Minnesota is on its way to becoming the first U.S. state to have a Muslim-majority population.
As such, the Democrats there have elected two individuals of the Islamic faith as congressional representatives in recent years — and now Congress is lobbying to change House rules to accommodate them.
Democrats want to change a rule that has been observed in the United States House of Representatives for 181 years. Hats and other headwear have been strictly taboo since the current rule was passed in 1837. It says that every member will “remain uncovered” while the House is in session.
Ibrahim Hooper, a member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, argued for the modification:
“We’ve seen increasing diversity in Congress, and I think with that increase in diversity, you have to have a change to the existing rules to reflect that.”
In the past, House rules have been altered to accommodate short sleeves. However, sleeveless garments are prohibited on the floor of the Speaker’s Lobby, as one reporter found out when she was denied entry while wearing an outfit that bared her shoulders.
Some Americans are concerned that the large Muslim population in Minnesota is setting a dangerous precedent for the rest of the nation by their rapid adoption of Islamic customs and laws. The 200,000 or so Muslims who live in the state widely observe the holy month of Ramadan, a major Islamic religious period that includes fasting between 17-18 hours a day.
At the heart of the matter lies the fact that the present-day 115th Congress of the United States is mostly men (80%), mostly white (80%), and mostly Christian (92%). People outside these demographics are clamoring for representation that reflects the demographics of their neighborhoods.
In Minnesota, those neighborhoods shelter a lot of people who approve of abiding by the teachings of the Quran and observing Sharia law – enough to elect congressional representatives.
The U.S. Constitution upholds the legality of representation regardless of religious preference. This includes Jews, Catholics, and Muslims. Article 6 states:
“The Senators and Representatives…and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
Keith Ellison was the first Muslim U.S. congressman. He was sworn into office on Jan. 4, 2007. The ceremony was controversial because Ellison took his solemn oath to uphold the national Constitution “while clutching a copy of the Quran that was once owned by Jefferson.”
American nationally syndicated radio show host and writer Dennis Prager wrote in his Nov. 28, 2006 column:
“America, not Keith Ellison, decides what book a Congressman takes his oath on.”
Since 1937, the official congressional oath-taking ceremony has been held on the floor of Congress as a mass swearing-in – all the representatives recite the oath in much the same way as the Pledge of Allegiance.
On January 1, 2009, Rashida Tlaib “became the first Muslim woman to serve in the Michigan Legislature, and the first Muslim woman in history to be elected to any U.S. state legislature.” She served until term limits prevented her re-election.
In 2018, Tlaib was the Democratic nominee for Michigan’s 13th congressional district and ran unopposed in the general election, becoming one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.
The other female Muslim elected this year was Democrat Ilhan Omar who won her state’s liberal 5th District Congressional seat on Nov. 6, 2018. She has the distinction of being the first Somali-American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Omar represents House District 60B in Minnesota which includes Minneapolis, Edina, Richfield, Golden Valley and other suburbs.
In 2016, Omar won election to the Minnesota House of Representatives as a member of the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party. She made history as the first Somali American elected to legislative office in the United States.
Outraged reports that Rep. Omar took part in her swearing-in to the Minnesota House of Representatives with her hand on a Quran abounded on social media sites. These rumors were fueled by this picture of her standing next to a very large copy of the Quran, the Islamic holy book:
In fact, there was no Quran present during the official oath-taking ceremony at the Minnesota House of Representative. “Ilhan Omar used a Quran for an optional ceremonial event staged for family members and photographers after her swearing-in to the Minnesota House of Representatives,” according to Snopes.
The Muslim reaction to the ceremonial swearing-in photo was predictably enthusiastic. “Only an unapologetically #BlackAndMuslim couple could be this purely authentic wearing traditional clothes, and being sworn in with the Holy Quran. MashAllah so proud of you Ilhan Omar!” wrote Asha Mohamood Noor in a tweet dated Jan. 4, 2017.
Ghazala Irshad tweeted that Omar’s “getting sworn into Congress with a bright orange hijab and the biggest Quran I ever did see is giving me so much life,” followed by three hand-clapping emojis, a fist-bump emoji, and a high-ten emoji.
Omar published an open invitation to her swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 3, 2016. The event was sponsored by more than a dozen Islamic organizations, including councils, centers, and schools.
Omar’s invitation welcomed “the Muslim community” to join this “historic moment for our community as we elect Representative Ilhan as our Muslim sister and the first Somali-American legislator into office. She will be the only Muslim in the current legislature. She plans to take her oath of office on the Quran.”
America is a melting pot of people from all over the world who bring their cultures and beliefs with them. Successfully working out problems between newly-arrived immigrants and their host country has helped make the United States the great nation that it is.
Let us hope that the Muslims gaining legal representation in the United States mean no harm or threat to national security – unlike the estimated 15 to 20 percent of militant Islamic extremists who defend their violence against western infidels (their word) with sharia law and the words of their Prophet.