Members of Boy Scouts of America Troop 1437 don’t take the oath to God and country, only to Allah.
Richmond “MUSLIM-ONLY Scout troops in Islamic communities are not new, but we’ve never had an Islamic troop in our council until now,” said Zahra Ihsan, district executive for the Scouts’ Stonewall Jackson Area Council. “I thought it would be a great idea to have a troop in the [Islamic Center]. We started doing some small group meetings, and there was a lot of excitement.”
“The idea of involving youth in the Muslim community, teaching leadership skills and encouraging community service to Muslims is very important in the Muslim community, just as it is in other communities. That’s what Scouting emphasizes,” Ihsan said.
The troop is something members of the center have looked forward to since the Charlottesville mosque was built in 2008. “As the mosque has grown, we’ve wanted to create more of a community center and have a place where we can come together not just for worship but to create a sense of Islam-centric community,” said Saad Hussein, support staff coordinator at the center.
“We wanted something that would help develop the Muslim youth, teach them a variety of skills and teamwork and build a sense of Muslim community. But we wanted it to be something fun so they don’t just think of the center as that place to go pray and take classes,” Hussein laughed.
Troop 1437 may be the first Islamic troop in the region, but such troops have been in Scouting since 1982. The National Islamic Committee on Scouting was formed to work with Scout leaders to encourage troops in Islamic communities.
“We got a little push-back about creating a troop at the [mosque], given everything you see on TV with terrorism,” Ihsan said.