Muslims Scouts of America and Banaat un Nur Ladies’ Auxiliary 2017 Summer Educational Programs:
Educating, Enlightening and Empowering Muslim Youth
By Aisha M. Hamid
Saving our youth from the bombardment of negative influences and antisocial, detrimental attitudes and behaviors that threaten their ability to successfully navigate life as prosperous, healthy and balanced adults has become a matter of dire importance in most American communities, and particularly in the American Muslim community. Besides being inundated by immorality, cultural stagnation and a barrage of occultism, Muslim youth today are also facing a crisis of identity, disconnected with their Islamic heritage; many feel unsure of what it truly means to practice Al Islam in letter and spirit, and specifically, being Muslim during this turbulent time in America.
Therefore, it is an urgent priority to strengthen and guide Muslim youth spiritually, culturally and physically to better prepare them to meet those challenges they encounter presently and in the future, as they mature to become prosperous, active citizens contributing positively to society. With a vision towards the future, The Muslims of America, Inc. (TMOA), under the guidance of His Eminence El Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Gillani, has sponsored summer and winter educational programs for young men and ladies for over 30 years, providing a balanced curriculum that educates young American Muslims in religious studies, and also provides activities that foster character-building through adventure, and competitive, enjoyable social interaction.
For the past two years, the Banaatun Noor Ladies Auxiliary and the Muslim Scouts of America (MSA) have offered summer programs running simultaneously from July 1st to August 4th, with the Muslim village of Holy Islamberg, in upstate New York as the venue for the ladies’ sessions, and the Muslim Scouts activities taking place at its nearby sister village, Maryamville. Both organizations hosted young people age 14 and up, many of whom had traveled from across America and Canada.
The summer program offered an exciting array of classes exploring Islamic Studies, focusing on recitation and tafseer (commentary) of the Holy Quran, the sciences and memorization of Ahadith (sayings and actions of the Holy Last Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him), American and Islamic history, Arabic calligraphy and spoken Arabic, as well as studies in English composition and classical literary analysis, speech and debate. Another important aspect of TMOA program is the intense study of the life and character of the Holy Last Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), timeless practical guidance on everyday living that is key for a Muslim’s total health and well-being in today’s world. It is a well-known historical fact that to ensure an equitable, orderly society, the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) authored and implemented the world’s first human rights charter that officially gave rights and dignity to women in Islam who previously had no rights in any other culture. The charter established and defined the high status and rights of parents, the elderly, and the scholar who puts into action what he/she has learned in performing good actions. The Almighty Creator states in Holy Quran that superiority between people is based solely upon ‘righteousness and piety’, and in turn, instructing that giving such honorable esteem is incumbent upon all mankind.
The schedules of both groups were rigorous, beginning at 4:00 am and ending at 10:00 pm. Participants had the opportunity to hone their outdoor living skills, enjoying nature in the beautiful, rustic setting; cooking on outdoor stoves and receiving aspects of their education in the soothing, natural environment provided by the Almighty Creator.
To emphasize fitness and foster good sportsmanship and teamwork, the young ladies participated in exhilarating games of kickball, basketball and volleyball, while the young men held strenuous kabaddi (an ancient sport involving wrestling) tournaments, as well as a basketball, football and baseball series. The balance of academic, athletic, and cultural activities, combined with outdoor living, forms a well-rounded program that helps to ground young American Muslims.
By the Grace and Mercy of the Almighty Creator, the summer and winter educational retreats have been extremely successful, proven by many former participants who are now successful businessmen and women who have become lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers, accountants, etc. – all while raising the next generation of Muslim American youth. Many of the program staff and instructors were once participants themselves, with many becoming scholars continuing their education at numerous American universities and adding to their distinguished credentials through advanced studies at the renowned Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt. Some dedicated instructors even taught their classes from Egypt via Skype!
Muslim Scouts of America instructor, Abdul Manaan Giles sums it up:
“These programs provide our youth with the skills needed to be model American citizens and build a foundation to pursue any professional career.
MSA provides our youth with a unique opportunity to learn and excel through adventure. They practice the example and etiquette of the Holy Last Messenger (peace be upon him) and emulate him sincerely to obtain a strong moral, ethical and practical foundation and insight into successful daily living. Hiking, calligraphy, and kabaddi, along with writing, and reading Holy Quran, give them a diverse learning package that is both enjoyable and beneficial. It sharpens their focus, promotes generosity, teamwork, discipline and instills in them traits appropriate for many environments they will encounter as they grow into adults and contribute to our society.”
At the completion of the camp, the participants are provided an opportunity to showcase their talents in intense competitions. Below is a list of some of the winners:
Muslim Scouts of America Men’s Summer Program:
Best All Around Men Senior): Muhammad Nurullah; Junior, Muhammad Hasnain Ali (Holy Islamberg, NY)
Qiraat (Recitation of Holy Quran): Nathir A. Sabur (Islamville, TN)
Speech: Muhammad Waqqas Abdul Haqq (Holy Islamberg, NY)
Banaatun Noor International Ladies Summer Program:
Best All Around: Nabilah Hashem (Holy Islamville, SC)
Qiraat: Najah Begum Ahmad Ali (Atlanta, GA)
Speech: Shazia Begum Abdul-Alim (Holy Islamville, SC)
All praises to the Almighty Creator for His direct guidance under Imam El Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Gillani, the founder and leader of The Muslims of America Inc. and mentor of the Muslim Scouts of America and Banaatun Nur Ladies Auxiliary, who personally directs each educational program that altogether are providing our up-and-coming young people with the tools needed to be successful, contributing members of the American society!