Posts by: Staff Writer

What is a Real Christian?

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In Islam, religion and culture and the political systems are a closely intertwined triad. There is scarcely a nation that has successfully separated the three. Commonly they are called “Islamic Republics.” Therefore, it is natural for Muslims to assume that that is the relationship between every culture, religion, and political system.

In the West however, this close triad is not the case. Yes, Christianity has influenced Western couture, usually for the better, but it lacks the kind of strong association of Islam on politics and culture. The West allows personal freedom in choice of religion and behavior. Islam provides a system of Sharia Law which creates the culture and limits personal choice.

For those coming from a Muslim culture, where everyone is considered to be Muslim, it is an easy jump to consider everyone in the West to be Christian. This leads to significant misunderstandings. For example, Christians frequently find themselves blamed for the sins promoted by Hollywood, and often need to employ apologetics to defend mistakes of American and European civilizations of the past.

And so, we have found that new believers from Muslim and other backgrounds often do not use the best discernment in deciding who is a Christian to use as an example, or make a good friend. Sometimes, merely wearing a cross seems to confirm to a Muslim that someone is a true Christian. Dr. Cynthia shares with us that this is because, as the Bible tells us, people look at the outside, but the Lord looks on the heart (I Samuel 16:7).

So what is a real question? Dr Cynthia then explains with us what it takes to become a Christian. We must make a personal decision. We must admit that we are not perfect; no one is, so this shouldn’t be difficult. We are all sinners! Then, we must believe and accept that God our Creator is just and punishes wrongdoing; but in his compassion, he became human and took that punishment himself.

Believing this saves us and makes us part of God’s family. Then, we should find out God’s way and live it day by day. (See our videos on various disciplines of the Christian life, and our summary video on the topic by Mike Licona. Also, to see an explanation of the gospel that makes sense to people from Muslim background, see the Path of the Prophets videos and tract.)

Nabeel Qureshi and the Koran by Terry Kelhawk

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Terry Kelhawk is a novelist and human rights advocate. In a recent Huffington Post article, Terry writes of Nabeel Qurashi’s life, character and influence. Nabeel was a contributor to Christian from Muslim.  The following article, “Nabeel Qureshi and the Koran”  is provided here by permission from Terry Kelhawk.

Nabeel Qureshi

Nabeel Qureshi in London, 2009

Logical analysis with gracious intensity. Those are the most fitting words I can find to describe the message of Nabeel Qureshi, the noted Muslim apostate and Christian apologist who passed away a few days ago with cancer at age 34.

Many who knew him, or knew of him have written tributes of the impact made by his short life. He more than deserves his laurels. Here I remember one aspect of his life.

I met Nabeel Qureshi about a dozen years ago, through mutual friends who also speak publicly regarding Islam. Since then we spoke together at several events and worked on projects together. I was with Nabeel and other friends in Dearborn that night in 2010, when he was falsely arrested and charged. Fortunately, video footage was available, and the court proved him innocent of all charges. The fact of his arrest reflects the power of his message, the fact of his acquittal affirms the power of his personal style.

Nabeel and I both attended medical school, which could be why his manner of presentation so resonated with me – logical and complete, but as with other great physicians, having a spark of passion.

Nabeel became my favorite debater on Islam. There are other excellent debaters out there, but Nabeel’s Muslim background added authenticity to his complete and logical arguments. He dearly loved his family and felt pain in betraying them by becoming a Christian, This powerful piquancy underscored his points – truth discovered and exposed “more in sorrow than in anger.”

When Nabeel debated on the Koran at an Islamic center in London in July of 2009, I flew there expressly to hear him. My book The Topkapi Secret was soon to be released. Both his debate and my novel were based upon the changes in the Koran over the centuries. Islam teaches that the Koran is “perfectly preserved” on earth as it is on a slab in heaven. This belief is one of the top points made in support of Islam as the only true religion.

