Keith Ellison & Thomas Jefferson's Quran
Yes, Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of this nation, owned a Quran, the holy book of Islam. He was known to be an education man, well-traveled, and believed to have obtained the book because he had a personal interest in learning more about different cultures and civilizations. His copy of the Quran sits in the Library of Congress, including his own notes written in the book. At his swearing in ceremony, the first Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison, has decided to use Jefforson's copy of the Quran.
When Ellison announced that he will be using a Quran for the swearing in, some bigoted radio hosts and even congressmen objected, saying that such an act would be against tradition. Ironically, their statements are a slap in the face of our founding fathers who wanted independence so they can practice their religion free of any government or other intervention.
Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, found himself under attack last month when he announced he'd take his oath of office on the Koran -- especially from Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode, who called it a threat to American values.
Yet the holy book at tomorrow's ceremony has an unassailably all-American provenance. We've learned that the new congressman -- in a savvy bit of political symbolism -- will hold the personal copy once owned by Thomas Jefferson.
"He wanted to use a Koran that was special," said Mark Dimunation, chief of the rare book and special collections division at the Library of Congress, who was contacted by the Minnesota Dem early in December. Dimunation, who grew up in Ellison's 5th District, was happy to help.
This is a very smart move on the part of Congressman Ellison who will be sworn in tomorrow with much attention focused on his faith. He made the right choice to remain steadfast in his desire to use the book he prescribes to and is bound to in such a ceremony. If he is expected to pledge allegiance to this country and his new position, he should do so in a manner that makes him comfortable. Condemning him for making such a choice when other representatives have chosen to use Bibles, Torahs, or no book at all, is purely discriminatory and is against the most fundamental rights this country is based upon.
Thomas Jefferson's copy of the Quran shows that although we have come a long way in developing our democracy, it is still the case that we have many individuals who choose to be impediments in the way of securing personal freedoms which every American is entitled to. These are the people we must be vigilant of, not those who choose to swear on their holy books.
Read the full Washington Post article here, and this from Reuters.
Related post: "We Don't Need Any More Muslim Congressmen"