U.S. Presidents on Islam
“You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention.”1
“While we are zealously performing the duties of good Citizens and soldiers we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of Religion. To the distinguished Character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to add the more distinguished Character of Christian.”2
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams
“We took the liberty to make some inquiries concerning the grounds of their pretentions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our Friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation. The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners; and that every Musselman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”3
John Quincy Adams
“In the seventh century of the Christian era, a wandering Arab of the lineage of Hagar, the Egyptian, combining the powers of transcendent genius, with the preternatural energy of a fanatic, and the fraudulent spirit of an impostor, proclaimed himself as a messenger from Heaven, and spread desolation and delusion over an extensive portion of the earth. Adopting from the sublime conception of the Mosaic law, the doctrine of one omnipotent God; he connected indissolubly with it, the audacious falsehood, that he was himself his prophet and apostle…. [H]e declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind…. The precept of the koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God.”4
“Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism—it is an important part of promoting peace.”5
1 George Washington (1779), “Speech to the Delaware Chiefs,” in The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745-1799, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick, 15:55, emp. added, http://preview.tinyurl.com/Washington-G-1779. The author assumes that Washington’s belief in the priority of the Christian religion would apply to the Muslim as well as the Native American.
2 George Washington (1778), “General Orders, May 2, 1778,” George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, emp. added, http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mgw3&fileName=mgw3g/gwpage003.db&recNum=181. Again, it is assumed that, if Washington considered being a Christian a person’s highest glory, being a Muslim would not be so considered.
3 “American Peace Commissioners to John Jay” (1786), The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondence. 1651-1827, Library of Congress, March 28, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mtj.mtjbib001849. The letter refers to Jefferson and Adam’s meeting with the Ambassador from the Muslim country of Tripoli.
4 Joseph Blunt (1830), The American Annual Register for the Years 1827-8-9 (New York: E. & G.W. Blunt), 29:269, emp. added, http://www.archive.org/stream/p1americanannual29blunuoft.
5 Barack Obama (2009), “Remarks by the President on a New Beginning,” The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt, June 4, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-cairo-university-6-04-09.
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