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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2786

US Congressman Creates History Taking Oath on Thomas Jefferson Quran

Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent Asian Tribune

Washington, D.C. 5 January 2007 ( History was created in the United States when incoming Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison became the first Muslim member of the U.S. Congress, and the event was even historic on January 4 at Capitol Hill when he took his oath of office on a copy of the Quran that belonged to the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson.

The newly elected Democratic Congressman, who was converted to Islam when he was a university student, created a sensation last month when he announced that he planed to take oath of office on the Islam’s Holy Book Quran. His decision to use the Muslim Holy Book in the unofficial oath taking ceremony drew criticism from a prominent radio talk show host and a Republican Congressman.

To counter his critics he used the Quran, once owned by Jefferson, to take his oath. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (left) Administers the House oath to Keith Ellison as his wife holds The Holy QuranHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi (left) Administers the House oath to Keith Ellison as his wife holds The Holy Quran

The Library of Congress’ division of rare books and special collections made the Quran available to Ellison for January 4 ceremony at the Capitol Hill. The oath was administered by the new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Democrats, after12 years, took control of both the Senate and the House.

Jefferson’s 6,000-volume personal library was the largest in the United States at the turn of the 19th century. He obtained his English translation of the Quran in 1765 as he was finishing his law studies. Many of Jefferson’s law texts referred to the Quran as alternative views of certain legal structures he picked up then for his law studies.

The translation by British historian and solicitor George Sale was published in 1734. This translation was the first understanding of the Quran by Western nations.

The Quran that Congressman-elect Keith Ellison asked for is the personal copy of Thomas Jefferson. It is from the Thomas Jefferson Collection which is now in the custody of the Library of Congress. It was acquired by the Congress when his library was burned in 1812. The saved valuable books of various subjects were acquired by the Library of Congress, including the Quran which is a 2 volume work or translation.

The head of the Library of Congress’ rare book collection unit says that Keith Ellison’s office had done research to locate this copy.

At January 4 swearing in ceremony, the Library of Congress’ rare book collection head delivered the Holy Quran to a specific room in Capitol Hill for the new Speaker Nancy Pelosi to administer oath of office to Ellison. It was safely taken back for deposit in the Library of Congress.

The ceremony of oath taking by Keith Ellison on the Holy Quran once owned by Thomas Jefferson was intended to counter criticism from certain sections in America. And, undoubtedly this was a historic event in the annals of the United States Congress and constitutional history of the United States.

- Asian Tribune -

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