Mosab Hassan Yousef, the author of the book Son of Hamas, held a teleconference with Christian journalists Thursday. The following is a transcript of Yousef’s March 18 news conference.
Mosab Hassan Yousef: First of all, I would love to thank all of you for being here with us today and for your interest in the story. As I understand all of this media is a Christian media. Is that correct? Now guys I really appreciate your interest in the story. As you see today, we are fighting … (inaudible) with the entire world.
From one side we have a problem with secular media here in the United States. We have a problem with Muslims. We have a problem with some Christians in the Middle East. We have a problem with Shin Bet itself. And it seems like we are on a war with everybody. Nobody wants the truth to go out. Nobody wants me to tell the story, which I am surprised.
I understand why Muslims, why Hamas doesn’t want me to tell the story. But I am shocked why some Christians or denominations are accusing us and secular media trying to discredit the story. For them the story is hard to believe. It is hard to believe that the son of Hamas ends up working for the Israeli and saving Israeli and Palestinian lives.
We know the secret. The secret is very simple. It is not difficult for us to understand the love of God. When the love of our Lord is in a man’s heart, this man acts totally different. They don’t want to admit that. If they admit that what changed my life is Jesus Christ this will open lots of questions and they don’t want to go there.
I think that’s the explanation why we are having difficulties to help people understand the transformation that happened in my life. So I am happy to talk to you today. You are a Christian media. We have a duty. This is not a project that we ask you to promote for. This is the project of God. This is not my book but His story. So please help us get the story out.
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Question: My question is the Bush and Obama administrations have consistently described Islam as a religion of peace. And they’ve insisted that U.S. is fighting terrorism and it is not a war against Islam. My question for you is how do you assess this approach and do you think it has any practical implication for U.S. security?
Yousef: First of all, with all due respect for Mr. President, there is a huge misunderstanding. I encourage them to read the Quran. I encourage them to read the chapter 9, verse 5 and verse 29 that put a death sentence on everybody who doesn’t believe in Islam. This is not new. This is not the idea of a radical Muslim. This is the ideology of the God of Islam himself.
So we cannot change what is in the Quran. Nobody, no Muslim has the authority to change that. When the U.S. president comes and says that the Quran is a holy book and Islam is a religion of peace, this is absolutely wrong. And the reality of Islam is something different. Everybody today, I encourage everyone to read the Quran. If they can’t read the entire Quran they can just read two verses that reflect the real personality of the god of Islam. And this proves what I am saying.
I don’t care what the entire world says about Islam, what Muslims say about Islam. The reality is very clear and very simple and anybody can go to the Internet today and read and understand what the Quran is all about.
Question: Do you think this approach makes any difference in our policy? I think in a previous interview you acknowledged that politicians have to say certain things in order to maintain relations, in this case with Middle East countries. Do you think this kind of rhetoric doesn’t matter in the end or does it have actual security implications?
Yousef: Diplomacy … (inaudible) is what I’m doing. I worked for a government. I worked against terrorism. And I understand that governments are very limited. The U.S. president when he talks he needs to respect the foreign policy of his government. He is limited to the constitution and this is why what we are doing is different than politics. We are trying to change the problem from its roots. What governments are doing, they are dealing with some terrorists, radicals here and there, but they are ignoring for sure the reality of Islam.
The Quran asks for killing everybody who is outside of the body of Islam, who doesn’t believe in Islam. It is very clear and fighting terrorism is like fighting a ghost. Ten years of fighting terrorism. I am coming from there and we were fighting a ghost because at the end of the day their motive is still there. If we don’t fight their motive, if we don’t fight their ideology, if we don’t challenge their ideology, suicide bombers, extremists will keep coming. The best way to stop them is to fight their ideology. And this is not the duty maybe for the government. We ask the government to give us a space to work. And if they don’t want to go through this war I think this is the duty of every free man in this war. Not only Christianity, every free man.
We need to educate people about the reality of Islam, the logics of Islam. I am sure every free man in this world would fight the ideology of Islam.
Question: My question is that you stated that one of the problems in the Middle East is the god of the Quran, and Muslims are victims of their own god. Yet here in the United States there is a teaching that has become very popular that says that Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the same god. So is the god of the Quran the same as the god of the Bible? How are they different?
