First Muslim Who Walked Across
Imam Syed B. Soharwardy is the first Muslim who walked from the Atlantic
Ocean to the
Imam Syed Soharwardy is a Canadian Muslim Imam. He was born and raised in
Imam Syed Soharwardy is the elder brother of world renowned Naat Khwan, Qari
Syed Fasihuddin Soharwardy and Allama Syed Muhammad Ejazuddin Soharwardy. Imam Syed B. Soharwardy is the Head Imam of
Al Madinah and Al Makkah Mosques in
Imam Soharwardy’s students and mureedeen (disciples) have spread all over
the world. Imam Soharwardy does not make living by serving his religion, Islam
but by working as an IT consultant in
By walking more than 6500 kms, Imam Soharwardy has revived one of the most important traditions of Sufis that is to walk long distances. He may be the only Muslim in current times that has walked for an important cause i.e. PEACE.
May Allah bring peace in our hearts; in our homes, communities, cities, countries and around the world for everyone. Amen.
On October 27,
2008 at about 4:45 PM Imam Syed Soharwardy dipped his shoes in the
Some of the
walkers with Imam Syed Soharwardy near the
Cake cutting ceremony at the Intercultural Association of Greater Victoria organized by Canpak Alliance of Victoria.
Soharwardy at the zero mile of
A cross country
Sheila Flood presents a bouquet to Imam Soharwardy upon the completion of Multifaith Walk Against Violence at the B.C. Legislature.
By Lloyd Mackey
November 6, 2008
Syed Soharwardy, a Muslim imam from
Soharwardy's walk began April 20 in
Interviewed by CC.com on the American election day, November 4, Soharwardy was careful to explain his "jihad" comments by noting that violence is an evil that is, as he understands it, condemned in the scriptures of both Islam and Christianity.
He noted that since first floating
the idea of the anti-violence walk over two years ago, he has formed
friendships with many Christian and Jewish people and leaders across
He leads the Madinah Calgary
Islamic Centre, which usually attracts about 1,500 to its Friday prayers, and
is home to at least 5,000 on special holy occasions, like
The process of taking on the walk involved some careful thought, he said. He does not draw income from his role as an imam, but rather, earns his living as an IT consultant.
In arranging his financial affairs, he re-mortgaged his house, so he would have income during the walk. And he is grateful, he said, for the support of his family, wife Shaheen and their two young adult children.
At times, he has received a fair amount of flack from other Muslim leaders, but the twin factors of fanaticism and secularism help to fan such opposition, he said. If people in his faith would return to the root of The Prophet's teachings, rather than trying to interpret in either a violent direction on one hand, or a secular bent on the other, Islam would be better understood.
Some of his critics, he said, accuse him of "getting too cozy to Christians."
While he appreciated the support he has received from many Christian leaders, Soharwardy allowed that there is more building work to do. At one point during the walk, he said, he met some Mennonites who held, within their faith, to many of the same ideas with respect to peace and non-violence that he sees to be a part of his own outlook.
Where does the imam go from here?
"Now we want to concentrate on getting churches and faith groups in every town and city going, to stay engaged, and try for annual days of walk against violence in those places," he said.
"They will be multi-faith, walking together, trying to change people's hearts.
"Through this walk, what I tried to achieve was by the grace of God. There is no place on earth where one can walk 6,500 kilometres, through different areas, among conservatives and liberals, and no one said, 'I don't like you because of who you are.'"
October 28, 2008
He wore out five pairs of shoes, lost more than 10 kilograms and covered 6,470 kilometres on foot.
But as Syed Soharwardy dipped his feet in the Pacific Ocean near
"I feel a sense of relief and sense of accomplishment," said the
Soharwardy set out from
Covering an average of 35 to 45 kilometres a day, the Calgary Muslim leader wanted to grab the attention of Canadians and unite them in a common purpose, to end violence.
"I heard voices of support all along the way," said Soharwardy. "In every town and every city, people came out and testified their support and walked with me for a kilometre or two."
He said he's had people of all ages, from young children to senior citizens, come out to join him. About 200 people turned up at the B.C. legislature for the walk's closing ceremony on Monday.
Soharwardy said the movement to end violence won't stop with the completion
of the walk. He and his supporters are planning to set an annual day to
celebrate the end of the journey with smaller walks in cities and towns across
One of the most useful results of his trek has been the establishment of a communications network between religious institutions, he said.
"Now I have a network of connections across the country between synagogues, mosques, churches and temples," said Soharwardy. "It will be much easier to set up conference call meetings to discuss common issues."
After more than six months on the road, Soharwardy says what he now looks forward to most is reuniting with his family.
"I just got a phone call from my wife, that was highest point of my
day," he said, noting he'll return to
By Naseer Pirzada
November 8, 2008
“A Muslim is that person from whose hands and tongue the others are safe.” Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him)
Prof. Syed Badiuddin Soharwardhy, the leader of
the Multi-Faith Walk Against Violence, and the founder of Muslims Against
Terrorism, made a commitment to travel across
On Oct 25th , Islamic Supreme Council's BC chapter
welcomed Professor Soharwardy in
At this occasion, Prof. Soharwardy explained Multifaith Walk against Violence and its purpose and his many experiences on the way. He said that our target is to heighten awareness about the forms and dangers of violence to society and how it affects all of us.
There is much violence in different shape around us in this world, such as physical violence in which child abuse, domestic violence, gangs, bullying and elder abuse are included. Others are Terrorism, structural violence, the violence that is built into social, political and economic structures such as caste, patriarchy, etc. and racial discrimination.
Religious traditions can be resources for building peace. At the same time, certain people use false interpretations of religion to justify violence.
Afterwards, Sheikh Ismail and Maulana A. L.Naumani made dua and lunch was served to all the guests by community volunteers. the end.
Prof. Soharwardy continued his walk on
On Oct 27th this Multi faith Walk started under the leadership of Prof. Soharwardy with M.Haris, Shehzadha Hameed from Victoria Ferries Bay to Parliament building where Mr. N. Pirzada, Mr. S. Faroqui, Mr. Moiud deen, Mr. Waheed Ch. joined them and. they all walked on the streets of Victoria stopping at the stairs of the Parliament building.