Even if the Koran were unchanged, perfect preservation is not an argument I find convincing in itself. Although I love Shakespeare, if we found that his First Folio were perfectly preserved, that would not make it a holy book. What I wanted to see in London was the effect on Nabeel’s Muslim audience when they found out the Koran was not perfectly preserved, as they had believed it to be. And the impact was tremendous.

The strength of Nabeel Qureshi’s presentation of changes in the Koran won him the debate hands down. It exposed the baseless foundation of claims such as that made in a popular leaflet, “Al-Quran is the only ever-living miracle… During the period of over 1400 years since the Quran was revealed, not a single letter was changed.”

Nabeel’s irrefutable documentation was drawn from Islam itself. It pulled from Islamic sources like authentic hadith of El Bukhari, and cited currently existing Koranic variants. His opponent could not argue against these, the sources of his own faith.

The Islamic debater thus had no choice but to agree that the Koran was not “perfectly preserved” in the sense of never having been changed. His rejoinder was that the Koran was “perfectly preserved in the way Allah wanted it to be.” Nabeel pointed out that this default position hardly verifies the unimpeachable integrity that Islam boldly claims for the Koran. It could be claimed regardless of how many changes had been made in it, or in any book.

Some say, “Quit while you are on top.” Not long after the London debate, Nabeel Qureshi quit debating on Islam. He had good reasons for doing so, but I was sorry that he did. The points he so cogently made in his London debate, as well as other debates, deserve to be universally known. This is especially true for Muslims. I believe that this knowledge would make the world a safer place.

Why? Because of something Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al Banna taught in his Risalat al Jihad, or Message on Jihad. This document has been powerfully persuasive calling young Muslims into terrorism. In it al Banna explains that in violent jihad, the warrior of Allah must “go forth to fight, one concern within his soul – to strive to his utmost until Allah’s Word is the most exalted.”

My contention has been that general knowledge that the Koran is not the world’s singular unchanged holy book would go a long way toward stopping this sort of fanatical thinking. It would help counter the mindset which leaders like al Banna and Bin Laden promote.

Many times, people ask me to recommend books on the unpleasant aspects of Islam. I don’t want to see people Islam-bashing. I want them to understand the true problems in Islam, but in a compassionate way. That is why on an introductory level, over the past few years I have been recommending Nabeel Qureshi’s book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. This book not only references the troubling problems that drew Nabeel to leave Islam, but it presents them from the view of his personal, compassionate struggle.

Nabeel Qureshi spent his life looking for truth that would heal – first in medicine, then in religion. I am sure he would agree with this famous quotation:


Terry Kelhawk is an award-wining speaker, writer, and teacher with significant personal and professional experience with Islam and the Middle East. In Terry’s words, “I love peoples and cultures. We have so much to learn from each other, and this makes the world a richer place. Yet when I come across a misunderstanding or deception which adversely impacts a culture or people group, for the sake of those people I believe it should be exposed.” Terry Kelhawk holds a doctorate degree, but believes people should keep on learning through life. Her areas of interest are culture, religion, and women’s rights – especially of Middle East. She actively works with non-profit organizations to forward these goals.

 

The Reality of Christian from Muslim

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It is said that a high percentage of Muslims who become Christians slide back into Islam. This is called recidivism. Dr. Cynthia’s experience does not necessarily confirm this, but it does show the danger flags for new believers, and the kind of things that tend to draw them back into their former life.

First, we must understand if the former Muslim is a true believer. We might misunderstand them, or perhaps they are  simply appearing to be one for some reason. For example, many Christians have been fooled into believing that a Muslim has become a Christian because they say they believe in or love Jesus. It is actually part of Islam to claim this, and so it alone does not reflect a heart change toward the Christian faith. One Muslim Dr. C knows says he is Christian when in America and Muslim when he is in the Middle East. Such ambivalence is not a true conversion. (We are not saying that a Muslim can not be a silent believer in the Middle East, or fit in with the culture to some degree, but they would know in their heart that they were NOT a Muslim.)

