The diverse online community of of Muslims and Christians, especially those involved in apologetics on the World Wide Web received the news of the death of Nabeel Qureshi at the age of 34 years old from a “rare and deadly form of stomach cancer” on 16th September 2017 with mixed reactions. It is after all well-known to the Muslims that, having branded himself as an “ex-Muslim” with a strong appeal to family emotionalism, Nabeel had gone on to become the author of three polemical books dissing Islam and its tenets, developed an online money-making polemical video course aimed at an evangelical target audience, and allied himself with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) to go on various roadshows and seminars with the sole intention of villifying Islam openly. This article aims to provide context to Nabeel Qureshi’s polemical life, his forays into Christian missionary attacks against Islam and his hidden motives in doing so.
Was Nabeel Qureshi Raised As A “Muslim”?
It should be mentioned right from the onset that Nabeel was a Qadiani. He converted to Christianity under the influence of David Wood from the Ahmadiyya, a movement that has never been recognised by mainstream Islam as “Muslims”. The Ahmadiyya believe that their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was a prophet of God and the promised Messiah in the likeness of Jesus, two fundamental claims that run contrary to mainstream orthodox Islam which clearly says that there can be no Prophet of God after the passing of Muhammad(P) (Qur’an, 33:40) and that the Messiah was no other than Christ Jesus(P), the son of Mary.
Yet the Christian media, in the wake of Nabeel’s death, conveniently gloss over this small, inconvenient fact and consistently potrayed Nabeel Qureshi in their rabid, polemical frenzy as an “ex-Muslim” or as a “former Muslim”. It is interesting to note that some Christian apologists did question Nabeel Qureshi’s “Islamic upbringing”. One of them was Seth Dunn, in which he says while commenting on Nabeel’s contradictory story on having been converted through a dream:
“Still, readers should recall that it was originally a Muslim apologist who exposed inconsistencies in Ergun Caner’s Islamic background story. While the inconsistencies in the dream stories cited above are slight, they are relevant given the vast evangelical fascination with stories of Muslim dreams and visions of Jesus. Furthermore, Qureshi’s very Islamic credentials are in question. Qureshi is a former Ahmadi. According to Snow, the Ahmadi sect is not considered Muslim by Muslims in the same way Mormons are not considered Christians.”
In other words, Nabeel Qureshi’s so-called “Muslim upbringing” was a convenient weapon that the Christian missionaries utilised to the fullest.
How Influential Was Nabeel Qureshi, Really?
At the onset of his reimaging as a Christian apologist in 2014, Nabeel wrote the following tweet:
As any Muslim who sincerely understands and believes in the message of Islam would know, that statement by Nabeel is totally untrue and without any real basis whatsoever. As it is, Islam does not solely hinge on the life of the Prophet Muhammad(P) to uphold the divine truth of the Qur’an as the direct Revelation from God Almighty. Hence, when the news of Nabeel’s death became known, the Muslim initial reaction were — on the whole — muted and dignified on the social media and blogs. It was only the Christian news media and Christian blogs that went with inflammmatory headlines in order to drum up public sentiment about Nabeel’s death and sensationalise it for their target audience.
This brings us to the next question: how far did Nabeel’s successes really go? We find it odd that at the time of writing this article, no Christian had openly questioned the so-called “achievements” of Nabeel Qureshi in his attempts to bring Muslims to the worship of Christ; moreso its effectiveness. Where are those so-called “hundreds of Muslims” that were inspired by Nabeel’s message and converted? What are their names and which part of Nabeel’s message reached them to the point that they feel compelled to convert to Christianity? There has been no such data produced and we believe that there will be no such data anytime soon, simply because it does not exist. Nabeel Qureshi’s tired polemics on the issue of Allah (God), the personality of the Prophet Muhammad(P), the concept of jihad and anything else apart from this will not change the minds of Muslims to consider Christianity as a valid option.
Generally speaking, however, there was no polemical inquiry from Nabeel Qureshi on Islam that has not already been analysed, debated, answered and refuted already by the many Muslim apologists and the online Islamic da’wah movement in general. Outside of the World Wide Web, Nabeel Qureshi was (and still is) an unknown entity to the Muslim world and never had any real influential presence. Elijah Reynolds in a online piece co-written with a Christian graduate student, criticized Nabeel Qureshi by stating:
“For Qureshi, the Qur’an is a bloody and violent text—a fact which learned interpreters of Islam today ignore, he implies, but somehow the unlearned Jihadists get right. Qureshi claims that as a young man, he was shielded from reading Qur’an and hadith on his own, and instead was taught a message of Islamic peace and love. This reading was subsequently shattered by his own independent investigation of the texts, bypassing centuries of the tradition and scholarly interpretations.
Qureshi claims to speak more authoritatively on Islam than the imams whose interpretation he explicitly ignores. He remembers as a child, “if I wanted to know about the traditions of Muhammad, I had to ask imams or elders in my tradition of Islam.” It was not until he bypassed “centuries of tradition and their imams’ interpretations” that he discovered real Islam—apparently on the internet, where young potential ISIS recruits easily find real Islam too.
Qureshi’s rejection of the learned scholars of his community in favor of the internet….is comparable to an atheist learning everything she knows about Christianity from Richard Dawkins.” 
