First all-Muslim Boy Scout troop in northeast Ohio camps, serves and prays

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.”

23 Comments

  1. In 2013, there were 75 units, and 2,226 Scouts, sponsored by, “Islam, Muslim, Masjid” organizations. Whereabouts are they?

    This is the first troop in “Northeastern Ohio”? Are there others in Ohio?

    The only difference here is that this is the first mosque-sponsored BSA unit which didn’t start with an existing non-Muslim member?

  2. The troop for which I am the C.O.R. is very diverse with Muslim, Hindu ( I am not familiar with all of the sects, so I will use that somewhat inaccurate term to represent that collection of beliefs), Christian, Catholic, etc. members, both boys and adults.

    In a sense, it reflects the diversity of Sugar Land, and Fort Bend County in Texas [see http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/us/what-ethnic-diversity-looks-like-fort-bend.html ].

    It is sometimes a challenge putting together menus, or an service on Sunday morning on a campout, bu it is educational for the boys, and the parents as well. The Scout Oath requires “Duty to God” – as long as a Scout stays true to his belief system, we cannot fault him. I may believe he is mistaken in his belief, but, although one of the central tenets is faith, Scouting is not a religious movement.

    Mark Twain once wrote “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” I think that the sane thing could be said about the Scouting movement.

  3. Are Boys of other faiths allowed to join this troop, Not trying to stir a pot but when I read this story it really sounds kinda segregated.

    • In theory, the Troop should be open to any boy/family willing to respect their Islamic practices.
      How this works out over time, is another question. Melting pot America.
      ———————-
      The problem with integration and diversity is — in simple terms — the Red Shirt Club is very popular and people want to join. More and more people want to join. The new members do not all wear Red Shirts. Over time, it is no longe the Red Shirt Club.

      • This troop would be required to accept any boy REGARDLESS of his religion AND cannot discriminate against any boy. Our troop is happy to welcome boys of all faiths. A single religion troop is not something to be celebrated!

        • Ah, like the thousands of LDS troops. Where are you inferring that non muslims cannot join? It doesn’t seem to be the case.

  4. May God protect this group of young men. May God protect all of our BSA units, regardless of how they were brought together. I pray that they ALL become great men of this nation. Ameen!

  5. Love this. Scouting is one of the best ways to bring young people of all backgrounds together to hopefully build a stronger country and a better world. It’s a lot harder to hate someone you know than someone you don’t.

  6. Great kids, but a rather sad statement on the times we live in. Why should ANY troop have to advertise itself as “…an all (fill in the blank)” anything—except maybe “all boy”? I am glad these kids have found the program and each other, now more than ever. But I can’t help but harken back to this country in the 1950s when we might have showcased “…an all Negro” Boy Scout Troop. That would look like cultural deafness now. I hope that there is a near future in which the expression “…an all Muslim” Boy Scout Troop would sound just as out of place.

  7. Is an exclusionary, segregated, anti-diversity unit the thing to encourage now, at a time when we have such problems in our country with “____phobic” labels and division?

  8. Would anyone have a problem with an All Catholic troop if the boys were all from one Catholic high school? What about LDS troops based out of local wards? These kids and their families are member of BSA and are chartered by their faith community. Same as more than half of all troops in the US.

    • Yes. A colleague, strident atheists, enrolled their son in Catholic high school. I am certain that she wasn’t alone. I am also certain that the school did not host a troop because its atheist students would not be welcome in the BSA. That was one reasons my church (Protestant) decided not to sponsor a pack. Most LDS leaders who I know would welcome non-Mormons in their units.

      And, in this case, I suspect “All Muslim” is temporary — lasting until one of these boys invites a mate from some other religious background on a campout. The mosque is intended to be a cross-roads where muslims may pray and non-muslims may study scripture.

  9. I been involved with scouts since i was a youth in 1968. I have been a leader since 1992 and 3 of my sons all made Eagle Scout. It is great to see these boys involved but against BSA guidelines to have a select group Muslins, ect. Should be open to all boys regardless of race or religion. Period

  10. Will this beginning of polarisation in scouting?
    First, all-Muslim troop, then will there be all Jews troop, all Buddhist troop, all Hindu troop, all Mormon troop….
    Where will this stop?
    A sad day…
    Is this the beginning of the end for scouting in unity & celebrating diversity in making better world?

  11. I hope this All Muslim Troop statement is an error by the author of this article who meant to say that the charter org is a Muslim mosque. To say it’s an All Muslim Troop intentionally implies it’s charter amd leadership mandates a specific profession of faith to be a member of this Troop, which is a clear violation of BSA policy. Now, charter orgs can decide not to charter a Troop based on moral differences but not on religious affiliation. The Troop doesn’t teach religious tenants of belief, so to have an All Muslim Troop goes against the fundamental principles of Scouting.

    • It’s the first troop chartered to northeast Ohio mosques, and all of its members happen to be Muslims. I imagine that they would welcome any Scouts — just like all troops.

  12. After reviewing the available documents, I don’t see what would be wrong with an all Muslim troop. The charter system for Scout units allows COs to use the Scouting program to further their objectives to serve their youth. Doesn’t this mean that the CO can limit membership to its Scouting units to youth affiliated with the organization. There isn’t any documentation to the contrary.

    This is from page 8 of the BSA Rules_and_Regulations:
    It is the philosophy of Scouting to welcome all eligible youth, regardless of race, ethnic background, or sexual orientation, who are willing to accept Scouting’s values and meet any other requirements of membership. Young people of all religious backgrounds are welcome in Scouting, with some participating in units for youths of a particular religion and the greater majority participating in units open to members of various religious backgrounds.

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