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Scouting and the Muslim Community

By Muneeb Nasir

(July 18, 2009) – The Scouting Movement has been successful over the last century because of its brilliant Principles, Mission and Practices which have allowed it to appeal to a wide cross-section of people.

How is Scouting compatible with the Muslim community?

From a religious perspective, a successful life is one in which we develop, maintain and nurture meaningful relationships to God, to our fellow humans and other creations, and to ourselves. The message of Islam calls humanity to have faith in, and a relationship with, the one transcendent God.

Our relationship to God is in the meaning of the word Islam itself. Islam can be defined as the continuous effort to submit and surrender to God and thereby achieve peace.

When we read the Qur’an it speaks of these relationships and duties – to God, fellow humans, nature and ourselves.

As such, the three broad Principles which represent Scouting’s fundamental beliefs – Duty to God, Duty to Others, and Duty to Self – resonate with Muslims, making the Scouting Movement attractive over the last century in the Muslim world.

Indeed, throughout the world, Muslim communities have enthusiastically embraced the Scouting Movement.

The Mission of Scouting emphasizes the development of the potential of young people to help build a better world and play a constructive role in society. This concept of development of potential is how success (Al Falah) is defined in the Islamic terminology. It is bringing out the latent faculties to the best of one’s ability; bringing out our potentiality and converting it into actuality.

But over and above this, the Scouting approach of learning by doing, commitment to the values of doing one’s best, contributing to the community, respecting and caring for others, contributing as a family member, etc. is what makes Scouting appealing to parents, educators and civic leaders.

These are some of the more attractive elements to Muslims.

There is a strong ethic in Islam that encourages engaging in good deeds and giving of oneself. The terms faith (Iman) and righteous deeds (‘amal-us-saalihaat) are used so often in the Qur’an that it leaves one convinced they are intertwined.

To the growing population of Canadian Muslims which has a large youth population, Scouts Canada’s programs have a lot to offer and can be an instrument for engagement and civic education.

The Muslim community will greatly benefit by being part of this major Canadian Movement that is devoted to children and youth, and Scouts Canada will be enriched by growing its membership in this faith community.

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Muneeb Nasir spoke on April 8 as part of the Scarborough Missions’ Interfaith Education Series workshop titled “The Multicultural and Multifaith Journey of Scouts Canada”. As of February 2009, there are nine Muslim groups registered with Scouts Canada.

(source: ScoutingLife.ca, May/June 2009)

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