Thousands of people commemorated the late Christian author and evangelist Nabeel Qureshi on Thursday, September 21, 2017, during his funeral. Qureshi, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity, passed away on September 16 at 34-years-old after a year-long battle with stomach cancer.
Hundreds attended the moving service in person at First Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. In addition, many viewers – more than 14,000 simultaneously at one point – watched online, and a constant stream of comments poured in recalling Qureshi’s legacy. Surely many of those who attended or tuned in to the funeral were among the thousands who had heard Quershi share his testimony in person, or hundreds of thousands who read his bestselling books, including Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus and No God but One.
Evangelist Ravi Zacharias eulogized Qureshi at the funeral, recalling his young colleague as “not only a man of conviction” but “a man of passion.” Qureshi served alongside Zacharias for more than four years at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, speaking about Christian apologetics around the world. Zacharias recalled firsthand examples of the countless lives that Qureshi had touched through his ministry.
“You see, to him [Nabeel] the grace of Jesus Christ through the Cross of Christ was the most remarkable truth that he wanted to carry to the world,” Zacharias explained. “And once his blindness was gone he understood that.”
Zacharias shared encouragement with Qureshi’s parents and relatives and a commitment to keep them in his prayers. He reserved his most poignant words for Qureshi’s wife, Michelle, and daughter, Ayah.
Michelle, you have walked a lonely road for the last year. You are a woman of very few words, but you’re an amazing woman who has stayed strong. And your daughter will probably never have the privilege of truly remembering her dad except through videos and through the memory of his powerful messages all over. May she follow in his footsteps in the faith and understanding of the passion with which he lived for his Lord and loved her dearly. You know very well his greatest concern was for Ayah and wondering how she would fare without the arms of her dad. That picture on the back of the program is a magnificent picture. You will be in our prayers, Michelle, and let Ayah know I will be praying for her, too.
Zacharias affirmed that his friend’s “pain is now over” in the obituary he wrote recalling Qureshi, published by The Washington Post on September 17. Zacharias added: “I do not mourn for him. I mourn for our broken world, where so much hate and destruction abounds.”
During his battle with cancer, Qureshi’s faith in God remained steadfast, as clear through his regular video updates. His greatest concern remained for his non-Christian relatives, and for his young daughter having to grow up without a father.
Qureshi gave a talk while undergoing radiation, emblematic of his Christ-centered perspective, which should serve as an inspiration to every Christian as they grapple with issues of life, death, and immortality. He combined elements of hope and trust in God’s ultimate purposes, while pointing his listeners back to the cross. Qureshi’s words remain relevant now more than ever upon his passing:
But let’s say that the worst should happen, and let’s say God should take me through this disease. I had all these months to prepare for it. I had all these months to spend with my wife and my daughter, more memories to make, loose ends to tie up, tell my parents I loved them, write more works, write more things to tell the world.
This didn’t have to happen. God could have taken my life just like that! The end could have come just like that. It happens for people all around the world. So who am I to say this is a tragedy of the worst order? It’s not. There’s much worse going on in the world today.
But no matter what is going on, I cannot think of something worse than being crucified. And of all the reasons to be crucified, I cannot think of anything worse than to be crucified because I love the people who are crucifying me to save the very people that are crucifying me. That is the worst!
And I think about what through Jesus went through us on the Cross. When I start feeling self-pity, and I starting thinking, “What is happening to me,” I just turn my eyes to Jesus. I say, “Jesus, what you did for me on the Cross far outweighs anything I’m going through right now.”