Representatives from different faiths greeted them at the Parliament building. A stage was decorated by multifaith groups holding banners for peace and War against Violence. Ms. Karima Ramgi, the board chair of the Victoria Multifaith Society from Bahia Faith was the master of ceremony at this podium. She invited many members at this stage, all they thanked the efforts of Prof. Soharwardy against violence and commended him for walking from East to West coast. Councilor Chris Coleman, acting Mayor of Victoria said that he is feeling very proud that this walk made history in this town and congratulated the team on behalf of the city. Mr. Sarfaraz Ahmed, President of Can Pak also thanked Prof. Soharwardy for taking such a novel initiative. Mr. Syed Soharwardhy addressed at Parliament building podium, and expressed his views. He told everyone that he received a warm welcome every where, especially by First Nation people. He also thanked everyone who joined and spoke about his efforts against Violence.
After the address, Prof. Soharwardy continued his walk with his friends till Mile Zero where he dipped his feet in the Pacific Ocean and lifted his hands to thank Allah (SWT) who gave him this strength to complete this terrific and historical walk about 6600Km, truly a Noble Mission.
The same evening, Can Pak and Inter Cultural Association
of Greater Victoria organized a Potluck Dinner with Syed Soharwardhy at 1st
The Miracle team congratulates Prof. Soharwardy for completing such an enormous task and making the entire Muslim community proud. We wish his message of awareness against violence reaches across the nation and Allah (SWT) keeps giving him strength to continue his efforts. (Ameen)
Katherine Dedyna, Times Colonist
October 26, 2008
An Islamic leader who mortgaged his house to walk across
"We should be in
Since Soharwardy, the founder of Muslims Against Terrorism, began walking
April 20 in
The closing ceremony -- a multifaith gathering -- is slated for 3 p.m. at the B.C. legislature and all are welcome.
"It seemed fitting that at the end of the multifaith march, the (
"Even to drive, that's a long way, let alone walk -- so obviously he's someone who's really very committed to raising public awareness and that's a good thing," said Sheila Flood, a member of the Saanich Baha'i community.
Soharwardy said the "
The walk is about changing people's opinions about violence, he said. "We have to stand up and say, no this is not acceptable.
"This walk is not about one faith or one group of people; this is a walk of all Canadians and people of all faiths coming together and saying that violence has no place in any religion, including Islam, of course."
The constant feedback elates him, such as "amazing scene" at a construction site where about 30 workers stopped work and came over to talk, shake hands and accept souvenir shirts.
It's all "very motivating" to keep up the 32 kilometres he covers a day -- down from 40-plus on the Prairies.
"People are honking and waving -- this morning there were three people
who joined us for shorter distances," said the 53-year-old information
technology consultant from
Occasionally, people have run out of their houses to hand him cheques for $100. One was a low-income, elderly woman in the Maritimes who told him he had to keep the cheque for a month until she had money in the bank.
He has seen changes of heart both by victims of violence who have committed to stand up to abuse and by others determined to stop using violence to resolve problems -- but he also urges people to seek help from counsellors.
Soharwardy's walk had its roots in a meeting of an inter-faith group two years ago, where participants voiced dismay about rising violence. He suggested a walk emulating Terry Fox to get in touch with ordinary people about the dangers of violence. Unable to find a sponsor, he mortgaged his house and took a leave of absence from work.
There were times he wasn't sure he would make it. One June day, when it was
pushing 40 degrees in
Stopping at the Terry Fox memorial for a multifaith gathering near
Near Ignace, Ont., a huge black bear appeared between him and the recreational vehicle -- "we were scared to death" -- but it soon ambled out of sight.
Rev. Mac Elrod, a retired Unitarian minister, is "thrilled" that Soharwardy's walk is terminating in Victoria, underscoring that faiths in general and Islam in particular are opposed to violence and "to the use of religion as an excuse for violence."
Baha'i Flood thinks the image of Islam has been "dragged in the dirt," in recent years. "It seems unfair because the majority of Muslims are peace-loving and from our study of their holy writings, it's clear that violence is not supported."
By DHARM MAKWANA, 24 HOURS
Date: October 27, 2008
Syed Soharwardy wants to stamp out violence and the best way he thought he could do that was with his own feet.
The Calgary-based Imam is mere kilometres away from completing his cross-country Multi-Faith Walk Against Violence today.
"Violence has no place in our religions," Soharwardy said. "Violence has no place in our homes. Violence has no place in our communities."
The IT specialist took a nine-month leave of absence and mortgaged his home to finance the trek he said costs upwards of $200,000.
Flanked by supporters since leaving
campaign takes it to the road
By SCOTT TRUDEAU
October 14, 2008
A nation-long walk to bring attention to the grievous violent acts in
today’s society passed through the
Syed Soharwardy and Haris Saleh of
Soharwardy, 53, who is the founder of Muslims against Terrorism, said the idea to embark on the Multi-Faith Walk against Violence to shine the light on various types of domestic violence, child and spousal abuse was sparked by an inter-faith discussion group.
Speaking from a rest stop on Highway 97 south of Penticton, Soharwardy noted response from the people has been "very positive" as it has been during their time on the road.
He recalled an elderly fellow with a B.C. flag on his van that stopped the two of them earlier in the day.
"He stopped and said ÔI wanted to greet you guys because you’re going through my area,’" said Soharwardy adding they’ve received numerous horn honks and salutations from those supporting their cause.
Soharwardy said he felt that walking across the country was one of the most effective and peaceful ways of raising awareness about the dangers and consequences of using violence as a means of conflict resolution.
However because he was unable to secure any form of sponsorship or financial donations to get the walk moving he took a leave of absence from his job and secured a mortgage on his house, funding it out of his own pocket.
"I’m quite passionate about it," he said. "And when you are passionate, you take action," he said.
Saleh wanted to be a part of the walk because he felt overwhelmed about the way violence is depicted in the media, on TV and in video games.
"It’s a disturbing trend across the world," said Saleh. "There are many other ways and means of resolving issues."
The 32-year-old said aside from the challenge of the walk itself, he’s also found it to be rewarding, energizing and fulfilling.
The pair joked that the greatest obstacle they’ve encountered up to this point was in
Following close behind on the roadways during their trek is
On Monday they enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner in Olalla before hitting the trail again today.
