No God But One: Allah or Jesus? Book Summary

Title: No God But One: Allah or Jesus?
Author: Nabeel Qureshi

TLDR: A former Muslim critically examines the evidence for Islam and Christianity, concluding that the historical data overwhelmingly supports the Christian claims about Jesus’ death, resurrection, and deity while challenging the traditional Islamic narrative of Muhammad and the Quran.

Prologue: Fatima’s Dilemma

This prologue sets the stage for the book’s exploration of the differences and truth claims of Islam and Christianity through the personal story of Sara Fatima al-Mutairi. Fatima, a young Saudi woman raised in a devout Muslim family, experiences a spiritual crisis that leads her to question and eventually abandon Islam. Her journey through atheism ultimately leads her to embrace Christianity, a decision she keeps secret due to the threat of death for apostasy in Saudi Arabia. The prologue culminates in a dramatic confrontation with her fanatically religious brother, who discovers her conversion. Fatima faces a life-or-death decision: recant her faith in Jesus or face the consequences of her brother’s rage.

This poignant story highlights the profound personal stakes involved in choosing between Islam and Christianity for many individuals across the globe. It establishes the book’s core questions:

  • What are the fundamental differences between Islam and Christianity?
  • Can we confidently determine the truth of either religion?
  • Is embracing this truth worth the potential cost, even death?

Qureshi, himself a former Muslim who converted to Christianity, acknowledges the deeply personal nature of this exploration, drawing from his own experience and years of research to address these crucial questions.


PART 1: Sharia or the Gospel? Two Different Solutions

Chapter 1: The Way to Life

Qureshi recounts his early encounters with Christianity during his undergraduate years, specifically his friendship and theological debates with David Wood, a fellow student and devout Christian. Despite their contrasting beliefs, they found common ground when engaging with other worldviews like agnosticism and Buddhism, highlighting the similarities between Islam and Christianity on the broader religious spectrum. Both faiths share core tenets such as monotheism, belief in an eternal, all-powerful God, creation of humanity, divine messengers, inspired scriptures, the existence of Satan, a final judgment, and the importance of seeking God.

However, Qureshi emphasizes that the key difference lies in their understanding of the path to salvation. Islam views Sharia, a comprehensive legal code, as “the way” to earn God’s favor and attain paradise. Conversely, Christianity identifies Jesus himself as “the way” to eternal life, emphasizing a personal relationship with God through Christ. This fundamental divergence – a law-based solution in Islam versus a person-centered solution in Christianity – sets the stage for further exploration of the distinct worldviews of these two faiths.

Chapter 2: Comparing Sharia and the Gospel

This chapter delves into the contrasting worldviews and solutions offered by Islam and Christianity, highlighting their distinct diagnoses of humanity’s fundamental problem and the remedies they prescribe.

The Islamic Worldview:

Islam, meaning “submission,” emphasizes humanity’s obligation to submit to Allah’s will. Created for the purpose of worshipping Allah, humans need guidance to overcome ignorance and earn his pleasure. This guidance comes in the form of prophets, divinely appointed leaders sent to all people throughout history, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and finally, Muhammad. Each prophet received divine scriptures like the Torah and Injil (Gospel) to guide their people. However, Islam asserts that humanity failed to faithfully follow these prophets, leading Allah to send Muhammad as the final prophet with the Quran, the perfected and final revelation.

The Islamic Solution: Sharia

Sharia, meaning “the way to water,” is the answer to humanity’s ignorance and encompasses both right belief (aqeeda) and right practice. Aqeeda focuses on the Islamic concept of tawhid, the absolute unity of Allah, denying any notion of Father or Son. It also includes belief in the prophets, divine scriptures, angels, the Day of Judgment, and Allah’s predestining sovereignty. Sharia dictates virtually every aspect of a devout Muslim’s life, from dietary regulations to prayer rituals. The Five Pillars of Islam – the shahada (proclamation of faith), five daily prayers, fasting during Ramadan, giving alms, and pilgrimage to Mecca – are paramount practices.

Sharia, derived from the Quran, exemplified in Muhammad’s life (hadith), and explained by Islamic scholars (imams), forms the path to a life pleasing to Allah. On the Day of Judgment, obedience to Sharia, combined with Allah’s mercy, determines salvation.

The Christian Worldview:

Christianity begins with Yahweh, the one God existing as three persons in perfect love. Out of this love, God created mankind in his image to share a relationship of selflessness and delight. However, humanity chose to disobey God, rejecting the source of life and bringing death upon themselves. Sin, in the Christian worldview, is not merely wrongdoing but rebellion against God, the ultimate source of all suffering and brokenness in the world. This rebellion shattered the image of God in man, leaving humanity broken and inherently prone to sin.

The Christian Solution: The Gospel

The gospel, meaning “good news,” offers hope amidst humanity’s brokenness. God, out of his immense love, made a way for reconciliation. This way is Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, who entered the world as a human while retaining his divine nature. Jesus lived a perfect life, free from sin, and willingly died on the cross, taking the penalty of sin upon himself. His death atones for the sins of all who believe in him and accept his sacrifice.

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead proves his victory over death and his divine authority. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, transforms the hearts of those who repent and follow Jesus, making them more like him and empowering them to live for others. Through the Holy Spirit, God gradually restores the shattered image of God within believers, leading to ultimate restoration in eternity.

Chapter 3: Questioning Grace

Qureshi addresses common questions and objections that Muslims often raise against Christianity, particularly the concept of grace and its implications for human behavior.

The Doctrine of Original Sin:

Islam emphasizes individual accountability for sins, making the Christian doctrine of original sin perplexing to many Muslims. Qureshi explains that while Christians believe that each person is judged for their own sins, Adam’s sin had a catastrophic impact on humanity. Adam, initially created in God’s image, became broken and distorted through his sin. His progeny inherited this broken image, making all humans inherently prone to sin and subject to its consequences.

The Justice of God:

Muslims often question the Christian belief in God’s justice, wondering why God would demand justice for even the smallest sin while also forgiving the greatest sinners. Qureshi clarifies that from a Christian perspective, death is not a punishment arbitrarily imposed by God but a natural consequence of sin, which is separation from God, the source of life. He also explains that God’s perfect love encompasses both justice and mercy. As a loving Father, God allows humanity to face the consequences of their actions while simultaneously offering forgiveness and a path to restoration through Jesus.

What Reason Do Christians Have to Do Good?

The question of motivation for good behavior is crucial. In Islam, the promise of heaven and the threat of hell serve as primary motivators for obedience to Sharia. However, Qureshi argues that Christian obedience is rooted in love for God, inspired by his immeasurable grace and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. When God forgives us, our hearts are filled with gratitude and love, leading to a desire to please him out of love rather than fear of punishment.

Chapter 4: Diagnosis and Deliverance

Qureshi uses an analogy from his medical experience to illustrate the different solutions offered by Islam and Christianity. He compares the misdiagnosis of depression, a real but often misunderstood disease, with the contrasting diagnoses of humanity’s fundamental problem in Islam and Christianity.

Islam’s Diagnosis and Solution:

Islam diagnoses humanity’s problem as ignorance and offers the remedy of Sharia, a law to be followed diligently. However, Qureshi argues that while knowledge and rules are important, they are insufficient to address the deeper brokenness within human hearts, evidenced by pervasive cycles of sin and suffering in the world.

