Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue and Unthinkable Choices, by Mosab Hassan Yousef. Saltriver 2010, 265 pgs.
Rarely a day passes that we do not hear of some atrocity perpetrated by some followers of Islam. The perennial flash point for many of such atrocities is the Middle East especially against the state of Israel. Since the inception of the Jewish homeland in 1947, Israel has remained on a constant war footing against the assails of formal military incursions, Palestinian civilian backlash and individual homicide-bombers. In the past few decades, this hot bed of violence has birthed organizations such as Islamic Jihad, PLO and others. . This memoir is an insider’s look into one of the most infamous of these terror groups, Hamas.
What makes this book particularly compelling is that the author is Mosab Hassan Yousef. His father is Sheikh Hassan Yousef one of the founding members of Hamas and its most popular leader. From an early age, Mosab was groomed in Islamic doctrine and taught the secrets of an entity that has as its goal the destruction of the Jewish state. Through an engaging narrative, the reader is brought into the seamy world of terror and counter terror as Yousef reveals the tactics and worldviews that drive Jew, Arab and Christian.
Remarkably, in the providence of God, Yousef encounters a Christian missionary shortly after release from prison at age 17. He is handed a New Testament and invited to attend a regular Bible study and begins reading the Sermon on the Mount in Yousef’s words:
Wow, this guy Jesus is really impressive! Everything he says is beautiful. I couldn’t put the book down. Every verse seemed to touch a deep wound in my life. It was a very simple message, but somehow it had the power to heal my soul and give me hope.
Then I read this: “You have heard it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45).
That’s it! I was thunderstruck by these words. Never before had I heard anything like this, but I knew that this was the message I had been searching for all my life.
The words that follow next summarize the true and ultimate nature of the battle being waged in the Middle East.
For years I had struggled to know who my enemy was, and I had looked for enemies outside of Islam and Palestine. But I suddenly realized that the Israelis were not my enemies……. I saw that enemies were not defined by nationality, religion, or color. I understood that we all share the same common enemies: greed, pride and all the bad ideas and the darkness of the devil that live inside us. That meant I could love anyone. The only real enemy was the enemy inside me. P. 122
Putting his newfound faith into action, Yousef begins the remarkable life of an Israeli double agent, feeding the Shin Bet information pertaining to Hamas movements and planned terror strikes. As the eldest son of Sheikh Yousef, Mosab had privileged inner access to the workings of not only Hamas, but a number of other terror groups as well. The goal this time however, was to stop the wanton destruction of life on both sides of the divide.
There was too much blood, I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I didn’t see it just through the eyes of a Muslim or a Palestinian or even as the son of Hassan Yousef anymore. Now I saw it through Israeli eyes too. And even more importantly, I watched the mindless killing through the eyes of Jesus, who agonized for those who were lost. I read the Bible, the more clearly I saw this single truth: Loving and forgiving one’s enemies is the only real way to stop the bloodshed. P. 148
This is one the most engaging books I have read in recent years. Yousef’s remarkable testimony to the Grace of God in conversion is far and away the most compelling aspect of this book. However, the western reader will also be well served in Yousef’s cultural and religious analysis of a worldview that compels people to kill in the service of Allah. What chilled me most is the story of Yousef’s father, who, by all accounts is a peace loving man; who would never consider shooting someone in the name of religion yet condones violence perpetrated by Arabs against Israelis because the Qoran permits it. This is a must read for all Westerners and will undoubtedly lift the fog of ignorance and apathy that surrounds most discussions concerning Islamic incursions into our culture.