I was raised in a devout Christian home and have had little direct exposure to other religions and faiths. Realizing that we are called to reach all people, I wanted to increase my knowledge of the Islamic faith and practices so I could better understand the similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity. “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus” was recommended to me by a trusted friend who is invested in witnessing to Muslims here in the United States. I listened to this book via Audible, and it is dictated by the author himself.
I’ll start with the disclaimer that this is the first book on Islam that I have read. It is also the first apologetics type of book I have read in many years and one of few autobiographies I have read. Being that it is a little out of my normal genre, I will say that this is not a very good comparative review. Rather, I am presenting what I saw directly, allowing the book and author to stand on their own.
Nabeel is a very systematic thinker. His path to faith came through much study and logic. Having said that, he does an excellent job of portraying the emotional connection he had with Islam and its culture, as well as the peace and joy he felt when he finally came to Christ. Given that this is essentially one man’s story, it is relatable but also somewhat microscopic. There are several sects within Islam and while they are addressed briefly he focuses primarily on his own, which also happens to be one of the smaller ones. This left one of my main goals unmet, which was a better understanding of the truth and prevalence of “radical” Islam. It is apparent that Nabeel’s direct experience had no hint of radicalism. However, as he explored the actual texts and origins of his faith, and explained how they are interpreted by Islamic scholars, you can see why some sects are “radical”. It truly is written in to the actual Koran and Hadith and not just a piece that was added on by a few extremists. Rather, the peaceful Muslims seem to ignore and justify these texts.
What a personal story does a good job of is showing the strong intersection of faith and culture within Islam. Nabeel’s love for his family is evident throughout the entire book. I found myself understanding how some of the aspects of Islamic culture are very appealing for those who value family. Stories of family dinners, support for one-another, etc. are evident. However, it is also obvious that this love is highly conditional, as several examples (including his own) of how failure to comply with the Islamic belief system yields shame and rejection.
Since I listened to this book via Audible, I appreciated that Nabeel dictated it himself. I felt he could better infer the emotion and struggle he felt as he wrote the words. His writing style is very clear and plain. I would think that reading it in text would be easy to follow, but it is hardly poetic.
In summary, I don’t regret reading this book as my first introduction to Islam. It lays a strong foundation for how the faith is built, the culture of Islam, and key differences between the Koran and the Bible or Jesus and Mohammad. I will continue to read other resources on some of the larger (Shiite and Sunni) sects and try to understand how prevalent and “extreme” radical Muslims are.