Everything you say can and will be used against you.

Friday, January 04, 2019

On "Jefferson's Qur'an"

The title page from Jefferson's copy of the Koran.
Cover page of "Jefferson's Qur'an"
Missing from the current "happy face" reporting on new congresspersons swearing in on "Jefferson's Qur'an" is that his 1734 translation by George Sale is accompanied by a preface that is highly critical of Islam as serious religion.

The Protestants alone are able to attack the Koran with success; and for them, I trust, Providence has reserved the glory of its overthrow.


...for how criminal soever Mohammed may have been in imposing a false religion on mankind...

The Qur'an of course, borrows liberally from the stories in the Bible and indeed contains many common sense truths of its own; thus the cover page itself carries an ominous caveat from St. Augustine, "Nulla falsa doctrina est quae non aliquid veri permisceat," that is, “There is no false doctrine that does not contain some truth.”

So the front page of the very "Jefferson Qur'an" these folks are swearing upon calls its contents "false doctrine" mixed with some truth. The irony is complete. And so it goes also in our current world of "news": We may get the truth, but seldom the whole truth.

Full text here, courtesy of gutenberg.org.


David Race said...

Just a heads up. The picture you posted is not the cover page of Jefferson's Koran. Jefferson's copy was from a later edition with a date of 1764.

David Race said...

Here is the title page of Jefferson's copy from the Library of Congress.


Tom Van Dyke said...

Thank you so very kindly, David. The correction has been made. Fortunately the text is otherwise identical, and the point holds.