Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Book Review: Son of Hamas

This book is hard to stop reading.  The author, Mosab Hassan Yousef, is my age, but he grew up in a world startlingly more dangerous than mine.  From his bio:
"His father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, is a founding leader of Hamas, internationally recognized as a terrorist organization and responsible for countless suicide bombings and other deadly attacks against Israel. Yousef was an integral part of the movement, for which he was imprisoned several times by the Shin Bet, the Israeli intelligence service. He withstood torture in prison only to discover Hamas was torturing its own people in a relentless search for collaborators. He began to question who his enemies really were—Israel? Hamas? America? After a chance encounter with a British tourist, Yousef started a six-year quest that jeopardized Hamas, endangered his family and threatened his life."
Mosab eventually became a double agent for the Shit Bet himself, helping them to prevent suicide bombings.  

The book provides a very helpful and balanced portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Mosab doesn't hesitate to lay blame at the feet of both Israeli and Palestinian leadership.  It helped me to see how complex the issues really are, and to understand better why the Palestinian people act with violence at times.  And yet the story is told with a tenderness and passion that prevent it from being even slightly academic.

His insight into the failures of both Judaism and Islam prompted him to consider a third option.  He converted to Christianity, although he kept it more or less a secret until he escaped to the United States. 

The story of his conversion to Christianity is the only weak spot I see in the book.  Mosab's description of his conversion is fuzzy.  The gospel itself is not mentioned until the Postscript, and then only in the briefest of rather cliched terms, in what appears to be an attempt by his American co-author to appease an evangelical audience.  One is left wondering whether Mosab came to Christ for rescue from the power of sin, or simply because he saw that Jesus' moral teachings were ethically superior to those of Muhammad.  I don't mean to imply that Mosab is insincere; I believe he is.  I just don't know how well he's understood the message of the gospel yet.

Let's pray for this young man.  He has seen and lived through things that no young man should have to face.  May God guard and mature the tender sprout of faith in Mosab's heart, so that it will grow and bear much fruit in due season.

If you want a book that will motivate you to pray for both Jews and Muslims, this book is a great pick.  Much more information is available at

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