Few 32-year-old Christians write autobiographies that become instant bestsellers. But Palestinian Mosab Hassan Yousef, now living in the U.S., has: Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices (SaltRiver). And why not: He grew up in radicalized Islam in the West Bank, was imprisoned in Israel, and eventually became disgusted with Hamas, the militant group his father helped create. He then came to Christ while working as an informant for Israel's Shin Bet security service and helped prevent political assassinations. Since the release of his book, he has spoken frankly to American evangelicals about Islam and Middle East peace. Recently he spoke with CT deputy managing editor Timothy C. Morgan.
You describe the ten years you spent as a high-level informant for the Shin Bet, the Israeli counterterrorist agency. Did you ever think your decision was a mistake?
I questioned myself every time. I knew this was not why I was born, but I was absolutely stuck. Every time I thought about leaving, it meant that it was going to get worse—for my family, my friends, my people, and the Israelis. I did as much as I could, but I reached a level [where] I had to leave.
How do you now love an enemy?
I learned all my life how to hate Jews. Now I [had] a golden opportunity to apply love-your-enemy practically, when I saved the lives of people I had never met. I did what I did for my God. When I have a tough decision to make, I ask myself this question: If Jesus Christ were here today, what would he do? This is how I survived. I imagined Christ in my position.
While you were speaking at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention recently, news broke that your father had disowned you. How do you understand this as a Christian?
Evil is stealing my father from me again. Evil stole my father for many years in prison when I was a child, and today [evil is] still taking my father. I insisted many times that I am going to keep on fighting evil ideas.
A milestone in your journey to Christ was being invited by a British man to a Bible study. How do you look back on that?
He was visiting the branch of his church in Jerusalem. They told him, "We are going to invite people to a Bible study." He was inviting people on his own. He had no idea who I was. But I had met God before that. He had been there from day one. He was leading me. I was chosen even before I believed. Even when I was a Muslim in the darkest places, I remember his presence.
Since your life is so at risk, what does the future hold for you?
The book is not the end of my mission. I have a great passion for my people. I know their problems. We will talk to them. I am not the only one. There are heroes in the shadows. They have been working for many years in this field. They are individuals who have dedicated their lives to spread the gospel to Muslims.
Do Christians have a role in moving the Mideast toward peace?
The Palestinian problem is much bigger than not having a state. A Palestinian state is not going to solve the Palestinian problem. We need to show how important our role—as Christians—is. It is much more important than government and the international community.
How could American Christians better understand Islam?
You have to learn the Qur'an [through] long studying and research. Not every Christian wants to make those efforts. It has led to a big misunderstanding. Muslims don't understand the importance of the crucifixion and death of Christ. This is the core of Christian belief. Christians need at least to defend their God, to defend their faith, and to be responsible also for Muslims, because our duty is to spread the gospel to all nations. Our goal is not to encourage Christians to hate Muslims. Our goal is to educate.
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Son of Hamas is available from ChristianBook.com and other book retailers.
Previous Christianity Today articles related to Islam include:
Bloggers Target Seminary President | Liberty's Ergun Caner accused of false statements in his testimony about converting from Islam. (May 3, 2010)
Out of Context | Debate over 'Camel method' probes limits of Muslim-focused evangelism. (March 23, 2010)
The Clash of Stereotypes | A recent survey reveals what Muslims detest most about the West. (July 20, 2009)
Unapologetic Apologist | Jay Smith confronts Muslim fundamentalists with fundamentalist fervor. (June 13, 2008)
'Have You prayed for Bin Laden Today?' | Brother Andrew urges Christians not to 'black list' radical Muslims. (June 22, 2007)
Islam's Uncertain Future | Freedom House's Paul Marshall says Shari'ah is both less and more dangerous than you think. (February 1, 2006)
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