Thomas Jefferson Read The Qur'an

Thomas Jefferson Read the Quran

by Muslim Public Affairs Council on Monday, April 4, 2011 at 5:01pm

When Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the first Muslim U.S. Congressman, was sworn in, he started a firestorm of controversy when he requested to be sworn in using the Quran. As the Quran is the holy book for Muslims, it would stand to reason that Ellison would want to use his religious scriptures when he was sworn in. What many do not know is that he used a copy of the Quran which came from the personal library of one of the nation’s founding fathers -- Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson’s Quran

When Jefferson was finishing his formal studies at William and Mary College in Virginia, he was a frequent customer of the Virginia Gazette, where he purchased books and writings. During his law studies, Jefferson read books that referenced the Quran, and, as a man who constantly sought knowledge, he purchased George Sale’s English translation of “The Koran, Commonly Called the Alcoran of Mohammed”.

Jefferson’s Interest in the Quran

Jefferson had a passion for law, history and religion and often tried to reconcile contradictions between history and scripture, much like many young Muslim professionals do today. He considered the Quran a law book more than a book of scripture because Muslim leaders claimed that the book was not only the word of God, but the supreme source of Islamic law.

Jefferson’s purchase of the book occurred just after the injustice of the Stamp Act, which forced him to question English constitutional law. Reading the Quran allowed Jefferson to learn more about natural law and natural rights. Jefferson was adamant, when helping to draft the Constitution, that any reference to religion be in the form of “God” and not “Jesus Christ.” In his eyes, this would include all religions and would reaffirm the United States’ position that all religions would have equal rights under the law.

Forward Thinking

Many believe that Jefferson read the Quran while he was serving his term as our third president in an effort to understand how to deal with the Barbary Pirates. History, however, indicates that Jefferson purchased the book while finishing his law studies, long before serving as president, and many of the quotes attributed to him during the development of our Constitution and Bill of Rights indicate that he took heart to what he read.

Youth leaders of today can learn much from Jefferson. During an era when Christianity was far more prevalent, Jefferson took the time to study a little known religion in the West and may have incorporated some of that reading into the discussions between other founding fathers while developing our own laws. Jefferson used the Islamic principles he read about in the Quran to help build the foundation for our country. ( ).

Much of the content for this blog post was found from an article written by Kevin J. Hayes of The University of Central Oklahoma EARLY AMERICAN LITERATURE: VOLUME 39, NUMBER 2 entitled:

How Thomas Jefferson Read the Qur'an

Thomas Jefferson used Islamic principles he read about in the Quran to help build the foundation for America!


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