Christianity’s Diagnosis and Solution:

Christianity diagnoses humanity’s problem as brokenness due to sin, a rebellion against God, and offers the remedy of a relationship with God through Jesus. God’s grace forgives sins, offering freedom from guilt and anxiety. This forgiveness, unearned and undeserved, inspires love and gratitude, transforming hearts and empowering believers to break cycles of sin and live for others.

Qureshi concludes that the gospel offers a truly radical solution, a divine intervention that addresses humanity’s brokenness at its core, transforming lives and empowering individuals to reflect God’s love in the world.

PART 2: Tawhid or the Trinity? Two Different Gods

Chapter 5: The Islamic Inquisition

This chapter explores the Islamic concept of tawhid, the absolute unity of Allah, through the lens of the Mihna, a historical period marked by theological persecution within the Islamic world. The Mihna, meaning “trial” or “inquisition,” was instituted by the Abbasid Caliph al-Mamun in the 9th century AD, targeting Muslim thinkers who disagreed with his rationalist interpretation of tawhid.

Al-Mamun, aligning himself with the Mu’tazili school of thought, declared the Quran to be a created book, arguing that belief in the Quran’s eternality compromised Allah’s absolute unity. This view challenged the traditional understanding of the Quran as the eternal, uncreated Word of God, sparking fierce debate and persecution within the Islamic community. The Mihna, lasting for fifteen years, involved interrogations, floggings, and even executions of scholars who defended the Quran’s eternality, highlighting the historical volatility and divergent views within Islam regarding the very nature of Allah.

The chapter concludes with the abolition of the Mihna by Caliph al-Mutawakkil, who forbade further debate on the Quran’s nature. Despite the end of the inquisition, the controversy surrounding the Quran’s eternality persisted, with al-Ashari’s position eventually gaining dominance. Al-Ashari, emphasizing revelation over reason, argued that the Quran’s eternality did not contradict tawhid, asserting “bila kayf” – “without how” – as a justification, effectively dismissing rational inquiry. This approach, prioritizing tradition over reason, has remained influential in Islamic theology.

The Mihna serves as a potent reminder of the complex history and internal disagreements within Islam regarding the core doctrine of tawhid.

Chapter 6: Comparing Tawhid and the Trinity

Qureshi draws parallels between the historical development of tawhid in Islam and the Trinity in Christianity, highlighting similarities in their theological debates and ultimate resolutions. He emphasizes that the Quran in Islam and Jesus in Christianity serve as analogous figures, both understood as eternal expressions of God.

Defining the Trinity:

Qureshi addresses the common Muslim critique that the Trinity is self-contradictory. He clarifies that the Trinity, while affirming the existence of only one God, teaches that this one God subsists in three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He distinguishes between “being” and “person,” arguing that God’s one being (Yahweh) can encompass three distinct persons, just as one human being can have a single person (e.g., Nabeel).

The Trinity in the Bible:

Qureshi traces the doctrine of the Trinity throughout Scripture, beginning with Genesis 1:1, where the plural noun “Elohim” is used with a singular verb, suggesting a plural yet singular God. He highlights other instances in Genesis 1 where God refers to himself in the plural (“Let us make man in our image”) and links the plurality of the divine image with the creation of humanity as “male and female.” He then points to theophanies in the Old Testament, where God appears to humans, and cites passages like Isaiah 48:12-16, where Yahweh is sent by Yahweh and the Spirit of Yahweh, indicating a Trinitarian understanding.

The Trinity and Tawhid in the Quran:

While the Quran explicitly rejects tritheism (belief in three gods), Qureshi argues that it does not address the Christian concept of the Trinity. He examines verses commonly cited by Muslims as rejections of the Trinity, concluding that they actually condemn polytheism, specifically the worship of Allah, Jesus, and Mary as three separate gods.

The Ninety-Nine Names and Transcendence of Allah:

Qureshi explores the Quran’s emphasis on Allah’s transcendence, his intentional removal from humanity. He analyzes the ninety-nine names of Allah, concluding that they primarily emphasize Allah’s power and attributes rather than a desire for intimacy with mankind. He argues that the Quran consistently portrays Allah as a distant master, not a loving Father, and denies the concept of God’s spiritual fatherhood over humanity.

Chapter 7: Questioning Complexity

Qureshi uses the revolutionary discoveries of quantum physics as an analogy to challenge the common Muslim critique of the Trinity as unrealistically complex and contradictory. He argues that the universe itself, as revealed through science, displays staggering complexity, far surpassing human comprehension. He asks why the Creator must be simpler than his creation, suggesting that God’s nature may indeed be beyond human understanding.

Tawhid, the Trinity, and the Self-Sufficiency of God:

Qureshi challenges the logical consistency of tawhid, arguing that its insistence on Allah’s absolute unity leads to a problematic dependence on creation for his relational attributes. He highlights Allah’s attributes of “ar-Rahman” (the Gracious) and “ar-Raheem” (the Merciful), arguing that these qualities require objects for their expression. If Allah existed alone in eternity past, he could not have been intrinsically gracious or merciful until he created the universe, making him dependent on creation for his attributes.

Conversely, the Trinity, with its inherent relationality, portrays Yahweh as eternally self-sufficient and loving. The three persons of the Trinity have always loved each other, making love the central principle of God’s nature.

The Shema: “The Lord Our God is One”

Qureshi examines the shema, a key Jewish affirmation of monotheism found in Deuteronomy 6:4, to address the Muslim objection that the Jewish understanding of God, based on the Bible, denies the Trinity. He argues that the Hebrew word “echad,” used for “one” in the shema, allows for a composite unity, not necessarily an absolute unity as in tawhid. He cites examples from Genesis and other Old Testament texts where “echad” refers to a single entity composed of multiple components, suggesting that the shema does not preclude a Trinitarian understanding.

Jews and the Trinity:

Qureshi further challenges the notion of a strictly monadic Jewish understanding of God by pointing to Jewish mystical texts like the Zohar, which describes a “threefold Divine manifestation” forming “one unity.” He also cites scholarly arguments that “binitarian” views of God existed among first-century Jews, suggesting that the Trinity was not entirely foreign to Jewish thought before the emergence of Christianity.

Chapter 8: Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God?

Qureshi tackles the complex question of whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God, arguing that while both faiths affirm monotheism, their conceptions of God’s nature and attributes have profound implications for how they view the world and live their lives.

Different Gods, Different Worldviews:

He emphasizes that Christians worship Yahweh, the Trinity, while Muslims worship Allah, a monad. He argues that this fundamental difference is not trivial, pointing to the Quran’s explicit condemnation of the Trinity as blasphemy and its rejection of God as Father or Son.

The Trinity as the Foundation for Altruism:

Qureshi explores the implications of tawhid and the Trinity for understanding altruism. He argues that while altruism can exist in atheistic and Islamic frameworks, the Trinity provides the most powerful and consistent basis for selfless love. The eternal love within the Trinity, expressed in creation, makes humanity inherently relational and designed for selflessness. By being made in the image of a loving God, loving others becomes what makes us truly human.

