January 3, 2007

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.


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.

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.

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"

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6 Comments:

At 2:07 PM, Blogger Fatima said...

So interesting, moi. I'd like to see TJ's notes.

 
At 2:59 PM, Anonymous sayed said...

Genius. Pure genius. Goode and others who have criticized Ellison have really put him in the limelight.

And Ellison has responded by handling all of this so gracefully that I can see him lead a long and successful political life.

Dare I say, Ellison for President 2012? I can just imagine Limbaugh's and O'Reily's faces then.

 
At 6:41 PM, Anonymous Mr. K said...

Maybe you might wonder what old TJ was doing with a quran...turns out, US ships were being seized by pirates off North Africa. When Jefferson was able to confront the ambassador from Tripoli in London and ask him why they were doing this, he was told it was their right by the laws of the prophet to seize the property of non-believers and enslave them.

Sound familiar?

Anyone who knows the hymn of the USMC knows what happened next.

 
At 1:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thomas Jefferson and The Quran:
All men are created equal, it's the main theme of Islam.
Frank

 
At 8:20 AM, Anonymous Mr. K said...

Frank:

please don't juxtapose a disgusting, misogynistic, totalitarian political ideology against the US Constitution. Go read some history.

Kirk

 
At 11:42 AM, Blogger moi said...

fatima--yeah, I wonder if it's available for the public to see, since it is in the Library of Congress.

sayed--it was indeed a genius move. Let's see if America can vote for a woman or an African American for president, before we mention American Muslim :)

Mr.K--No, it doesn't sound familiar actually. I'm not sure what your sources are, maybe you were with Jefferson at his London meeting? Even if your account was accurate, it goes to show that the president sought to find out more about Islam on his own and from the most primary source, the Quran. You would be well-served to do the same, instead of throwing around baseless accusations and incorrectly referring to Islam a "political ideology."

Frank--Indeed, equality of all is one principal that attracts so many people to Islam. Although some people may have tainted this ideal, it remains one that we should all respect, regardless of our faith.

 

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