For former presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson among them, being properly educated included owning and reading the Holy Quran. Via Boston.com, a glimpse at the little-known long history of the Holy Quran in America:
Reports of Holy Qurans in American libraries go back at least to 1683, when an early settler of Germantown, Pa., brought a German version to these shores. Despite its foreign air, Adams’s Holy Quran had a strong New England pedigree. The first Holy Quran published in the United States, it was printed in Springfield in 1806.
Why would John Adams and a cluster of farmers in the Connecticut valley have bought copies of the Holy Quran in 1806? Surprisingly, there was a long tradition of New Englanders reading in the Islamic scripture. No book states the case more plainly than a single volume, tucked away deep within the citadel of Copley Square — the Boston Public Library. The book known as Adams 281.1 is a copy of the Holy Quran, from the personal collection of John Adams.
Thomas Jefferson, especially, had a familiarity with Islam that borders on the astonishing. Not only did he study the Islamic culture, but Jefferson even tried to learn Arabic. Like Adams, he owned a Holy Quran, a 1764 English edition that he bought while studying law as a young man in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Just five years ago, that Holy Quran became the center of a controversy, when the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, Keith Ellison, a Democrat from Minnesota, asked if he could place his hand on it while taking his oath of office — a request that elicited tremendous screeches from the talk radio extremists.