Tuesday, July 27, 2010

In Defense of Nabeel Qureshi

Due to their ministry efforts in explaining and critiquing the Islamic religion, Acts 17 Apologetics has been the target of propaganda by various Muslims online. One such example is a YouTube channel that goes by the name of RefutingActs17. Whoever runs this channel has been busy taking pot shots at various Acts 17 members, although careful viewers should note that there is little actual substance to the attacks being made. Be that as it may, there are some videos on that channel where Nabeel Qureshi’s statements are chopped up into short little sound bites and used as ammo to attack Nabeel. It is worth taking a look at some of these attempts:

Description: Just watch the bigoted and islamophobic sentiments of Nabeel Qureshi flow as he visits 'Islam-o-Town' of London.

Comment: Now, you could probably conclude from the short sound bite offered that Nabeel is providing us with “bigoted and islamophobic sentiments.” However, there is a bit of sleight of hand here, as viewing the original video in its context reveals that there is nothing bigoted or islamophobic about what he said. Immediately after saying “things are getting a lot more Islamic around here,” he then goes on to say, "and really, I have no problem with that. If Islam is a religion of peace and there's no stifling of personal rights or anything of that sort, I have no problem with that." It is really quite dishonest to just pluck that one statement out of context and use it to misrepresent what Nabeel is actually trying to convey here.

Of course, Nabeel goes on to explain that "that is not the case" based on some facts that he cites, not to mention his own observations while in London. And he is not being totally negative either. He even says at one point that he doesn't agree with all of the claims that other critics of Islam make. Whatever the case, what he says is certainly true, so this particular pot shot really does not really succeed accomplish anything other than demonstrating the fact that the video maker has a serious axe to grind against Acts 17 Apologetics.

Description: Watch-out! The Dearborn Muslim Youth are both racist and threatening according to Nabeel Qureshi.

Comment: At the time that this video was made, the footage of the racist and threatening comments had not yet been released. However, since the video footage proving that the claims made by Paul Rezkalla were right all along have been released, I think it would be safe to say that this particular attack no longer really holds. This is just an example of how these Islamic propagandists are seeking to take advantage of the media blackout to cast doubt on the honesty and integrity of the Acts 17 members.

Description: We've finally been able to put together a convincing argument that Nabeel was never a Muslim, and never has been a Muslim. Nabeel was an Ahmadi, a member of a highly heretical deviant group known as Ahmadiyya. They are branded as heretics in every Muslim country and barely make up even 0.1% of the entire Muslim Populace.

Comment: I have always known that Nabeel Qureshi was a former Ahmadi. This really isn’t particularly new to me, and neither am I surprised that those who are within the fold of Orthodox Sunni Islam would use this as an excuse to discredit his testimony.

First of all, it is ridiculous to claim that he tries to pass himself off as a former mainstream Muslim. I have heard him give his testimony before on Iron Sharpens Iron, and he is quite clear about being a former member of the Ahmadiyya movement. In an article he wrote on the massacre of Ahmadis that took place in Lahore two months ago, he states, “The victims were Ahmadi Muslims, the sect of Islam in which I was born and raised.”[1] And to top it all off, in his conversion story, he makes it quite explicit in an endnote that he was raised as an Ahmadi:

I mention that I had learned a very peaceful version of Islam. I belonged to the Ahmadiyya movement in Islam, a sect that many Muslims consider heretical. One of the distinguishing features of this movement is that they consider military jihad to be abolished. As I wish to be forthright with all my readers, this note serves to explicitly state which sect of Islam I belonged to.[2]

As for whether the fact that Nabeel is a former Ahmadi makes him a liar: Whether Ahmadis actually are Muslims or not is not really my concern. However, let me concede just for the sake of argument that the Sunnis are correct in saying that Ahmadis are not really Muslims . That does not mean that he is lying. In order to be a liar, you would have to know that what you are saying is false. However, since Nabeel was taught all his life that he was a Muslim, and he took this for granted to be true, the worst charge that one could raise against him is that he had been tricked by his Jama’at into honestly (albeit mistakenly) believing that he was a Muslim when he actually wasn’t.

Let me give an equivalent from a Christian perspective: I deal with various cults (such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons) that profess to be Christian, even though they deny many of the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith. Now, I could say that they had been fed lies by their leaders, but I would not say that they are liars themselves. They may be honest in thinking themselves to be Christians, but they are honestly mistaken.

