The son of a top Hamas leader has converted to Christianity and prays someday his family will also accept Jesus Christ as their savior, an Israeli newspaper reported.
Masab Yousef, son of West Bank Hamas leader Sheik Hassan Yousef, revealed for the first time in an exclusive interview with Haaretz newspaper that he has left Islam and is now a Christian. Prior to the interview's publication last Thursday, Yousef's family did not know of his faith conversion even though he is in regular contact with them.
"[T]his interview will open many people's eyes, it will shake Islam from the roots, and I'm not exaggerating," Yousef, who now resides in the United States, said. "What other case do you know where a son of a Hamas leader, who was raised on the tenets of extremist Islam, comes out against it?"
Yousef, who is now 30-years-old, was first exposed to Christianity eight years ago while in Jerusalem where out of curiosity he accepted an invitation to hear about Christianity. Afterwards, he became "enthusiastic" about what he heard and would secretly read the Bible every day.
"A verse like 'Love thine enemy' had a great influence on me," Yousef recalled. "At this stage I was still a Muslim and I thought that I would remain one. But every day I saw the terrible things done in the name of religion by those who considered themselves 'great believers.'
"I studied Islam more thoroughly and found no answers there. I re-examined the Koran and the principles of the faith and found how it is mistaken and misleading."
But with Christianity, Yousef said he could understand God as revealed through Jesus Christ. He said he could talk about God and Jesus for days, but Muslims are not able to say anything about God.
"I consider Islam a big lie," said the son of one of Hamas' founders. "The people who supposedly represent the religion admired Mohammed more than God, killed innocent people in the name of Islam, beat their wives and don't have any idea what God is.
"I have no doubt that they'll go to hell. I have a message for them: There is only one way to Paradise – the way of Jesus who sacrificed himself on the cross for all of us."
Four years ago, Yousef decided to convert to Christianity but did not let his family know. He still helped his father with his political activities, and his father only knew his son had Christian friends.
"I felt responsible. It was better for me to be there rather than a gang of fools who would poison his mind," Yousef explained. "I tried to understand those people, their thoughts, in order to change them from inside by means of a strong person like my father, who admitted to me in the past that he does not support suicide attacks."
Yousef described his father as a moderate Hamas leader.
But even before his encounter with Christianity, Yousef had already become disenchanted with Hamas and Islam while being imprisoned at the age of 18 years old for heading a youth Islamic movement at his high school.
He described the Hamas leaders he met in prison as people with "no morals" and "no integrity," although they hide their corruption better than Fatah party members.
"Nobody knows them and how they operate as well as I do," Yousef said, recalling how the family of Hamas members killed by Israel were forced to beg for financial assistance while the leadership "abandoned" them and "wasted" tens of thousands of dollars a month only on security for themselves.
"Then (in prison) I understood that not everyone in Hamas is like my father. He's a nice, friendly man. But I discovered how evil his colleagues are," Yousef said. "After my release I lost the faith I had in those who ostensibly represented Islam."
Hamas is considered a terrorist group by the United States, Israel, and many Western countries. The group has publicly vowed to destroy Israel.
Now Yousef, the eldest son of Sheikh Yousef, says he "admires" Israel.
"You Jews should be aware: You will never, but never have peace with Hamas," Yousef stated. "Islam, as the ideology that guides them, will not allow them to achieve a peace agreement with the Jews. They believe that tradition says that the Prophet Mohammed fought against the Jews and that therefore they must continue to fight them to the death."
He denounced the "entire" Palestinian society as one that "sanctifies death and the suicide terrorist."
"In Palestinian culture a suicide terrorist becomes a hero, a martyr. Sheiks tell their students about the 'heroism of the shaheeds (martyr).'"
Yousef highlighted that Hamas was the first to use suicide bombers as weapons against civilians.
"They (Hamas) are blind and ignorant. It's true, there are good and bad people everywhere, but Hamas supporters don't understand that they are led by a wicked and cruel group that brainwashes the children and gets them to believe that if they carry out a suicide attack they'll get to Paradise," he said.
The Muslim-turned-Christian says he does not think Islam will survive for more than 25 years because the truth about Islam will be exposed given the mass communication available in the modern age.
For his part, Yousef says he hopes to "open the eyes" of Muslims and "reveal the truth" to them about Islam and Christianity with the goal to "take them out of the darkness and the prison of Islam."
"In that way they'll have an opportunity to correct their mistakes, to become better people and to bring a chance for peace in the Middle East," he said.
Yousef, who has taken the biblical name of Joseph, said he dreams of one day becoming a writer to tell his personal story and about the Middle East conflicts.
"But at the moment, at least, my ambitions are only to find work, a place to live," Yousef admits. "I have no money, I have no apartment," said the son of the Hamas leader who left behind properties in Ramallah to find true freedom.
"I was about to become one of those homeless people [in the United States]," he confessed, "but people from the church are helping me. I'm dependent on them."
He also dreams that someday he can return to his homeland and his family will accept Jesus Christ.
"I know that I'm endangering my life and am even liable to lose my father, but I hope that he'll understand this and that God will give him and my family patience and willingness to open their eyes to Jesus and to Christianity," Yousef said. "Maybe one day I'll be able to return to Palestine and to Ramallah with Jesus, in the Kingdom of God."