When the walk wraps up about the end of October, Soharwardy said he plans to establish a group specifically to address issues around using violence as a form of conflict resolution. He would also like to set aside one day to hold an annual walk in other Canadian cities.
To find out more or make a donation to the walk visit www.walkagainstviolence.com.
By KATIE SCHNEIDER, SUN MEDIA
September 7, 2008
Plagued with killings and
gunplay, this crime-ridden summer in
After walking more than 5,300 km
through seven provinces, or about 45 km a day, during the cross-country walk he
is leading, Imam Syed Soharwardy arrived in
There he spoke to members of all religions about the walk, which began April 20 in Halifax and is scheduled to end in Victoria by the end of October, that has drawn attention to the fact violence does not stop at geographic borders.
"The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive," he said. "Violence is the biggest issue of our time and people wave, honk and shout 'thank you' and 'good luck.'
"It's a common theme on a
daily basis in all provinces."
While Soharwardy has been away, 17 homicides have occurred in
"When I was in
And that reinforces his need to keep taking strides against violence during the walk.
"It shows all Canadians should stand up and stop it before it gets worse," he said. "It pushes us more because it strengthens our resolve ... it impacts every one of us."
By Penney Kome
September 08, 2008
Imam Syed Soharwardy is no stranger to controversy. But the most public and
sustained action he has ever taken, has aroused remarkably little attention. Since
April 20, he has been walking across
As the Imam's Walk Against Violence passed through Calgary — his home town — he was feted at a public gathering that featured brief talks or letters from representatives of the Jewish, Sikh, Cambodian Christian and Buddhist, Anglican, Unitarian, and United Church communities, as well as social workers dealing with immigrant and especially African communities.
"Violence only occurs when there is a power struggle," observed Dr Harjot Singh. "Sikhs have faced discrimination and violence" in pursuing their faith, she said. "The aim of this walk is to bring dialogue about violence, to deal with it on the individual level first, and then at the community, nation and world levels."
"I grew up in a country that experienced war," said social worker
Pol Ngeth, originally from
"Children who witness abuse are wounded for life," said Dean Robert Pynn, a retired Anglican Archdeacon, pointing out that such children are liable to repeat the abusive behaviour when they become parents. Pynn and Soharwardy both serve on the Board of the Alliance Against Violence.
Pynn also helped create Homefront, an agency that works with families dealing with domestic violence, and that focuses on the offender. "We've reduced recidivism by two-thirds," he said. An allied agency is Faithlink, which links clergy with social workers.
"In one survey, sixty percent of those asked said they would call on
their faith community for help," in event of domestic violence, said Linda
White, Executive Director of the (
"No one in the world wants family violence," The Venerable Keo Hong (a Buddhist leader) said through his translator and assistant, Chang Son. "We must seek peace in ourselves to achieve peace in the world."
Soharwardy is the founder of two Canadian organizations, the Islamic Supreme
Council and Muslims Against Terrorism, but is perhaps best known for having
brought a Human Rights Commission complaint against Western Standard
publisher Ezra Levant, for re-printing the Danish cartoons about Islam that
caused riots in
Soharwardy withdrew his complaint in late 2007, in the spirit of forgiveness associated with Christmas and the Muslim holiday Eid al Adh-ha. Interestingly enough, the purchaser and new publisher of the Western Standard personally called Soharwardy and apologized for the cartoons and especially for the vitriolic comments and death threats that readers posted to the Western Standard comments section.
Syed Soharwardy also serves on the Board of the Calgary Action Committee Against Violence, founded in 1991, which is about to re-launch as the Alliance Against Violence. At a Board meeting last fall, when people were brainstorming ways to raise awareness of the causes and effects of violence, he suggested a cross-Canada walk, something like what Terry Fox did.
"Everyone thought it was a great idea," he said, "but nobody
wanted to do it." So Soharwardy went home and re-mortgaged his house to
pay for the trip and the motor home that accompanies him. On April 20, he
dipped his feet in the Atlantic Ocean in
He intends to keep walking until he can dip his feet again in the Pacific
The Very Rev Robert Pynn has accompanied Soharwardy on parts of the journey. He said, "I want to thank Syed for revealing to us the heart of Islam. Syed says there is no place for violence in religion."
Soharwardy said that he has been gratified by the positive reception he has
found almost everywhere. "People were friendly even in
No matter what the Walk costs him — and he is still hoping that donations will cover most of the finances — Soharwardy still thinks the Walk makes an important statement. "Canadians have a special duty to speak out against violence," he said, "because we are a peaceful people."
Penney Kome is an award-winning author and journalist who has published six books with major publishers. She is also the Editor of Straight Goods.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy reached an emotional milestone in his cross-Canada Multi-Faith Walk Against Violence on Thursday.
At 7:30 a.m., Soharwardy crossed the Saskatchewan-Alberta border, setting off an impromptu celebration.
"It was absolutely the greatest feeling I've had during the whole walk," said Soharwardy, 53. "I felt like I was coming home."
Soharwardy began his walk April 20 in
"I'm expecting a number of pastors and lay people from Christian
churches in the
The imam is targeting a
An interfaith rally is planned for Sept. 6 outside the Eau Claire Market.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Last week, a letter writer asked what
Soharwardy isn't the only person with a cause who is trekking across the
country just now. In fact, he may very well have crossed paths somewhere along
the way with Ramesh Ferris, who started in
Ferris's cause is polio and his aim is to "raise funds and awareness to
forward the global eradication of polio, to educate about the continuing need
for immunization against polio and to support the rehabilitation of polio
survivors in poor countries." Ferris, 28, is a polio survivor adopted from
Some cross-Canada trekkers aren't even Canadian. Ming Jiing Hsieh, who is
Vision. Hsieh, heading east, recently reached Stonewall,
Some people might say that what Terry Fox started with his Marathon of Hope
in 1980 has gotten to be a bit much, what with all this criss-crossing of
Reached on his cellphone Wednesday as he was preparing to cross the
"There were nine or 10 people there -- Unitarian, Jewish, Buddhist. We all stood near the statue. It brought some sort of feeling in our heart to think of this young guy who stood up to cancer. We are trying to walk in his shoes," Soharwardy said.
