Virginia’s Abdul Rashid Abdullah takes Boy Scouts seriously. If you don’t believe it, just ask the youth coordinator at his local mosque.
“He’s the poster person for Scouting as far as I’m concerned,” says Joshua Salaam. “Abdul Rashid sees the world through the eyes of Scouting.”
Being a Boy Scout provides boys under 18 years old with activities — such as hiking, camping and community-service — that build character and spark an interest in civic duty. You’ll find Scouts in over 200 countries, including nearly 2.5 million in the U.S. Nearly a million adults support them with time and leadership skills.
Abdullah, a California native, began his Scouting adventure at age 14. In 1990, he earned his Eagle Scout badge, the highest rank in Boy Scouts. He converted to Islam around the same time.
Today, the IT systems architect and father of four empowers youth at local mosques — and beyond — as a volunteer Scout leader. Abdullah helped found the National Association of Muslim Americans on Scouting, which holds an annual summer Boy Scout camp that provides halal meals.
Abdullah observes that volunteering helps young people build character. He’s glad it’s an important part of Scouting.
“That’s really important when we raise youth in our community, to teach them service to others,” he said. “Volunteering, giving back, this is the ultimate path.”
Parents noticed Abdullah’s Boy Scout credentials when he introduced his oldest son to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Cub Scout Pack in 2006.
“They wound up saying to me, ‘You know what? You need to be the Cub Master of this pack. You are an Eagle Scout and you know more than us,'” Abdullah said.
That started him on the leadership path for the mosque’s Cub Pack (for younger boys) and Boy Scout troop. His Scouts volunteer in local efforts and every year work with Scouting for Food, a national annual food drive.
Boy Scouts can be from any faith and troops are sometimes associated with houses of worship, including about 80 sponsored by mosques and Muslim organizations. Muslims can join Scout troops affiliated with churches and Abdullah says non-Muslim Scouts have been members of his troop.
According to the Scout Law, Boy Scouts should be reverent and respect “the beliefs of others.”
Abdullah says Scouting promotes interfaith dialogue. This inspired him to start the National Capital Area Messengers of Peace, part of the broader Boy Scouts’ Messengers of Peace initiative.
“Scouting is, in my opinion, the premier opportunity for interfaith work by its very nature,” he said.