On Saturday, September 16, 2017, former Muslim and Christian author Nabeel Qureshi passed away from stomach cancer. He went to join Jesus Christ, leaving a legacy of truth and love, and his final prayer on YouTube has powerful lessons for Christians nearing the end of their lives.
“As you consider my ministry, I hope it leaves a legacy of love, of peace, of truth, of caring for one another,” Qureshi said in his last YouTube video. “That’s my hope and my purpose behind this. And so if at any point I’ve said anything that seems to contravene that, I do apologize, and I hope that’s not the legacy that I leave behind.”
Qureshi passed at the age of 34, leaving a wife and young daughter. He wrote three books: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity, No God But One: Allah or Jesus? A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam & Christianity, and Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward. He also preached with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM).
He was raised a Muslim in the Ahmadi sect, and started researching Islam and Christianity in college. Slowly, he came to the realization that the evidence of history backed up Christianity and that Islam was “utterly incompatible” with that evidence. He had multiple visions of Jesus, and he broke his family’s hearts by converting to Christianity. From then on, he preached the gospel in books and speeches, even after his cancer diagnosis in August of last year.
His passionate study and reasoned arguments have proved a powerful witness, and his careful examination of the differences between Islam and Christianity is an enduring legacy of which any believer should be proud.
One of the most moving aspects of his final witness was his last public prayer, however. Last Friday, a week and one day before he died, Qureshi prayed in a YouTube video. His prayer echoed the struggle of Jesus Christ in the garden of Gethsemane — a passionate plea to have the cup of death removed, but a humble surrender to God’s will.
“Father, we come before you, trusting you even now for a miracle,” Qureshi said. “Even now, you can do a miracle. We saw [Jesus] raise Lazarus from the dead. We see the Lord in Genesis 22 rescue Isaac at the very last second. We see the dead girl raised from the dead. In Luke 7, we see a boy raised from the dead.”
“So God is able, God is more than able. I’m just going to rest in that as best I can. Lord, we know You are able. Please heal, please come through,” the author prayed.
“But if it should be your will, your sovereign will at the end of the day, then I trust you and I love you anyway. We praise you, Lord. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.”
At the time of this prayer, the doctors had told Qureshi that they would start “palliative care,” treating him in order to remove the pain and suffering and let him die peacefully. He knew that, unless God were to provide a powerful miracle, he was going to die.
Qureshi trusted in God. He knew that if Jesus Christ could raise Lazarus, a young girl, and a young boy from the dead, He could stop stomach cancer, even in the final phases.
But the author also trusted that if it was God’s will for him to die, even leaving his wife a widow and his daughter fatherless, God would provide. He trusted that God is good and loving — and worth loving in return — even in the midst of such tragedy.
As Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).
Jesus did not promise Christians a peaceful life, free from tragedy and suffering. Indeed, He promised persecutions — but He also promised an ultimate hope, one beyond imagining and one which makes current sufferings seem insignificant (Romans 8:18).
Nabeel Qureshi was a great man who trusted God in the midst of tragedy. Indeed, he was arrested and spent a night in jail in Dearborn, Mich., for preaching the gospel in 2010. The city later agreed to a settlement and made a public apology.
Qureshi may now be dead, but his ministry will continue to inspire Christians across the globe and to encourage members of every faith to ask deep, probing questions about what they believe and why.
While this author presented some of the strongest and most uncompromising arguments for Christianity, his emphasis on love was extremely important. Such a witness led Slate writer Will Saletan to write this about another Christian leader, Michael Cromartie, who passed away last month:
Here’s what I learned from my years with Michael Cromartie: In a world full of religious hatred, religious violence, religious oppression, and religious stupidity, there’s a better kind of faith. It’s rich, sane, and healthy. It can teach us to think critically, not just about society at large, but about religion itself.
If any man embodied that perspective — in addition to Michael Cromartie, who impressed me as well as he impressed Saletan — it was Nabeel Qureshi. He struggled with reasons for and against God, for and against Allah, for and against Jesus. He was open to debate and new evidence, and loved to engage others.
He struggled with doubt, but never lost his faith in a God who is the root of all truth. More than that, he met his death humbly and walked trustingly into the arms of His Creator. May that be said for all of us.