Can something as American as the Boy Scouts work within the traditional framework of Islamic traditions? In the small town of Richmond Heights in Ohio, an all-Muslim Boy Scout Troop is attempting to answer that question.
Boy Scout Troop 2690 is headed by Scout Master Isa Abdul Matin and is represented by Muhammad Samad. According to Samad, “These boys are American boys. They bleed American pride. They do what American boys do.” And let’s be honest, there’s nothing more American than the Boy Scouts.
However, there are certain aspects of being a Boy Scout that does not mesh with some aspects of Islamic law. A prime example is the Boy Scout tradition of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at Scout meetings.
“We pledge our allegiance to God, not a flag or a country,” says 12-year-old Boy Scout Mohammad Zoraiz. “Saying the pledge is ‘American’ but our basic tenet that we don’t have to is… because it’s America,” he added, understanding that the right to free speech is an American tenet.
Samad points out, “Those who do not pledge allegiance to the flag still stand at attention out of respect.”
But how do the Boy Scouts America feel about this? According to Mark Baxter from the Lake Erie Council, it’s absolutely fine.
“Scouting is and has always been open to all faiths and religions,” Baxter continued. “We have a duty to God but to who’s god? What god? That is between the young person, their parents and their organization’s faith. We support that.”
For those who don’t know the Boy Scout Oath, you can read it below:
On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.
Boy Scout Law requires a scout to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. If anyone is familiar with the tenets and laws of Islam the similarities are clear. It turns out that you can be Muslim and American.