By: Mosab Hassan Yousef
Whatever you think this book is about—there will be another layer to the story. Whatever your initial impression of the book’s major characters, it will change. Whatever you think is going to happen—well, it’s complicated. I do not think I have ever read a more apt subtitle for a book, “Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices.” This is a tale of tragedy and hope, and the redeeming work of God involved in the life of author Mosab Hassan Yousef.
Yousef is the son of one the founding members of Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic terrorist organization which is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. He grew up Islamic and sympathetic to Hamas, but eventually came to doubt their beliefs and goals. His changing sympathies and beliefs leave him stuck in the middle of a conflict that cannot be won by man, and reveal the power of God to redeem.
Know that in the end, Yousef becomes a Christian. If you find yourself a little uncomfortable with whom he seems to sympathize with in the beginning of the book, please continue reading. Yousef loves his family, has a unique point of view by the nature of his birth and family, and his transformation is drastic. He wrestles with these issues in a simple and transparent way that reveals his character. He shares his story as someone who had much to lose, and he has—his childhood beliefs, his culture, and his family. What he gains is faith and wisdom, from sources he previously had been taught to fight.
I rarely use the term “page turner” to describe a good story. I will make an exception, in this case. Yousef’s life and his involvement in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict are simply fascinating. He becomes an informant for Shin Bet, the Israeli intelligence agency after he served time in an Israeli prison. During this time, he is introduced to Christianity and he grapples with the reality of evil, his love for his family, and the teaching to love his enemies.
Some of his accounts are shocking—the truth about the Middle East is disturbing and brutal. The loss of life and the realities of living that close to the conflict is sobering. This book is an excellent primer for understanding the conflict in the Middle East. I gained a much better understanding of the distinctions in the various terrorist groups, Israeli history, and a few more subtleties in regards to the Israel/ Palestinian tensions.
What emerges from the text is the story of a man transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the realization of the limits that political groups can play in the Middle East conflict. Yousef says plainly that Jesus’ teaching to “Love your enemies” is the only solution to the conflict in the Middle East. If you think his advice is glib, you have much to learn about Yousef’s life and conversion. You will not be disappointed if you read this book.
Thank you to the people at Tyndale House Publishing for a copy of this book for review.