In his recent book No God But One Nabeel Qureshi takes on the question of whether or not Allah and Jesus and Islam and Christianity are compatible. This recently released book (Aug. 31) has already hit the NY Times Bestseller List at #8 and is a follow up to the book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.
Though at first I was’t sure I would enjoy the book I have come to both enjoy and appreciate it for several reasons.
First, it educated me in the thinking process behind certain ideas in Islam. This is huge. Part of the reason that we fail to have beneficial dialogue with people of other beliefs is because we don’t understand where they are coming from (and vice versa). In No God But One we find answers and the underlying belief structure (worldview) to the thinking and arguments of Islam.
Some of the ones I found enlightening were; [page numbers in brackets]
- The elevated status of a prophet to leader (not just messenger) [30, 92-95].
- The main problem of humanity is ignorance, which is solved by learning what to believe and how to live. Adhering to these will earn the pleasure of Allah . In Christianity the main problem of humanity is disobedience/rebellion. This is tantamount to rejecting God (the source of life) thus resulting in a broken relationship and death. The solution is God’s grace/love/mercy mediated through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and a restored relationship .
- The more accurate comparison to the Quran is Jesus, not the Bible. In Islam the Quran is eternal. In Christianity the Bible was written over time and did not always exist. Yes, it is eternal in the sense that God’s Word doesn’t change but that is not what is meant. The point here is that Islam believes the Quran always existed. In Christianity the Bible did not always exist. For example there was not New Testament until after Jesus’ death/resurrection. This is a game changer. The proper comparison is thus Jesus, whom Christian’s believe is eternal, not the Bible [56, 109-135].
- The discussion on the trinity is potentially worth the price of the book. Qureshi distinguishes between what you are (human) and who you are (person/YOU). Unlike a human being who has only one person God (the what) has three persons (the who). Both Christians and Muslims agree God is bigger than us so the discussion should focus on the revelation of WHO God is, not our idea of who he is or who we think he should be [57-64].
- The relational aspect of God (in Christianity ) is inherent in God being triune. In contrast, in Islam God is singular and thus has no intrinsically relational aspect. This relational characteristic of God is a big difference between the two faith, leading to the very prevalent concept of God’s love/mercy/grace in Christianity [65-73].
- The status of Muhammad as prophet in Islam is parallel to Jesus’ status as God in Christianity. If you remove either one, the foundations of the faith crumble [85, 92-95].
- The crusades, an inflammatory subject, is given fair hearing from both perspectives with correction to several assumptions regarding the origin, perpetrators, and rationale behind them. Additionally, Qureshi challenges the reader to separate the message/messenger from his followers actions and to evaluate the founders and their message separately from those who followed them.
In this regard as well, Qureshi looks at Luke 22:35-38 where Jesus tells his followers to bring along two swords on their journey. Qureshi argues that these “swords” are machete like tools, not weapons of war. Not that they can’t or are never used for fighting but that their primary purpose is a tool not a weapon. He concludes that is why two is sufficient – everyone doesn’t need their own machete, hatchet, etc. You just need a couple for the travelling group. This discussion also intersperses some thoughts on just-war theory, pacifism and the like [136-158, 159-165ff].
- The historical reliability of the the two faiths is testable! Christianity claims Jesus died by crucifixion and rose from the dead. Islam denies this. As Qureshi argues, test the claims. There is historical evidence, outside the Bible, that indicates that Jesus died on a cross in the first century AD [170-245].
- The claims of Jesus’ deity supported [247-283].
- The claims of Muhammad’s status as a prophet dismantled [284-344].
I recommend this book as a great tool for a better understanding of Islam and Christianity.
Disclaimer: This book was received free from Zondervan in exchange for a fair review.