Sale of the (18th) Century

by Stephen Tall on January 4, 2007

You’re the first elected Muslim congressman in the USA. You want to swear your oath of office using the Quran. But you want to deflect the inevitable reactionary criticism that will follow. What do you do?

Well, Minnesotan Democrat Keith Ellison has come up with an ingenious solution, as reported by

When Keith Ellison takes his individual ceremonial oath of office today (4th of Jan), it is to be with one hand upon Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Quran.

Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, requested to take the oath upon Jefferson’s personal copy of George Sale’s 1734 translation of the Koran, commonly called the Alcoran of Mohammed is published in London in 1764.

The two-volume work, which resides in the Library of Congress’ Rare Book and Special Collections Division, is one of nearly 6,500 titles sold to Congress by Jefferson in 1815 to replace the Congressional Library that had been destroyed when the British burned the Capitol during the War of 1812.