Yousef: Yes, this is a good question. The problem that Muslims are facing, and when I say they are victims that they view the God of Quran as God Almighty. Allah in Arabic language is the translation for the word god, god almighty. So to them Allah of the Quran means god almighty.
But if we study the personality of the god of Islam, if we characterize the god of Islam into a person, we would find he is god who hates, who tortures, who asks his followers to kill people who don’t believe and follow Islam. And if we characterize the god of Christianity, you would find the god who crucified on the cross. While he was dying he was praying and forgiving his persecutors. So simply there is a huge difference. We cannot compare the god of Bible to god of Islam. We have a huge difference of their personality.
Question: People for centuries have wrestled with the question with how can there be a good and loving God when there is so much evil in the world. With your experience living amid ruthless violence day in and day out, how could you see a loving God?
Yousef: If fact, how can we also explain all the good things that are happening around us. How can we understand the sacrifice that was done for my people and others? How can we explain all the good charity of people who share their bread with disaster areas? So if we want to explain that there is no God because there is lots of evil in this world then we can also prove there is God because there are lots of good things in this world.
And through my experience, God has changed my life and after obeying His commands I ended up instead of hating my enemies and trying to kill them, they became my friends. And I won over my enemies, we worked together to stop violence and to stop the killing. And this is a living example.
Now many Christians leave Christianity. They have a problem not with God. They don’t have a problem with the God of Christianity. They might have a problem with Christians. And I’m telling you there is no perfect person in this world. No Christian, no Muslim, no one. But when we look at the perfection of the personality of Jesus Christ, if this is our highest example, a person who was crucified, tortured, spit on and in lots of pain and during that time he was praying, was forgiving the people who were torturing him. This is our example. This is the hope that we have. We might experience bad things in our lives. But if we worship a God who suffered more than us, this is our highest example. And there are lots of challenges in our lives. This does not mean we give up. It does not mean our focus on Christians and people. People cannot be our example. Our highest example is Jesus Christ and we need to keep our eyes on him.
Question: I wanted to ask you about the Palestinian Christians in the Middle East, the tiny minority that is still there. Have you have contact with them and have they said anything in public about your conversion?
Yousef: Yes, they didn’t say anything in public about my conversion so far. But they are under the influence of the Islamic teachings. I’m telling you Christians in the Middle East they have been persecuted by the god of Islam, by the god of the Quran. They don’t recognize that because they are in the middle of this war.
The god of Islam doesn’t give them a break. And I am telling you that Muslims have a passion towards Christians more than the god of Islam. The god of Islam gives Christians two options: to become Muslims or pay very high taxes, or the other option is for them to get killed. So Christians are under the persecution of the god of Islam. I see that Muslims coexists with Christians and they are living in the same society.
Now Christians have a very hard time about everything related to Israel. I understand because Israel also did lots of mistakes, did lots of aggression that blinded everybody in the Middle East and made Israel the enemy of everybody.
I don’t blame Christians for the way they view Israel. But what I’m saying is what would our God do? Our God doesn’t take sides. Our God would not be to the side of a nation against another nation. Our God to the side of every victim. To the side of every human who suffering because of this evil from the Middle East. And what I want to tell my Christian friends in the Middle East is God is not to the side of Palestinians because they are under occupation, because also there are Palestinians who are under the occupation who are taking advantage of poor people, taking advantage of those poor victims, climbing on their shoulders to keep their share.
God is not with somebody who is under persecution and his persecutor at the same time. So what I’m saying is God is with everybody who is suffering because of this conflict. And God doesn’t take sides. God is taking over. This is the way we should view Jesus Christ.
Question: Just to follow up. There are many evangelical churches in the U.S. who have come alongside Palestinian Christians and begun to work with them whether it be through Bible schools, in terms of aid, or so forth. And many delegations have gone over, they’ve talked with Palestinian Christians leaders and they’ve come back to the States and they’ve spoken out very strongly against Israel. How would you advise these Christians to understand what they’re hearing from these Palestinian Christians?
