The British Prime Minister Tony Blair says that he has read the whole Qur'an three times. In his statements, he often mentioned his admiration for the Qur'an's moral teaching. On March 29, 2000, the BBC reported on Blair's admiration for the Qur'an in a feature entitled "Blair: Qur'an Inspired Me." He was reported to have said that Islam was a good and peaceful religion, that he owned two copies of the Qur'an, and that he was quite inspired by it:
If you read the Koran, it is so clear… the concept of love and fellowship as the guiding spirits of humanity.292
Two or three days before the 9/11 attacks, the British newspaper The Mail on Sunday published an article in which Blair said that former US president Bill Clinton's daughter Chelsea had given him a copy of the Qur'an as a gift, that he had begun to read it and that it given him courage in times of difficulty.293 After the attacks, Blair once again said in an interview on Al-Jazeera television that had read the Qur'an. He also added:
I read the message of the Koran, insofar as it can be translated. And I read about Islam and I enjoy doing that. And I think that I have learned things about the Koran that I never knew before and I think a lot of Christians would be interested.294
Time magazine described Blair as "long-time student of the Koran" in one article about him.295
A speech by Bill Clinton which described how influenced he was by the Qur'an
In his last year in the White House, former US President Bill Clinton received a number of Muslims during Ramadan. At the meeting, which began with a reading from the Qur'an, Clinton used verses from the Qur'an in his own address and frequently stated his interest in Islam:
And I thought it was particularly moving that Imam read the passage from the Koran that said that Allah created nations and tribes that we might know one another, not that we might despise one another. There's a wonderful passage in the Hebrew Torah, which warns people never to turn aside the stranger, for it is like turning aside the most high God. And the Christian Bible says that people should love their neighbor as themselves. But it's quite wonderful to say that Allah created the nations and tribes that they might know one another better... Let me say, also, that there is much that the world can learn from Islam. It is now practiced by one of every four people on Earth. Americans are learning more in our schools and universities. Indeed, I remember that our daughter took a course on Islamic history in high school and read large portions of the Koran, and came home at night and educated her parents about it, and later asked us questions about it... So I ask you again to rededicate yourselves in this coming year to making sure that others in this country truly understand and appreciate the faith you embrace, its practices, its beliefs, its precepts and its inclusive humanity... The Koran also teaches, in addition, to the fact that we should do unto others as we wish to have done to us, and reject for others what we would reject for ourselves, but we should also make a commitment to live in peace…296
George W. Bush:
"It's [the Qur'an is] a very thoughtful gift."
On 26 September 2001, President George W. Bush held a substantive meeting with American Muslim leaders, and said that "the teachings of Islam are the teachings of peace and good." During this meeting, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), presented a copy of the Holy Qur'an to President Bush. During a brief press conference after the meeting, the President expressed his pleasure saying:
And I want to thank you very much for the-the gift you gave me, Imam, the Koran. It's a very thoughtful gift. I say, "Thank you very much for the gift." He said, "It's the best gift I could give you, Mr. President." I appreciate that very much.297
On September 17, 2001, President Bush visited the Washington Islam Center mosque, one of the oldest in the United States. In his speech, he emphasized that Islam is a religion of peace and that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 have nothing to do with the teachings of Islam or the sincere Muslims of the world, all of whom deplore terrorism. Bush stated that those who inflict harm on innocent and civilian Muslims are just as in the wrong as those who carry out terrorist attacks. At this crowded meeting, covered live by a large number of domestic and international television stations, President Bush read the following verse from the Qur'an:298
"In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil. For that they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule." (Qur'an, 30:10)
287. W. Montgomery Watt, Islam and Christianity Today (London: 1983), ix.
290. John Esposito, quoted in Jacqueline Blais’ “People Want to Know, So Koran is Best Seller,” USA Today, 27 November 2001.
291. Napoleon Bonaparte, quoted in Christian Cherfils’ Bonaparte et Islam (Bonaparte and Islam) (Paris, France: 1914), 125.
292. BBC News, 29 March 2000.
293. “Blair Kuran’a Merak Salmis” (Blair is Interested in the Qur’an), Milliyet, 11 September 2001.
294. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Interview with Al-Jazeera, 9 October 2001, www.number-10.gov.uk/output/page3562.asp.
295. Travels With Tony, Time 158, 12 November 2001, no. 20.
298. “Remarks by the President at Islamic Center of Washington, D.C.,” 17 September 2001, http://usinfo.state.gov/usa/islam/s091701b.htm..