Muslim Scouts hoping to change perceptions
Jim Axelrod, CBS NEWS
Apr 30, 2016
FAIRFAX, Va. — At first glance, it looks like any other Scout meeting. But take a second look.
Abdul Rashid Abdullah runs a Scout den in northern Virginia for 125 Muslim boys and girls.
“So we sang the national anthem, we did the Pledge of Allegiance, but at the same time, we opened up with the Al-Fatiha, the opening prayer,” Abdullah told CBS News.
The Roman Catholic-turned-Muslim and U.S. Army veteran says Muslim Scouting has been around for decades.
Even so, kids like Mohammed says he often has to explain that Muslim Scouts aren’t any different.
“When you see a Muslim as a Boy Scout, people don’t really know how to react or anything,” he said.
Abdullah says that there is a natural overlap between Scouting and Islam.
“Look at the last point of the Scout laws: a Scout is reverent. Someone who gives homage to God, respects God, but also respects others,” Abdullah said. “And that’s what Islam says.”
Earlier this year, President Obama met a group of young Muslim Cub Scouts on a visit to a U.S. mosque.
“You’re not Muslim or American. You’re Muslim and American,” Mr. Obama said. “You’re right where you belong. You’re part of America, too.”
A recent poll from the Brookings Institution found 61 percent of Americans view Islam unfavorably.
Anfel Bouzid says Scouting is helping change people’s misconceptions.
“Especially what’s going on right now with the media portrayal of Muslims,” Bouzid said. “We need to put ourselves out as — you know, we’re normal people.”
“When I put on the Boy Scout uniform, it says Boy Scouts of America,” Abdullah said. “It does not say I’m a Muslim, I’m a Christian, I’m Jewish, I’m a Hindu. It says first and foremost, I’m a Scout.”
The self-described “Scout geek” says these young people can change the world — Scout’s honor.