Thursday, October 7, 2010

Book Review: Son of Hamas

First let me say this:  I am usually not a fan of spy thrillers.  It just so happens though, that this one is true.  I really loved this book.  Because of the nature of the topic, it was tough for me to read at times.

Mosab Hassan Yousef is the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of the seven founders of the Hamas organization.  You might have already guessed that he lived his entire life amongst considerable danger and violence.  But what I didn't expect was a rich tale of Palestinian family life.  On some level, I found myself really liking his father (despite of what he promoted or tolerated.)  This book put a human face on those we consider to be the enemy.  The depth of the book comes from the author's experiences living a life that most of us only hear about.  He gives a non-spun perspective of political figures and devastating decisions made by leaders such as Yasser Arafat. 

On the family path to become a terrorist, Yousef is captured by the Isaeli security forces.   After a less than comfortable stay in an Israeli prison, he is offered the opportunity to work for the Shin Bet as a double agent taking out suicide bombers in his Father's organization.  As the story continues, Yousef meets Christian friends and is given a Bible.  Throughout the book you can see the evolution of his heart from a terrorist into a born again believer in Jesus Christ.  Even before he could accept the fact that Jesus was God, he saw God changing his heart through His Word.  He had a love for Christ's teachings for some time before he actually became a Christian.  Killing became unthinkable.  Forgiveness became natural.

The thing that I liked most about this book (and actually surprised me most) is that it deepened my compassion for Palestinian people who are caught up in  the hatred and heated emotion of terrorism.  Not compassion in the sense that I believe that terrorism is ever the answer, but compassion for the very hearts of these people.  Yousef's father is a very passionate man who loves Allah with an impressive devotion.  Surprisingly enough, he is not a violent man.  Should he come to a relationship with Jesus, he would be the kind of man all of us would likely look up to.  It is encouraging to think how God can use Yousef's story to reach a seemingly unreachable people.

Yousef concludes the postscript of the book stating:  "Truth and forgiveness are the only solutions for the Middle East.  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." 

Jesus is the answer.

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