WASHINGTON D.C. — The first two Muslim women elected to the United States Congress took their oaths on the Holy Quran in a televised ceremony on Thursday.
Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, who are of Palestinian and Somali origins respectively, made history as they were sworn into the 116th Congress, becoming the first Muslim women in the 435-member US House of Representatives.
Public Radio International (PRI) and other media outlets reported that Tlaib, in traditional Palestinian dress, used the 1734 English translation of the holy Quran that belonged to Thomas Jefferson, an American founding father who later served as US president.
A resident of Detroit, Michigan, Tlaib’s family hails from a small Palestinian village in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Omar, 37, used the holy Quran that once belonged to her late grandfather, who helped raise her.
“Its 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 became the first Muslim women to wear a hijab in the House chamber, which until now was part of a ban on wearing any kind of hat or headscarf.
Her father Nur Mohamed, who accompanied her, 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.
The left-leaning PRI reported that the two women — both Democrats — using the holy 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.
The Quran has been used before during a swearing-in ceremony. Former Congressman Keith Ellison, a Democrat, also deployed Jeffersons Quran in 2007.