So why does he not mention these things to the youths he is dialoguing with in the video? The answer is obvious: As the video maker himself acknowledges (0:27-0:30), the youths don’t even know what an Ahmadi is! There are more important things that needed to be discussed, so delineating the differences between Orthodox Islam and the Ahmadiyya movement would be a waste of time at this point.

(Note: In the comments section of this video, it appears that the channel owner has blocked the person who had been calling for Nabeel’s execution. Kudos to the channel owner for distancing himself from such a violent extremist, yet this does not soften the arguments that are being raised against him.)

Description: Nabeel Qureshi admitted from the very beginning that he had willingly accepted a flawed religious text.

Comment: The vast majority of Muslims know little about textual criticism, and many of the ones who do rely on some rather biased sources such as Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus.[3] Suffice to say, the video maker does not really explain anything, but is once again taking one little sound bite and ripping out of context (I even chuckle a bit at one of the video comments that talks about “30,000 corrupt manuscripts that all differ from one another.”). Now, it is true that when copies of the bible are produced, the scribes inevitably make copying errors. However, the vast majority of these errors are neither viable (the errors are obvious or are produced way too late to have any chance of being the original reading) nor significant (minor copying errors like spelling errors and word order that do not affect the meaning of the text). Also, an error made by a scribe in one part of the world will most likely not affect manuscripts made anywhere else in the world, which is why comparing manuscripts that were copied in widely divergent geographical regions is a very effective method of filtering out textual variants and verifying the original reading.

Ultimately, it is not a question of whether manuscripts of the bible have errors in them, but whether these errors prevent us from knowing what the original text of the bible actually says. You can have thousands of manuscripts that all have errors in them, but unless every single manuscript has mistakes in the exact same spot (and really, this is where the “they all differ from one another” argument falls flat on its face), this is does not provide any evidence that the bible has been corrupted. In fact, given the superior textual tradition of the bible compared to other literary works dating from the same age, we have much more certainty on what the bible says than any other book written before the invention of the printing press. It is truly “an embarrassment of riches,” as renowned textual scholar Daniel Wallace often puts it. As Dr. Bruce Metzger states in his Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament,

During the twentieth century, with the discovery of several New Testament manuscripts much older than any that had hitherto been available, it has become possible to produce editions of the New Testament that approximate ever more closely to what is regarded as the wording of the original documents[4]

To add to this, Drs. Normal Geisler and William Nix also state that,

The New Testament, then, has not only survived in more manuscripts than any other book from antiquity, but it has survived in a purer form than any other great book—a form that is 99.5 percent pure.[5]

I would add to this that in the remaining 0.5 percent where there is any signficant doubt concerning the original reading, not a single cardinal Christian doctrine is affected. In other words, our biblical faith remains intact. (For more information, see this article that I wrote for the Aristophrenium)


I doubt that this will be the last time I have to deal with RefutingActs17, as the channel owner has only recently begun to start posting videos criticizing Acts 17 Apologetics. However, a quick skim through the videos in question show that there is very little substance to the claims being made. For the most part, what you get is a volley of name-calling such as “bigoted,” “islamophobic,” “tinkerbell,” etc. Nevertheless, I hope that this article will help to expose the false accusations being raised against Nabeel Qureshi and the other members of Acts 17, and vindicate these brothers and sister in Christ.

End Notes
  1. Qureshi, Nabeel. Muslims Slaughter 70 of My People, Who Are Also Muslims. Answering Muslims. <http://www.answeringmuslims.com/2010/05/muslims-slaughter-70-of-my-people-who.html>.

  2. Qureshi, Nabeel. Crossing Over: An Intellectual and Spiritual Journey from Islam to Christianity. Answering Islam. <http://www.answering-islam.org/Authors/Qureshi/testimony.htm>.

  3. I do not have the space or time to explain the problems with Ehrman’s arguments, so I would like to direct the reader to Daniel Wallace’s review of Misquoting Jesus: <http://bible.org/article/gospel-according-bart>.

  4. Metzger, Bruce M. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Second Edition). Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994. p. 10.

  5. Geisler, Norman L. And William E. Nix. A General Introduction to the Bible. Chicago IL: Moody Press, 1980. p. 367.

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