I have followed Dr. Nabeel Qureshi’s writings and ministry for quite sometime. Nabeel is a speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministry and has written 3 books: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity (Zondervan, February 2014), Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward (Zondervan, March 2016, See the Acts 2:11 review of this book here), and soon to be released: No God But One—Allah or Jesus (Zondervan, August 2016). He holds an MD from Eastern Virginia Medical School, an MA in Christian apologetics from Biola University, an MA in religion from Duke University and is now finishing his Doctorate in New Testament Studies from Oxford.
Author and Christianity Today Editor Ed Stetzer poses a haunting question:
Are you as eager to build bridges with your Muslim neighbor as you are to build walls to protect yourself from them? You cannot hate a people and reach a people at the same time.
As a convert to Christianity, Nabeel offers unique insights in how Christians can better interact with Muslims. The Islamic holy month of Ramadan has just begun, and his words on relationships and fasting during Ramadan are an important call to Christians in these difficult days:
“We called it “The Month of Blessing,” and I still remember the butterflies in my stomach as the days approached. Yes, we fasted during the month of Ramadan, but it was not the fasting itself that I looked forward to. It was waking up early in the morning, before dawn, to pray and eat with my family; it was spending the day joyfully and charitably with my colleagues; it was gathering as a community after sunset to reconnect with one another and share life with each other; it was the pursuit of God’s pleasure and restored relationships with loved ones.
For Muslims, Ramadan is the month of relationships.
Now that I’m a Christian, the Gospel never ceases to overwhelm me. That God would take on human flesh out of love for mankind is a message worth living and dying for. It is a truth we should share without compromise. The heart of the Gospel is relationship: so that we could be in restored relationship with God, He entered into our world at the cost of His humiliation. (Philippians 2:6-8) In the process, we were able to know the heart of the Father through the life of the Son. (Jn 14:9)
For Christians, the Gospel is a message of relationships. His words leave little room for confusion: “As I have loved you, so love one another.” (Jn 13:34)
Now that I see the world through the lens of the Gospel, what Ramadan means to me is an opportunity to love Muslims as Jesus loved us. Just as He was willing to enter into our context so that God might be glorified, so also we can commune with Muslims during Ramadan so that Jesus might be glorified. With open hearts and open doors, what better opportunity is there to build bridges? It is only once we love and trust each other that the Gospel can be most compellingly shared.
Muslims are often willing to open their fasts with non-Muslim guests and friends, and I love joining them. Usually, I decide to fast with them and let them know that we will be opening our fasts together. There’s no harm in that since they know I’m a Christian; if they ask why a Christian would fast, I let them know that Jesus expects us to fast, and cheerfully! (Mt 6:16-18)
Some might be hesitant, worrying that Muslims are too different; but was not Jesus different from the “sinners” and tax collectors he ate with? (Mk 2:15-16) Some might worry that their reputation might be sullied, but did they not also malign Jesus? (Lk 7:39)
There is one serious concern: that people might think we wish to follow Islam. But as long as we are clear that we believe the Gospel and confidently follow Jesus as our Lord, then let us truly follow Him. Let us love our Muslim neighbors as ourselves while letting them see us love God with everything we are. May we embody the Gospel during Ramadan, living God’s message of relationships during the month of relationships, for the Glory of Jesus.”