By Lisa Bolivar Special Correspondent Posted July 28 2006
Hassene Chaabane has been a Boy Scout all his life, so he jumped at the recent opportunity to introduce scouting to a new group of youths.
Chaabane, 31, who attends religious services at the Islamic Center of Boca Raton, is spearheading the formation of Cub Scout and Boy Scout Troop 394, the first Muslim troop in the Gulf Stream Council, which covers Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Hendry counties
Chaabane, a native of Tunisia, drives from his home in Hallandale Beach to attend the Boca Raton mosque and help form the troop. Participating in scouting in his homeland helped him grow into the man he is today, he said.
"It taught me self-confidence, values, you name it," he said. "At an early age boys have a lot of energy, and if you don't direct the energy in the right direction, they will go and do bad stuff. ... That's why you see kids on the street doing bad things. Some do drugs, some go toward sex, so this is an opportunity for kids to learn about life."
Members of the mosque approached Jennifer Thomason, district executive of the Gulf Stream Council, about starting a new troop.
"We are very excited about it, because Boy Scouts are for no specific faith, and we look to any community organization of faith or not of faith to take our standards," Thomason said, adding that there are several new troops forming in Boca Raton, two at synagogues.
She is helping the elders at the mosque train to become troop leaders for the more than 40 children already signed up, while learning about the differences between the Islamic way of raising children and traditional American ways.
"I am definitely learning things about the culture, especially the difference between men and women," she said. "In the Islamic center, they keep the boys and girls completely together until they are teenagers, then they separate them, which is opposite from what we normally do."
Normally, little girls join Girl Scouts, Thomason said, and later in high school, boys and girls come together for Venturing, a form of scouting that is coed.
Muslims, on the other hand, separate the sexes once they become aware of each other's differences to guard chastity and moral behavior, said Mohammed Sanhaji, who represents the Islamic Center of Boca Raton at the Boy Scouts.
"I am excited about the fact that we can get our kids to be a part of activities that are not just Islamic. We want activities that are meant for community leadership," Sanhaji said. "Boy Scouts is mixing the religious background and civic duties and other standard morals, and they will become good leaders and model citizens."
Troop 394 will approach scouting from a family perspective, Thomason said, involving girls and parents in activities.
Annie Lin of Delray Beach was quick to volunteer as a den mother. Her son, Yusuf Lin, 6, is eager to begin his scouting experience, she said.
"I'm very excited about it, and I am very supportive of anything that complements Islamic values, traditions and morals," said Lin, an accountant for a family-run Chinese vegetable farm. "Cub Scouts is an American thing, and it's an organized group, and they promote self-confidence and teaching survival skills and boys getting together and doing outdoor things."
Lin looks forward to watching her son grow with scouting, both in his faith and as an American.
"We can be Muslims and can be a Boy Scout also, and I want to make sure that the children understand that just because we are Muslims, we can involve them in other things that are along the same things that Islam teaches us. We are American, we were born here," Lin said. "I don't want them to feel like they are different."
Mazin Musallam, 12, of Lake Worth is looking forward to the physical activity of Boy Scouts.
"It's pretty good. We get to play outside a lot," he said. "We have snack time, and we get to learn stuff from the Red Cross like if firemen come, don't be afraid."
It is about time that scouting evolved to reflect the community, Thomason said.
"We do tend to be seen as predominantly white and Christian, and that is not what we are," she said. "We're having to change and accommodate, like with the Jewish units we have to change a lot of our events to Sundays [to accommodate the Jewish Sabbath on Saturdays until sundown]. We should have been changing and accommodating long before this."
* Ramadhan Mubaarak! Based on confirmed moon sightings in various Islamic countries, ICBR announced that the first day of fasting is Saturday 23 September 2006.
* The Islamic Center of Boca Raton follows the Fiqh opinion "Wehdatul Mataale'" or "Unification of Horizons". According to this opinion (adopted by many famous scholars in the past and present) - we start and break our fast according to the first officially confirmed sighting of the moon anywhere in the world
* Daily Taraweeh prayers by Imam Hosam after the Isha prayer. The Iqaamah for Isha is at 8:45 pm.
* Community sponsored Iftar is provided daily during this holy month. If you wish to contribute towards the cost of the daily iftars or would like to sponsor one, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 561 395-7221.
