In one way, Troop 2690 is unique. Incorporating young men from three different Cleveland-area mosques, it’s the first all-Muslim Boy Scout troop in northeast Ohio.
In another way, Troop 2690 is like every other Boy Scout troop in the country.
They set up tents and build campfires. They perform service projects for the community. They pray, never forgetting a Scout’s duty to God.
“These boys are American boys,” Muhammad Samad, Troop 2690’s chartered organization representative, told WKYC-TV in Cleveland. “They bleed American pride. They do what American boys do. One just left to go to a football game.”
Mark Baxter, a district executive with the Lake Erie Council, told WKYC what Scouters already know: the BSA has no official religion. So Muslim Scouts are just as welcome as Scouts from any other faith.
“Scouting is and has always been open to all faiths and religions,” he said. “It’s one of the hallmarks of Scouting. We have a duty to God, but to whose god? What god? That is between the young person, their parents and their faith organization. We support that.”
‘Let us be ourselves’
Isa Abdul Matin is Troop 2690’s Scoutmaster. He told Ideastream that many people think the Boy Scouts are a Christian-based movement.
“So you kind of like feel like, you know, if I do become a Boy Scout, maybe I can’t be myself,” he said. “Then I found out that yes, we can be ourselves, and that was attractive. So here we are: Muslim Boy Scouts!”
Matin said he’ll try to ignore the occasional raised eyebrow from people. He’d rather let them see for themselves that Troop 2690 does what all troops do: it builds future leaders.
“I guess what we have to do is be ourselves and not try to be anything other than who we are,” he said. “People can see us for what we are and what we do, and you’ll see an acceptance. Because, honestly, the best neighbor you could probably ever have is a Muslim.”
Mohammad Zoraiz is a 12-year-old Boy Scout in Troop 2690. He told WKYC that Scouting’s lessons — “to help other people at all times” — mirror the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed, who said, “As you would have people do to you, do to them; and what you dislike to be done to you, don’t do to them.”
“In Islam it’s taught that you should always try to help other people out,” Zoraiz said. “Never one man for himself, and always help the people who are in need.”