FAIRFAX – Seeing a natural overlap between scouting and Islam, a Muslim revert is running a new scout den in Fairfax, northern Virginia, attracting scores of young Muslim boys and girls who hope to change perceptions about their faith.
“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,” Abdul Rashid Abdullah told CBS News on Saturday, April 30.
Abdullah, a Roman Catholic-turned-Muslim and US Army veteran, says Muslim Scouting has been around for decades.
Seeing a natural overlap between Scouting and Islam, Abdullah insisted 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.
“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 Barack Obama met a group of young Muslim Cub Scouts on his first visit as a president to a US mosque.
“You’re not Muslim or American. You’re Muslim and American,” Obama said.
“You’re right where you belong. You’re part of America, too.”
Amid increasing misconceptions about Islam, a recent poll from the Brookings Institution found 61 percent of Americans view Islam unfavorably.
“Especially what’s going on right now with the media portrayal of Muslims,” Anfel 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.”