Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), the first two Muslim women elected to the House of Representatives, used Islam’s Quran to be sworn into office on Thursday.
Public Radio International (PRI) and other media outlets reported that Tlaib used that the 1734 English translation of the Quran that belonged to Thomas Jefferson and is part of his collection housed at the Library of Congress.
Omar, 37, will be using the Quran that once belonged to her late grandfather, who helped raise her.
“It’s important to me because a lot of Americans have this kind of feeling that Islam is somehow foreign to American history,” Tlaib, 42, said in an article in 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.”
Omar will be the first Muslim women to wear a headscarf in the House chamber, which until now was part of a ban on wearing any kind of hat or headpiece.
Her father Nur Mohamed wrote on his daughter’s Instagram account that her election to Congress comes 23 years after the family came to the United States from Somalia.
New members of Congress are not required to take their oaths on the Bible or any other religious text. In fact, they need not swear on anything at all.
Tlaib and Omar are to use the Qurans at individual, ceremonial swearings-ins that take place in the House Speaker’s office after the official, en masse swearing-in on the House floor.
The leftist, tax-payer funded PRI reported that the two women using the Quran is a rebuff to President Donald Trump’s “all-out war on the triple whammy of what Tlaib and Omar represent: immigrants, Muslims, and women.”
As Breitbart News reported, Tlaib also announced she would be wearing an outfit that reflects her Palestinian roots for her swearing-in ceremony.
The Quran has been used before during a swearing-in ceremony. Former Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) also deployed Jefferson’s Quran in 2007.
The two women will be joined in the House by another Muslim, Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN).
But, according to PRI, the women represent a different kind of Islam represented in the United States Congress.
The two women’s elections are notable for the diversity they bring to national-level representation of American Muslims, say faith and community leaders. Ellison and Carson, who are both black and grew up in the US, each converted to Islam as young adults. Omar and Tlaib grew up Muslim; Tlaib in an Arab community of Detroit, and Omar in a Kenyan camp for Somali refugees, then a Minneapolis neighborhood that is home to many Somali and East African immigrants.
According to the Congressional calendar, the newly-minted House will be in session on Thursday and Friday while the Senate will only be in session on Thursday. Then both chambers won’t return until January 8.
Follow Penny Starr on Twitter