Robert Baden-Powell (1857-1941), founder of the Scouting movement.
the girls line up in two groups — one dressed in white, the other in pink gowns and hijabs. On stage, they approach a copy of the Quran held by another girl. Gently kissing its spine, they pass underneath as parents in the audience snap away with digital cameras. "That's my baby," beams one father. …
Organizers of the Takleef celebration are well aware of the spiritual and cultural challenges these girls face in deciding to wear the hijab. "A couple of these girls are taking the veil before their mothers are," says 38-year-old Ali Ibrahim, one of the scout volunteers organizing the celebration. "We even have one girl whose parents are not convinced and are trying to get her to take off the veil. May God guide her." …
A song airs over the loudspeakers during the play, summing up, in Simon and Garfunkel-like acoustical melodies, a Muslim girl's answer to criticism: The hijab "is a simple cloth to preserve her dignity/So lift the veil from your heart/And see the heart of purity."
Comments: (1) This is the Girl Scouts. In the United States. A new era is upon us. (2) Note the confidence subtly expressed in the middle paragraph quoted above, that those Muslim women not already with hijab will soon make the necessary adjustment. (May 21, 2004)
Logo of the Islamic Committee on Scouting.
Logo of the Islamic Committee on Scouting.
No less interesting, the ICS offers an "Allahu Akber" award – the same as the war cry (usually spelled "Allahu Akbar") associated with militant Islam.
These Islamist features of ICS (as well as its sister organization, the Islamic Committee on Girl Scouting) should come as no surprise, as they are headed by Dawood Zwink, someone closely associated with a range of militant Islamic institutions, including the American Muslim Council and the Islamic Society of North America. More worrisome yet is Zwink's serving as chairperson of the Somali Relief Fund for, as J. Michael Waller pointed out in Senate testimony in October 2003,
Prominent Al-Qaeda operative, Wadih El Hage, now serving life in prison for masterminding 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, reportedly had Somali Relief Fund business card in his possession during a 1997 raid on his home by Kenyan officials.
If this report is in fact true, it establishes a connection between the Islamic Committee on Scouting and Al-Qaeda.
July 1, 2005 update: "The Saudi Boy Scout Association has kindly invited you to be their guest for Hajj 2006. Flights, Saudi accommodation, meals and internal transport for the period of Hajj will be sponsored by the Saudi Scouts." So announces the Muslim Association of Britain on its website today. "Hajj will transform your life," it goes on, "since you will be able to share & experience something incredible with 2 million other Muslims. This will truly be an international Scouting experience."
Mar. 26, 2006 update: A report by Deborah Lynn Blumberg, "Muslim Scouts do their duty," in the Home News Tribune tells about the 35 boy scouts of Troop 114 in northwestern New Jersey. Like other scouts, they hike, canoe, earn patches, sing songs, and hoist tents. But they also do more:
they take time out during camp to pray five times a day. In the mess hall they dine on halal food, and during weekly troop meetings at the Noor-Ul-Iman School off Route 1 they recite the Pledge of Allegiance and the Boy Scout Oath after a prayer to Allah. … As members of the first, official all-Muslim Boy Scout troop in New Jersey, the boys mesh their religious beliefs with the values of the Boy Scouts of America, learning first aid, outdoor survival techniques, citizenship skills and earning patches on Islam.
There's also explicitly religious material: senior scouts learn can win "the Religious Emblem, a patch on Islam earned after passing a written test and an oral exam administered by the Islamic Society of Central New Jersey's imam." (For more information on those Religious Emblems – "Bismillah," "In the Name of God," and "Allaho Akber" – see the "Scouting in the Islamic Community" page on the Boy Scouts of America website.)
Oct. 27, 2006 update: There is no date or specificity, but it appears that the 55 pictures posted by the BBC at "Scouts' Hajj Experience" derive from the Hajj 2006 project noted above. Here is one of those pictures.
British Boy Scouts on hajj, standing here at the top of Mina Mountain.
Also of note is the "1st UK Hajj Scout Contingent 2006" patch worn on their T-shirts.
Patch of "1st UK Hajj Scout Contingent 2006."
Jan. 21, 2007 update: More information on the Islamist tinge of British Muslim scouting comes from Jonny Beardsall of London's Daily Telegraph in "Prayers and pledges."
Children attend after-school meetings during the week and go on weekend expeditions, but religious sensitivities dictate that from the age of 11, girls do not do physical activities alongside boys. "We just keep within our boundaries, which isn't difficult," Mahliya Almulad, 28, who leads the girls' troop, says. "Girls play football, but only with other girls, and they always cover their legs. Likewise they can swim, but at female-only sessions."
For six years, Almulad has worked as a support group co-ordinator for the charity Islamic Relief. "I enjoy working with children and I believe in what the movement stands for," she says. "It's important for them to learn new skills and to socialise. Muslims kids haven't had such chances." Muslim Scouts eat only halal meat. "If we're intending to cook we bring our own meat," Mustafa Audhali says. They observe prayers five times a day.
We also learn that Hanan Bakakam, 20, who studies youth and community work at Stafford University, has her head "swathed with a double layer of cream headscarf, with another worn around her shoulders."
