Well-known author and Christian speaker Nabeel Qureshi has widely discussed his conversion from Islam to Christianity, and his realization, as he says, that "Islam really is violent at its core."
Qureshi, author of the new book "Answering Jihad," recently told TheBlaze that "radicalization is on the increase" and that he doesn't believe that it will stop, tying increases in extremism with more access to traditional Muslim teachings.
According to Qureshi, before the 1900s Muslims spent hundreds of years following an Islam in which ever-growing tradition helped to separate believers from the Koran and the hadith — a collection of sayings and traditions surrounding the Prophet Muhammad.
[sharequote align="center"]"People are reading the texts and they're seeing for themselves what the Koran says."[/sharequote]
"Since the 1900s, people have had more and more access to the texts themselves," he said. "Muslims can read the Koran for themselves ... so people are reading the texts and they're seeing for themselves what the Koran says. People can go online and they can read the life of Muhammad without having to travel to an Islamic library."
With more access comes a greater recognition of what is inside of the texts and teachings that underpin the faith, according to Qureshi.
Listen to him discuss what he believes is causing radicalization below:
"Once you start doing that you realize just how far these traditions have sometimes departed from what the Koran teaches, what the hadith teaches," he said. "What we are seeing is a Muslim reformation, and they're trying to live out the Koran and the hadith."
Qureshi said that Muslims are faced with three options after they read the Koran and the hadith and "see that it's violent," describing the resulting dynamic as constituting a "three-prong fork in the road."
[sharequote align="center"]"What we are seeing is a Muslim reformation."[/sharequote]
He said that people can either become apathetic and stop believing, become an apostate and leave the faith as he has — or become radical.
"Prong number three is, you can say, 'This is my religion. This is what it teaches. I have to follow,' and you can become radicalized," Qureshi said. "And that's what we're seeing — decreased numbers of nominal Muslims around the world."
When asked if Islam is a peaceful religion, Qureshi said that the majority of Muslims are peaceful, but that Islam itself has many expressions, saying that one must first explore what Islam is before being able to answer the question.
"When I think of the word 'Islam' I'm thinking of the historical core of the faith, the religion that Muhammad left before centuries of tradition were added to it," he said. "And if you're looking at Islam that way, then there's no question Islam is not a religion of peace. Muhammad used violence."
As for "jihad" — a Muslim term that has sparked social and political debate — he said that it was originally the Arabic word for "struggle," but that it is used in the Koran many times to discuss violent struggle.
Author and Christian speaker Nabeel Qureshi (Facebook/Nabeel Qureshi)
"As you see it used in Muhammad's life in the hadith — the collection of traditions and stories from Muhammad's life — we see it becomes a term that encapsulates fighting to advance or promote Islam or even to defend [it] at times," Qureshi said.
He also told TheBlaze about his own conversion, which happened about a decade ago when he was in his 20s. While he was confident in his Islamic faith and believed that "it was God's true religion," he said that things changed after he encountered a confident Christian.
"We ended up having long conversations and over the course of a few years I began to see that the case for Islam was much worse off than I thought, whereas the evidence for Christianity was very strong," he said.
[sharequote align="center"]"I began to see that the case for Islam was much worse off than I thought."[/sharequote]
Over time, Qureshi said that he began praying to God for understanding. He specifically requested that the Lord bring him dreams — something that he said did unfold (read more about those dreams here).
"Through three dreams he confirmed what I had found and ultimately led me to the scriptures," he said. "And it was while I was reading the Bible that I gave my life to Christ."
In the end, Qureshi said that he believes Islam intentionally rejects the Christian message of who God is. Find out more about his new book "Answering Jihad" here.
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