Thomas Jefferson's Quran inspired US history more than one would think

Rare artefact is on display at the US pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai

A rare copy of the Quran on display at Expo 2020 Dubai was probably used to help form the United States Declaration of Independence, which was adopted by Congress in 1776.

The historical artefact, once owned by the third US president, Thomas Jefferson, inspired the principles of the declaration that was made to guarantee equal rights for every person.

Jefferson was nominated to compose the original draft of the document, which took 17 days to write.

“Thomas Jefferson had purchased this copy of the Quran when he was 21 or 22 years old and he clearly read the book because his initials are in it,” said Robert Clark, US Commissioner General.

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He was building the founding principles because, as you know, he was the author of [the] Declaration of Independence and we believe that the Quran and the Bible helped form his opinions
Robert Clark, US Commissioner General, USA Pavilion

“He was studying law at the time and forming his own opinions about what would be a perfect society and perfect union.

“He was building the founding principles because, as you know, he was the author of [the] Declaration of Independence and we believe that the Quran and the Bible helped form his opinions.”

The two-volume set was printed in London in 1764 and was bought by the Library of Congress shortly after Jefferson died, in 1826.

It has been on display at the library ever since and its debut appearance at the world’s fair is the very first time that it has left the premises.

"We think it is a great opportunity for people who are coming and visiting the US pavilion to see that in our earliest days, as we formed our union, religious freedom was critical,” Mr Clark said."

“Understanding Islam, and all religions and their impact on the people, was key to our culture and our values as we formed the country.”

The book, presented as two volumes, includes a framed map of Makkah.

It made its journey to the Middle East in a modern, custom-made wooden crate with four inches of padding and customised trays, along with a sensor that detects vibration and temperature changes.

Library conservation and security staff, with police and an international freight company that specialises in fine art shipping, secured the crate en route.

Visitors to Expo 2020 Dubai can see the book up close at the US pavilion, located in the Opportunity District, throughout the six-month duration of the world’s fair.

Updated: October 13th 2021, 4:45 PM
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