Sep. 23, 2007 update: The Muslim American Society, the face of the Muslim Brethren in the United States, "used Boy and Girl Scout troops last year as part of a massive get-out-the-vote campaign targeting Muslim voters in Virginia and elsewhere" to vote for the Democratic candidate for Senate, Jim Webb, reports Linda Keay in IPT News. This is not routine stuff: "National leaders at the Boy and Girl Scouts of America say they've never heard of using Scout troops in such political activity and it violates Scout policy." But "MAS Executive Director Mahdi Bray isn't keeping the fact that he tapped Scouts to run phone banks a secret. In fact, he's bragging about it."
Jan. 11, 2009 update: The Islamic Center of New Mexico bills Girl Scouts Troop 786 as "a fun organization that allows Muslim girls, ages 5-12 years, to meet other Muslim girls who share their interests" and to "develop a wide range of skills relative to Islam and principles in Islam." Of particular interest is that, in the course of a recent field trip, a fishing trip to Shady Lakes, the scouts
had a hadith lesson on the extension of Islam's universal mercy to animals. They learned that the universal mercy of Islam embraces not only human beings, whether unbelievers, People of the Book, or Muslims, but all other living creations of Allah as well.
Comment: (1) Unbelievers? Kuffar? Did I read this right? It's clearly a slip, as Islamists are extremely careful not to use such nomenclature in public in Western languages. (2) For a discussion of this topic, see my weblog, "Can Infidels be Innocents?"
Jan. 20, 2009 update: Scouts Scotland has decided that Boy Scouts in Dundee's 45th troop, which specifically recruits Muslim members, may pledge allegiance to "Allah, the Most Beneficent and the Most Merciful" and pledge to honor "the country in which I am now living." By tradition, of course, British scouts pledged allegiance to God and the monarch.
Drummond Cox, a spokesman for the Scout Association, minimized the import of the change, saying it "represents a tweak rather than a major change. … There are already Muslim boys in troops around Dundee but until now we do not have one catering for Muslims specifically. It is affirmative action. … The Scouts may have been a Christian organisation originally but we have long been non-denominational and inclusive. This new troop will in no way be exclusionary and non-Muslim boys may join if they wish in an initiative that has the support of the Muslim community."
Richard Cook of the Campaign Against Political Correctness disagreed: "This is a disappointing development and many people will worry about the sad loss of much-loved traditions. Many Muslims in this country are proud monarchists, so it seems wrong to alter the pledge. Quite apart from the risk of creating a two-tier Scout movement, there is also the question of how helpful it is to set up a group that specifically aims to recruit young Muslims when we are trying to be more inclusive of other communities. Doesn't this just perpetuate the divisions at the expense of cherished traditions?"
Feb. 26, 2009 update: The Washington, D.C. area ADAMS Center Girl Scouts announces:
We open all of our meetings with Surah Al-Fatiha, and end with Surah Al-Asr. Girl Scouts can earn religious badges through the Religious Recognition Program . They can also earn The Ramadhan Patch and the Ramadhan Iftar Patch . ADAMS Girl Scouts celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul Adha with their Troops.
July 28, 2010 update: From an ISNA press release:
The Islamic Society of North America, in partnership with the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) and the National Islamic Council on Scouting (NICS) will join fellow Scouts and leaders at the 18th National Scout Jamboree which will be held from July 26 through August 4, 2010, at Fort A. P. Hill, Virginia, located near Fredericksburg and Washington D.C. in celebration of the first century of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). …
ISNA and ADAMS will be co-sponsoring interfaith events which will be held during the jamboree. Imam Izak-EL Mu'eed Pasha, Resident Imam of Masjid Malcolm Shabazz, NICS member, will deliver the sermon and lead prayers at the Islamic congregational services on Friday, July 30th at 1pm. Interfaith prayer services will be led by Rizwan Jaka, ADAMS/ISNA/IFCMW Board Member and ADAMS Scouts Chartered Organization Representative, on Sunday, August 1st, at 10:30am. …
ADAMS Scouting leaders assisted NICS in setting up an Islamic Scouting exhibit, which was also co-sponsored by ISNA, and constructing the 40 x 40 foot Gillwell Park Mosque complete with green rugs, a dome, and a minaret. Visitors to the mosque will be able to meet over 250 Muslim Scouts and leaders and share in the camaraderie of duty to God, honor to country, and service to others, thereby deepening mutual interfaith understanding.
This is also the first time in Jamboree history that halal meals are being provided to Muslim Jamboree attendees.
Mar. 30, 2012 update: The Daily Mail captions the picture of British Girl Scouts below thus: "British Muslim girl scouts pose with their newly designed uniform which includes a 'hoodie dress' to stop headscarves falling off and long sleeves."
Jan. 3, 2013 update: The British Girl Scouts, now known as Girlguiding UK, are considering the removal of references to God and Queen, reports the Daily Telegraph (London):
Currently, Guides promise to do their best, love "my God", serve "the Queen and country" and keep the Guide law. … The mention of God could be replaced with a promise to "search for the spiritual value in my life" or "serve the highest truth and love faithfully at all times." Alternatives to the reference to the Queen include "be useful to my country" and "engage myself with responsibility in the community I live in."