The vast and copious material that he had produced from the time of his conversion to Christianity until a week before his death are mostly rehashments of Orientalists and Christian polemicists in the likes of Alphonse Mingana, Samuel Zwemer, Robert Spencer, David Wood and many others. There was nothing new or anything worth mentioning that he had introduced in his debates with the Muslims, apart from him consistenty attempting to create a “dichtomy” between “Allah and Jesus” (as made apparent in his book titles and online speeches). Even that “honour” too has been taken away by the Christian missionaries Robert Morey and Sam Shamoun — the former being known for his “Allah is a moon-god” theory and the latter for his virulent, Islamophobic strawman against the conception of God in Islam. The image that was carefully planned and crafted of him having “questioned his Muslim faith” and “being called off the minaret” however has made it a prominent feature among a gullible Western audience primed with Islamophobia and always willing to parade someone from “the enemy” as one of their own.
In spite of the meager achievements of Nabeel Qureshi in the Muslim world, this had not stopped the Western Christian public — deluded by the mythical influence of their fallen hero — to donate money for his cause, even in death. Nabeel’s GoFundMe page reached up to USD700,000.00 after the news of his death was known to the public sphere, and the monthly amount he receives from Patreon had not wavered either. It seems obvious to us that those managing the crowdfunding pages of their fallen comrade are making a huge profit out of this sensationalism.
Why Did God Not Heal Nabeel Qureshi?
This was the question posed by the Christian polemicsts, guised in the form of an op-ed by Frank Turek. This must have been the question that had been playing in their minds when Nabeel Qureshi first announced that he had Stage IV cancer on August 31, 2016. We find the statement made by Frank Turek in reference to Muslims extremely polemical and was totally below the belt, as he wrote that:
Is it because the Muslim God is the true God, and He punished Nabeel for leaving Him? No, there’s excellent evidence for the Christian view of God (see Nabeel’s book No God but One). Moreover, Muslims who suggest this should be asked, “Why did your God wait until Nabeel had written three best-selling books, made hundreds of hours of videos, and helped bring hundreds of Muslims to Christ? Is his timing off?” Not only that, Nabeel’s work will continue to bring people to Christ, probably in an accelerated manner after his passing.
We would like to address several things for this missionary to digest. First of all, Mr. Turek, there has never been a “Muslim God” or a “Christian God” or any other god that the Muslims worship which is distinct from the God of Abraham, Moses and Jesus, peace be upon them all. It is very insulting to even suggest that the God of Islam is distinct from the God of Christianity, because in reality, they are not distinct — Muslims and Christians do worship the same God.
Regarding the second part of Turek’s rhetorical question, one may not have to look far to see why this may be the case. It has been reported by several Christian news portals that Nabeel himself “prayed for God to kill him after converting to Christianity” .
This may or may not have been true as we would like to keep an open mind on this, but we leave the interested reader to follow the trail and check out the evidence for themselves as to whether God may have indeed “killed” Nabeel Qureshi because He did answer what Nabeel had prayed for…and it has nothing to do with the Muslims.
Nabeel Qureshi was a Qadiani, or otherwise known as the Ahmadiyya, a deviant sect that only began in the 1800s and have been consistently denounced by mainstream Islam as heterodox for their belief that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a Prophet and the promised Messiah. He was never a Muslim to begin with. This is akin to stating that a former Mormon who reverted to Islam was a “Christian”, even though Mormonism is rejected by mainstream Christianity because Mormons believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet. The parallels between Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and Joseph Smith are so similar to one another that we wonder how is it possible for Western Christians to fall for this con.
It should be noted that Nabeel never once addressed the issue of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad when talking about his past — whether in his books or in his speeches — because he knew that to do so will lend little credence to his claims of being a “former Muslim” and totally remove any vestige of his credibility. He unabashedly capitalised on that label to the point of making a huge fortune from his various evangelical ventures, with the backing of the Christian establishment. In turn, the Christian missionaries themselves used Nabeel Qureshi as a hammer against the Muslims, and their “ideological weapon” to promote an agenda of derailing Islam, which still remains the fastest-growing religion in the world. While we reserve our judgement on the final fate of Nabeel Qureshi who had clearly erred in the sight of Islam (as we do believe matters of his affairs have now come between him and God Almighty), we do find that the Christian missionary attempts at the hero-worship of Nabeel Qureshi in death and (mis)using it — to the point of making thinly-veiled attacks on Islam and the Muslims — shameful and disgusting, to say the least.
In the end, Muslims are reminded of the words of God Almighty in the Final Testament, the Qur’an:
And they say, “None will enter Paradise except one who is a Jew or a Christian.” That is [merely] their wishful thinking, Say, “Produce your proof, if you should be truthful.” (Qur’an 2:111)
And verily, only God knows best!
The author is a co-founder and editor of the website Bismika Allahuma: Muslim Responses To Anti-Islam Polemics.
- CBN News, “Nabeel Qureshi’s Plea: ‘Please Pray For Me! Please Pray That God Will Heal My Whole Body’”, 22 August 2017
- An example of this can be seen in Faith It, “The Most Painful Day of His Life? When His Parents Found Out He Gave Up Islam for Jesus…But It Was Worth It”, March 12, 2014
- WND, “Ex-Muslim, author, evangelist Nabeel Qureshi dead at 34”, 20 September 2017
- See for example PJ Media, “Nabeel Qureshi Shows Christians How to Die Well, With a Message of Love and Trust in Jesus Christ”, 16 September 2017
- Seth Dunn, “Resetting the Evangelical Mindset on Nabeel Qureshi” in Pulpit & Pen, 4 July 2016
- Jonathan Homrighausen and Elijah Reynolds, “Looking For Islam In All The Wrong Places: A Response to Nabeel Qureshi” in Religion Dispatches, USC (20 April 2016)
- Reported in The Christian Post, “Former Muslim Nabeel Qureshi Prayed for God to Kill Him After Converting to Christianity”, July 19 2016 and in Christian Today, “Apologist and former Muslim Nabeel Querishi reveals he asked God to kill him after his conversion”, 23 July 2016