Yousef: I advise them to imagine if Jesus Christ was between us today. What would he do? Now they view me as an enemy. And this breaks my heart when I see my brothers in Christianity. For of all, they never been an example. I lived in a Christian town and I didn’t find one person, one Christian person in that town to tell me about Jesus Christ. I met an evangelist from Britain accidentally who invited me to a Bible study and this is how I found the Lord. This is how I learned about Jesus Christ. They didn’t care all that time. I’m not saying that none of them cared. There are some wonderful Christian Middle Eastern who try to spread the Gospel between Muslims.
But my own experience, I didn’t see that in Christians. I saw traditional, religious Christians. I didn’t see the love of Christ in their hearts. They didn’t share that with me at least. They didn’t tell me about the love of God. And today, after I took stand and I say aloud, not through violence, and I lost my family, I lost everything, they coming against me today for things they couldn’t do because they don’t want to share responsibility because it is dangerous mission. It can put their lives in danger to say the truth.
What I’m telling them they have to have courage. They need to be like God. And I am telling you, I am afraid. I was imagining what if Jesus Christ came today. And I’m sure he is not going to take a stand against Israel. But if he comes and says the killing against the Jew is wrong, probably they would kill him again. I was wondering what if Jesus Christ came today. I am afraid that Christians would be the first to kill him as Jewish people killed him after waiting for him for many years.
What I’m saying is it breaks my heart. There are lots of believers in Israel. Lots of believers who are coming to Christ. We have to know the difference between Israel and their policies. When they have an assassination policy we go against it as Christians with very strong stand and we stay firm. But we cannot be against the nation of Israel. What is their guilt? There are Christians, there are Muslims, there are believers from Jewish background in Israel. We can’t just look at Israel as this monster whenever we think about Israel we just like lose our minds, we lose our tempers and we become just racists against them.
This is not how our God deals with things and this is why Christians are not doing their duty. If Christians are doing their duty in the Middle East we wouldn’t have this amount of blood so far.
Question: Since we are somewhat on the topic, I think a lot of Christians are confused or just don’t know how to witness or share their faith with Muslims. So what advice would you give to Christians on what is the best way share their faith with Muslims?
Yousef: First of all, the best way is not to tell them about Christ as much as to show them what Christ is all about. It is through experience. If we know how to represent our God then people can easily see the example. But I’m telling you, in the Muslim case it is a big problem because everything that they received about Jesus Christ they understand it in a different way.
The first thing is do you believe in Jesus Christ? They say that yes we do believe in Jesus Christ. But they believe in him as a prophet and they reject that he was crucified for our sins. Simply, in the Muslim case the best way to challenge their faith before we give them the word of God we need to remove this stumbling block in their way called Islam. Once we solve Islam problem in their minds they will receive Jesus Christ without a problem.
So this is the evil god of Islam. He has been enslaving those Muslims for centuries and they will not be able to understand Jesus Christ without exposing Islam to them first and then we give them the Gospel.
Question: In the postscript Mosab you talked about how the Middle East problem can be resolved. Are you saying that the Middle East can only be healed if its people come to know Jesus?
Yousef: Here is the thing. We don’t force Jesus Christ on anybody. We tell them about Jesus Christ and it is their choice to accept him or not. We wish all of them would come to Jesus Christ. Now, there are principles, great principles of love, forgiveness and nobody can deny those are the principles that Jesus Christ taught humanity about. And we tell them, if you don’t want to become Christians, we give you a gift, this gift called the unconditional love, forgiveness for others in order to move on. Would you accept those gifts? If you don’t want to worship our God who said those perfect things, would you accept the principle of forgiveness? The principle of love? This is our God and if they don’t want to take that then they face the consequences.
Me personally I wish to see everybody in the Middle East worshipping Jesus Christ. Jews, Muslims even Buddhists, everybody! It is the God of love. I want everybody to worship the God of love instead of worshipping the God of hate and torture. But in the meantime we don’t want to force Jesus Christ on anybody and look that we are trying to force our beliefs onto other. We give them a gift. If they accept it they accept it and if they don’t accept it then they will be responsible for the consequences.
Question: Hi Mosab, wonderful to talk to you. I’ve been to Gaza and the West Bank many times. I was just intrigued by your mentioning of this British evangelist talking to him. Maybe you can’t name him, but what did he say to you and how did that conversation come about?
Yousef: Its simple. I was visiting Jerusalem with two of my friends when … (inaudible) he is a British cab driver. He is a member of the International Church of Christ and he was visiting and a small group of that church was visiting the Middle East in Jerusalem. So he was joining them in that event inviting people to Bible study. I was one of the people who was invited. It was simple. I didn’t even understand English at that time but I could understand that it was something about Christianity. I accepted his invitation and later on they gave me a Bible as a gift and that is how I started reading the Bible.
Question: So what year was that then?
Yousef: End of 1999.
Question: How did you give your life to Christ? Did you just kneel down or did he pray with you or what?
Yousef: No, he invited me to a Bible study and I studied the Bible. It took me six years to study Christianity and study Islam all over and even study other religions. So it was a whole process that took me almost six years before I was baptized. In fact that person is a tourist so he stayed only for a few days. I met him two times only. I don’t know where he is. I am not in touch with him. I pray for him all the time. Maybe he is not a Christian today, I hope he can keep the faith.
Question: Another question. Whenever I go to the Middle East I am amazed how many satellite dishes are everywhere. What role is Christian Arabic television having in the Middle East and what impact did it have on you?
Yousef: Absolutely. This is a good question. It is Al Hayat Tv. In Arabic this means life tv. This is a great idea of a Muslim background believer who started this mission 25 years ago and he was rejected by Christians because his idea was to expose Islam to Muslims first. To show the life of Islam, show them the mistakes in the Quran, challenge their faith and in the meantime give them the Gospel.
So he was rejected by Christians because they were afraid of the confrontation. They say this is very difficult, this is not how we do things. We have to do the message of love not through challenging and getting in trouble with Muslims. He didn’t listen to them and he did what he thought was right. So simply millions of Muslims – today Al Hayat station is one of the most powerful satellite TV that is cause of millions of Muslims to come to Jesus Christ. It speaks in Arabic and today everybody believes what he is doing. But 25 years ago nobody believed in him and they even kicked him out of churches in Europe while he was trying to convince them of idea. But he is still loyal to the Lord and I’m telling you thousands of Muslims from Egypt alone come to Christ every month.
We don’t have enough people to get people baptized in the Middle East in fact. And satellite, technology, internet. One of his ministries websites, I cannot mention his name, but one of his ministry websites has 27 million hits from Muslim countries learning about their religion from one side and learning about the Gospel from the other side. We have millions of people coming to Christ. We don’t even have to be there physically. There are many ways to spread the Gospel to Muslims in much more effective way.
Question: One final question brother. Why is satellite tv so popular in the Middle East? Is it because the people there have such censored local tv that this is exciting for them? What is the reason for its popularity?
Yousef: Yes this is something that might sound very funny but we talk about infrastructure. Cable tv you need a lot of infrastructure and we talking about most Muslim countries do not even have infrastructure for waste water or even drinking water. In order to have infrastructure for cable tv this is a lot of work, a lot of budget and people at the end of the day cannot afford even paying for tv bills. So simply they buy this satellite or this dish and this is how they communicate with the entire world without paying on a monthly basis.
We take advantage and those ministers such as Al Hayat, which I mentioned at the end of my book, to just do it free for people.
Question: One very final question. If Muslims are listening to this broadcast now, what do you want to say to them in a couple of minutes? What would be your message to a Muslim?
Yousef: My message to them first of all is that I love all of them. My heart is broken for them. This is what I want them to understand. I am not here to fight Muslims. I am fighting their god. I believe that the biggest enemy that Muslims are facing is their god and their prophet. Muhammad 1,400 years ago lied. And he wrapped his lies with liars of facts, truth and charity works and good things. So he made a perfect lie. I believe Islam is the biggest lie in history, in human history. This is how I believe.
