Book Review: Son of Hamas

“Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices” by Mosab Hassan Yousef

There’s a saying that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. This book is proof that truth can be more exciting as well.

Mosab Hassan Yousef is the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of the founders of Hamas, an Islamic resistance movement which has been classified as a terrorist organization. His father remains one of the organization’s most prominent members and spokesmen.

This book, written with help from Ron Brackin, is Mosab’s story of growing up in the Gaza Strip, taking part in the Arab resistance, being arrested and tortured by the Israeli Defense Force then recruited into the Shin-Bet (an Israeli intelligence organization), and becoming the agency’s most valuable asset in preventing terrorist attacks and bringing terrorist leaders to justice. For ten years, Mosab lived a double life, seen as a leader of Hamas by all but a few, all the while passing information to the Israeli’s.

Though the harrowing accounts of near-death experiences and top-secret spycraft are the stuff of blockbuster movies, the real strength of the book is the insight it gives the reader into Mosab’s thought processes and inner turmoil. Agreeing to work with his hated enemies against the family and community he loved was no simple choice. His motivation was to help stop the senseless violence, particularly after seeing that what he had believed about Arabs and Jews was not the full truth.

Through Mosab’s eyes, we begin to see the complexities of the Middle Eastern situation. Nothing is black-and-white. The fight between Israelis and Palestinians is not the fight of good vs. evil. Some of Israel’s soldiers and tactics are as cruel and barbaric as anything their Palestinian counterparts have come up with, while others are sensitive and caring toward their enemies. Many of Hamas’ members are otherwise kind and loving men, driven to do unspeakable things by an ideology founded on a grotesque and perverted understanding of who God is. Jewish settlers fight to defend what they see as “their” land, while dispossessed Palestinians — a mixed bag of devout Muslims, Christians, atheists, and the nominally religious, many of whom retain keys to the homes and properties taken from their families in the middle of the last century — are often oppressed by their own leaders even more than by Israel.

Woven throughout the story is the account of Mosab’s slow conversion to Christianity. After a chance encounter with a British Christian, he read the Bible for the first time and was struck by Christ’s command to “love your enemies”, and by how different this was from the Qur’an’s portrayal of Allah. For years he struggled to reconcile enemies, even before he came to recognize that Jesus was more than simply a prophet. Eventually he came to believe that Christ was God Himself, and Mosab was secretly baptized.

In the end, Mosab realized that “it no longer mattered who my friends or who my enemies were; I was supposed to love them all.” He saw that the true enemy of both Jews and Muslims — and everyone else — is sin. The solution to the conflict in the Middle East is neither religious nor political, and peace will not come through violence. The only way for a true peace in the Holy Land is for there to be a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit over those people, and for Israelis and Arabs alike to come to see the Prince of Peace as Lord and Savior. In the words of the author: “The challenge, especially between Israelis and Palestinians, is not to find the solution. The challenge is to be the first courageous enough to embrace it.”

My hope is that many people will read this book and come to a greater understanding about the Middle Eastern conflict. Mosab Hassan Yousef suffered great personal expense — his family has disowned him and he is marked for death should he ever return home — to share his message. May we all come to share his heart-brokenness over the spiritual condition of Jews and Muslims, and over the violent effects of sin in his homeland. Even more, may we look forward with eager longing for the consummation of Christ’s kingdom, when He will return in power and glory to defeat the power of sin, death, and hell, once and for all!

Buy it here.

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