Did Thomas Jefferson believe that Islam was 'a halfway point between paganism and Christianity'?
June 24, 2009 10:46
AM · J. Samia Mair -
On January 4, 2007, Keith Ellison became the first Muslim member of the U.S. Congress.
After the official swearing-in ceremony, he took a ceremonial oath using a Qur'an owned by Thomas Jefferson and acquired by the Library of Congress in 1815.
For many Muslims the election of Keith Ellison to the U.S.
Congress was a great moment in
But should Muslims feel good about the fact that
After reading Kevin J. Hayes' article "How Thomas Jefferson Read the Qur'an" published in the journal Early American Literature in 2004, I wonder.
I began reading Hayes' article with great enthusiasm,
interested to learn more about
My enthusiasm waned because, according to Hayes, Professor
The irony here, of course, is that Islam teaches that it is the final revelation and, among other things, does away with pagan beliefs that had crept into previously established religions.
Briefly, Hayes argues that
The idea of progress underlies
As I am not an expert on
Why the annoyance?
The annoyance stems from the gratuitous jabs at Islam that interrupt what appears to be typical scholarly discourse.
For example, Hayes makes the following statements:
Sanctioned by their government, the attacks of the
The ambassador explained that the conduct of the Barbary Coast pirates "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" (Papers 9:358). Even today, especially today, the ambassador's words have a chilling effect. (p. 257)
Add to these comments Hayes' discussion (p. 251) on George Sale's highly criticized translation of the Qur'an published in 1734.
Hayes initially states, "Reading George
Moreover, Hayes states:
Publishing his edition of the Qur'an in a Protestant
European nation during the eighteenth century,
Admittedly, I have not read George Sale's translation or his discussion on Islam, but I find it nearly impossible to believe that he could demean the Prophet Muhammad, may Allaah bless him and grant him peace, in this manner and give a "remarkably evenhanded" account of Islam.
In any event,
Hayes concludes his article with the following statement:
Reading the Qur'an as his formal legal training was coming
to a close,
Early American Literature, the journal that published Professor Hayes' article, is described as:
The journal of the Modem Language Association's American
Literature Division 1, Early American Literature publishes the finest work of
scholars examining American literature from its inception through the early
national period, about 1830. Founded in 1965, EAL invites work treating Native
American traditional expressions, colonial Ibero-American literature from North
America, colonial American Francophone writings, Dutch colonial, and German American
colonial literature as well as writings in English from British America and the
With this stated purpose in mind, it seems completely out-of-place to weave into an academic historical account of literature, inflammatory and seemingly personal beliefs about a religion. Such statements make me question the scholarship of the entire article.
For more info: Biography of Thomas Jefferson, The Meaning of the Holy Qur'an, The Message of the Qur'an, Why Islam?
Copyright 2009 Examiner.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Author :J. Samia Mair is an Examiner from
Please report any
broken links to
Copyright © 1988-2012 irfi.org. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer