“No, but…”: A Review of Nabeel Qureshi’s “Answering Jihad”

by ggeurs

This is a review of the book Answering Jihad by Nabeel Qureshi.

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Is Islam a religion of peace or violence? Yes. Well, which one is it? Yes. As a Western Christian, should I be concerned or not concerned with the expansion of the Muslim community globally? Yes. Nabeel Qureshi’s book Answering Jihad is a text that provides a lens for non-Muslim individuals to be able to look at Islam thoughtfully. Although there were some parts of the book that troubled me, overall the book was an acceptable read.

In his book, Qureshi aims to provide a comprehensive understanding for Westerners as to what “jihad” really is based on the history of Islam, its presence in America and Western society, and its relationship to the other two largest Middle Eastern originating religions: Judaism and Christianity. Qureshi works to demonstrate how some Western conceptions of Islam are valid, but the extent to which the religion is viewed can border on misconception.

One big question raised early in the book which I appreciated Qureshi’s treatment of is the question of whether or not Islam is a religion of peace or violence. The short answer without ruining the section of the book is that in reality, Islam is a religion which was born out of violence but many of whose followers follow one stream or another of it as the religion has progressed so that to many it is a religion of peace and to others it is a religion of holy violence. And other topics in the book receive a similar treatment. Read the book for a more informative analyses.

Where I felt bothered in the book was in the quotes and excerpts from Islamic holy texts (Quran included). As a Christian, I am used to my holy book being taken out of context not just by non-believers, but by many who are a part of the Church. As I was reading and Qureshi would quote from the sacred texts, I was unable to shut off the voice in the back of my head which kept asking, “Okay, but what does this passage mean in the larger context of the work from which he cited it?”

Answering Jihad does exactly what the title says it is going to do. It addresses the idea of jihad in 21st Century life, looking at it from both angles (peacefuly and not so peaceful) and provides a light to illuminate many of the intricacies in the Islam that people in Western society may not understand. As the title of this review indicates, the matter of making sense of Islam is complex enough that no clear answer can be provided, but plenty of conversations can be initiated.

I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for a review. I was not obligated to post a positive review; the opinions expressed are my own.

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