Personal Testimony and the Iraqi Woman:

Qureshi concludes the chapter with a personal anecdote from a chapel service he gave at a Christian college. He recounts his interaction with an Iraqi woman who had recently converted to Christianity after seeing Jesus in a dream. This encounter underscores the transformative power of the Christian message and the very real difference between the Christian God and the Muslim God.

PART 3: Muhammad or Jesus? Two Different Founders

Chapter 9: The Council of Nicaea

This chapter explores the early history of the Christian church, its struggles with persecution, and its first ecumenical council convened to address a critical theological debate about the nature of Jesus.

The Early Church and Persecution:

Qureshi recounts the Roman persecutions of Christians, starting with the crucifixion of Jesus under Pontius Pilate and intensifying under emperors like Nero and Diocletian. He highlights the resilience of the early Christians, their willingness to face martyrdom rather than compromise their faith.

Constantine and the Edict of Milan:

The chapter then shifts to Constantine, a Roman general who, after a vision of a cross, embraced Christianity and became emperor. Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in AD 313, granting freedom of worship for all religions within the Roman Empire, including Christianity. This edict marked a turning point for the church, ending persecution and allowing Christians to openly gather and discuss their faith for the first time.

The Council of Nicaea and the Arian Controversy:

Constantine, concerned by the growing division within the church, convened the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 to address the Arian controversy. Arius, a Christian presbyter, taught that Jesus was a created being, subordinate to God the Father. The council, composed of bishops who had endured persecution, condemned Arius’s teachings as polytheistic and affirmed the deity of Jesus, culminating in the Nicene Creed, the first ecumenical statement of Christian faith.

Chapter 10: Comparing the Messenger and the Messiah

Qureshi compares the roles and significance of Jesus in Christianity and Muhammad in Islam, highlighting their fundamental differences despite superficial similarities. He addresses the common Muslim question, “Why can’t Christians respect Muhammad as much as Muslims respect Jesus?” by demonstrating the distinct understanding of Jesus in both faiths.

A God Who Comes into the World:

Qureshi contrasts Allah’s transcendence in Islam, remaining behind a veil and communicating only through messengers, with Yahweh’s immanence in Christianity, repeatedly coming among his people throughout the Old Testament in theophanies. This divine presence culminates in God’s incarnation as Jesus, fulfilling Old Testament prophecies about God being born as a child.

The Word Became Flesh and Tabernacled Among Us:

He explores John 1:1-14, emphasizing the Christian belief that Jesus is the eternal Word of God (Logos), through whom the universe was created. This Word, existing alongside God the Father from the beginning, became flesh and lived among humanity as Jesus, a human with a divine nature. This incarnation, a radical act of love and humility, distinguishes Yahweh from Allah and sets Jesus apart from all other prophets.

Prophets in Islam: Men to Follow:

Qureshi examines the Islamic concept of prophethood, highlighting the exalted status of prophets as divinely appointed leaders chosen to guide humanity. He contrasts this with the Christian understanding of Jesus as God incarnate, emphasizing the unique and unparalleled nature of Jesus’ role in Christianity.

The Prophet and Sharia:

He discusses the importance of Muhammad’s life as an exemplar for Muslims, pointing to the vast body of hadith literature that records his words and actions. These traditions form the basis of Sharia, a law-based solution to humanity’s ignorance. This emphasis on a law-based solution stands in stark contrast to the gospel’s person-centered solution, Jesus himself as “the way.”

Chapter 11: Questioning the God-Man

Qureshi addresses common questions that Muslims raise about Jesus’ deity, often stemming from Islam’s denial of God’s incarnation.

How Can God Die, and Who Was Ruling the Universe When Jesus Died?

Qureshi clarifies that Jesus’ death was a bodily death, not a cessation of his divine existence. He explains that God the Father, the first person of the Trinity, continued to rule the universe while Jesus, the second person, willingly endured death on the cross.

It is Unjust for God to Punish Jesus for the Sins of Man:

He refutes the Muslim claim that Jesus’ death on the cross is an act of “cosmic child abuse,” emphasizing that Jesus is God himself, voluntarily choosing to atone for the sins of humanity. He uses the analogy of a judge who pays the fine of a convicted criminal to illustrate God’s self-sacrificial love and justice.

No One Has Seen God:

Qureshi clarifies the biblical statement that “no one has ever seen God” by explaining that this refers specifically to God the Father. Jesus, the Son of God, is the visible manifestation of God, making him knowable and accessible to humanity.

The Majesty of a King:

He uses a powerful analogy of a king rescuing his daughter from a mud pit to illustrate God’s willingness to lay aside his majesty and enter the world to save humanity from sin. This analogy resonates with the Islamic understanding of God’s power and love, bridging the gap between tawhid and the Trinity.

Chapter 12: Libya’s Best Friend

Qureshi recounts the story of Ronnie Smith, an American Christian who moved his family to Libya after its revolution to serve the Libyan people as a chemistry teacher, fully aware of the risks involved. He emphasizes that Ronnie’s motivation stemmed from his faith in Jesus, who calls his followers to love their enemies and be willing to suffer for their sake.

Ronnie’s Motivation:

He examines a sermon by John Piper titled, “Doing Missions When Dying Is Gain,” which deeply impacted Ronnie and inspired him to serve in Libya. Piper’s message, grounded in Jesus’ self-sacrificial love on the cross, challenges Christians to follow Christ even when it involves suffering and potential death.

The Love of Christ: A Megaphone to the World:

Ronnie Smith was tragically killed by gunmen while jogging in Benghazi. However, his death became a powerful testimony to the love of Christ when his wife, Anita, wrote an open letter to his killers, expressing forgiveness and love. This extraordinary act of grace, defying human logic, captivated the world and became a powerful demonstration of the transformative power of the gospel.

The Example of Jesus:

Qureshi contrasts Jesus’ unwavering peacefulness with Muhammad’s enthusiastic embrace of warfare. While Jesus never sanctioned violence, Muhammad taught that fighting in jihad was the greatest deed a Muslim could perform, offering forgiveness of sins and a reward in paradise. This fundamental difference in their teachings has shaped the historical trajectory of their respective faiths.

PART 4: The Quran or the Bible? Two Different Scriptures

Chapter 13: The Burning of Scripture

Qureshi recounts the 2011 riots in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, where a mob, enraged by a Quran burning in Florida, attacked a UN compound, killing twelve people. This tragic event highlights the profound reverence that Muslims hold for the Quran and the volatile reactions that can occur when it is perceived as desecrated.

Contrasting Reactions: Quran Burning vs. Bible Burning:

Qureshi contrasts the Mazar-e-Sharif riots with a 2009 incident at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, where the US military burned dozens of Bibles, calling them “trash.” This act, despite its offensiveness to Christians, provoked no violent response. He argues that this stark difference in reactions stems from the distinct roles and significance of the Quran and the Bible in the hearts and minds of Muslims and Christians.

Chapter 14: Comparing the Quran and the Bible

This chapter delves into the contrasting understandings of the Quran and the Bible within Islam and Christianity, highlighting key differences in their natures, compositions, and interpretations.

