What Jefferson and others really thought of Islam

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thomas jefferson

 

Barack Obama made his first visit to a US mosque a few days ago and then scolded America for its concerns about Islam. He reminded the audience that Jefferson himself was once accused of being a Muslim.

“Look it up” dared obama. So I did.

Obama then went on to do what he always does- lie and mislead. Obama explained the derivation of the word “Islam.”

“The very word Islam comes from ‘Salam’ – peace,” he said. “The standard greeting is ‘As-Salaam-Alaikum’ – ‘Peace be upon you,’”

The word “Islam” actually means “submission.”

“Like so many faiths, Islam is rooted in a commitment to compassion and mercy and justice and charity.” said Obama.

In 1784 America had its first experience with North African Muslim terrorists:

Before the British Colonies became the United States, colonial merchant vessels were protected from pirates by British and French ships. But after winning its independence, the U.S. was on its own. America’s first loss to Islamic terrorism came in 1784, when Muslim pirates from North Africa seized the Betsey in Mediterranean waters. It was a practice that had been going on against European vessels since the sixteenth century. As coincidence would have it, 1784 was also the year that Thomas Jefferson took up his position as Minister of France, settled into his new European home, and began to negotiate a deal to stop these seizures.

The European solution to North African piracy was to pay a tribute to the sovereign of the Barbary (present-day Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia). In return, they’d leave Europe’s shipping trade alone. But it was up to each country to settle its own treaties and payments, and if a country fell behind on a payment, it risked losing its ships to seizure. With no financial power to pay the tributes demanded by the Barbary, the Unites States found itself helpless. The only alternative was to wage war, but the young country didn’t have a navy yet.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams met with Ambassador Abd al-Rahman to negotiate an end to the piracy and sent a letter to Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Jay, writing:

“the Ambassador answered us, that it was founded on the law of their great Profet: that it was written in the Koran, that all Nations who should not have acknowledged their Authority were sinners: that it was their right & duty to make war upon them whenever they could be found, & to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners; & that every Mussalman [Muslim] who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

The effort at diplomacy failed and in 1801 President Jefferson sent Marines “to the shores of Tripoli” to put an end to the piracy.

At Breitart, Charlie Spiering wrote:

Obama pointed out that the founding fathers also supported the religion of Islam.

Not exactly. They didn’t support Islam any more than any other religion. What they supported was the principle that no one’s civil rights out to be forfeit because of his religion:

[He] sais “neither Pagan nor Mahamedan [Muslim] nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the Commonwealth because of his religion.”
 — Thomas Jefferson, quoting John Locke, 1776
 

It wasn’t an endorsement of Islam. It was a protection of the the civil rights of all.

Obama also said “Jefferson and John Adams had their own copies of the Koran,”

Yes they did, and here’s what John Adams had to say about Islam:

This book is a long conference of God, the angels, and Mahomet, which that false prophet very grossly invented; sometimes he introduceth God, who speaketh to him, and teacheth him his law, then an angel, among the prophets, and frequently maketh God to speak in the plural. … Thou wilt wonder that such absurdities have infected the best part of the world, and wilt avouch, that the knowledge of what is contained in this book, will render that law contemptible …

Jefferson bought a Quran in 1765. Later he concluded that Islam was “anti-science and anti-reason.” Jefferson also came to see “Christianity as one of the greatest blueprints for a moral code.”

Curiously, obama mentioned none of this.

In her Wapo article, Elahe Izadi wrote:

Muslims, who were also alluded to in those years as “Turks,” did live in this country at the time, Obama said. An estimated 20 percent of enslaved Africans were Muslim, but much of the citizenry at the time didn’t acknowledge that Muslims existed in America, according to several historians.

What she failed to include is that Muslims were in the slavery business long before America was:

Morocco began recognizing American colonists in 1625, as Governor William Bradford wrote of the fates of a Pilgrim ship sent back to England carrying dried fish and 800 pounds of beaver skins to trade for supplies: “They … were well within the England channel, almost in sight of Plymouth. But … there she was unhapply taken by a Turkish man-of-war and carried off to Morocco where the captain and crew were made slaves.”

Muslim pirates of Morocco raided European coasts and carried away over a million to the North African slave markets, where also tens of millions of Africans were sold into slavery.

In 1627, Algerian Muslim pirates, led by Murat Reis the Younger, raided Iceland, and carried 400 into slavery.

One captured girl, who had been made a slave concubine in Algeria, was rescued back by King Christian IV of Denmark.

On June 20, 1631, the entire village of Baltimore, Ireland, “The Stolen Village,” was captured by Muslim pirates. Only two ever returned.

