What Every American Needs To Know
19 February 2010
Here is another great book about Islam that every American should read: What Every American Needs To Know About The Qur'an — A History of Islam & the United States by William J. Federer.
The majority of the book gives you a good overview of 1,400 years of Islamic history. This is really great information, and gives you a general understanding of the "big picture" ... a broad overview of Islam throughout history.
The rest of the book covers the interaction between Islam and the United States, starting with the discovery of American by Columbus (and how that was affected by Muslims), up through the Founding Fathers (especially Thomas Jefferson), and on through the 19th and 20th centuries, right up to our present time.
The material is presented pretty much in chronological order, but there are times when it is not, which makes the book a bit harder to read than it should have been. However, this minor flaw does not detract at all from the excellent information contained in this book. Of course, you've got to read the whole thing for yourself, but I want to take a few moments to share some passages from this book that relate to Thomas Jefferson:
For centuries, Muslim pirates of Morocco, Tripoli, Tunis and Algiers — countries along North Africa's Barbary Coast — captured thousands of Europeans at sea. European countries, such as England and France, arranged to pay the Muslim Barbary Pirates an annual tribute, equivalent to millions of dollars, to bribe Muslims to leave their countries' ships alone. Once the United States became and independent country, Muslim Barbary Pirates insisted the U.S. pay its own tribute.
In 1784, Barbary Pirates captured an American ship; the crew and passengers were paraded through the streets of Algiers, jeered as "infidels" and thrown in prison. In 1785, Muslims of Algiers captured two American ships and held their crews as prisoners, demanding $60,000 in ransom. All in all, a number of Muslim nations joined together demanding an annual tribute of $1.3 million.
When Jefferson, a U.S. ambassador in France at the time, asked the ambassador from Tripoli what the U.S. had done to provoke these outrageous attacks by the Muslims...
"The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of the prophet, that it was written in their Qur'an, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their Islam's 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 every Muslim who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise."
In 1793, Muslim Barbary Pirates captured another American ship; the cargo was plundered and the crew was imprisoned. The Muslim captain justified their brutal treatment: "for your history and superstition in believing in a man who was crucified by the Jews and disregarding the true doctrine of God's last and greatest prophet, Mohammed." Another ship was captured in 1795, and the U.S. was forced to pay nearly a million dollars in ransom.
In 1801, the year Jefferson became president, Muslim Barbary Pirates demanded $225,000, plus an annual tribute of $25,000. When Jefferson refused, the Pasha (Lord) of Tripoli declared war. This was the first war the U.S. was in after becoming a nation.
Jefferson sent Marines to capture Tripoli. The Muslims' terrorist attacks were stopped, giving rise to the Marine Anthem: "From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli..." The curved Marine sword is from the many confiscated Muslim scimitars, called "mamluke" swords. Marines were called "leathernecks" for the wide leather straps worn around their necks to prevent being beheaded, as Sura 47:4 states: "When you meet the infidel in the battlefield, strike off their heads."
Thomas Jefferson was a collector of books on all topics and languages, from law to botany to astronomy. His Qur'an, which he read to understand the enemy, was one of 6,400 books in his personal library. Associated Press reporter Frederic Frommer wrote on January 4, 2007:
"Keith Ellison made history Thursday, becoming the first Muslim member of Congress and punctuating the occasion by taking a ceremonial oath with a Qur'an. He learned last month about Jefferson's Qur'an and arranged to borrow it from the Library of Congress, right across the street from the Capitol. He said earlier this week that he chose to use this Qur'an because it showed that a visionary like Jefferson believed that wisdom could be gleaned from many sources."
In light of frequent fundamental Muslim threats on the United States, it is understandable why many American "Infidels" are disquieted about the verses Rep. Ellison swore upon. According to one commentator, a Muslim swearing on a Qur'an to uphold "all people are created equal" is as reassuring as a Nazi party member swearing on "Mein Kampf" to protect the Jews.
Rep. Ellison praised Jefferson for owning a Qur'an, which Jefferson had to understand why Muslim Barbary Pirates were enslaving American sailors. Though he read the Qur'an, Jefferson only had praise for the precepts of Jesus, as Jefferson wrote:
"I hold the precepts of Jesus as delivered by Himself, to be the most pure, benevolent and sublime which have ever been preached to man, and consequently more perfect than those of any of the ancient philosophers. Of all the systems of morality, ancient of modern, which have come under my observation, none appear to me so pure as that of Jesus. To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus Himself. I am a Christian in the only sense in which He wished any one to be: sincerely attached to His doctrines in preference to all others. The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man. Had the doctrines of Jesus been preached always as pure as they came from His lips, the whole civilized world would now have been Christian."
Congressman Keith Ellison brought attention to Jefferson's Qur'an, but Ellison did not mention The Jefferson Bible — The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth Extracted Textually from the Gospels, compiled by Jefferson in 1816. That same year he described it in a letter to a friend:
"I have made this wee-little book...which I call The Philosophy of Jesus. It is a paradigm of His doctrines, made by cutting the texts out of the book and arranging them on the pages of a blank book, in a certain order of time and subject. A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen; it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus."
Franklin Roosevelt said on the 400th anniversary of the printing of the English Bible, October 6, 1935:
"Learned as Jefferson was in the best of the ancient philosophers, he turned to the Bible as the source of his higher thinking and reasoning. He held that the Bible contained the noblest ethical system the world has known. His own compilation of the selected portions of this Book, in what is known as Jefferson's Bible, bears evidence of the profound reverence in which he held it."