Sunday, September 9, 2012

Once an Arafat Man by Tass Saada with Dean Merrill

I reviewed a number of books about the American military.  Here's a story about a man from the "other side".

Tass Saada was an angry youth. A displaced Palestinian living in Qatar, he wondered when the Arab countries were going to make good on their promise. The promise that if the Palestinian families left Palestine, they would soon be able to return. After they defeated their enemies, Israel, that is. Well, the defeat never happened.

Tired of waiting Tass ran away from home to Palestine where he trained to become a member of Arafat's Fatah. By the age of seventeen he was carrying a high-powered Simonov rifle, was an elite PLO sniper and chauffeur for Arafat.

Once an Arafat Man is the incredible true story of how a young man filled with hate came to know the One who only had love for him.

After a couple of years, his father tricked him into returning to Qatar and confiscated his passport. He could only receive it back if he went abroad to get an education. Tass chose America. Even though he hated Americans because of their alliance with Israel, his defiant attitude made him go somewhere his father didn't want him to go.

He decided to marry an American girl for the sole purpose of obtaining a green card then leave her and America for good after he received his college degree.

When his American fiancee brought him to a priest for premarital counseling the priest asked point blank, “How do you know he's not just marrying you for a green card?”
The girl huffed, “I know him. He would never do that do me!”

In fact that was his plan. But things didn't go as planned. When his family found out that he married an American they disowned him. “How could you do this?” They shouted. “You are engaged to a girl here already! You have brought shame on her. You have brought shame on us!”

Even though it was not Tass' plan, it was God's plan. By staying in America he became a successful business man obsessed with success. The success did not ease the hatred or emptiness in him. Finally, a businessman whom he had become good friends with shared how he had become a Christian. What happened to Tass is what is reportedly happening to many Muslims world wide. He started having dreams about Jesus Christ.
 When he finally prayed to receive Jesus in to his life he came off of his knees a new man.

He began reading the Bible and was surprised to discover that it had more to say about the Arab people than the Koran.

I had run into some fascinating information about my people, the Palestinians. Our ancestor, I knew, was Ishmael-the firstborn son of Abram. Ishmael's mother was Hagar...

I had heard of at least some Christians who called Ishmael everything from a bastard to a brat, and had even nastier things to say about his mother. But that is not what I read in the actual Bible.

When tensions arose during Hagar's pregnancy, so much so that that she fled into the desert, she was not left to fend for herself. No less than “the angel of the Lord” came to her aid.
The angel instructed her to go back home and then promised:

“I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.”
I leaned back in my chair and thought of all the people who trace back to this woman-not just us Palestinians, but all the Arabs. What a massive population we had become, just as the divine messenger had predicted.!”

“As for Ishmael, I have heard you; I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers.

When I read those words, I (realized) we Arabs were not cursed by God after all! The one God, the only true and living God, is the God of the Ishamelites, too.

I was feeling prouder of my heritage all the time, thanks to what I saw here in the Old Testament. The Christian book (actually the Jewish-Christian book ) was building up my self-esteem as an Arab! (Chapter 11 pg 115-117)

Now instead of being obsessed with success and material wealth. Tass' heart broke for his people who were so filled with hate, living in a darkness they could not free themselves of. He and his wife eventually settled in the Gaza strip where they started up schools and house churches for the poverty and war stricken Muslim families that live there.

I think I had always been brought up, as a Christian, to see Ishmael's birth as an act of disobedience to God. Perhaps it was, but I also remember God telling Abraham that Ishmael and his descendants would be blessed, (Genesis 17:20). It's time to remember that long before there was a Muhammed, there was a people blessed by God. A people that Islam has taken hostage. Let's pray for these people to understand who their true Creator is and His plan for their salvation.


  1. I read this book a year or two back, and I was really touched by it too!

    1. Eustacia: I heard Tass on the radio talking about his life. I had to get out of my car before he was finished so I knew I had to get the book to find out the rest of his story. It is very touching!

  2. Sounds like a powerful book. It reminds me of a book I read about a year ago called Son of Hamas by Mosab Hasson Yousef.

    1. I think I've heard of that book. I need to read that one as well.

  3. Interesting book! New follower. Love your blog!

    1. Thanks, Penny. I'll have to come visit yours.


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