The BBC reported Wednesday that Somalian officials have banned citizens from publicly celebrating Christmas, citing worries these celebrations threaten the Muslim faith. Somalia has followed Sharia law since 2009. Police will stop any visible Christmas celebrations in the country, officials said: “Those celebrations are not in any way related to Islam.” They’re right.
Following the recent Islamic terrorist attacks in Paris and California, the news was once again filled with politicians and pundits pondering and pontificating on the question, “Why do they hate us?” The answer is really quite simple, but many do not want to hear it, because it is not “politically correct.”
They do not hate us because we are supposedly “stealing their oil”; they do not hate us because of our historic support for the modern nation of Israel; they do not hate us because they are in poverty. All those things may exacerbate some their hatred, but none is the root cause.
The real reason they hate us is actually proclaimed weekly by Christians in our worship, summed up in the Second Article of the Nicene Creed: “I believe . . . in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only‑begotten Son of God . . . God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father. . . who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man.”
Muslims Believe Christmas Is Blasphemy
It is true that Jesus is mentioned a few times in the Quran, and Islam claims to recognize him as a prophet. But the Jesus that the Quran presents is a false Jesus, a distorted, unrecognizable caricature of the real Jesus found in the Bible. The Quran strips Jesus of his own claims to be the divine Son of God and Savior of the world—even denying that he died on the cross (the traitor Judas or someone else supposedly took his place). After studying the Quran, Martin Luther concluded that it is “a destroyer, enemy, and blasphemer of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
A few years ago, a popular Islamic imam was in the news for declaring that saying “Merry Christmas” is a worse sin than murder. “[Christmas] is the concept that God was born on the 25th of December . . . and you say ‘Merry Christmas,’ saying congratulations on your false religion . . . you are congratulating them on the most evil of sin. . . this is worse than fornication, and drinking alcohol, and killing someone, because you are approving of the biggest crime ever committed.”
That is why they hate us. Islam considers the Christian teaching that Jesus is the divine Son of God, “who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man,” to be idolatry and gross blasphemy, “the most evil of sin”—and believing in and spreading this Christian teaching is “the biggest crime ever committed.”
Those Who Blaspheme Must Die
The punishment for blasphemy in the Quran is execution, so all the Christian nations of the world must be annihilated. While we may not consider nations such as France or cities such as Paris to be distinctively Christian, a message from the terror group responsible for the recent attacks specifically stated that is indeed why these and other European nations and cities are targeted, describing them as, “the carrier of the banner of the Cross in Europe.”
Islamists also often describe the United States of America as the “great Satan.” This isn’t just rhetoric or symbolism—they mean it literally. Despite the secularization we bemoan in our nation, among the major world powers the United States still has by far the highest percentage of population who are active Christians, measured by factors such as church membership and attendance. A recent survey found that 56 percent of Americans agree with the statement that Jesus is God, and 62 percent say they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. For Islamists, that makes the United States the “great Satan,” because they regard us as the foremost Christian nation in the world.
Islamic terror attacks against Jews, Hindus, Yazidis, and other faith groups and nations show that this hatred and violence extends to those of all non‑Islamic faiths—or no faith—and even to fellow Muslims who are viewed in some way as heretical. However, the Christian teaching of Christmas, that in the birth of Jesus of Nazareth God became a man, has always been a particular trigger of Islamic antipathy, going back to the Quran itself: “Far be it from [Allah’s] glory that he should have a son” (Quran 4:171, Shakir edition); “They do blaspheme who say: ‘Allah is Christ the son of Mary’” (Quran 5:72, Yusuf Ali edition).
This Is The Real War on Christmas
While the recent Islamic terrorist attack in California tragically took place at a facility serving the developmentally disabled, that was probably not the real target. This attack was very deliberately directed at a specific event being held in a conference center there that day for county employees: their annual Christmas party.
In the aftermath of the shooting, San Bernardino Police Lt. Mike Madden commented, “It was pretty clear . . . that this wasn’t just a rogue individual, that there was something more. . . I noticed upon entering that there’s a Christmas tree in there. All of the tables were decorated for a Christmas party.” Inflamed by rhetoric such as the imam quoted above describing the celebration of Christmas as “the biggest crime ever committed,” this may be one motivation for the attackers and why that particular event was targeted. One news commentator speculated that Islamic terrorists may be launching “a literal war on Christmas.”
Soon, we will joyfully sing in the words of our favorite Christmas carols a confession of faith that in many parts of the world would get you beheaded or stoned to death: “Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth . . . Christ, the Savior, is born!” “Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King, let every heart prepare Him room.” “Highest, most holy, Light of Light eternal, born of a Virgin, a mortal He comes; Son of the Father now in flesh appearing! O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”
“Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the incarnate Deity! Pleased as Man with man to dwell, Jesus, our Immanuel!” “Nails, spear shall pierce Him through, the cross be borne for me, for you; Hail, hail the Word made flesh, the Babe, the Son of Mary!” “Away in a manger . . . the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.” That is the real “reason for the season”—and also the real reason why they hate us.
So, as you commemorate Christmas this year, treasure more dearly the freedom you have in our nation to both believe and celebrate the good news angels proclaimed the night of Jesus’ birth: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ, the Lord” (Luke 2:11).