The Quran owned by former President Thomas Jefferson will be the book upon which newly-elected Muslim congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), is sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday.
According to The Hill, Tlaib will be making history this Thursday as the first Palestinian-American woman to join the lower chamber of Congress. She also joins alongside recently-elected Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) to be one of the first two Muslim congresswomen.
Translated into English by George Sale in 1734, Jefferson’s copy of the Quran resides in the Library of Congress, according to the Detroit Free Press. Tlaib told the Free Press that she chose Jefferson’s Quran to highlight that Islam goes back a long way in the United States.
“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.”
Tlaib added that she believes in secular government and does not wish to make a religious point by using the Quran.
“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 Quran,” she said. “I believe in secular government [and] 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.”
“My faith has centered me. The prophet Mohammed was always talking about freedom and justice,” she added.
Tlaib said in an Instagram post last month that she will be wearing a traditional Palestinian gown at the swearing-in ceremony.
The Jefferson Quran was previously used for the swearing in of Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) 12 years ago. No requirement exists in Congress for someone to be sworn in upon the Bible or any other book.
Official swearing-in happens at the beginning of every new Congress when the House Speaker asks all members to rise, raise their right hands and take the oath of office:
Do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that you will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that you take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which you are about to enter, so help you God?
Tlaib’s soon-to-be colleague, Ilhan Omar, recently announced her support for the House Democrats overturning a 181-year ban on headwear on the House floor so that she can wear her headscarf, which she claimed to proudly wear as a “choice.”
“No one puts a scarf on my head but me. It’s my choice — one protected by the first amendment,” said Omar on Twitter following her election. “And this is not the last ban I’m going to work to lift.”
Omar co-authored the rule change alongside potential House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jim McGovern. Should it be implemented, Omar will be the first legislator to wear a religious headscarf after having already made history by being the first Somali-American member of Congress. She is also the first woman of color to represent Minnesota in Washington.