By Craig Considine – Resting in the library of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello during the American Revolution was the Qur’an – a religious book respected and cherished by over 1 billion Muslims in the world today. Jefferson was a curious revolutionary. He was interested in humanity, God, and the commonalities amongst the human race. ‘All men are created equal’, an idea that stands the test of time, was Jefferson’s own. The author of The Declaration wanted to understand Islam. He knew that one day, Muslims around the world would flock to America for its representation of tolerance and compassion for diversity in a world not always open to difference. America is not just a territory with a flag and a bald eagle. America is in essence an ideology and philosophy representing upon the undeniable truth that human beings ‘are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights: amongst these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness’. Jefferson gave America, and the world, a framework for coexistence – we all want to be free, no person is ‘more equal’ than the other, and everyone has the right to pursue their dreams.
Visiting Jefferson’s Monticello in late April was my second visit to this beautiful estate. This trip, however, differed from my previous one in 2007. I walked in Jefferson’s footsteps with my mentor, Professor Ahmed – a Muslim scholar that regards Jefferson as a personal hero and as his favorite American founding father. There Professor Ahmed was, contemplating the sheer magnitude of what Jefferson had accomplished on the steps of Monticello, with his team of young Americans. Our trip to Monticello embodied the best of the tolerant, compassion, and universal American philosophy that sprung from the American Revolution.