What Terry did, what Soharwardy is doing, what all these people who run, cycle, walk or otherwise travel the Trans-Canada Highway for a particular cause do, is called tikkun olam in the Jewish faith.
Tikkun olam means mending the world and Jews believe everyone has a duty to do this. It's an obligation to do constant mending to keep the world from falling into greater disrepair -- to put good back in, to fill the spaces where pain, injustice and other evils might otherwise take root.
"We can't eliminate violence, but we can reduce it," Soharwardy
said. He was a few kilometres west of
"I was not embarrassed. I felt despair and hope. The killing of this young man strengthens my resolve," Soharwardy said. He sees it like this: When we say or do nothing, when we simply absorb violence out of fear, as when the victims of domestic abuse are afraid to expose their abusers, then we are enabling more violence.
"To stop violence, to not accept violence -- one person has to stand up and speak against it," he said.
In one aspect, Soharwardy agrees with the letter writer. "We're not able to change the whole world," he said. But he feels that if he's changed one person, enabling that individual to say no to whatever form of violence he or she may be personally experiencing, then his walk is a success. That's tikkun olam. You do what you can. As Ming Jiing Hsieh told the weekly Stonewall Argus about his disaster relief cycling tour: "If I can help people, that's happiness."
Where else but
Rev. Shawn Ankenmann,
August 12, 2008
Every once in
a while you meet someone who leaves an indelible impression upon you ... in
memorials I have often used a reading from Jacob the Baker by Noah benShea that tells of a proud and arrogant man
coming to the humble and quiet Jacob in his bakery.
The man says - "Jacob, I want my life to leave an impression on others ..."
Jacob continues working preparing his bread and says, "All life leaves an impression ... for we are God's finger prints ..."
Like all good rabbinic stories, we don't know what the man did with the lesson, nor do we know what others will do with it, we can only use the lesson to reflect on it for ourselves and consider how we will LIVE out the lesson ...
For me, I frequently think about the HOW of my life leaving impressions on others ... Taking the role of being God's presence in the world is an awesome responsibility - one I've always taken seriously. I have been far from perfect, and I've made more than my share of mistakes, but my heart has always been yearning to leave a good and faithful impression on others, even in those moments when my enthusiasm has gotten ahead of myself ...
This past week I was both blessed and privileged to meet a gentleman who has embodied in a very real way the concept of being God's finger print in the world ...
Syed Soharwardy is a gentle soft spoken man with a steely resolve, a gentle humour and a deep faith-filled wisdom that he willingly shares with anyone who takes the time to stop and talk with him, or even better, to walk along the side of the highway with him ...
Yesterday morning, I very briefly accompanied him as he began his daily walk ... we chatted briefly before I bid him well for the day and we departed ... watching him walk along the margin of the Trans Canada Hwy left me with the realization that my life is better for having shared, even briefly, in this remarkable man's journey ...
Syed is not looking for money ... he is not looking for fame ... he is looking for like minded people who share is abhorrence of violence, and who, like him want to see our world become a better place with more than just an absence of conflict and violence ... in the fullest spirit of Shalom/Salaam/Peace, Syed seeks a God given peace that surpasses all understanding, and transforms our world into the place, God willing it could and should be ...
One step at a time, this gentle man is doing his part ... and he is inspiring others to do the same ...
Thanks for stopping by Syed ... it was good to meet you ... and it was a joy and a treat to host you and Hassaan, Yassir and Haris in my home ... Go with God !!
The menu was a
selection of vegetarian, Halal (Islamic Kosher), and Celiac appropriate foods:
- spinach salad with fresh strawberries, kiwi, and almonds with a lemon-honey dressing
- tabhouli made with brown rice rather than bulgar
- five bean salad
- bean casserole with cheese and tomato sauce
- garden fresh yellow beans in dill
- baba ghanouj
- fresh fruit
- baked wild BC salmon in a brown sugar, soya sauce and onion glaze
The guests were Syed Soharwardy and his three travelling companions on the Multi-faith Walk against Violence, as well as my co-worker and her son.
Syed, Hassaan, Yasir and Haris came for dinner and a visit before we headed down town for a planned gathering at Brandon's Helping Hands Soup Kitchen to help spread the word of his cross Canada walk to raise awareness on the issue of violence of EVERY kind in our world ...
The conversation around a tiny very CROWDED living room was delightful ... nine people packed in a space that is 10' x 12' could have been uncomfortable, but a good time was had by all ... and no one left the table with an empty tummy .
Downtown after dinner,
Syed did interviews with a variety of media outlets in the
Best Wishes Syed, on your walk, and on raising awareness of this important issue ..
lunch The Brandon Rotary Club hosted Syed Soharwardy as their guest speaker.
Syed along with Hassaan, Yasir, and Haris, came and shared reflections on his
journey and answered some questions from the assembled group.
Along the way he commented that he believes that:
- we live in a very blessed country with strong feelings of meaning and harmony no matter where you are, and that Canadians have been blessed by God/Allah with understanding, tolerance and a caring acceptance of others, even those who are different
- we live in a great nation
- the greatest cause of violence is the simple lack of communication - between parents, between parents and children, and between people
- that if we are to have an end to violence we must begin with peace in our home that comes from peace in our hearts, and the peace in our homes will create peace in our communities, and peace in our communities will create peace in our world - between nations and people, and it all depends upon peace in our hearts
- the biggest single cause of violence in our world is ignorance and ILLITERACY - he noted that many in our world act from hate because they are unable to experience the fullness of life offered through literacy ... I commented to a fellow Rotarian that Syed's view fits well with the emphasis of Rotary International on Literacy ...
In the tradition of sharing a meal - a custom that unites all of humanity - Syed and his team came and sat at table with The Brandon Rotary Club and shared his experiences, and offered his wisdom and humour, and continued on his walk westward - promoting the cause of non-violence with each step.
And I for one am glad that along the way he stopped long enough to form a new friendship - one I will cherish ... I wished the men well on their journey and left them with the offer of a place to stay if they happen back this way again ... I hope they do ...
