Rep.-elect Rashida Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim congresswomen elected in the U.S., will be sworn into Congress on Thursday using Thomas Jefferson’s centuries-old copy of the Koran.
Jefferson’s copy of the Koran, which was translated by George Sale into English in 1734, currently resides in the Library of 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 Free Press. “Muslims were there at the beginning … Some of our Founding Fathers knew more about Islam than some members of Congress now.”
Some might be shocked that Jefferson owned a Koran, but Tlaib said she’s okay with that reaction.
“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.”
Tlaib told the newspaper that she is not using the Koran simply to make a religious point.
“My mere existence, that I’m even of Muslim faith, is going to be a problem for them with or without me swearing in on any Koran,” she said. “I believe in secular government [and] my swearing in on the Koran is about me showing that the American people are made up of diverse backgrounds and we all have love of justice and freedom.”
“My faith has centered me. The prophet Mohammed was always talking about freedom and justice,” she added.
There is no requirement for members being sworn in to use a Bible or any other book.
Jefferson’s Koran 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.
Tlaib’s children also joined in on the fun during Thursday’s swearing-in ceremony with what may be the first dab on the House floor:
— Waleed Shahid (@_waleedshahid) January 3, 2019
— jordan (@JordanUhl) January 3, 2019
Tlaib and incoming Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, made history in the 2018 midterms as the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.