The book “Son Of Hamas” is an autobiography written by Mosab Hassan Yousef and chronicles his conservative Muslim upbringing within the Hamas power struggle. The book became a real page turner when he started to share his experience as a collaborator for Shin Bet and his conversion to Christianity. This book has been on my reading list since it was published in 2008, but only recently have I had the time to search for it and read it.
The style of the book is very frank in nature. Yousef describes bloody scenes of terrorism and reprisal in a way that sometimes seems detached. He goes on to explain how these experiences affected him in a deeply personal and moving way. However, the style of writing tells me that 1) the sheer quantity of violence a Palestinian witnesses in a lifetime is numbing, and 2) the culture in Israel and Palestine doesn’t value life the way we do in the United States, or even in Europe. Though these points may seem rather obvious it is important we do not take them for granted as we read this book.
My understanding of the political circumstances in Palestine improved exponentially after reading this book. I will admit my understanding was very weak before reading this book, but I think that is typical of 99% of Americans. We tend to trust the information fed to us by the media (both conservative and liberal) that is always heavily slanted one way or the other. Yousef does a marvelous job capturing the Palestinian bitterness over the Israeli occupation and conservative Muslim predispositions toward Jihad early in the book, as he explains how he was filled with hatred for Israel as a youth. Ultimately he made a decision to act on that hatred, which landed him in prison. On the flip side, he does an excellent job of describing the events and circumstances that led to his decision to help the Israelis. These involved seeing the Israelis as people instead of objects of hatred, witnessing the cruelty of Hamas against the Palestinians, and seeing his father, a non-violent Muslim, passively condone the violence of Hamas against Israel.
The most important theme of the book in the eyes of Yousef is the power of Jesus Christ to solve the problems in the Middle East. That is Yousef’s mission in this life. More precisely, the command that Jesus gave us to love our enemies is the passage in scripture that led Yousef to Christ. He is right to believe that if 1,000 influential men on each side took this command to heart, they could change the world and save many lives in Palestine. Admittedly, to us this seems rather far fetched considering the Jews and Muslims have been at each other since 1948. On the other hand, would you ever have thought one of the most powerful men in Hamas could embrace Christ and work to save lives in Israel? This is an incredible story that should give us a great deal of hope.
After finishing the book, I spent some time combing the internet for additional material about this interesting man. What I found were a couple of very good speeches he gave to a secular audience. One of these speeches in particular struck me between the eyes. Even though Yousef became a follower of Christ, he is very critical of the American church because of our many denominations and our tendency toward legalism. In Yousef’s view, a follower of Christ is a follower of Christ and the disunity that is created by all of our denominations and silly rules only distracts us from what is most important – the spreading of the gospel of Christ. I happen to agree with him.