The Nature of Scripture:

Muslims believe the Quran to be the eternal, uncreated Word of God, dictated from Allah through the angel Gabriel to Muhammad. This view elevates the Quran to a status akin to Jesus in Christianity. Conversely, Christians believe the Bible to be inspired by God but not eternal, a collection of books written by humans under divine guidance at specific points in history.

The Composition of Scripture:

The Quran, revealed piecemeal to Muhammad over twenty-three years, is arranged in 114 suras, often containing verses revealed decades apart. This non-linear, fragmented structure reflects its oral origins and reliance on dictation. The Bible, on the other hand, is a collection of sixty-six books written by about forty authors over fifteen hundred years, exhibiting a wide range of genres and perspectives, reflecting its written origins and reliance on human authorship under divine inspiration.

The Oral or Written Modalities of Scripture:

The Quran, originally an oral text recited and memorized, reads like a transcript of spoken communication, often referencing stories and events without providing full narratives. The Bible, composed of mostly written texts, presents linear and complete narratives, allowing for a more comprehensive understanding of biblical characters and events.

Abrogation and the Final Form of Scripture:

During Muhammad’s lifetime, he abrogated or canceled certain Quranic verses, replacing them with newer revelations. This practice, understandable in an oral tradition, stands in stark contrast to the finalized nature of the biblical texts, which were canonized before any notion of abrogation emerged.

The Sufficiency of Scripture:

Muslims generally do not believe the Quran to be sufficient for Islamic practice, relying on hadith literature and scholarly interpretations to supplement its teachings. The Bible, on the other hand, is considered sufficient for Christian doctrine and practice, serving as the sole authority for faith and life.

The Exegesis of Scripture:

The fragmented, abrogated nature of the Quran, combined with its reliance on hadith and classical Arabic, makes direct exegesis challenging for most Muslims, who often defer to scholarly interpretations. The Bible, being more accessible and translatable, allows for direct engagement and personal interpretation by Christians, fostering a more individualistic approach to faith.

The Epistemic Purpose of Scripture:

The Quran serves primarily as an epistemic foundation for Islamic belief, its perceived literary excellence and prophetic fulfillment serving as evidence for Islam’s veracity. The Bible, while providing guidance and instruction, primarily serves as the basis of what Christians believe, not why they believe. The “why” of Christian faith is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Chapter 15: Questioning Texts

Qureshi examines the common Muslim critique of the Bible as containing contradictions, a tactic popularized by Muslim apologists like Ahmed Deedat and Zakir Naik. He argues that this approach often reflects a misunderstanding of biblical genres and an inappropriate conflation of the Quran’s role as the “why” of Islamic faith with the Bible’s role as the “what” of Christian faith.

Scripture and Contradictions:

Qureshi concedes that inerrant, inspired scripture should not contradict itself. However, he argues that allegations of biblical contradictions often stem from a failure to account for the Bible’s diverse literary genres and a tendency to read the Bible through an Islamic lens, assuming it should function as the primary proof of Christianity, just as the Quran does for Islam.

Genre and Exegesis:

He emphasizes the importance of understanding genre when interpreting biblical texts, pointing to the diverse range of genres present in the Bible, from history to law to poetry to prophecy. He argues that reading all biblical books in the same manner leads to misinterpretations and allegations of contradiction.

The Bible Has Been Corrupted:

Qureshi addresses the common Muslim accusation that the Bible has been corrupted, arguing that this claim is unfounded and reflects a misunderstanding of the historical transmission of the biblical text. He explains that the decentralized nature of the early church, combined with the widespread copying and distribution of biblical manuscripts, made large-scale corruption virtually impossible.

Chapter 16: The First Burning of the Quran

Qureshi recounts the historical event of Uthman’s recension of the Quran in the 7th century AD, highlighting the irony of Muslims accusing the Bible of corruption while their own scripture underwent an official burning and standardization.

Uthman’s Recension:

Uthman, the third caliph of Islam, concerned by variant recitations of the Quran, ordered the recall and destruction of all existing manuscripts, issuing a standardized version based on a single reading. This act, though motivated by a desire for unity, demonstrates the historical control and human intervention involved in shaping the Quran’s final form.

The Diversity of Scripture:

Qureshi contrasts the Quran’s monolithic nature with the Bible’s diversity of genres and perspectives, arguing that the Bible’s diversity reflects God’s love for variety and the multifaceted nature of truth.

The Bible Speaks to the Heart of Man:

He shares his personal experience of turning to both the Quran and the Bible for comfort during a time of spiritual crisis. While the Quran offered no solace, the Bible, with its message of grace and God’s unconditional love, spoke directly to his heart, highlighting the Bible’s ability to connect with individuals across cultures and time.

PART 5: Jihad or the Crusades? Two Different Holy Wars

Chapter 17: The First Crusade

Qureshi examines the First Crusade, a pivotal event in history often cited by Muslims as evidence of Christian aggression and justification for jihad. He challenges the common narrative of the Crusades as an unprovoked attack on peaceful Muslims, providing historical context and demonstrating the Crusades’ defensive nature.

The Crusades in Context:

He recounts the Seljuq Turk conquests of Christian territories in the 11th century, including the capture of Nicaea, the site of the first ecumenical council. He reveals that the Byzantine emperor, facing Muslim aggression, appealed to Pope Urban II for help, leading to the First Crusade, a belated response to centuries of Muslim expansion.

Mamluks and the Capture of Christian Children:

Qureshi exposes the Seljuq Turk use of mamluks, slave soldiers often captured from Christian territories and trained to fight against other Christians. He recounts the brutal conquests of Egyptian Christians by Amr ibn al-As, a companion of Muhammad, highlighting the capture and enslavement of Christian children.

Revisiting the Narrative of the Crusades:

He challenges the simplistic “Christians versus Muslims” framing of the Crusades, demonstrating the internal divisions within both Christendom and the Islamic world during this period. He argues that the Crusades were a complex interplay of political, religious, and economic factors, not a monolithic clash of civilizations.

Chapter 18: Comparing the Traditions of the Founders

This chapter contrasts the teachings and examples of Jesus and Muhammad regarding violence, highlighting the fundamental difference in their approaches to warfare.

Muhammad and Jihad:

Qureshi examines the hadith, the records of Muhammad’s life, demonstrating his enthusiastic embrace of warfare. He cites Muhammad’s teachings that fighting in jihad is the greatest deed a Muslim can perform, offering forgiveness of sins and a reward in paradise. He also recounts Muhammad’s involvement in numerous battles, his use of assassins, and his harsh treatment of enemies, challenging the common portrayal of Muhammad as a reluctant warrior forced into defensive battles.

Jesus and the Crusades:

Qureshi emphasizes Jesus’ unwavering peacefulness, his clear teachings against violence, and his example of loving and praying for enemies. He traces the development of Just War theory in Christian thought, arguing that it emerged as a necessary evil to combat greater evils, not as a path to salvation. He concludes that the Crusades, while justified by Just War theory, represent a departure from Jesus’ teachings and example.

Chapter 19: Questioning Christian Peacefulness

Qureshi addresses common Muslim arguments that challenge the peaceful nature of Christianity, often citing biblical passages out of context to suggest that Jesus sanctioned violence.

Considering Context:

He examines verses like Matthew 10:34, where Jesus says, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword,” clarifying that Jesus is speaking about familial division, not literal warfare. He emphasizes the importance of interpreting biblical texts within their proper context, a crucial principle of biblical hermeneutics often overlooked by Muslim apologists.

