Fred Kohn's Reviews > Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an: Islam and the Founders

Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an by Denise A. Spellberg
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it was ok
bookshelves: political

I remained confused as to why this book was titled Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an until the last chapter of the book. Although Jefferson owned a Qur'an, there seems to be no evidence at all that he ever read it. Sure, he probably did, but what use he made of it remains pure conjecture. Even worse, it seems clear to me that he never read its excellent (for the time) 200 page introduction, as the author makes clear that he seems totally unaware of the facts contained therein. Most of the book is concerned with the developing history from total lack of toleration of Muslims in Europe and North America into a form of toleration via the U.S. Constitution. But because this toleration was all theoretical (nobody knowing of any actual Muslims in either place), it was all rather dry reading. A substantial part of the book dealt with Adams' and Jefferson's dealings with the piracy of the North African (Barbary) states, and for me, this kept the book from being a complete snorer. I especially enjoyed the description of the conversation between the Tunisian ambassador and President Jefferson about whether the American Indians are descended from Adam ("It's a complicated question," replies Jefferson.) The very last chapter was devoted to our current time, and the prejudices Muslims face today. This chapter opened and often referred back to Keith Ellison's oath which he took upon Jefferson's Qur'an, a fact I was unaware of, and which finally clarified the title.
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Reading Progress

July 22, 2014 – Started Reading
July 22, 2014 – Shelved
July 27, 2014 – Finished Reading
August 26, 2014 – Shelved as: political

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