MADISON, Wisc. — A Muslim woman led the first prayer to Allah on the Wisconsin Assembly floor on Thursday.
Janan Najeeb, the president of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition and founder of the Islamic Resource Center, had been invited to give the invocation by Rep. Mandela Barnes, D-Milwaukee, who professes to be a Christian. He told reporters that he invited Najeeb to promote diversity and portray Muslims in a positive light.
“There is just so much for us to get over in terms of our fears,” Barnes told the Journal Sentinel.
Najeeb said that it was her hope that lawmakers “will realize that Muslims are part of the fabric of our society … and we are adding our story to the stories of the many communities that came before us and created this country.”
In addition to offering an Islamic prayer, she also read from the Koran, citing Ar-Rum 30:22 and Al-Hujurat 49:13.
“And among his Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colors: verily in that are signs for those who know,” Najeeb read. “O mankind, we have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you.”
Najeeb is married to physician Waleed Najeeb, and was among those who opposed a recent move by the manufacturing company Ariens to change its prayer policy to prohibit prayer breaks other than at meals. A number of Muslims quit their job due to the rule as the Islamic faith requires prayer five times a day at specific times.
“It’s no longer than some other employees probably taking some bathroom breaks,” she stated. “They’re being basically asked to choose between their employment and their faith.”
Najeeb recently gave the presentation “Understanding the Islamic Faith: Commonalities With Christianity and the Role of Women” before the Roman Catholic School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee.
As previously reported, in 2014, an Islamic imam led a prayer before the U.S. House of Representatives as those representing the people from states across America stood with their heads bowed and eyes closed.
“In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful,” declared Imam Hamad Ahmad Chebli of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey. “Praise be to Allah, the cherisher, the sustainer of the world, the most gracious, the most merciful master of the Day of Judgment. Thee do we worship and thine do we seek.”
“Guide us to the safe path,” Chebli continued. “The god of the prophets and the messenger says in the Koran [that] he does not place a responsibility on you greater than you can bear. Everyone will receive the good they have earned and vice versa.”
Rep. Rush Holt of New Jersey also noted on the House floor that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had “appointed [Chebli] to the governor’s leadership summit on diversity.”