The Machete and the Journey:

Qureshi further clarifies Jesus’ teachings by analyzing the Greek word “machaira,” often translated as “sword,” but actually referring to a multipurpose tool, similar to a machete, used for tasks like cutting meat or cleaning fish. He argues that when Jesus tells his disciples to take a “sword,” he is not advocating violence but simply instructing them to be prepared for a long journey.

Violence in the Old Testament:

He addresses the Muslim objection that God’s commands for violence in the Old Testament undermine Christianity’s claim to peacefulness. He distinguishes between God’s judgment on specific people groups in the Old Testament and Muhammad’s call for violence against all non-Muslims in Islamic lands, arguing that the Old Testament violence reflects a specific historical context and divine judgment, not a universal principle for all time.

Chapter 20: Jesus Versus Jihad

Qureshi further contrasts the teachings and examples of Jesus and Muhammad regarding violence, highlighting the implications of their divergent views for their followers.

The Dilemma of Defending Victims:

He shares a personal anecdote from Speakers’ Corner in London, where he physically defended a female Christian friend from a Muslim man’s aggressive behavior. This incident sparks a reflection on the tension between pacifism and defending the oppressed, a dilemma for Christians who seek to follow Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence while also protecting the vulnerable.

Jesus, Muhammad, and Violence:

He concludes that while Jesus never sanctioned violence, leaving his followers to grapple with the moral complexities of defensive violence, Muhammad enthusiastically embraced warfare, making violent jihad an inevitable consequence of faithful adherence to his example.


Section Introduction: The Pursuit of Truth

Qureshi transitions to the second core question of his book: Can we confidently determine the truth of either Islam or Christianity? He highlights the unique nature of these two faiths, both making historical claims that can be tested against the evidence. He argues that their truth claims, particularly regarding Jesus, are fundamentally incompatible, requiring a careful investigation to discern which religion, if either, aligns with historical reality.

The Case for Christianity:

He outlines the core truth claims of Christianity, focusing on Romans 10:9: belief in Jesus’ death, resurrection, and lordship as the basis for salvation. Each of these claims is historically testable, allowing for an objective investigation of their veracity.

The Case for Islam:

Qureshi identifies the shahada, the Muslim proclamation of faith, as the core truth claim of Islam: “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.” Assessing the truth of Islam hinges on evaluating Muhammad’s prophetic status and the Quran’s divine inspiration.

Objectivity: Defending the Faith Versus Assessing the Faith:

He acknowledges the inherent challenges of objective investigation, recognizing the influence of personal biases and worldview presuppositions. He emphasizes the importance of fair-mindedness and a willingness to critically assess one’s own beliefs when seeking the truth.

PART 6: Did Jesus Die on the Cross?

Chapter 21: The Positive Case: Unanimous Records

Qureshi presents the historical evidence for Jesus’ death by crucifixion, highlighting the strength and unanimity of the sources.

Scholarly Unanimity:

He emphasizes that virtually all scholars, Christian and non-Christian alike, agree that Jesus died by crucifixion. He cites respected scholars like Gerd Lüdemann, Paula Fredriksen, and John Dominic Crossan, all of whom, despite their skepticism towards Christian beliefs, affirm the indisputability of Jesus’ death.

The Record of the Cross:

Qureshi traces the record of Jesus’ crucifixion through early Christian creeds and the four Gospels, pointing to their early dates, diversity of authorship, and consistent testimony. He also cites non-Christian sources like Josephus and Tacitus, both of whom confirm Jesus’ death by crucifixion.

The Terror of the Cross:

He provides a detailed account of Roman crucifixion practices, highlighting the brutality, effectiveness, and utter shamefulness of this execution method. He argues that the horrific nature of crucifixion makes it highly unlikely that anyone would invent or perpetuate a story about their Savior dying such a gruesome death unless it were true.

The Folly of the Cross:

Qureshi examines the social stigma attached to crucifixion in both Roman and Jewish contexts, demonstrating the absurdity of the Christian message from a first-century perspective. He argues that the disciples would have had every reason to invent a more palatable story about Jesus’ death, but their steadfast proclamation of a crucified Savior points to the historical reality of the event.

Chapter 22: The Islamic Response: It Was Made to Appear So

Qureshi outlines the two main Islamic responses to the evidence of Jesus’ crucifixion: the Theistic Swoon Theory and the Substitution Theory.

They Did Not Kill Him:

He explains the Theistic Swoon Theory, arguing that while Jesus was placed on the cross, God miraculously preserved his life, allowing him to survive and eventually escape. This theory, unlike the naturalistic Swoon Theory refuted by David Strauss, relies on divine intervention to explain Jesus’ survival.

But It Was Made to Appear So:

Qureshi then describes the Substitution Theory, the more common Islamic belief that God transposed Jesus’ image onto someone else, either Simon of Cyrene or Judas Iscariot, who was crucified in his place. This theory relies on the Quran’s statement that Jesus’ crucifixion “was made to appear so.”

Chapter 23: Assessing the Islamic Response: The Quran and the Historical Jesus

Qureshi critically assesses the two Islamic theories about Jesus’ death, challenging their plausibility and compatibility with historical evidence.

Responding to the Theistic Swoon Theory:

He argues that the Theistic Swoon Theory, while appealing to a miracle, fails to account for the overwhelming historical evidence of Jesus’ death. The unanimous and early testimony of diverse sources, combined with the brutality of Roman crucifixion, makes Jesus’ survival highly improbable.

Responding to the Substitution Theory: The Quran as a Source on Jesus’ Life:

Qureshi examines the Substitution Theory, emphasizing that its basis is solely the Quran’s assertion. He questions the Quran’s reliability as a historical source on Jesus’ life, pointing out its late date (600 years after Jesus) and its reliance on historically unreliable, second-century apocryphal gospels.

The Gnostic Influence on 4.157:

He traces the Quran’s denial of Jesus’ crucifixion to the Gospel of Basilides, a second-century Gnostic text, demonstrating the Quran’s dependence on non-Islamic sources. He argues that the Quran’s teaching about Jesus’ crucifixion makes little contextual sense within Islam, fitting more naturally within the Gnostic framework.

A Final Word on Context:

Qureshi emphasizes that the Quranic verses about Jesus, when read in their proper context, do not support the Substitution Theory. The context points to polytheism, not a denial of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Chapter 24: Conclusion: Jesus Died on the Cross

Qureshi concludes that the historical evidence overwhelmingly supports the Christian belief that Jesus died on the cross. He reiterates the strength and consistency of the historical record, the unlikelihood of surviving Roman crucifixion, and the implausibility of both the Theistic Swoon Theory and the Substitution Theory.

He acknowledges that while this conclusion challenges Islamic teachings, it does not necessarily disprove Islam altogether. However, it highlights the tension between the Quranic account of Jesus’ death and the historical record.

PART 7: Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?

Chapter 25: The Positive Case: The Best Explanation of the Facts

Qureshi presents the historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, arguing that it is the best explanation of the known facts surrounding his crucifixion. He introduces the Minimal Facts Approach, a method for establishing the historicity of the resurrection by focusing on facts accepted by virtually all scholars.

