When incoming U.S. congresswoman Rashida Tlaib is sworn into office Thursday, she will use Thomas Jefferson’s centuries-old Quran.
Some might be shocked that Jefferson owned an English-translated Quran that dates back to 1734. But Tlaib — one of the two first Muslim women elected to Congress in November — said she’s okay with that reaction, according to CNN.
“I like that,” the Democrat told CNN. “I like that it’s kind of pushing against the stereotype that somehow we’re new to this country.”
Jefferson’s Quran was also used by Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison in 2007 when the Minnesota congressman took his own oath of office, according to The Washington Post.
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As noted by The Washington Post, the historic Quran includes an opening from George Sale, who translated it into English, that sheds a less-than favorable light on Islam.
“Whatever use an impartial version of the Koran may be of in other respects, it is absolutely necessary to undeceive those who, from the ignorant or unfair translations which have appeared, have entertained too favourable an opinion of the original, and also to enable us effectually to expose the imposture,” the opening says, according to The Washington Post.
But for Tlaib, using the Quran sends an unmistakable message after she and incoming Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, made history in the 2018 midterms as the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.
“It’s important to me because a lot of Americans have this kind of feeling that Islam is somehow foreign to American history,” Tlaib told The Detroit Free Press. “Muslims were there at the beginning. … Some of our founding fathers knew more about Islam than some members of Congress now.”
Along with using the Quran, Tlaib “has said she will wear a Palestinian gown called a thobe for her swearing-in ceremony,” CNN reported. The Detroit Free Press reported that Tlaib will wear a thobe that her mother specifically created for her during the swearing.
Some on social media have started to post pictures of their own thobes in a show of solidarity with Tlaib.
“Every child of immigrant parents knows what it means,” Tlaib told CNN. “Their biggest hope is that they want us to succeed, but they also don’t want us to lose a part of who we are.”
In an interview with The Detroit Free Press, Tlaib emphasized that she wanted to use the Quran because she “believe(s) in secular government.”
“My swearing in on the (Quran) is about me showing that the American people are made up of diverse backgrounds and we all have love of justice and freedom,” she told the newspaper. “My faith has centered me. The prophet Mohammed was always talking about freedom and justice.”
Omar also made history as the first member of Congress who is a Somali American, while Tlaib is the first Palestinian-American woman to do the same.