This is certainly an intriguing question and one which Alexandra Meav Jerome considers in a piece for Oxford Islamic Studies Online. Jerome writes:
The Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution contain similar clauses on some topics. The Constitution of Medina states: “The Jews shall maintain their own religion and the Muslims theirs…The close friends of Jews are as themselves” and “those who followed them and joined them and struggled with them. They form one and the same community” in solidarity against their enemies. Finally, the conclusion of the Constitution states, “Strangers, under protection, shall be treated on the same ground as their protectors; but no stranger shall be taken under protection except with consent of his tribe…No woman shall be taken under protection without the consent of her family.” If Jefferson was familiar with the Constitution of Medina, the document may have influenced his inclusion in the Declaration of Independence of the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” an almost dogmatic belief in American culture.
Now let us turn to the US Constitution for a comparison. Again Jerome notes:
The first Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing freedom of religion, was originally called the “Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom.” In his autobiography, Jefferson recounted that the contents of the bill and that he was emphatic that the language of the bill should name precisely the groups protected, writing that “the Jew, the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every [emphasis mine] denomination” should be protected under the law.
Of course we cannot forget the most famous line of the Declaration of Independence, which also has the spirit of the Constitution of Medina:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
It would be a stretch to suggest that the Constitution of Medina, the Qur’an and “Islamic principles” were the main motivating factors in Jefferson’s writing of some of America’s most legendary documents.
However, it is not necessarily a stretch to claim that most important documents in the Islamic tradition are quite similar to similarly crucial documents in American history.
Tagged: Constitution of Medina, Declaration of Independence, First Amendment, Islam and the Founding Fathers, Islamic history in America, Jefferson, Jefferson and Islam, Jefferson and the Qur'an, Jews, Life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Religious freedom, Tolerance, United States, United States Constitution, United States Declaration of Independence