The Minimal Facts Approach:

He explains the Minimal Facts Approach, pioneered by Gary Habermas, which identifies historical facts agreed upon by the vast majority of scholars, regardless of their worldview. These minimal facts, when considered together, point to the resurrection as the most plausible explanation.

The Three Minimal Facts:

Qureshi outlines the three minimal facts used to support the resurrection:

  1. Jesus died by crucifixion.
  2. Jesus’ followers truly believed he appeared to them risen from the dead.
  3. People who were not followers of Jesus also truly believed he appeared to them risen.

Evidence for the Minimal Facts:

He provides robust evidence for each fact, drawing from early Christian creeds, the Gospels, the book of Acts, and the writings of Paul, as well as non-Christian sources. He emphasizes the early date of the resurrection proclamation, the willingness of eyewitnesses to die for their belief, and the conversion of skeptics like Paul and James the brother of Jesus.

Alternative Explanations:

Qureshi examines and refutes alternative explanations for the minimal facts, such as the hallucination hypothesis and the stolen body hypothesis, demonstrating their inability to adequately account for all three facts.

Miracles and the Objective Observer:

He acknowledges the challenge of proving miracles historically, arguing that an objective observer should not conclude a miracle has occurred unless there is no other probable explanation and the event takes place within a context of supernatural expectation. He provides analogies to illustrate this principle, demonstrating how the same physical event can be interpreted differently based on its surrounding context.

Chapter 26: The Islamic Response: All Paul’s Fault

Qureshi presents the common Islamic response to the resurrection, which focuses on discrediting Paul’s testimony and blaming him for introducing the doctrine of Jesus’ deity into Christianity.

Muslims and Paul:

He explains the Islamic view of Paul as a deceiver who hijacked the early church and distorted Jesus’ original teachings. Muslims often argue that Paul, motivated by a desire for power or influenced by Roman paganism, invented the doctrines of Jesus’ deity and resurrection, corrupting the pure monotheism of Jesus’ original message.

The Quranic Silence about Paul:

Qureshi highlights the irony of Islam’s fixation on Paul, despite his complete absence from the Quran and minimal mention in early Islamic literature. He questions why the Quran, which condemns the Christian beliefs supposedly introduced by Paul, never addresses Paul directly.

Chapter 27: Assessing the Islamic Response: Paul and the Disciples in Proper Perspective

Qureshi critically assesses the Islamic view of Paul, demonstrating its incompatibility with both the biblical record and the Quranic portrayal of Jesus’ disciples.

Examining Paul:

He examines Paul’s life and writings, highlighting his sincerity, his submission to the authority of the original disciples, and the consistency of his teachings with Jesus’ message in the Gospels. He argues that Paul’s willingness to suffer and die for his faith, coupled with his lack of material gain, casts doubt on the notion that he was a deceiver.

Paul, the Jewish Law, and the Authority of the Disciples:

Qureshi demonstrates that Paul’s teachings about the Jewish Law, far from contradicting Jesus’ message, aligned with Peter’s understanding and were actually affirmed by the other apostles. He argues that Paul consistently submitted to the authority of the disciples, never claiming any authority over them.

Jesus Came to Fulfill the Law:

He clarifies Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:17 that he came to “fulfill” the Law, not to abolish it, explaining that “fulfill” implies completion, not ongoing adherence. He argues that Jesus, as the fulfillment of the Old Testament, brought the Jewish Law to its intended end, paving the way for a new covenant based on grace.

Paul and the Historical Jesus:

Qureshi demonstrates Paul’s deep interest in the historical Jesus, citing his extended visit with Peter shortly after his conversion and his occasional references to Jesus’ life and teachings in his letters. He argues that Paul’s focus on the theological implications of Jesus’ life and resurrection does not negate his awareness of the historical Jesus.

The Problem with the Islamic View of Paul:

He challenges the logical coherence of the Islamic view of Paul, questioning how a single outsider could have so easily overcome the influence of Jesus’ disciples, especially given the Quran’s promise that Allah would make Jesus’ followers “superior” to unbelievers.

Recentering on the Resurrection:

Qureshi shifts the focus back to the resurrection, arguing that even if Paul’s testimony is disregarded, the historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection remains strong. He reiterates the transformation of the disciples from fearful followers to bold proclaimers of the risen Christ, willing to face persecution and death.

Chapter 28: Conclusion: Jesus Rose from the Dead

Qureshi concludes that Jesus’ resurrection is the best explanation of the known historical facts. He reiterates the strength of the Minimal Facts Approach, highlighting the inadequacy of alternative explanations and the compatibility of the resurrection hypothesis with the historical context of supernatural expectation.

He acknowledges that while this conclusion challenges Islamic teachings, it points to the internal inconsistency of Islam’s view of Jesus’ disciples. If the disciples were truly godly men, as the Quran affirms, their unwavering proclamation of Jesus’ death and resurrection becomes problematic for Islam.

Midway Summary to Question 2: Assessing the Case for Christianity and Islam’s Efforts to Account for Christian Origins

Qureshi summarizes his findings regarding the case for Christianity, concluding that the historical evidence for Jesus’ death, resurrection, and deity is very strong. He reiterates the unanimity of scholarly consensus, the compatibility of the Christian message with the historical context, and the implausibility of alternative explanations.

He then analyzes Islam’s efforts to account for Christian origins, demonstrating their utter incompatibility with the historical record. Islam’s denial of Jesus’ death and deity, combined with its insistence on the disciples’ righteousness, creates an insurmountable dilemma. To maintain Islamic beliefs, one must either disregard the vast body of historical evidence or conclude that Jesus was an incompetent Messiah and Allah is a deceptive God.

Chapter 29: The Positive Case: Jesus Was Always God

Qureshi dives into the historical evidence supporting the Christian belief that Jesus claimed to be God. He acknowledges his own initial resistance to this idea as a Muslim, having been taught that Jesus’ deity was a later invention.

Does the New Testament Teach that Jesus is God?

He begins by establishing that the New Testament, particularly Paul’s letters and John’s Gospel, clearly portray Jesus as divine. He confronts the common Muslim claim that the Bible never explicitly states Jesus is God by pointing to passages like Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1, which directly call Jesus “God and Savior.”

Do the Gospels Teach that Jesus is God? – John’s Gospel

Qureshi then examines John’s Gospel, highlighting its consistent presentation of Jesus as divine throughout the narrative. He points to Jesus’ claims of pre-existence, his authority to forgive sins, his demands for worship, his ability to grant salvation, and his self-identification with the divine name “I Am,” all demonstrating Jesus’ understanding of himself as God.

Do the Gospels Teach that Jesus is God? – The Beginning of Mark’s Gospel

Responding to skeptical arguments that John’s Gospel is a later, unreliable source, Qureshi turns to Mark’s Gospel, traditionally considered the earliest written account of Jesus’ life. He demonstrates that Mark, by subtly weaving Old Testament allusions throughout his narrative, portrays Jesus as Yahweh, the God of Israel. Mark’s Gospel, far from presenting Jesus as merely human, intentionally reveals Jesus’ divine identity.