Next, we should try to understand what a Muslim’s life is like, and what drove a Muslim to convert to Christianity, for then we can foresee the risks. For example, with droves of Muslims moving to the West now, many desire the freedom and license they see in what they consider to be Christians – not the heart change that Jesus brings. Notably, an Arab missionary who works with us in America was called to perform an emergency conversion from Muslim to Christian for two young women in a Houka bar. Upon questioning he found what they wanted was  to live a wild life. When he explained to them what a true Christian was, they decided they did not want to convert.

Freedom from Islamic laws attracts Muslims to Christ, and that can be good; however they might be reluctant to follow the discipline of following Christ, and may drift away into secularism.

On the other hand, if they are from a strict Islamic background and are trapped in that setting, they might weaken and be tempted to revert to Islam. They may face daily pressure to go back to Islam, there may be threats to take their family away, beatings, and even threats against their lives. In short their way of life could be easier and more assured if they revert to Islam.

But even so, do not give up hope! Even some who return to Islam after consideration and comparison return to Christ, more firm in their faith.

Welcome to God’s Family

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When someone repents and becomes a Christian, the angels rejoice (Luke 15:7). In this clip a variety of believers from many backgrounds congratulate Huda and welcome her into God’s family. Some give advice for her first steps as a new believer from a Muslim background, or share their experience as new believers.

Violence and Rules in the Qur’an

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Although Huda grew up as a Muslim, in reading the Qur’an she felt there was something wrong. The Qur’an was filled with violence and rules. But Huda says are God’s children, shouldn’t act that way. She knows God is with her everywhere, not only when she is ritually pure. Huda feels reborn. She is learning more about Jesus day by day, and is so much happier now that she is free from the violence and rules in the Qur’an.

What is Discipleship?

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In this clip Dr. Cynthia explains “What is Discipleship?” She explains that as Jesus’ disciples had to take time to learn and grow into the strong leaders that they eventually became, so all of us must go through a process to grow.

In this clip, derived from the television series, “Becoming Christian from Muslim,” Dr. C explains that the series was based around discipling a new believer from a Muslim background, in this case Huda. Since Huda’s questions, like all Muslim’s questions in coming to Christ, are different than those of a nominal Christian, it is a special thing to be able to capture this first year of her faith on film. This way we are able to share this discipleship process with other Muslims coming out of Islam, and the Christians assisting them in doing so.

Tour Turkey in 6 minutes

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Because Islam originated in the Arab world, it is most often associated with Arabs. However, Arabs now represent a minority of Muslims worldwide. Indonesia has the largest number, followed by India. Turkey and Iran are other non-Arab countries which are largely Islamic. In this clip you can tour Turkey in 6 minutes from the Christian perspective. Dr. Cynthia narrates significant sights and events from the past few thousand years around Istanbul and Asia Minor.

The video clip includes a reality shot of the call to prayer in Turkey. Being loudly broadcast from mosques across Muslim countries five times a day – from before dawn until bedtime, you can see a sense in which the Qur’an does have a hypnotic and controlling effect among those it touches. Besides this, it impacts a Muslim country’s productivity by interrupting the work day for prayers, and by making it difficult to impossible to get a full night’s sleep.

The Qur’an’s Spell Part 2

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Huda it is like a spell that controls the lives of those living under it. As a child, she was afraid to even touch the Bible. When she started reading the Bible, she found God very clearly speaking. Huda says she feels like she came out of a cage when she left Islam and its spell.  (This somewhat echoes what former Muslim Ayan Hirsi Ali wrote in her book Infidel.)

The Qur’an’s Spell Part 1

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Huda believes the Bible is clear and easy to understand, but not the Qur’an; however, she needed to read it and live under its influence while she lived in the Middle East. She felt she was always attached to the Qur’an. It controlled her from her birth onward until she left the Middle East. The Qur’an’s spell kept her and others from even touching the Bible, so they were not able to learn about the Bible. But when she moved to Europe, she started to come out from under the spell of it.

