Jefferson’s Koran

It was hard for me to swallow a US official being sworn in on the Koran, a book whose doctrine does not allow for a nation such as the US to exist. And I didn’t like reading story after story by ignorant writers who applauded Jefferson for owning a Koran and having such an open mind. I thought of the original Martin Luther who said that the best way to defeat Islam was to translate the Koran so that everyone could see how evil the Muslim doctrine was. So I thought to myself that Jefferson was probably reading it to know his enemy rather than praise what some now incorrectly call, the religion of peace.

So was Jefferson a closet Muslim? I doubted it. I doubted it because I knew there was something more to Jefferson and his Koran, but that piece of our history nagged incessantly at me because I couldn’t recall it well. It is usually played down, that is unless you are a Marine, then it is sung often and with reverence. That piece of our history which dates back to Jefferson is part of the Marine hymn which starts out:

From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli,
We fight our country’s battles in the air, on land and sea.

Do you recall history better than I do? Do you already know why Jefferson kept a Koran? If you don’t have it then I’ll give you a few more clues.

  1. A band of nations demanded millions of dollars in tribute from us before we were a nation, and more after we won our freedom from England

  2. Their mercenaries kidnapped, enslaved, sold into slavery, or ransomed US citizens when they felt they weren’t getting enough tribute money.

  3. Captain Bainbridge was forced to fly the flag of the Ottoman Empire on a US Navy ship while delivering tribute to the Sultan in Constantinople.

  4. They declared war on us when the newly elected Jefferson refused to pay tribute to them.

  5. Congress approved finances and a naval expeditionary force without signing a formal declaration of war.

  6. The slogan of the day became: “Millions for defense, not a penny for tribute.”

  7. After 4 years at war they were defeated, and 10 years later we went back and did it again.

  8. They had controlled trade in the Mediterranean by turning their pirate forces on any nation that didn’t convert to Islam or pledge themselves as a non-Christian nation willing to pay tribute to them.

  9. They were the known as the Muslim Barbary Powers of North Africa, but their mercenaries were more commonly referred to as the Pirates of the Barbary Coast.

  10. Tripoli (now called Libya) was the lead nation and was decisively defeated by our naval forces on the “shores of Tripoli”

Here is some information from

Tripoli tan War 1801-1805

A conflict between the United States and Tripoli (now in Libya), incited by American refusal to continue payment of tribute to the piratical rulers of the North African Barbary States of Algiers, Tunis, Morocco, and Tripoli; this practice had been customary among European nations and the nascent United States in exchange for immunity from attack on merchant vessels in the Mediterranean.

A demand from the pasha of Tripoli for greater tribute and his dramatic declaration of war on the United States (May 14, 1801) coincided with a decision by President Thomas Jefferson’s administration to demonstrate American resolve. Despite his opposition to the expense of maintaining a navy, Jefferson dispatched an American naval squadron to Tripoli tan waters. By means of a special “Mediterranean Fund,” the navy–which had been partially dismantled and was perhaps nearing extinction–actually increased in size.

State __Combat Forces Casualties
Tripoli __10,000 _______2,000
USA ___25,000_______ 5,000

Here we are 200 years later, again attacked by the proxy of Islamic nations and defending ourselves in the same region. Interesting that 200 years ago we were willing to lose 1 in 5 soldiers for a total of 5,000 deaths to defend our citizens abroad. We must have been a bit more proud in those days.

Here are a couple of more links, or just Google. Also remember that pasha, dey, sultan are titles given to leaders of Muslim nations.

So nearing conclusion, Jefferson may have been open minded and progressive ahead of his time, but I would have to say he studied his Koran to learn about the Muslims who declared war on our nation when we would no longer tolerate their violence, aggression and extortion.

I hope that President Bush has his own Koran. Not because he needs to be more open minded, but rather because he needs to defend our nation.

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9 Responses to “Jefferson’s Koran”

  1. R. M. M├ęsavage says:

    Jefferson crossed the parts of the Bible that he disagreed with or did not like. I would like to find out if he did the same thing with the Koran. Can anyone find this information?

  2. Thomas Jefferson says:

    Jefferson was not a Muslim, but he was not a Christian. He was a deist. He believed in religious freedom. He didn’t believe in a God that answered prayers. Perhaps Christians should swear on the Jefferson Bible, which has all the “miracles” of Jesus taken out.

  3. Matt says:

    Wow, yeah Andy, that was pretty bad. The rest of the article, while mostly historically accurate, is not that impressive.

    I mean, one could just as easily say that the Bible’s doctrine doesn’t allow the US to exist either, and they’d be just as wrong.

    I guess the problem comes when we try to determine what the Koran’s (or the Bible’s) doctrine is. If you want to interpret from it a doctrine in opposition of the government or the values of any given nation-state, you could easily do that. But you could also say that the Koran’s values are strikingly similar to American values.

    Really, one has nothing to do with the other. It’s the people who read the Koran who are developing its doctrine, and those people have their own political philosophies they seek to justify with scriptural text.

  4. Andy says:

    What part of the Koran doesn’t allow the US to exist? You say you’re not a scholar on either book, so how is it that you can say that?

  5. Clayton S says:

    Just for perspective, have you, by chance, read the Koran?

    Personally, I’ve read the Koran and I find it no more violent and/or tending toward anti-Christian sentiments than what I’ve read in the Guru Granth Sahib, the supreme scripture of Sikhism.

    • wally says:

      Yes, I did get through it and my first reading of the Bible during the first year or so of college and that’s been a while now. I am not a scholar on either book. I did read some regarding Sikhism and several other religions around the same time. I don’t think you’ll find any one to disagree that many religious texts are filled with acts of violence and those acts are often against those of other religions.

  6. wally says:

    If by “Bush” you are referring to President Bush and not a plant, then I would say you are both ill informed regarding his literacy and ill informed on how to properly and respectfully address a US President. That aside, I was posing a humor when I said that I hope President Bush had a Koran. Of course there is a Koran in the White House and I would venture a guess that President Bush has had his nose in it than a time or two.
    Yes, one episode in history has to be taken with a grain of salt, but we have 14 centuries of episodes and that paints a pretty clear picture. If all these episodes do not represent Islam, then would the real Islam please stand up!

  7. alia barnes says:

    If Bush had a Koran he would not be able to read and understand it as he is illiterate. One cannot take an episode in history out of context and claim to understand its meaning and the lessons gleaned from it. It would perhaps be useful finally to understand that a bunch a pirates supported by corrupt rulers do not represent Islam or the Koranic prescriptions anymore than the men and women in Abu Ghraib represent Christianity and the teachings of the Bible.

  8. John Gilbert says:

    I believe the following quote would be applicable to Jefferson. It sure has been wise advice for me through life.

    Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.
    Sun-tzu (~400 BC), (attributed)