Do the Gospels Teach that Jesus is God? – The Climax of Mark’s Gospel

The climax of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin, provides the most compelling evidence for Jesus’ claim to deity. Qureshi meticulously analyzes Jesus’ response to the high priest’s question, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus, by quoting Daniel 7:13-14 and Psalm 110:1, identifies himself with the divine Son of Man and the Lord who sits on God’s throne, claims that would have been understood as blasphemous by the Jewish authorities.

Was Jesus God Before the Gospels?

Finally, Qureshi demonstrates that the belief in Jesus’ deity predates the Gospels, being present in the earliest Christian writings, Paul’s letters. He analyzes the “Carmen Christi” (Philippians 2:5-11), a hymn that likely originated in the earliest Christian communities, which proclaims Jesus’ pre-existence as God, his incarnation, and his ultimate exaltation as Lord. This hymn provides strong evidence that Jesus’ followers understood him to be God from the very beginning.

Chapter 30: The Islamic Response: Did Jesus Really Say “I Am God”?’

Qureshi outlines the common Islamic arguments against the deity of Jesus, focusing on verses in the Bible that seem to deny Jesus’ divinity, his use of the title “Son of Man,” and his failure to explicitly declare, “I am God.”

Verses that Deny the Deity of Jesus:

He examines verses often cited by Muslims to argue that Jesus denied being God, such as John 14:28 (“The Father is greater than I”) and Mark 10:18 (“Why do you call me good? … No one is good—except God alone”).

Jesus Never Clearly Says “I Am God”

He addresses the Muslim argument that Jesus never explicitly states, “I am God,” highlighting a passage in John’s Gospel (10:33-36) where Jesus clarifies a misunderstanding about his identity, seemingly distancing himself from a direct claim to deity.

The Claim to Deity and the Historical Jesus

Finally, he presents the Islamic argument that even if the Gospels portray Jesus as divine, there is no guarantee that this reflects the historical Jesus’ teachings. Muslims often argue that the Gospel writers, influenced by later theological developments or pagan ideas, imposed the doctrine of Jesus’ deity onto the historical figure.

Chapter 31: Assessing the Islamic Response: Letting the Context Speak

Qureshi critically evaluates the Islamic arguments against Jesus’ deity, demonstrating their weakness and reliance on misinterpretations of the biblical text.

Considering Context:

He emphasizes the importance of understanding biblical verses in their proper context, arguing that the verses cited by Muslims to deny Jesus’ deity take on a different meaning when considered in light of the surrounding passages and the overall message of the Gospels.

Revisiting the Doctrine of Jesus’ Deity and the Trinity:

He explains how the Christian doctrines of Jesus’ deity and the Trinity resolve the apparent contradictions in the biblical text. Jesus, being both God and man, could possess both divine and human attributes, and his submission to the Father reflects the distinct roles within the Trinity, not a denial of his divinity.

Why Did Jesus Not Say “I Am God”?: Understanding the Messianic Secret

Qureshi addresses the question of why Jesus did not openly and explicitly declare his deity, explaining the concept of the “Messianic Secret,” the idea that Jesus intentionally concealed his true identity for a time. He points to reasons for this secrecy, including the threat of premature persecution and the need to fulfill his mission of suffering and death.

Assessing Historical Accuracy:

He then demonstrates the historical reliability of Jesus’ claims to deity, specifically his use of the titles “Son of Man” and “Lord” in Mark 14:62, arguing that these claims pass the rigorous criteria used by historians to assess the authenticity of ancient sources.

Chapter 32: Conclusion: Jesus Claimed to Be God

Qureshi concludes that the historical evidence strongly supports the belief that Jesus claimed to be God. He reiterates the consistent and early testimony of the Gospels, the implausibility of alternative explanations, and the historical reliability of Jesus’ most significant claims.

He emphasizes that this conclusion poses a serious challenge to Islam, which categorically denies Jesus’ deity. To accept Islam’s portrayal of Jesus, one must either disregard the historical evidence or conclude that Jesus was a fundamentally incompetent Messiah, unable to communicate his own identity to his followers.

In these chapters, Qureshi argues that the historical evidence regarding Jesus’ life points to a clear conclusion: Jesus understood himself to be God, claimed that identity, and his followers embraced this belief from the very beginning. This claim, central to Christian faith, becomes a major point of contention with Islam, which vehemently denies Jesus’ deity.

PART 9: Is Muhammad a Prophet of God?

Chapter 33: The Positive Case: The Foretold Paragon

Qureshi presents the common arguments used by Muslims to support Muhammad’s prophethood, focusing on his exemplary character, prophecies about him in the Bible, and his miraculous scientific knowledge.

Muhammad’s Life and Character:

He paints a portrait of Muhammad as a humble orphan who rose to become a trusted merchant and a champion for the poor and oppressed. He emphasizes Muhammad’s initial reluctance to accept the prophetic call, his bold proclamation of monotheism, his endurance of persecution, his merciful treatment of enemies, and his ultimate success in uniting the Arabian Peninsula under Islam.

Muhammad in the Bible:

Qureshi presents two biblical passages often cited by Muslims as prophecies of Muhammad: Deuteronomy 18:18-19 and John 16:12-14. He argues that these passages, when interpreted through an Islamic lens, clearly refer to Muhammad, not Jesus or the Holy Spirit.

Miraculous Scientific Knowledge:

He presents examples from the Quran and hadith that allegedly demonstrate Muhammad’s miraculous scientific knowledge, specifically concerning embryology and geology, arguing that such advanced insights could only have come from God.

Chapter 34: The Response: Don’t Forget the Counterevidence

Qureshi challenges the arguments for Muhammad’s prophethood by presenting counterevidence from Islamic sources, specifically the Quran and the hadith of Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, demonstrating the inconsistency of the traditional portrayal of Muhammad as a peaceful, morally exemplary prophet.

Critically Considering Muhammad’s Character:

He acknowledges Muhammad’s moral teachings and acts of mercy, but highlights accounts of his brutality, his enthusiastic embrace of warfare, his use of assassins, his harsh treatment of enemies, his spiritual shortcomings, and his problematic teachings about women, all drawn from Islamic sources.

Looking More Carefully for Muhammad in the Bible:

Qureshi re-examines the biblical passages allegedly prophesying Muhammad, demonstrating that their interpretations rely on imposing an Islamic understanding on the text and ignoring the clear meaning of the words in their context. He argues that when properly understood, neither passage refers to Muhammad.

Muhammad and Science:

He refutes the claims of miraculous scientific knowledge in the Quran and hadith by demonstrating their inaccuracy, their lack of originality, and their dependence on pre-Islamic scientific knowledge. He cites examples of scientifically false statements made by Muhammad, challenging the notion that he possessed divine insight into the natural world.

Chapter 35: Assessing the Response: Hadith Versus History

Qureshi concludes that the arguments for Muhammad’s prophethood, when critically assessed, are unconvincing. He highlights the inherent problems with relying on Islamic tradition alone to construct a historical understanding of Muhammad.

Hadith Sciences and the Historical Method:

He contrasts the Islamic science of hadith criticism, which focuses on the chain of transmission and the trustworthiness of narrators, with the historical method, which prioritizes the earliest and least filtered sources. He argues that the hadith literature, despite its vastness, suffers from late dating, intentional editing, and selective preservation, making it unreliable as a historical source.

