Son of Hamas, Part 2
12 March 2010
I recently devoured Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices by Mosab Hassan Yousef.
First, you should probably read my previous article, Son of Hamas, Part 1, if you have not done so yet.
This is really an amazing book. Mosab's story is pretty incredible. One thing that really struck me was how, for a number of years, he read the words of Jesus in the Bible, and tried to live by those words, even before he was ready to become a Christian. And how these new values and morals began to have more and more influence in his work for Israeli Intelligence.
As usual, you're going to need to read the entire book, so be sure to add it to your must-read list. But for now I'm going to quote some paragraphs which stuck out to me, which were found spread throughout the whole book.
When I got to the Sermon on the Mount, I thought, "Wow, this guy Jesus is really impressive! Everything he says is beautiful." I couldn't put the book down. Every verse seemed to touch a deep wound in my life. It was a very simple message, but somehow it had the power to heal my soul and give me hope.
Then I read this: "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:43-45).
That's it! I was thunderstruck by these words. Never before had I heard anything like this, but I knew that this was the message I had been searching for all my life.
Five years earlier, I would have read the words of Jesus and thought, "What an idiot!" and thrown away the Bible. But my experiences ... had all combined to prepare me for the power and beauty of this truth. All I could think in response was, "Wow! What wisdom this man had!"
At the same time, while I believed in the teachings of Jesus, I still did not connect him with being God. Even so, my standards had changed suddenly and dramatically, because they were being influenced by the Bible instead of the Qur'an.
As much as I admired Jesus, I didn't believe my Christian friends when they tried to convince me that he was God. Allah was my god. But whether I realized it fully or not, I was gradually adopting the standards of Jesus and rejecting those of Allah.
My conscience was being rewired. Though not yet a Christian, I was really trying to follow the ethical teachings of Jesus. Allah had no problem with murder; in fact, he insisted on it. But Jesus held me to a much higher standard. Now I found I couldn't [condone the] kill[ing of] even a terrorist.
Somehow, I seemed to always benefit from divine protection. I wasn't even a Christian yet.... My Christian friends were praying for me every day, however. And God, Jesus said in Matthew 5:45, "causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." This was certainly a far cry from the cruel and vengeful god of the Qur'an.
When I saw the interrogators, even those who had tortured me during my previous stay, I was surprised to discover that I felt no bitterness whatsoever toward these men. The only way I could explain it was using a verse I had read: Hebrews 4:12 says that "the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow: it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." I had read and pondered these words many times, as well as Jesus' commands to forgive your enemies and love those who mistreat you. Somehow, even though I was still unable to accept Jesus Christ as God, his words seemed to be alive and active and working inside me. I don't know how else I would have been able to see people as people, not Jew or Arab, prisoner or torturer. Even the old hatred that had driven me to buy guns and to plot the deaths of Israelis was being displaced by a love I didn't understand.
It is my greatest hope that, in telling my own story, I will show my own people — Palestinian followers of Islam who have been used by corrupt regimes for hundreds of years — that the truth can set them free.
I tell my story as well to let the Israeli people know that there is hope. If I, the son of a terrorist organization dedicated to the extinction of Israel, can reach a point where I not only learned to love the Jewish people but risked my life for them, there is a light of hope.
My story holds a message for Christians too.... If we are going to represent Jesus to the world, we have to live his message of love. If we want to follow Jesus, we must also expect to be persecuted. We should be happy to be persecuted for his sake.
The message of Jesus — love your enemies — is what finally set me free. It no longer mattered who my friends were or who my enemies were; I was supposed to love them all. And I could have a loving relationship with a God who would help me love others.
Having that kind of relationship with God is not only the source of my freedom but also the key to my new life.... He is the God who not only commands me to love and forgive my enemies as he has loved and forgiven me, but empowers me to do so.
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.
Before I bring this article to a close, let me point you to the Son of Hamas Web site, where you can see some more video interviews of Mosab (on the main page, and via the links on the "News" page, which has links to written articles as well). God has already done so much through this man — it will be very interesting to keep an eye on him and see the amazing things God does with him in the future.