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Moroccan Sultan Moulay Ismail had 500 wives, mostly captured from Europe, and forced 25,000 white slaves to build his enormous palace at Meknes. He was witnessed killing an African slave just to try out a new hatchet he was given.

Obama didn’t mention that either.  Neither did he speak of the “sacred histories” of Islam, or the problem that Islam is both religion and government. Or the fact that the mosque has controversial ties. There was a lot obama neglected to mention.

The Founding Fathers weren’t singular in their observations of Islam. Mark Twain also examined Islam and wrote about it:

That is a simple rule, and easy to remember. When I, a thoughtful and unblessed Presbyterian, examine the Koran, I know that beyond any question every Mohammedan is insane; not in all things, but in religious matters.

So it does seem that Jefferson was once accused of being Muslim. However, Jefferson did not know the Islamic Call to Prayer by heart nor could he recite it with a perfect accent.

 

DrJohn has been a health care professional for more than 30 years. In addition to clinical practice he has done extensive research and has published widely with over 70 original articles and abstracts in the peer-reviewed literature. DrJohn is well known in his field and has lectured on every continent except for Antarctica. He has been married to the same wonderful lady for over 30 years and has three kids- two sons, both of whom are attorneys and one daughter on her way into the field of education. DrJohn was brought up with the concept that one can do well if one is prepared to work hard but nothing in life is guaranteed. Except for liberals being foolish.

7 Responses to “What Jefferson and others really thought of Islam”

  1. 2

    Greg

    What any religion is depends on who’s defining it and on what their motives are. Christianity was once used as a rationalization for military conquest, for the displacement of indigenous non-Christian populations, and for the virtual or actual enslavement of other races by a number of European nations and empires. It has also been used on occasion as a means of maintaining a hierarchy of power and authority by people who’s behavior as rulers has had little or nothing to do with the teachings of Christ.

  2. 3

    Nanny G

    Although we seem to be getting away from logic, most people here still believe in cause and effect.
    Well, in non-Muslim cultures we do.

    Experiments in physics and chemistry are replicatable, meaning they can be copied hundreds of years later and will still come out the same.
    (Who of us has not done one of these old experiments in high school physics or chemistry?)
    As rational beings we realize there are truths are in science: gravity, laws of momentum, laws of thermodynamics, geometric proportions, etc.

    In contrast, in the Muslim world thinkers did not embrace the well-ordered universe concept.
    Instead, theirs was a view of man and nature was based on Islamic atomism (known as occasionalism).
    Occasionalism rejects cause and effect in the cosmos and believed that there were a continuous flux of moments.

    Thus two sets of institutions of higher learning sprung up out of these two rather opposing views:
    The University system and the Madrassa system.
    We know how universities work.

    Madrasas are controlled by religious authorities and most often the natural sciences are rejected as part of the curriculum.
    The lack of success in science in the Islamic culture hinged on the problem of institution building.
    If in the long run scientific thought and intellectual creativity in general are to keep themselves alive and advance into new domains of conquest and creativity, multiple spheres of freedom – what we may call neutral zones – must exist within which large groups of people can pursue their genius free from the censure of political and religious authorities.
    In addition, certain metaphysical and philosophical assumptions must accompany this freedom.
    Where science is concerned, students must be conceived to be endowed with reason, the world must be thought to be a rational and consistent whole, and various levels of universal representation, participation, and discourse must be available.
    It is precisely here that one finds the greatest weaknesses of Arabic-Islamic civilization as an incubator of modern science.
    Science demanded the freedom to pursue truth wherever it led, and Islamic culture shut down this freedom.

    We were founded by rational men, Jefferson and John Adams included.
    By sitting down and reading a koran they learned what a nutcase Mohammad had been.
    Please, if you have not done so, before you are critical of Jefferson and Adams on Islam, read that koran yourself.
    He was absolutely crazy, frothing-at-the-mouth crazy (by his own admission) and even deceived into writing lies (again by his own admission) he also was led about by his very lowly fleshly desires, again by his own admission.
    Read it and see.

  3. 6

    Bill

    @john: Again, you miss the simplest of points. They hypocrisy of the left is more than happy to cheer on an ideology, be it Islam or abortion, and conveniently overlook the fact that these ideologies contain large doses of the very stuff they pretend to oppose.

    @Greg: Yet it seems the rest of the world has evolved to a more humane life form while Islam stayed pretty much in the 6th century.

    Even before ISIS made the foundation tenets of Islam apparent to the majority, a book, “The Pirate Coast” by Richard Zacks, gives a detailed account of the actual campaign to rescue some western slaves held in Libya. It covers, without attempting to make a political point, how Islam embraces slavery, piracy and doing anything for a buck.

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