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Shadia: Islam's influence on the Founding Fathers

Unveiled: A Muslim Girl in O.C.

April 25, 2012|By Mona Shadia

Even though I wasn't born or raised here, there's a reason I feel at home in America.

America's principles align with Islam's teachings. In fact, America's principles are not just based on Judeo-Christian values, but Judeo-Christian-Islamic values. After all, the three religions share the same father, Abraham, and the same God.

After some research and a chat with a friend, who shared with me the work of a few authors and scholars, I'm convinced that this relationship and compatibility between Islam and America is not a coincidence.

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It is because America's forefathers were influenced by Islam itself.

Hear me out.

There's no doubt that when the Founding Fathers were forming the Constitution, they relied heavily on thinkers like John Locke.

Thomas Jefferson, the main author of the Declaration of Independence, used the terms "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," which were taken directly from Locke's "Second Treatise of Civil Government," according to a comparative religion paper written by Zulfiqar Ali Shah, an Islamic scholar.

Locke's ideas were used to form the Constitution and heavily influenced figures like Thomas Paine, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams.

You probably knew all of that. Locke was one of the political philosophers I studied in graduate school, and I often thought his ideas on human rights were in line with Islam's.

But what I didn't know is that Locke got many of his ideas from Islam and was often accused of being a Muslim by others, according to Shah. Apparently, accusing your opponents of being Muslim is not a new thing (ahem!).

Locke, as well as Jefferson, owned a copy of the Koran. Jefferson was the first president to host a Ramadan Iftar dinner at the White House, and, while campaigning for religious freedom in Virginia, he demanded that people recognize the religious rights of the "Mohamadan," the Jews and the "Pagan," according to a Library of Congress article by James H. Hutson, chief of the Manuscript Division.

Muslims were also part of this country from its inception.

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