And Muslims are victims of this lie. This is a time for them to woke up from this lie, be brave enough to face it, to understand the reality that we can prove to them that this is not more than a lie. Not regarding to the Christian or any other sources, regarding to what is in the Quran. The Quran contradicts itself. The Quran has many mistakes. The Quran has lots of stupid things that god almighty can’t say in his book. So we can prove to them that this is not a religion from god and Muhammad is false prophet. He lied. I know this is very offending but somebody has to say the truth and tell them this with lots of love because I believed and I lived in that society and I know their problems. And every time I was trying to find what is the root of the problem, it connects right away to the god of Islam.
And I want them to question their situation, their problem and what they will figure out is the same result. But they need to have the courage to face the consequences. The thing is it is not to convince them that Muhammad is a liar. The problem that they face is that they don’t have the courage to face the consequences if they recognize that they have to deal with the results of their discovery.
Question: I would like to ask, I’m sure you have had a lot of people offer jobs or suggestions on how you might shape your future. I just wanted to ask you what you see for your future. What do you see as your calling in life right now?
Yousef: First of all, it’s not a matter of jobs. I turned my back for very important jobs that they were offering in the past. What I say now is this is a duty. It is more than a job. My life is simply in danger for the sake of the cause. I would write, as you see my English is not helping me much, but thank God I have very strong Arabic language that I can communicate with my people. I will keep on writing. I will keep on being in touch with them, educating them on Islam and educating them on the love of Christ at the same time. Showing them the love of Christ.
I know that this is a very hard time. I seem to be a fighter. I am in a position, I am in a war now and this is not the perfect time now for me to show them how much I love them, which for me is frustrating. So I will keep on working with my people and it is not a matter of job or employment, it is a matter of duty and I decided to do this duty no matter what the cost is. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the office or if I’m in some corner homeless somewhere. I will still do my best to deliver the message.
Question: Can you live a somewhat normal life with the threats on your life such as they are? And along that line, has it increased since this book came out, the threat?
Yousef: You know there are threats. And my life has been in danger since day 1. And what I say as a believer in Christ is I believe in his promise and that he is preparing for me something that is much better than this life.
If the cost will be my blood or my life to spread the message, let it be. I don’t wish to die, but probably this is the best way to deliver the message. I don’t want to look like somebody who wants to die by the way. But I mean I am not going to go to hide. I will keep doing what I have to do, what’s right to do and if the result will be to get killed for this cause, everybody will die at some point. Whether it be by bullet shot or natural death. And we are not going to live forever. So we do what is good for the cause of humanity. What’s good we stand firm for our principles, for our beliefs, we say the truth, and this is not the time to give up. Simply I am not going to hide. I will keep talking to them even the last minute. Somebody is pointing a gun to me trying to kill me I will tell him about Jesus Christ and about the truth.
Question: What will it take to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinian people?
Yousef: We answered this question before, so I can say a few words. At least I want from them to adopt the principle of forgiveness, the principle of unconditional love. I am not saying that Palestinians love Palestinians and Israeli love Israeli. No. The unconditional love to our enemies. This way, if we learn we have enough strength to love our enemies to forgive them there will be a way to move on. There can be fake peace in the Middle East. They might establish a Palestinian state and everybody will think that there will be peace but I’m sure that the only peace that can come to the Middle East is the peace and love of Jesus Christ. If they don’t want to accept him as Lord, at least we still give them the gift of unconditional love and forgiveness.
Question: Your life is an amazing story of forgiveness. Did you just all of a sudden able to forgive Israelis for killing Palestinians or was there a process and a struggle?
Yousef: Yes. First of all please I am not sometimes I have a problem with my brothers in the church and I have difficult time to forgive them. So please don’t think that I am the most forgiving person in the world.
That was through a lot of experience and by time I could forgive because of main thing that I understood is my enemy is not man. My problem is never been with a man it is in the evil that is inside this man. That is why today I am very harsh, very aggressive against the god of Islam because the god of Islam is an idea. The god of Islam exists in people’s mind but he’s evil. My fight is against him and this is my focus.
Now about other things. To be honest it is hard. I am just a human being. I am not Jesus Christ himself. I follow his steps. I keep my eyes on him. I learn from his patience, from his forgiveness, from his tolerance and I try to implement this in my life as much as I can. And if I fail, every human will fail but our God never fails and he will never fail.