* Volunteers are needed during the Iftar. To sign up please send an email to email@example.com or sign up after the Friday prayer.
* Ramadan prayer calendar can be downloaded form the ICBR web page or picked up from the Masjid.
* Saturday, October 7th, ICBR New Masjid Project Fundraising: Please encourage each other to come and support this noble event. Let's repeat History and say what the Prophet (Sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said while carrying the bricks to build the foundation of his Masjid "O Allaah! There is no Goodness except the Goodness of the Hereafter" - [Al-Bukhari]
* We ask Allaah (Ta'ala) to purify our hearts, tongue and every limbs of the body with the start of this blessed month. Once again, Ramadaan Mubaarak!
Importance of Ramadan
Ramadhan is the most important month of the year. It is the month of fasting, prayer and blessings, during which the doors to gain Allah's Mercy will be wide open. Muslims around the world await the coming of Ramadhan because, as the Prophet has stated, "When Ramadhan begins, the gates of Paradise will be opened, the gates of Hell will be shut closed, and the devils will be chained." [An-Nasaii]. It is the month in which the Quran was revealed, [The Month of Ramadhan is the one in which the Quran was sent down as a guidance for mankind, and a clear proof of guidance and criterion (of right and wrong).] [2:185]. Also, Laylatul-Qadr (the Night of the Decrees), which is better than a thousand months, falls in Ramadhan. Furthermore, it is the month of Jihad, and the first decisive battle in Islam, the Battle of Badr, occurred during Ramadhan. Additionally, the Messenger of Allah victoriously entered Makkah during this blessed month. Fasting is ordained by Allah upon the Muslims as a means of increasing At-Taqwa (fear) of Him in their hearts, [O you who believe, Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may have Taqwa.] [2:183]. Therefore, Allah has ordained fasting so that Muslims can acquire At- Taqwa and act upon it. At-Taqwa protects Muslims from Allah's punishment by encouraging them to be obedient to Him, and also reminds them to remember Allah so that He is not forgotten. Furthermore, it is an honorable way of thanking Allah for His Bounties. Fasting creates in Muslims the strength to disobey their desires by erecting a barrier between them and shameless speech and sinful acts. The Prophet said, what translated means, "When it is the day when any of you is fasting, he should avoid shameless speech and neither behave in an obscene manner nor quarrel (with others)." Fasting also helps Muslims to restrain themselves from anger, and changes their behavior and attitude to the better. Muslims refrain form eating, drinking and sexual intercourse while fasting, thus demonstrating their effort to please Allah. Also, while fasting, Muslims abandon all sins, big and small, whether committed in public or in private. The Prophet said, what translated means, "If one does not abandon uttering falsehood and abiding by it, then Allah does not need that (such a person) fasts from (consuming) food and drinks." [Al-Bukhari]. This does not mean that those who sin while fasting do not have to fast at all. Rather, it means that one cannot perfect his fast unless he realizes in his behavior the goals behind Allah ordaining the fast, that is achieving Taqwa and refraining from all types of evil. The Prophet said, what translated means, "There are those who fast but gain nothing from their fast except hunger and thirst." [At- Tabari].
Some of the Salaf have used to say: "Indeed Allah, the Most High, has made the month of Ramadan as a competition for His creatures, in which they may race with one another to His pleasure, by obeying Him. Thus, one group comes first and so they prosper and another group comes last and so they fail." Lataa'if-ul-Ma'aarif of Ibn Rajab
Dear brothers and sisters: Protect and preserve your fast from the evil deeds that may adversely affect it. Ask Allah for forgiveness at all times, but especially while fasting. Teach yourselves the habit of reading the Quran, especially during Ramadhan. Try to achieve Taqwa and then preserve it by performing righteous, good deeds. Fear Allah and preserve His Law. And be certain that Allah's Reward is not far from those who truly worship Him, and that His Punishment is not far from those who disobey Him. We ask Allah that He helps us to always stand firm on His Path and to continue performing righteous, good deeds throughout our lives. He is the One Who hears the supplication and the only Who can answer it.
We are appealing to all Muslims to contribute in the completing of the house of Allah. The prophet (peace be upon him) said in an authentic Hadith "For anyone who builds a Masjid for the sake of Allah, Allah will build him a house in paradise" (Bukhari & Muslim). The Islamic Center of Boca Raton is working very hard to finish this project! Click here for overview of the project.