In the meantime - for more on Syed, and his journey and the cause of Stopping Violence - check out some of the links below:
The CBC story that started this ALL (click here)
The web page of the Multi-faith walk against violence (click here)
The web page of Syed's group Muslims against Terrorism (click here)
A matter of faith
By Teenaz Javat, CBC News
August 1, 2008
"Walking is a very good exercise, and that is exactly what I am doing for my physical and spiritual well-being."
With those words, Syed Soharwardy
began his Multi-Faith Walk Against Violence in April 2008. What makes this walk
different is that it is 6,800 kilometres long and stretches five time zones
Soharwardy in June 2008 during the
It also appears to be a deeply
personal journey. An active member of
A married father of two
teenagers, he has remortgaged his
"My grandfather was a mufti
(high priest) in Kashmir, and my father was a religious leader in
"This walk is my physical and spiritual journey in an attempt at uniting Canadians against all forms of violence."
As of July 27, he had crossed the
Ontario-Manitoba border and was closing in on
The seeds of this journey began
about 14 years ago. Having settled in
"So, I realized the best way to go about it is to start a group and talk about the similarities that all religions have instead of the differences."
A volunteer imam at Al-Madinah Calgary Islamic Centre, where he often helps organize celebrations of Jewish holidays, Soharwardy was the driving force behind the group Muslims Against Terrorism, which was conceived in 1998 and now has 13 chapters all over the world.
A key factor in Soharwardy's
decision to organize the walk, according to long-time friend Linda Zachri, was
the December 2007 slaying of a 16-year-old
"Syed went on a long fast as a protest not only against what had happened but how the entire Muslim community was being painted with the same brush," said Zachri, who helps Soharwardy with his website.
"He wanted to highlight the fact that people within his community do not seek outside help. It was an intergenerational problem gone awfully wrong, and it was then that he decided to bring an end to all violence front and centre, and what better way than to walk against it."
Holding two master's degrees in the field of information technology and project management, Soharwardy did not wait to raise money from donors.
Instead, he remortgaged his house and used the money to buy an RV so that he could rest in the night while he walked in the day.
"My job in IT feeds me and my family in a physical way, and my walking nurtures me in a profoundly spiritual way," Soharwardy said. "It took me one year to convince my wife that it was a good idea."
As he walks for approximately 40
km a day, his RV is driven by volunteers who fly in from
"Most of my volunteer drivers
"The reception I received in
"We had a brief ceremony, after which I feel more stronger than ever that together we can fight violence."
The walk commenced in
Over the summer, his son is going
to join him somewhere in
August 01, 2008
But Syed Soharwardy says the disturbing headlines also strengthen his resolve to speak out against violence here and abroad.
"We have to stand up and say we will not accept this trend," said
Soharwardy, at home for a brief break from his epic journey, which began April
20 on the
Soharwardy had completed more than 3,800 kilometres when he stopped earlier
this week near
While he has walked many of those 3,800 kilometres accompanied only by the driver of his support RV, Soharwardy said he was delighted to have been joined briefly by clergy as well as countless strangers from many towns he has passed through.
"It's been very much a learning process as we've gone along. First, we just followed maps. But now we rely on information from local people as to the shortest routes and the best opportunities to meet the most people," said Soharwardy, 53.
"And I've been delighted by the reaction I've got, especially in rural areas and small towns. I thought we might run into a few people who wouldn't like me because of my colour or my religion, but it's all been positive."
Soharwardy has worn out four pairs of walking shoes and lost weight during his three-plus months on the road, but said the only time he considered quitting was after suffering debilitating heat stroke near Barrie, Ont.
"I talked to my wife on the phone and she gently said to me, 'No, just take a couple of days off to rest and keep going,' " he said.
Soharwardy has mortgaged his family home to finance the campaign and says fuel for the RV, which he also uses for accommodation, is gobbling up big chunks of the projected budget.
"We have to fill it up every three days or so at a cost of about $250 to $270," Soharwardy said.
A project manager in civilian life, he has put his career and spiritual leadership role with local Muslims on hold.
"We'll sell the RV at the end of the walk to help cover some costs. There will be debt, but hopefully not too bad," said Soharwardy.
"I had a woman stop and give me a quarter. She said that's all she could afford, but that she supported what I was doing, which touched me."
Soharwardy plans to increase his pace to about 45 kilometres a day across
the flat Prairies. He hopes to reach
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when worshippers fast from sunrise to
sunset, begins Sept. 2. Soharwardy said he'll have to reassess how he'll be
able to keep up a rigorous walk within those requirements. He hopes to complete
his walk in late October in
Soharwardy plans to write a book about his experiences on the road and his hopes for a more peaceful world.
"I want to talk about bringing people of faith together in this effort to reduce violence and to live in harmony," said Soharwardy.
"But this walk, being out in nature every day, has also made me a lot more sensitive to the environment. It's a very spiritual thing, to be better connected to this beautiful creation that God has given us."
July 14, 2008
Each time Syed Soharwardy speaks to his family in
Despite missing his wife, children and the comforts of home, step-by-step the imam has been walking across the country; speaking out against violence, and raising awareness about the importance of dialogue in solving conflicts.
"It's been a very interesting journey, so far," said Soharwardy from just outside Nipigon, Ont., on Saturday.
A close encounter with an aggressive bear, a breakdown of their tour vehicle, an injured foot and severe sunstroke have been a few of the minor setbacks, but not enough to stop Soharwardy.
"This is the first time in the history of
But it's not the walk itself that holds significance for Soharwardy.
Rather, it's the message he is working to spread, stops along the way, touching the hearts of the people he meets and relaying a message of non-violence and peace among all people -- regardless of religion, race or heritage.
He is not walking to raise money, unlike the hundreds of cyclists and runners he has met along the route.
"We all stand together and I feel it is my job to tell people that."
Much of the time he walks with just one other person -- a volunteer and friend who has joined him -- but often walks a few kilometres with religious leaders, town officials or supportive people he meets along the way.
He has also been greeted along the
He expects to reach
By Bill Graveland
(June 27, 2008) —
Step-by-step, kilometre-by-kilometre a
Syed Soharwardy, 52, began a cross-country journey from
The founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada and Muslims Against Terrorism decided to do the walk as a protest against all forms of violence, including child and domestic abuse, terrorism, gangs, bullying and elder abuse.
Along the way, he says, he has encountered the good side of Canadians in terms of tolerance and acceptance.