The Qur’an’s Spell (Arabic)

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In Arabic, Huda’s first language, she tells us that believes the Bible is clear and easy to understand, but not the Qur’an; however, she needed to read it and live under its influence while growing up. She felt she was always attached to the Qur’an. It controlled her from her birth onward until she left the Middle East. The Qur’an’s spell kept her and others from even touching the Bible, and they were not able to learn more about the Bible. But when she moved to Europe, she started to come out from under the spell of it.

The Place of Miracles with Georges Houssney

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Rev. Georges Houssney here gives his opinion on Dr. Cynthia’s situation with three Muslim friends demanding a dream or miracle to convert (See also the video clip with Nabeel Qureshi called “Do I Need a Miracle to Convert?”).

Rev. Houssney, who preaches to Muslims all over the world, tells us that he has seen tremendous miracles and dreams with people leaving Islam. There can also be false miracles and dreams. Dreams and visions do not save people. He has found a danger, he explains, when people start to seek miracles and experiences, rather than the truth of God.

Life as a new believer is not easy. Miracles can some times make us think everything will go our way if we are following God, but that is not the case. Although God may confirm his truth and power to us through a miracle, we must keep our faith in God himself and his Word – the truth, not supernatural manifestations.

The Importance of Discipleship with Bob Siegel

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How can a new believer from a background radically different than that taught by the Bible become a strong, mature Christian? By a process we call discipleship.

The followers of Jesus went through three years of discipleship with him before they were ready to begin their own ministries. Three years even though they were Jewish background, meaning they already had a good deal of knowledge about the one true God and the prophecies of Jesus Christ.

Imagine the challenges facing a new believer from a Muslim background who wants to live as a Christian! Everything is so different (II Corinthians 5:17). From the true character of God to his plan for salvation, from the lives of Bible characters to how we live the Christian life – all of these differ dramatically in Christianity from what they have learned in Islam. Add to that ingrained old life patterns and reflexes and you start to see the challenge.

New believers need to learn the importance of Bible study and devotions, prayer, fellowship with other believers, and living in the image of Christ. In “The Importance of Discipleship” Bob Siegel explains to new believers, for example Huda, that in addition to Bible study and prayer, living alongside mature believers is the best way for a new believer to progress in discipleship.

The Healing Waters of Hot Springs, South Dakota

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This reality and travel clip introduces the topic of healing and miracles, with a visit to a famous healing spot from history: the hot springs of Hot Springs, South Dakota. Hot Springs, South Dakota is noted for exactly what the name claims: natural hot springs. In fact, the hot mineral water not only bubbles out of the earth, it creates a beautiful mossy hot waterfall and an actual stream of hot water. The stream passes through a gully between the sandstone buildings of the small town of Hot Springs, and the red sandstone cliff opposite. The video clip shows you all of these natural and developed features.

In the past Native Americans, and subsequently American settlers, believed in the healing powers of the hot mineral springs of this region. There were not always valid medical treatments for many diseases, and the soothing effect of the hot springs often seemed to bring relief. Before the region was settled by outsiders, there was a major battle between the Sioux and Cheyenne on nearby Battle Mountain for control of the hot springs. Eventually, the Native Americans agreed to share the spot.

As the popularity of mineral springs for medical treatment has declined in the face of more specific and effective medications, so has the popularity of Hot Springs, South Dakota. However, its waters are now free to all who visit this somewhat remote spot, regardless of ethnic background.

Human beings of all races have suffered illness since the beginning of time, and have sought a variety of means for healing. Whether from natural hot springs, prescribed medication, or miraculous intervention, all healing comes from God.

