Minnesota (United States): Ilhan Omar, who created history along with Rashida Tlaib for becoming first two Muslim women elected to US Congress on Tuesday received a huge applause when she started her victory speech with As Salaam Aleimkum.
As-Salaam Aleikum, also spelled as As Salam u Alaikum, is a universal Islamic greeting. A Muslim when meets other Muslims give them this greeting.
“As-Salaam aleikum,” the Democrat said to a crowded room of supporters during a victory party in Minneapolis, using the Islamic phrase that means “Peace be upon you,” Huff Post reported.
“Wa Aleikum as-Salaam,” the crowd immediately replied, which means “and peace be upon you as well.”
Omar did not just stop here. After the greetings, she offered her gratitude to Allah.
“Alhamdulillah,” she said three times, another common phrase Muslims use. It translates to “all praise to God. This led another round of applause and cheers from the crowd.
The common Islamic phrases in Omar’s speech were a poignant moment for many American Muslims ― especially after an election cycle filled withIslamophobic attacks against Muslim candidates running for election.
Ilhan Omar won Minnesota's strongly Democratic fifth Congressional district, replacing the first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison, who vacated his seat to run in the state's attorney general race.
Hearing Omar use the Islamic phrases in the acceptance speech felt affirming, authentic and relatable, Margari Hill, managing director of the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, told HuffPost.
“For any Muslim who draws on their faith for strength, these are natural phrases,” Hill said. “They are everyday phrases. I see a Muslim, I give them that greeting. I often say it when I address a crowd.”
Muslims’ practice of exchanging blessings upon meeting is rooted in Islamic scriptures. The practice exists in Judaism as well. In Hebrew, these blessings of peace translate to “shalom aleichem” and “aleichem shalom.”
It’s also not at all uncommon for Christian politicians to use religious language to give thanks, with phrases like, “praise God,” and “to God be the glory.”
Hill said that saying “Alhamdulillah” is an act of humility for Muslims. The phrase has also become part of the black American vernacular because of Islam’s influence on hip-hop ― working its way into rapper A$AP Ferg’s “Plain Jane,” for example.
“We don’t bat an [eye] when Christians reference their faith in victory speeches, in moments of silence, or opening prayers,” Hill said.
“If we as Muslims are questioned for using phrases which are part of our daily life, then that speaks a lot to the climate anti-Muslim bigotry", he told HuffPost.
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