"In 1776, Jefferson inscribed these pivotal words among his private notes: "(N)either Pagan nor Mahometan (Muslim) nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth because of his religion." They were written a few months after he composed the Declaration of Independence, when he returned to Virginia to draft new laws for his state.
Jefferson borrowed the precedent of "civil rights" for Muslims from the English philosopher John Locke's 1689 tract, "A Letter Concerning Toleration." Locke's ideas about the toleration of Muslims and Jews provoked attacks: One critic condemned him for having "the faith of a Turk." His enemies also charged, rightly, that he owned a copy of the Quran, which they termed "the Mahometan bible."
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