The Myth Of Jefferson’s Koran
Allah thinks Ellison’s shrewd political move of taking his private oath on a Thomas Jefferson owned copy of the Koran is checkmate. But not so fast. I see Allah has it in an update. But let’s look at even more of the picture, while not forgetting that Jefferson owned a slave or two, as well. Is Ellison planing on swearing in on one of them, too? And if so, what religion do you think he or she would be?
Jefferson purchased the Koran as a student prior to his even taking the bar exam and after reading another book said to be prejudiced against Islam. And the notion I suspect you’ll hear repeated by the MSM, that Jefferson used the Koran to gain insight into the law, appears to be pure academic speculation with a certain anti-theist sounding slant.
The article relates the interest shown by former U.S. president Thomas Jefferson in studying Islam and his reading of the Koran. On Jefferson’s visit to the printing office of the Virginia Gazette in the autumn of 1765, he purchased a copy of the Qur’an, specifically, George Sale’s English translation, The Koran, Commonly Called the Alcoran of Mohammed. Jefferson’s purchase of the Qur’an at the time may have been inspired by his legal studies, too. The interest in natural law he developed as a student encouraged him to pursue his readings in the area as widely as possible. The standard work in the field, Frieherr von Pufendorf’s Of the Law and Nature and Nations, gave readers an almost endless number of possible references to track down and thus offered Jefferson an excellent guide to further reading. Though Pufendorf’s work reflects a prejudice against Islam characteristic of the time in which it was written, he nonetheless cited precedent from the Qur’an in several instances. Jefferson acquired his Qur’an not long after the injustice of the Stamp Act had forced him to question seriously the heritage of English constitutional law and to seek ultimate answers in the ideas of natural law and natural rights. Reading the Qur’an also let him continue studying the history of religion. Entries he made in his literary commonplace book about the same time he purchased Sale’s Koran show that he was seeking to reconcile contradictions between history and scripture that were becoming increasingly apparent to him.
The reality is, as Allah now points out and I had planned to post via NRO, is that Jefferson waged war against Islam … long after having read their book. And he went against his prior beliefs of a small coastal-restricted Navy in doing so.
Even after it became commonplace for the pirate captains or their crew to be renegade Europeans, it was essential that these former Christians “turn Turk” and convert to Islam before they could be accorded the honor of engagement in al-jihad fil-bahr, the holy war at sea.
In fact, the peoples of Barbary continued to consider the pirates as holy warriors even after the Barbary rulers began to allow non-religious commitments to command their strategic use of piracy. The changes that the religious institution of piracy underwent were natural, if pathological. Just as the concept of jihad is invoked by Muslim terrorists today to legitimize suicide bombings of noncombatants for political gain, so too al-jihad fil-bahr, the holy war at sea, served as the cornerstone of the Barbary states’ interaction with Christendom.
As Jefferson reported to the Continental Congress:
These future United States presidents questioned the ambassador as to why his government was so hostile to the new American republic even though America had done nothing to provoke any such animosity. Ambassador Adja answered them, as they reported to the Continental Congress, “that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.”