No God but One: Allah or Jesus? A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam and Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi
In NO GOD BUT ONE ALLAH OR JESUS, Dr. Nabeel Qureshi explains his journey from Islam to Christianity, and details his reasons for doing so. The author paid dearly for his conversion of 2005. He quickly became an outsider: "Soon after, my family was shattered, and the next year of my life was by far the most harrowing I have ever endured. I was now an outsider, both to my family and to all my friends in the Islamic community."
Nabeel Qureshi is a discerning, yet a humble man. And I would also add "first rate intellect." Here's why: In describing his analysis of the two faiths, he admitted it is nearly impossible to be objective: "It is virtually impossible to study these matters objectively. Not only do we all have a vested interest in defending the faiths we and our social circles have believed for years, but our beliefs color the way we receive information. The same data will be interpreted differently by people from disparate worldviews...our presuppositions affect the way we interpret the evidence, and we often see what we want to see."
Wow! After reading the above lines, I realized I had terribly underestimated the intellect of the author.
The author was a dedicated believer in Islam, but he discovered that his reasons for rejecting Christianity were not nearly as solid as he had been told: "Examining the claims of Islam and Christianity over four years, I went from utter conviction in Islam to reluctantly embracing the gospel." Nabeel took special interest in the historical claims of each religion, and decided to thoroughly examine the claims of each religion. "What I discovered time and time again was that Christian doctrines held firm whenever they could be tested historically."
The format of the book is pretty clear. He presents a major issue, then presents both sides of each doctrine, followed by a detailed critique. Of course, the author is good at this type of critique, since he has lots of experience from the OTHER side not too long ago. He explains, "I had to follow the evidence and the truth, no matter the cost. I left my religion of twenty -two years and became a follower of Jesus in 2005."
Before reading NO GOD BUT ONE, I assumed there were substantive differences between the two religions--but still, some of the differences surprised me. Most importantly, I had no idea that Islam teaches that Jesus did NOT die on the cross. Of course, this sets a major divide between the two religions: "At no point is the schism between Christian and Islamic theologies broader than on the person of Jesus. For Muslims, the doctrine of a divine Christ is anathema, and the Quran teaches that he who subscribes to it will make his home in the flames of hell."
The author emphasizes that "the central claims of Christianity are explicitly rejected by Islam." It's not just a little difference--it's a "fundamental incompatibility between Islam and Christianity...the central claims of Christianity are explicitly rejected by Islam."
As another example, the crucifixion is central to Christianity, but this very core of the Christian faith is explicitly rejected by Islam: "The Quran teaches the exact opposite: Jesus was not killed, nor was he crucified...He either died by crucifixion or he did not. Either Islam or Christianity has to be wrong."
Okay, I get it. These are HUGE differences, which cannot just be papered over.
Besides the doctrinal difference, the author clarifies certain things that Muslims hold dear. I thought this was an important section. I certainly want to avoid needlessly insulting people of other faiths because of my ignorance. In particular, Islam teaches that the Quran is like God incarnate. That's why desecrating the Quran is a horrific affront: "The Quran is, to Muslims, the eternal Word of Allah himself. It is the closest thing to God incarnate. To Christians, the eternal Word of Yahweh is Jesus. The Quran holds in Islam the place that Jesus holds in the Christian faith. So to comprehend the insult of burning a Quran, a Christian would have to imagine someone burning Jesus."
I likewise did not know that the term, "prophet" has a different meaning in Islam: "The concept of prophet in Islam does not mean the same thing that it does in the Bible. Prophets in Islam have a higher status than all other people, being men chosen by God to lead mankind. The Quran uses the term to mean a divinely appointed leader, not necessarily one who prophesies."
In summary, I found NO GOD BUT ONE ALLAH OR JESUS to be a well-researched, helpful explanation of the most significant differences between Islam and Christianity. The author discusses these issues in a clam, yet scholarly fashion. I appreciate his attention to detail and his scholarly, yet friendly, approach.
Advanced Review Copy courtesy of NetGalley. Photos courtesy of Gabriel Garcia Marengo