It was a rainy Sunday when we found Boy Scout Troop 2690 climbing ladders to clean out the gutters of the cottage at Greenwood Farm in Richmond Heights.
"Today we're helping out with community service," said 12-year-old Mu-Tazz Lewis.
Lewis also explains how they sometimes, “Learn how to set up a camp fire and set up tents”.
But what sets this troop apart from the rest?
"Well, we're Muslims!!!" says 11-year-old Numayr Abdulalim, with proud outstretched arms.
His grandfather, Isa Abdul Matin, is the Scout Master.
"We are the first chartered Muslim troop in Northeast Ohio," says Muhammad Samad, who is troop 2690’s Chartered Representative.
"These boys are American boys. They bleed American pride. They do what American boys do. One just left to go to a football game,” Samad laughs.
The scouts said they practice all the rules of boy scouts like being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
In fact, they have all of those committed to memory, while still keeping the customs of Islam, like the call to prayer.
A responsibility to pray 5 times a day that they take seriously.
On that Sunday we spent with them, the troop took a break from cleaning gutters and 12-year-old scout, Mohammad Zoraiz called the troop to prayer.
He plugs into somewhere deep inside when he announces that prayer is about to start. His call to prayer is beautiful and reverent, impressive and almost surreal for a young teen.
"It’s from what's in your heart. What you were taught from when you were young. Kind of like what your SOUL is telling you to do, says Zoraiz.
What Islam is telling them NOT to do, is say the Pledge of Allegiance
"We pledge our allegiance to God, not to a flag or a country,” Samad explains.
Zoraiz, at just 12-years-old, has his own take.
Maybe even more than SAYING the pledge is "American", is the basic tenet that we don't HAVE TO...BECAUSE it's America.
"Our founding fathers taught that and thought of that in our country," says Zoraiz.
"The military, even their motto is God and country. It’s not country first," says Committee Chair, Kareem Samad.
It is right there in that order in the very Scout oath.
“On my honor, I will try to do my best to do my duty to God and my country," scout Numayr Abdulalim reminds us.
He’s the scout who got up early on a Sunday to clean gutters and had to leave early for a football game.
But if you think the Boy Scouts organization is as American as apple pie, think again.
“It actually started across the pond in England in 1907," Mark Baxter with the Boy Scouts Lake Erie Council points out.
He says it in an accent that proves that’s where he is from too.
Baxter says now that Boy Scouts are in all but 5 countries, “Muslims make up, in fact, probably the majority of scouting when you consider the scouting organizations in the far east"
When Kareem Samad says, “For us, God is always first," he says that goes for ALL MUSLIMS in ALL COUNTRIES.
So these scouts would submit it’s not “Anti-American." It’s “Pro God."
“People ask all the time, what's the point in life? Well if you're a Muslim, it's to please God and get to heaven," says 14-year-old scout Ahmad Islam Bouli.
Muhammad Samad also points out that "Those who don't pledge still stand at attention out of respect."
A perfectly fine prerogative for the Boy Scouts of America.
"Scouting is and has always been open to all faiths and religions. It’s one of the hallmarks of scouting. We have a duty to God but to who's god? What god? That is between the young person their parents and their faith organization. We support that," says Baxter.
"To make a long story short, the Boy Scouts let us be ourselves. That's why it’s so easy for us to be Boy Scouts," says troop leader Isa Abdul Matin.
The scouts, when asked at the end of the interview if they had anything else to add, they made sure to say, “Not all Muslims are terrorists." And to the ones who are…
"It's unacceptable. You're not representing Islam. It’s really evil. It’s not what I do. It’s not what I'm about," said scout, Wajiyh Abdul Zahir.
"In Islam it's taught that you should always try to help other people out. Never one man for himself and always help the people who are in need,” says Zoraiz.