“It is more educational to me than anything else,’’ he said in a telephone interview with The Canadian Press as he reached the outskirts of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
“It gave me a picture of what Canadians are, what they are all about and they are such a nice people. I did not find a single person who would come to me and say, `You are wrong. You are a Muslim. You are a brown guy. Get out from here.’
“So far, with the journey half over, I have not seen a single (bad) person or had a bad experience.’’
Soharwardy, who was born and raised in
Harris Saleh (left) and Syed Soharwardy, both from Calgary, make their way across the MacDonald Bridge in Halifax, Sunday, Apr.20, 2008 as part of a Multi-Faith walk against Violence which will take them from Halifax to British Columbia.(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Halifax Chronicle-Herald-Ingrid Bulmer) -
Monday, June 30, 2008
Angela Pezzotti for SooNews.ca
June 29, 2008, 4:50PM
Syed Soharwardy put his ideas into action this summer when he began
his Multi Faith Walk Against Violence. Soharwardy is very active in the Multi
Faith community and he wanted to widen the audience for his message of peace
beyond the mosques, churches and synagogues he visited so on April 20th in
Halifax Nova Scotia he began his cross country walk.
Soharwardy wanted to meet people directly to get a first hand account of how violence had affected their lives and hear their solutions to ending violent behaviour. “I wanted to sit with people and hear their stories. And educate people that violence is wrong.”
“Violence starts from home, domestic violence child abuse, elderly abuse, bullying, terrorism.” says Soharwardly who is founder of Muslims Against Terrorism, he believes that all forms of violence are terrorism and is rooted in domestic violence. “I strongly believe that if person has peace at home they are not violent in the community, if our communities are not violent, are countries will not be violent. Domestic violence is one of the major causes creating fanatical behaviour in all religions and cultures”
People from different faiths have joined
Soharwardy on his journey, some for a few minutes or a few days, but he says
everyone says the same thing “Violence is wrong in my religion, violence is wrong
in your religion why can’t we stop it.” Soharwardy says that those that commit
violence in the name in any religion are misinterpreting scripture. But there
are extremists in all religions and 99 percent of people are peace loving.
Response to the walk has been “overwhelming positive” Soharwardy says, “People honk and wave, others stop and talk with us or offer donations. No one has said we are wasting our time.” Soharwardy mortgaged his home and established a line of credit to fund the walk. “It is the most important issue of our time. We need to get along and understand each others humanity.” Soharwardy has committed to walking the entire length of the country he has been joined by a number of volunteers who walk for a few weeks.
Haris Seleh began the walk in
Ysir Saleah believes in the cause so much he is spending his summer vacation with the walk He’s been walking for about a week joining the journey in
Naveed Azam was driving the accompanying RV when Soonews spoke to the group. He joined the walk in
The group will call Sault Ste Marie base for the next few days. Each day they walk about thirty five to forty kilometres the RV then picks them up and returns them to that point the next day. The walk will conclude in
If you would like to know more about the Multi Faith Walk Against Violence Click Here
Donations are accepted at all TD Canada Trust locations
deposit to A/C 8063900480635228516
Cheques can be mailed to: 15205 Park Lane N.W. Calgary AB T3P 1A6
Picture: Ysir Saleh, Syed Soharwardy, Haris Seleh, Naveed Azam
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Calgary Muslim imam Syed Soharwardy is closing in on the halfway mark of his cross-Canada Multifaith Walk Against Violence.
Soharwardy is in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. this weekend, about 2,600 kilometres
into his epic walk from
"I'm firmly convinced our efforts are paying off," says Soharwardy.
"The whole purpose of this campaign is to create awareness of the toll that violence takes, both in our homes and in our world. And the message is getting out there."
Soharwardy says he had a particularly warm reception when he passed through the Garden River First Nations reserve just east of the Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
A telethon will be held today at noon
Soharwardy is nursing a sore foot after walking on a sharply-banked highway
shoulder for a full day earlier this week. He'll take a brief break from the
road to fly to
June 25, 2008
Calgarian Syed Soharwardy is just north of
As the founder of Muslims Against Terrorism, Soharwardy began walking on
April 20, 2008 and will end in
Soharwardy is part of a Calgary-based group entitled Muslims Against Terrorism. Spokesperson Atthar Mahmood says Soharwardy is back on the road after passing out from dehydration and fatigue a few days earlier.
Both men are Canadians born in
“The Koran does not support any violence,” Mahmood says. “Our mosque is open to all faiths, we will tell you about what Islam is, and the teaching of the prophet Mohammed.”
By Brian Kelly, The Sault Star
June 22, 2008
Syed Soharwardy has spoken out against violence for years.
Now, he's walking the walk to back up his anti-violence stance.
But in 2007 he considered a cross-country walk would reach more Canadians than just regular worshippers at churches, mosques and synagogues.
"We said let's do something bigger and broader and longer," said
Soharwardy while walking on Highway 17 just west of
"I felt very compelled that this is the best thing we could do to draw attention and create awareness about the dangers of violence. It was my idea so I became it."
His Multifaith Walk Against Violence started in
Soharwardy expects to arrive in Sault Ste. Marie Saturday.
The perils of raising one's fist, or taking up arms, are many, he says. People risk injury, death, damaged property and broken relationships.
"It's absolutely a horrible thing for our community if we are facing any form of violence," he said.
"(Different faiths) all stand together when it comes to violence. We all condemn it and we all denounce it. We will work together to fight against violence."
Soharwardy is regularly joined by supporters along the way. In
Hutton, who now serves at St. Patrick's parish in
"The Muslim people in
"The Muslim people are, I think, in many ways experiencing prejudice
unjustified in our culture. They're hurting. They're suffering. The ones that I
know are very peace-loving people. They're happy to be in a multicultural
Soharwardy, 52, suggests his walk is changing attitudes of the people he
meets including a young
"Those who come into contact with us, those who see me on the highway and talk to me, they realize (violence) is wrong," he said.
"They go and tell other people. I think we are making a difference. It may be a small difference, but I'm hoping by the end of this walk it will become a significant difference in creating awareness about the dangers of violence."
