Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Why Jefferson owned a Quran

When I heard newly elected Congressman Keith Ellison was to be sworn in while putting his hand on a Quran, and not a Bible, I wasn't too bothered.

Frankly I don't think this ceremony should involve any religious text...they should probably just raise their right hand and pledge their allegiance to our country and constitution. But today I learned, via an excellent piece by Ted Sampley, that Ellison didn't use his personal copy of the Quran, he used a copy that was owned by Thomas Jefferson which the Library of Congress loaned him for the occasion.

Obviously this was done to try and lessen the eye brow raising caused by Ellison using the book mostly frequently carried and quoted by terrorists the world over. Ellison commented saying he chose to use Jefferson's Quran because it showed that "a visionary like Jefferson" believed that wisdom could be gleaned from many sources.

But, if Sampley is correct, Ellison while factually correct that Jefferson owned this text to glean wisdom, I suspect he didn't understand Jefferson's motivation for doing so. After declaring our independence from the British we lost the protection of their navy for our trade routes in the Mediterranean. Sampley says American ships were attacked and their Christian crews enslaved by Muslim pirates operating under the control of the "Dey of Algiers"--an Islamist warlord ruling Algeria.

Others in our fledgling government wanted to pay tribute (ransom to free our people and to clear our way) but Jefferson knew there was no negotiating with those who followed the writings in the Quran. He and John Adams had previously met with an ambassador of the Dey of Algiers and asked him why Muslims held so much hostility towards America, a nation with which they had no previous contacts. Sampley then tells us that at a meeting with the American Congress the two future Presidents revealed that this Muslim leader answered this question with

Islam was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Quran, 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 (Muslim) who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.

Jefferson knew that military force was required to solve the problem in the Mediterranean and did just that when he became president. Read Sampley's entire piece...it's worth it. Jefferson's Quran, and the words of the Dey of Algiers ambassador, are likely what led him to the conclusion this was an ideology rooted in hatred and barbarism. Religious devotion so misguided Jefferson knew only war would stifle it. Jefferson owned a Quran to glean wisdom on how to defeat our enemy.

Glock 26 pointed me to a WSJ's OpinionJournal post titled Why They Fight . In it, Peter Wehner, gives an excellent historical overview of Islam and in particular the Shia and Sunni factions. The extremists within these two groups are the bulk of the Islamic problem we must face. It's interesting that in the hundreds of years since Jefferson faced followers of the Quran not much has changed. Wehner reaches the same conclusion as Jefferson, as would any reasonable person in looking at the history. I believe as Wehner does that We will either defeat them, or they will come after us with the unsheathed sword.


Schadenfreude said...

Interesting piece, Sir Tiny.

I would hazard that you're right, that Jefferson had that copy of the Koran to understand the motivations of the Dey of Algiers. But I would also hazard there were other Muslim sailors and ships in the area that did not follow those interpretations of the Koran.

You never hear about the vast number of moderate Muslims, only the extremists who are the ones basically shit stirring the world over. There were extremists then just as there are now. I would therefore think Jefferson wanted to understand how the extremists like the Dey of Algiers could interpret the Muslim holy book one way, and how others did in the peaceful way in which it was intended.

Lest we forget, the Devil can quote scripture -- in the Bible and the Koran.


buffyogabod said...

So, did Sampley comment on Jefferson's reaction when he figured out that the Old Testament, the Jewish Bible and the Quran are all the same book?

Just wondering.

Tiny said...

hey Schad,

there's no doubt that there's plenty of peaceful and good people in every group on the planet. By pointing out that a formal and popular idealogy is linked to, or even the root of, evil doing does't negate that fact. The association is historic and prevalent today in the Muslim world....when I see a group of Muslim's celebrating a strike against Americans do I assume each an every one of them (men, women and children) would strap on a bomb and look to kill me? NO, but nonetheless they celebrate a blow against us.

Show me a large group associated with, for example, Catholicism that calls for the annihilation of another group, that beheads, that believes its destiny is to rid the planet of all those not like them?

The good Muslims in the world have not renounced those who associate their beliefs from the same book enough.

buffyogabod said...

Show me a large group associated with, for example, Catholicism that calls for the annihilation of another group, that beheads, that believes its destiny is to rid the planet of all those not like them?

Like, the Spanish Inquisition?

Tiny said...

buffy....see, I only used Muslim history because nothing has changed...sure there's lots of history that shows wrong doing and evil by nearly any group...I'm talking about TODAY....Muslim groups are repeating their bad history!

buffyogabod said...

Don't forget, that up until 9-11 the single largest terrorist attack on American soil, if not the world, was the attack by Right Wing Christians on the Federal Building in Texas.

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Tiny said...

Puulease....two guys, and two guys you cannot in any way link or associate to the larger two groups of "right wing" or "christians" is a joke. Two American wacko's do an evil thing and you think this is equivalent to the Islamic extremist factions the world over who, in unison, are guided by the same religous text? If you do then I'm sorry, I can't help you...you refuse to get educated about history, about the way people think. And if you're an American, if you live in America, and yet you have such disdain for us (which is what I take from your mocking a U-S-A chant) then why not move to a country where the majority are Muslim!

Splash Two said...

Nice post Tiny, Christopher Hitchens wrote a piece about it as well.

Buffy, so the attack on the federal builing was the largest in the world pre 9/11? Shows what an idiot you are.

Show me proof that McVeigh was Christian or right-wing.

buffyogabod said...

Tim claimed to be a Christian, opposed to the United Nations, and was quite the libertarian right-winger.

The court was criticized for not following up the fact that there were a lot of people who helped him pull that one off.

It was definitely the worst terrorist attack in the USA until 9-11. Not sure about the world, though - did put that in my disclaimer.

Splash Two said...

Buffy, sorry, you claiming something doesn't make it true. Show me some documentation of the things you claim.

You can't because there is none.

buffyogabod said...

Go visit wikipedia and any other site that comes up with you google his name.

Let's just say the consensus is that McVeigh didn't learn how to make bombs from a bunch of gay Atheist hairdressers in France.

And, it was in Oklahoma, not Texas, so yes, I am an ignorant slut. ;-D

Tiny said...

hahaha...Buffy-slut..you're aware wikipedia isn't a verified factual encyclopedia?...I (or you) can go update the entry on McVeigh and write anything I want...ya I can get flagged if someone complains somethings inaccurate...but if most who visit agree with it (wrong or right) everybody is happy to create their version of reality on that wiki!