The Founding Fathers and Islam


While many Americans today openly express their disfavor of Islam and Muslims, and While many politicians today argue whether serving in office should extend to Americans who are Muslims, the idea of American Muslim citizens is not new. So, what did the founding father thought of Muslims? and what is the future they saw for Muslims in America?

During the early days of America, many people were opposed to Muslims being a part of American Population. many American inherited a bit of negative perception about Muslims. After all, a century ago before George washington, spain was still deporting and persecuting Muslims who had remained after the fall of Andalus(Muslims spain). However, Some notable Americans few of whom are the founding fathers managed to break away from the European beliefs held about Muslims.

It’s easy to assume and publicly claim what the founding fathers would think of Muslims. After all, early Americans and the founding fathers were, God-fearing Christians. They certainly wouldn’t tolerate Muslims and their wrong religion. Making such claims definitely sounds like standing up for good old fashioned American traditions. Most people, however, will be shocked to find that Some of our founding fathers admired Muslims and their faith.

Thomas Jefferson believed in a pluralistic society. He believed in the inclusion of everyone as long as they are a part of this nation. In his book Realistic Visionary: A Portrait of George Washington, Peter Henriques says that Thomas Jefferson said “If they are good workmen, they may be of Asia, Africa or Europe. They may be Mahometans(Muslims), Jews or Christians of any sects, or they may be Atheist. What matters is what they could build.”

The example above is a clear evidence that Thomas Jefferson was opposed to the European way of thinking by including various groups including Muslims. Even though Thomas Jefferson was known for his criticism of religions Including Christianity, Judaism and Islam, that didn’t prevent him from insisting to make them a part of this country.

As a law student in Williamsburg, Virginia, Jefferson purchased a Quran about 11 years before the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson also Held the first Ramadan Iftar in 1805 when he hosted the first Muslim ambassador. Jefferson’s knowledge about Islam made him change the dinner time to sunset when he invited the Tunisian ambassador for dinner at the white house, because he knew Muslims break their fast after the sun sets.

in his book The American Model of State and School: An Historical Inquiry, Charles Glenn says that Benjamin Rush one of the founding fathers and signer of the Declaration of Independence stated I’d rather see the opinions of Confucius or Mohammed inculcated upon our youth than see them grow up wholly devoid of a system of religious principles.”

It is also obvious that Benjamin Franklin did his research about Islam, and that can be seen in his opinions about Saladin who is well known for his great treatment of the losing Crusader armies. Benjamin Franklin once declared: “Even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.”

Knowing that the founding fathers criticised religion and beliefs that didn’t make sense to them in religion, they still saw religion as an important aspect of the American culture. Religion was important to the point that founding fathers made the free exercise of religion the first amendment.


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