Shaykh Farid Dingle is asked about the permissibility of taking the Boy Scout’s oath or swearing to do something on one’s honor.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I am writing to you because I need guidance on something. Bismillah.

I have decided to become a den leader for my daughter’s Cub Scout den for Boy Scouts of America. Our scout pack is with our masjid community with all Muslim members. I feel uneasy about reciting and leading other cub scouts during the Scout Oath which begins with “On my honor I will do my best.”

The scout oath is a very important part of being a scout and is memorized and recited at every meeting. Is it permissible to swear on one’s “honor?” I was taught not to swear on any of Allah’s creation and to be cautious when taking an oath. I have learned that we can only swear on the names and attributes of Allah.

I have emailed our masjid Imam regarding this matter a couple of times because I know he is (to some degree) involved with the scouts. I have not yet heard a response from him regarding this matter. Can you help me?

Jazak Allah khayr, and thank you!

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim.

My knowledge of English language isn’t very good, but what I understand from this oath and saying, “On my honor …” that means that you are willing to forfeit your honor as a decent human being should you fail to keep to your promise.

This is quite different to swearing by the greatness of Allah, because when you swear by Allah, you are saying that Allah is so great that you would never lie or not fulfill your oath. When you make a promise to do something, say, on pain of death or on pain of forfeiting your own honor, you are not saying anything about the greatness of that thing you are going to forfeit. So it doesn’t even count as an oath.

Furthermore, the whole spirit of the Scouts is a very noble thing. Serving your country is a virtuous and Islamic act. Organizing such principled activities for Muslims is perfectly good and moral, especially when it involves the moral education of the young.

In general, Muslims in non-Muslim countries should take part in any non-Muslim organizations or organized efforts to fulfill the general objectives of Islam, as long as there is no sinful actions, no other harm, and no involvement in any specifically religious activity.

Well before his prophethood, the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, took part a pact made in Mecca to protect the the wronged and remedy any ill-doings. This was known as Hilf al-Fudul https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilf_al-Fudul. Later during his prophethood, he said of it, “I was present as a youth with my uncles at the Pact of the Perfumed-Ones in the house of Abdullah ibn Judan, and I wouldn’t give that up for the most expensive camels!” (Ahmad)

So we can learn from this that even something before Islam, if it is in keeping with Islamic principles, then it is noble, and so too with any ‘non-Muslim’ effort to do good. Again, this is all on the proviso that it is in keeping with the Sacred Law, there is no fear of any moral or religious confusion, and no direct involvement in any specifically religious activity. And this, as far as I know, is the case with the Scouts.

May Allah give you success in fulfilling the weighty task of giving the next generation of Muslims what they deserve of sincere guidance, clear and authentic knowledge, and practical examples of how to play, have fun and grow physically, mentally and spiritually in a way that pleases Allah.

I pray this helps.

Farid

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


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