On the web: www.walkagainstviolence.com
June 07, 2008
A Calgary Muslim imam and outspoken activist is hoping to reach
Syed Soharwardy left
He plans to cross the Saskatchewan-Alberta border by early September and
complete his campaign in
Soharwardy says he wants to draw the collective attention of Canadians to the destructive toll of violence, whether it happens behind the doors of a private home or explodes on the global stage.
"We want people to think and to speak out against domestic abuse that targets children and women as well as international terrorism and the suicide bombers," Soharwardy says.
"The culture of violence that can start in a home continues on into the community, the nation and eventually, the world. We have to talk about it and stop it."
Soharwardy says the first week of pavement pounding through the Maritimes was the hardest on his body.
"By the third week, my body was getting a little more used to it. At the end of every day, I'm absolutely tired, but by the next morning I feel refreshed and motivated to walk again."
Soharwardy calls this campaign the most educational and inspirational project he's ever tackled.
"About three days ago, we went through a Mohawk (aboriginal) territory. They had never heard of me, but when they saw me and our banner they came out to shake hands, give me water and take pictures," says Soharwardy over his cellphone as he trudged through the rain near the central Ontario town of Grafton.
"I was a little worried in
Soharwardy is often alone with his thoughts, meditations and prayers, accompanied only by Calgarian Asghar Ali, who is driving the campaign's support vehicle.
But he's been joined for short distances by individuals and members of faith communities in the towns he passes through.
"I've had people come out of their homes and farms, even stop their cars and walk for a little while with me," says Soharwardy.
Soharwardy says a rally is planned for
By Dr. John Cowan
May 28, 2008
This Friday, the Across Canada Multi-Faith Walk Against
Violence will reach
It's hard to doubt the genuineness of his efforts. His personal commitment has been extraordinary; he mortgaged his home to finance the Walk Against Violence. Furthermore, he has a proven track record in opposing violence and is the founder of Muslims Against Terrorism.
Like many Sunni Muslims who adhere to Sufi practices, Soharwardy is
remarkably modernist and heavily into bridge-building with other communities.
Indeed, the mosque he leads in
And there is a
article on military history written by one of the
It seemed to me that either we could write letters to each other for months trying to reach agreement or I could just phone him, which I did. It was a much better conversation than anticipated, and I invited him to RMC. Last fall, he visited, staying at my home and meeting many RMC faculty and students. He also gave a pretty gutsy talk to a large group of officer cadets and other RMC folk.
While the talk covered much ground, including considerable praise for the
work of the Canadian Forces in
Every now and then since 9/11, there have been musings in the media about why the moderate or antiviolence voices in the Muslim community weren't louder or more explicit. Well, you couldn't get much more explicit than Syed Soharwardy.
And this unusual campaigner is also unusually frank about admitting to the occasional mistake. When Western Standard magazine reprinted the Danish cartoons containing unflattering depictions of Muhammad, Soharwardy feared that the attitudes they fostered might alienate the youths of his community from the Canadian mainstream, and so he became one of those who
complained about the reprinting to the Alberta Human Rights Commission.
But the recent controversies about the role of human rights commissions and concerns about their potential to encroach upon free speech caused Soharwardy to rethink the matter. Some months ago, after consulting widely (including asking my opinion), he publicly withdrew his complaint, explaining that he had come to the conclusion that "the court of public opinion" was the only logical place to settle issues of appropriate speech, and that human rights commissions might better stick with their more traditional role with respect to discrimination on prohibited grounds in employment, housing and services.
Soharwardy is very Canadian. He thinks and talks a lot about his love of
- John Scott Cowan is principal of the Royal Military College of Canada.
The path to peace
Cross-country walk draws attention to violence
The Truro Daily News
May 23, 2008
Syed Soharwardy is walking from
The middle-aged consultant and volunteer imam from
“Walking gives me the opportunity to talk with people who I’ve never met before and may never meet again. It gives me first hand opportunity to talk with them about violence and share in their stories,” said Soharwardy.
Speaking out against violence to people in churches, synagogues and mosques is limited in scope, you can only reach so many people this way. By walking across the country you can draw national attention to your cause, he said.
It was only three days ago that he dipped his feet in the Atlantic Ocean and started his journey, but already you can see people reacting to the cause, he said.
“God bless you on your walk,” said one man as he drove by Soharwardy.
As Soharwardy was walking through
“He hugged me. I was a complete stranger for him but that showed his love, his respect, I was quite touched,” he said.
He’s trying to walk roughly 35 to 45 kilometers a day, which means he should reach
A crew of three are following him in an RV while his family and another small crew monitor his progress from
“Our target is youth. If we can change one mind about using violence then we have achieved our goal. If we can change more, then that is a bonus.”
The road is open
BY RAISSA TETANISH
May 7, 2008
“What we see around the world in domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse and different forms of abuse such as bullying and gangs, there has been an escalation within the last few years. This is a multi-faith walk against violence,” said the 52-year-old Soharwardy during a stop in
“Violence is wrong, violence is bad, it hurts and we should not be using violence in resolving conflicts and issues. We should be using dialogue. We should be sitting down and talking to people.”
Soharwardy shared his idea of the project a year ago with colleagues in an inter-faith group. He said some were skeptical of the large project in the beginning, but he wanted to continue on with it regardless.
“I think this project is a very effective way to reach out to youth and the general public. Not just Canadians, but maybe people around the world,” he said.
His experience during his first visit to
“The response from people is absolutely great. I cannot describe the love, respect and care that people have extended to me and my colleagues. It’s marvelous,” he said.
During the walk, Soharwardy will be the initial walker, with some company joining him along the way. He has three colleagues joining him on the journey.
“The plan is, as the awareness will come, people from different faith groups - faith leaders, priests, rabbis - they will join me for a specific length of walk,” said Soharwardy.
For more on the Multi-Faith Walk Against Violence, visit www.walkagainstviolence.com.
BY RACHEL MENDLESON , Metro
April 20, 2008
After engaging in interfaith dialogue for
years, Syed Soharwardy took his crusade to the streets of
“Walking will give me an opportunity to shake hands with people — to go to small towns, sit down with them, eat with them,” he said. “You can’t reach out to people in places of worship only.”
But spreading his message requires more than simply walking the walk. To finance the trek to
“Hopefully we will get enough money raised to pay off that loan,” said the IT specialist, at the beginning of a nine-month leave of absence.
