Thursday, January 04, 2007

Korans in Congress

In a nice touch, Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U. S. Congress, will be swearing his oath of office using a Koran once owned by the great American Patriot, Thomas Jefferson, and now owned by the Library of Congress. Jefferson was an amazingly open-minded early American, so it’s not surprising to read that his extensive personal library contained a copy of Islam’s Holy Book.

While I don’t care so much for Rep. Ellison’s choice of religion (could there be anything more American than religious bias), come to think of it, I am not much of a fan of Jefferson’s religious views, either. Many of Jefferson's contemporaries didn't agree with him either, but Jefferson's open mind translated into important American policy at the formation of this country.

What is important is that Rep. Ellison, who requested that he use the book, sends a clear signal of his high regard for American History and American values through his act. While some people are concerned about a Muslim being elected to Congress, I imagine that it will prove to be just about as dangerous as electing, say, Catholics or Jews, both targets of earlier scare campaigns. In short, I am sure that this will all work out very nicely, and maybe provide a signal to the rest of the world that people of many religions can comfortably work together for a common national good.

Interestingly enough, the version of the Koran in this good Christian house came from my childhood home. It belonged to my father, who, like Jefferson, possessed an inquiring and open mind as well as an open account at Foyle's, a London bookseller, which sold many books not then readily avilable in the United States.

Of course, Jefferson's tome might have had less to do with his open views on religion and more to do with his involvement with the Barbary pirates. If that piques your curiousity, you might enjoy reading this. Or perhaps, if you are just curious about Islam, you might enjoy seeing this great set of pictures from the Hadjj at Mecca (click on the thumbnails to see larger pictures).

2 Comments:

Blogger copy editor said...

I can't agree any more. Ellison seems to be going about this quite well. Very astute politician.

Jan 4, 2007, 2:10:00 PM  
Blogger Publia said...

After any election, a little analysis often shows why one person lost and the other won, no matter what the party. With 20/20 hindsight, it can become very obvious. Clearly the good citizens of Minnesota weren't concerned about their new rep and his religious affiliation. It is just possible that they knew what they were doing when they voted.

Jan 4, 2007, 2:45:00 PM  

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