What Can We Really Know about Muhammad?:

Qureshi explores the challenges of constructing a historically accurate portrayal of Muhammad, citing the scarcity of early and unbiased sources. He discusses the concerns of scholars who doubt the traditional Islamic narrative of Muhammad’s life, pointing to inconsistencies in the historical record and the late emergence of key Islamic doctrines and practices.

Chapter 36: Conclusion: The Dilemma of the Historical Muhammad

Qureshi concludes that while Muhammad likely existed, we cannot know much about him with certainty. The Islamic sources, when critically assessed, present a problematic figure whose character and teachings do not compellingly support his claim to prophethood.

He highlights the dilemma facing anyone seeking to determine the truth about Muhammad: trusting the Islamic sources leads to a troubling picture, while rejecting them leaves no basis for belief in his prophetic status.

PART 10: Is the Quran the Word of God?

Chapter 37: The Positive Case: There Is No Other Book Like It

Qureshi presents the common arguments used by Muslims to support the divine inspiration of the Quran, focusing on its literary excellence, its fulfilled prophecies, its miraculous scientific knowledge, its mathematical marvels, and its perfect preservation.

The Literary Excellence of the Quran:

He explains the Muslim belief that the Quran’s literary quality is inimitable, a claim supported by the Quran itself, which challenges skeptics to produce a similar revelation. Muslims often argue that the Quran’s eloquence and beauty are self-evident proofs of its divine origin.

The Fulfilled Prophecies of the Quran:

He presents examples of alleged prophecies in the Quran that have come true, arguing that these predictions demonstrate the Quran’s divine foreknowledge.

The Miraculous Scientific Knowledge in the Quran:

He reiterates the argument for miraculous scientific knowledge in the Quran, citing examples of verses that allegedly predate modern scientific discoveries.

The Mathematical Marvels of the Quran:

Qureshi describes the argument for mathematical patterns and numerical parallels in the Quran as evidence of divine authorship.

The Perfect Preservation of the Quran:

He explains the Muslim belief that the Quran has been perfectly preserved from the time of Muhammad, with every letter and stroke remaining unchanged, a claim supported by the Quran’s promise that God will safeguard its text.

Chapter 38: The Response: In What Way Is That Miraculous?

Qureshi challenges each argument for the Quran’s divine inspiration, demonstrating their inherent flaws and lack of compelling evidence.

The Literary Excellence of the Quran: A Flawed Test:

He argues that the Quran’s challenge to produce a similar revelation is subjective and untestable, pointing to examples like the Furqan al-Haqq, a Christian text written in Quranic style that has been mistaken for the Quran by Muslims themselves. He also questions the logic of assuming that literary excellence proves divine origin.

The Prophecies of the Quran: Not Really Prophecies:

He examines the alleged prophecies in the Quran, demonstrating that they often rely on taking verses out of context and imposing a modern understanding on ancient texts. He argues that the Quranic prophecies, when considered carefully, are not compelling evidence of divine foreknowledge.

The Miraculous Scientific Knowledge: Considering Text and Context:

He reiterates his earlier critiques of the scientific claims in the Quran, demonstrating their inaccuracy, lack of originality, and dependence on pre-Islamic scientific knowledge. He argues that the Quran, far from containing miraculous scientific insights, actually makes scientifically false statements.

Mathematical Marvels: In What Way Are They Special?

He challenges the argument for mathematical patterns in the Quran, demonstrating the arbitrary selection of data, inconsistent methodology, and textual manipulation involved in constructing these patterns.

Perfect Preservation of the Quranic Text: In What Way Has It Been Perfectly Preserved?

Qureshi exposes the historical reality of the Quran’s transmission, highlighting the fluidity of the text during Muhammad’s lifetime, the existence of variant readings, the role of abrogation, the late standardization of Arabic script, and the disagreements regarding the Quran’s canon. He argues that the Quran, far from being perfectly preserved, has undergone significant changes and human intervention throughout its history.

Chapter 39: Assessing the Response: What Kind of Book Is the Quran?

Qureshi emphasizes that the arguments for the Quran’s divine inspiration, when critically assessed, are unconvincing. He argues that the Quran, far from being a miraculous revelation from God, is a complex text with a human history, shaped by cultural, political, and linguistic factors.

The Quran’s Textual Transmission:

He summarizes the historical development of the Quran, highlighting its oral origins, its fluidity during Muhammad’s lifetime, the process of abrogation, the challenges of standardizing Arabic script, and the disagreements regarding the Quran’s canon.

The Role of Authority:

He argues that Islam, unlike Christianity, is fundamentally an authority-based religion, relying on the authority of Muhammad, the hadith, and generations of scholarly interpretations. This heavy reliance on authority contrasts with the Protestant Christian emphasis on the Bible as the sole rule of faith and practice.

Chapter 40: Conclusion: There Is No Compelling Reason to Think the Quran Is the Word of God

Qureshi concludes that there is no compelling reason to accept the Quran as the inspired Word of God. The arguments for its divine inspiration, when scrutinized, rely on subjective interpretations, flawed methodology, and a disregard for historical context.

He reiterates that while he once believed in the Quran’s miraculous nature, his careful investigation led him to conclude that the arguments for its inspiration, far from being objectively convincing, require faith to sustain them.

Conclusion to Question 2: Islam or Christianity? The Evidence Is Clear

Qureshi concludes his assessment of the truth claims of Islam and Christianity, emphasizing that the historical evidence strongly supports the Christian message while challenging the traditional Islamic narrative.

The Case for Christianity:

He summarizes the strength of the historical case for Jesus’ death, resurrection, and deity, highlighting the unanimity of scholarly consensus and the compatibility of the gospel with the historical record.

The Case for Islam:

He reiterates the inadequacy of the arguments for Muhammad’s prophethood and the Quran’s divine inspiration, pointing to the historical inconsistencies, textual manipulation, and logical flaws inherent in these claims.

Islam’s Rejection of History:

Qureshi emphasizes that to believe in the traditional Islamic narrative, one must disregard the overwhelming historical evidence supporting the Christian message. He argues that the historical records of both Christian and Islamic origins challenge Islamic teachings, making faith in Islam a leap against the evidence.


Qureshi addresses the ultimate question of whether embracing the truth is worth the potential cost, even death, reflecting on the implications of the gospel and the profound significance of Jesus’ sacrifice.

The Value of the Gospel:

He eloquently describes the beauty and transformative power of the gospel, highlighting the love, grace, and hope found in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Sara Fatima’s Martyrdom:

He returns to the story of Sara Fatima al-Mutairi, recounting her tragic martyrdom at the hands of her own brother. Fatima, facing a choice between Islam and Christianity, chose to remain faithful to Jesus, ultimately sacrificing her life for the truth she embraced.

The Legacy of a Martyr:

He shares Fatima’s final poem, a powerful testimony to her faith and her love for Muslims, even as she faced death. Her words echo the message of Christ’s love and forgiveness, transcending the violence she endured.

Qureshi concludes by urging readers to consider the profound value of truth and to embrace it, regardless of the cost. He emphasizes that the love, grace, and hope found in Jesus Christ are worth all sacrifice, for they lead to eternal life and a relationship with the one true God.

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