Testimony of Jewish Background Believer with Bob Siegel

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In his testimony, Jewish background believer Bob Siegel shares his experience of leaving his old faith and way of life to become a Christian. As for Muslims, becoming a Christian from a Jewish background was a huge change of not only faith, but culture and family for Bob.

Bob shares that a big influence on him was the Holy Spirit. He sensed the Holy Spirit through the lives of Christians he knew, and he knew that they had something special. Later, as he opened his heart to the message of Christ, he was flooded with a sense of peace and truth by the Holy Spirit in what might be called a “natural miracle.”

Occult Practices in The Middle East with Georges Houssney

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Guest Rev. Georges Houssney and Dr. Cynthia discuss especially common occultic practices with Muslims and former Muslim Christians. Since the Bible renounces such practices, they comment on ways to recognize and combat them.

Although pure Islam is against occultic practices, superstitions, amulets, spells, reading of coffee grounds, and astrology are a common in most Islamic cultures. Sometimes this is called, “Folk Islam,” but it is more than just the common folk that follow these. Thus, sooner or later a Christian working with Muslims or a Muslim background believer will need to confront these practices.

Even verses of the Qur’an can be used as a talisman by Muslims. For example, they can be worn in a necklace or inscribed on a surface for protection. Most schools of Islamic thought reject using the Qur’an as an amulet. However, since the words of the Koran in Arabic are felt to have power and gain credit for the speaker at the Day of Judgment, we can see how Muslims could fall into this trap.

Nabeel Qureshi’s Decision to Follow Jesus

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Dr. Nabeel Qureshi shares with us his spiritual journey, and decision to follow Jesus from a Muslim background. Nabeel came from a very loving and spiritual family. His parents came to America as missionaries to bring what they believed was the truth of Islam to Americans.  Nabeel was 100% sure Islam was correct. But during his university years a good friend began to challenge him about the truth of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, as well as unpleasant details about Islamic history and laws.

As Nabeel grew closer to the truth, the cost of believing it began to dawn on him. If he crossed over to Christianity from Islam, he would deeply hurt and risk loosing his precious family. God confirmed the truth to him with dreams, but also challenged him through his word. He read in Matthew 10:37-39 that whoever loves his family more than Jesus is not worthy of him, and that to truly follow Jesus we loose our life for his sake – but will end up actually finding it. This is what Nabeel did. (You can read more of Nabeel’s story in his book “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus” available at Amazon.

Miracles Natural and Supernatural, with Nabeel Qureshi

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A Christian co-worker shared an opinion with Dr. Cynthia in the case of a Muslim student. Since this student came to America partly to learn about Christianity and met Dr. C 10 days later, he said, “You are that person’s miracle!”

Acts 17:26,27 tells us that God moves people around so that they can have experiences which will lead them closer to him. We see this happening now with the obvious migration of people groups from restricted nations into the West, where they have greater opportunities to hear the gospel. Both this sort of “natural” intervention of God, as well as more glamorous supernatural manifestations, are all “miracles” through which God draws us to himself.

Islam Restricts Learning and Choice

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As a young girl Huda received a Bible from a friend. She hid it because she was afraid for her parents to see it, because she was not even allowed to touch the Bible. If she had been allowed to learn about the Bible she would have become a Christian long before. After studying religions as an adult in the free world, she says is very clear that Jesus is the one Son of God. However, she was not given the ability to choose what religion she wanted to follow until she moved out of the Middle East.

Is There Power in the Words of the Qur’an?

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Each letter of the Qur’an is believed to have power. Reciting the Qur’an in Arabic is like an incantation. Whether a literal spell or not, the power of the Qur’an keeps people’s minds in a box so that they can not think about other faiths or even question their own.

Is it Wrong to Ask for a Miracle? with Bob Siegel

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In Matthew 16:4 Jesus told the religious leaders who demanded a miracle from him that “a wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign.” When does this passage come into play, and is it wrong to ask for a miracle? Bob Siegel tells us it has a lot to do with the attitude of those asking for the miracle.