Julie Roys: What about going and visiting Islamic centers or mosques as representatives. How much of that is helpful, and then how much maybe goes too far?
Nabeel Qureshi: When we talk about going to a mosque or allowing Muslims to come to a church, I think the main concern that people have is a theological one of sacred space essentially and space that has been dedicated to perhaps someone other than God, spiritual forces other than God. Is that something that's okay to do? Now, that's something that I think everyone will have to make their own determination on.
I personally see no problem with visiting mosques. I think it's a good idea to build bridges, to build relationships and have conversations. So, I don't think that that's a problem, and I have no problem with Muslims coming to churches and having those kinds of conversations.
Now, once again, I don't think we should do anything that implies that we submit or agree with Islamic theology because that's where it gets confusing. So, (it's okay) as long as it's clear that we have our beliefs, you have yours, but we love you as people . . . and we want to uphold your rights and we want to fight for your right to believe what you believe. The Bill of Rights is not just for Christians. It's for everyone. As long as we stand up for people, while not necessarily confusing them as if we're standing up for their beliefs, that's perfectly fine in my opinion.
Julie Roys: I would guess that you draw the line in actually joining in with any prayers or religious activities, because I've known of groups that have done that, even school groups that have done that. That would be a bridge too far, wouldn't it?
Nabeel Qureshi: It depends. For example, I invite Muslims to pray with me all the time. I will say that, "I'm about to pray. Would you like to join with me?" If they say yes, then I pray.
Now, what you don't want to do, though, and I have seen some Christians doing this, is going to a mosque and pray one of the five Daily Prayers with Muslims. They just didn't know what they were doing, so they were told "Stand here. Say these words," and they did it. Doing that is essentially symbolic of being a Muslim. No one but Muslims pray those five Daily Prayers, and the words that are in those prayers are words of submission to Allah, to Muḥammad as his wise prophet. That is definitely a bridge too far.
Basic standing together and asking God, invoking the Father, that's perfectly fine, and I highly suggest you do that. Actually, I do suggest Christians start discipling Muslims while they're still Muslim. There's nothing un-Christian about that.
In part two of this interview, Qureshi discusses whether Islam is a religion of peace and why now is a watershed moment for reaching Muslims with the gospel.
Listen to the full interview with Nabeel Qureshi in Episode One of the podcast, Seeking Truth with Julie Roys. Read the full transcript of the interview here.
On Saturday, January 16, Nabeel Qureshi will debate Miroslav Volf, a key proponent of the view that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. The debate will air on Up For Debate, a live program on Moody Radio featuring host Julie Roys.