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Short Synopsis
Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an is a timely look at the ideals that existed at our country's creation, and their fundamental implications for our present and future.

Full Synopsis
In this original and illuminating book, Denise A. Spellberg reveals a little-known but crucial dimension of the story of American religious freedom—a drama in which Islam played a surprising role. In 1765, eleven years before composing the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson bought a Qur'an. This marked only the beginning of his lifelong interest in Islam, and he would go on to acquire numerous books on Middle Eastern languages, history, and travel, taking extensive notes on Islam as it relates to English common law. Jefferson sought to understand Islam notwithstanding his personal disdain for the faith, a sentiment prevalent among his Protestant contemporaries in England and America. But unlike most of them, by 1776 Jefferson could imagine Muslims as future citizens of his new country.

Based on groundbreaking research, Spellberg compellingly recounts how a handful of the Founders, Jefferson foremost among them, drew upon Enlightenment ideas about the toleration of Muslims (then deemed the ultimate outsiders in Western society) to fashion out of what had been a purely speculative debate a practical foundation for governance in America.

"Fascinating. . . . Revelatory. . . . "Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an" breaks fresh ground."--- The New York Times Book Review

"Wonderful. . . . Spellberg provides valuable historical context for the struggle for religious tolerance and inclusion. In itself, her book constitutes a step toward inclusiveness in the ongoing construction of American history." --- Jonathan P. Berkey, San Francisco Chronicle

"An impressive and timely book, explaining in detail the universalism of Jefferson's religious toleration, his contemplation of full citizenship and equality not only for Jews and Catholics but for Muslims as well, while still accepting the traditional view of the 'errors' of Islam. Denise Spellberg documents in detail 'where, when, and how Muslims were first included in American ideals.' An exploration of the extent of the Founders' pluralism, the book is not only a notable addition to our understanding of Jefferson but a significant comment on the world today."---
Bernard Bailyn,Two-time winner of the Pulitzer prize and author of The Barbarous Years

Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an

Islam and the Founders

Author Denise A. Spellberg

Narrated by Jo Anna Perrin

Publication date Nov 21, 2017

Running time 13 hrs 28 min

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