implications on their future, their family, and their community are enormous. It made me thank God for the work He’s done in many Muslim-background friends because only He can really help them make that choice.
5. Only Jesus Saves
Finally, when all the reasons were given and arguments were made, Nabeel still required more. And the way he was ultimately convinced is one of the highlights of an already great read. It encourages me as someone who shares his faith with others, that at the end of the day, God is the one saving them. He loves people and He wants them to know Him. What a privilege to partner with Him in this work.
Verdict: Read it!