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The members of Boy Scout Troop 114 are all ears. “Listen up during the trip”, one of the Scout leaders shouts. “If you pay attention, it will help you get your merit badge”.
Yes, this is a typical Boy Scout field trip that every American Boy Scout Troop takes, but there is a difference. “We are going to Gettysburg!” shouts one of the excited teenagers: “Alhamdulillah!” meaning “Praise God” in Arabic. Yes, these are “typical American teenage Boy Scouts” on a field trip; except this group of All American Boy Scouts are Muslims.
In a United States where Islamo-phobia is being promoted by many, including politicians like Donald Trump, who advocates an across the board ban on Muslims entering the United States, places American Muslims, including this troop of teenage Boy Scouts, in a precarious situation. These boys, combining their Islamic faith with an organization that is a rite of passage for young Americans, may be the best response to the growing Islamo-phobia in the USA. These boys have no problem combining their Islamic faith with American values and traditions, and they are proud to being part of an organization that was a rite of passage, and a tutorial for American values for generations of young Americans.
Abdul Rashid Abdullah, the 43-year-old American who converted to Islam in 1990, concedes that “Muslim Boy Scouts are not common, it’s true, but there are more and more of us. We get lots of support from the Boy Scouts. The only difference is how we pray.”
“It’s important to transmit the American values, the values Lincoln fought for,” says Rashid. “The goal is not just to underscore the importance of American history — but to hammer home that American history is also their history.”