The multi-faith initiative, he said, is worth the financial risk. The prevalence of suicide bombings, domestic violence and gang violence across all faiths has touched him deeply.
“Violence takes place in any part of the world, it becomes news, and when you turn on news, it affects you. When you read papers, it affects you,” said the Pakistan-born Soharwardy, who is the founder of Muslims Against Terrorism.
“I think we should do something about it and say this is wrong. Violence is absolutely wrong. No religion endorses violence,” he said.
Soharwardy encourages people from all religions and backgrounds to join him for a portion of the journey.
“This is not just a Muslim walk. This is walk of all faith. This is walk of all Canadians,” he said.
On April 20, 2008 Imam Syed Soharwardy
dipped his shoes in the Atlantic Ocean at the docks of
A long walk to stamp out violence
JACKSON Provincial Reporter
Mon. Apr 21 - 5:23 AM
Syed Soharwardy of Calgary, accompanied by supporter Harris Saleh, also of Calgary, treks across the Macdonald Bridge on Sunday to begin the Multi-Faith Walk Against Violence, which will end in Victoria, B.C., in November. (INGRID BULMER / Staff)
Syed Soharwardy, 52, said he invites
people of all faiths to join him on the Multi-Faith Walk Against Violence as he
Mr. Soharwardy said the idea for the walk came about a year ago.
He said there wasn’t just one violent incident that prompted it, but the apparent escalation of violence — from incidents between young people to international terrorism — that led to the project.
"What I see, what’s going on in
"I did not have something personally that I experienced. But I can see, I can feel, and it hurts me, and people around the world are getting affected by this violence.
"Now we are living in a completely different world. This is a global village, so violence takes place in any part of the world. It becomes news, and when you turn on news, it affects you."
Mr. Soharwardy, a native of Karachi, Pakistan, who went to United States in 1980 for schooling and has lived in Calgary for 15 years, said he decided on the walk because it will draw more attention and allow him to meet more people than speaking in mosques, churches or synagogues.
He said he especially wants to reach out to young people."Hopefully, we’ll be able to change some minds not to use violence. That is the purpose," said Mr. Soharwardy, founder of Muslims Against Terrorism.
"If I change one mind, I have achieved my purpose, and if we change more minds, it’s good."
With new white Adidas running sneakers, dark track pants, a blue mesh Brooks ball cap and a white T-shirt advertising the Multi-Faith Walk Against Violence, the volunteer iman with a salt-and-pepper beard said he was mentally and physically ready for the journey.
His plan was to walk 15 to 20 kilometres after his midday start Sunday and about 35 to 40 kilometres other days. A marathon is 42 kilometres.
The information technology consultant, now on a nine-month leave of absence, said he got a treadmill a couple of months ago and has been training since then. He said he figures his body will adapt to the daily exercise, and people’s prayers will help.
Mr. Soharwardy said he remortgaged his house to fund the excursion, which he expects will cost between $200,000 and $300,000. He said he hopes people will make donations along the way.
He said he bought a recreational vehicle
and he and a couple of supporters drove it to
Mr. Soharwardy has been in and out of the news the last couple of years for his battle with Ezra Levant, former publisher of the now-defunct Western Standard, a conservative magazine.
In 2006, the Western Standard published
Danish cartoons depicting the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. The caricatures had set
off violent protests in the Muslim world and Mr. Soharwardy filed a complaint
Mr. Soharwardy said he withdrew the complaint in January.
He sent a column to the Globe and Mail in February that said he had talked to other Muslim leaders as well as Christian and Jewish friends and concluded the matter was not appropriate for the commission’s mandate.
There had been an allegation in
He said he plans to end his walk by
stepping into the
The exact route seems to be a work in
progress, as he asked how to get on a secondary road to get to
A couple of supporters handed out brochures along the harbour Sunday.
At least one man declined to take one, while another, Derek Caine, saw Mr. Soharwardy step in the harbour and promised to meet him on the West Coast if his feet "didn’t rot off" and he completed the walk.
Mr. Caine said he admired Mr. Soharwardy for taking action and said they sort of had something in common. Mr. Caine, 65, has leukemia and raises money for other leukemia patients.
March 29, 2008
Flanked by leaders from the Anglican and Catholic churches, the United Church of Canada, the African and Khmer communities, Soharwardy said the walk would protest all forms of abuse, including child abuse, domestic abuse, terrorism, gangs, bullying and elder abuse.
The Calgary-driven initiative will kick off in
Tunde Dawodu, left,
Soharwardy has committed to joining the walk for the full eight to nine months after remortgaging his home to partially fund the venture, which is expected to cost $250,000 to $300,000.
"(The walk) will draw attention repeatedly to the fact that violence is bad," Soharwardy said.
"There are people who justify violence based on religion. This walk will show that every religion, including Islam, is against violence."
Soharwardy said he was partly driven by the need to send a message to terrorists of all creeds, who misinterpret scripture and use religion to justify acts of violence, that no violence is justified.
"One religion's voice falls on deaf ears," he said, adding people take note of a united voice.
Participants will rally at city halls in each of the towns they pass through.
The Multi-Faith Walk Against Violence team last week began contacting faith leaders across the country to garner support. Each day more support is rolling in, Soharwardy said.
The team is hoping sponsors and donations will help meet the shortfall.
Un imam contre la violence
Mise à jour le vendredi 27 juin 2008
Une marche de
plusieurs centaines de kilomètres contre la violence. C'est le projet qu'a
entrepris l'imam Syed Soharwardy.
L'imam de Calgary, âgé de 52 ans, a entamé le 20 avril dernier à Halifax une longue marche à pieds qui le mènera jusqu'à Calgary. Il espère arriver sur la colline du Parlement le 1er juillet pour la fête du Canada et reprendre sa marche le lendemain.
L'imam Soharwardy, fondateur du Conseil suprême islamique du Canada et de l'organisation des musulmans contre le terrorisme en 1999, a décidé d'entreprendre cette marche pour protester contre toutes les formes de violence, dont la violence faite aux enfants et le terrorisme.
M. Soharwardy affirme avoir observé tout au long de son périple que les Canadiens ont une culture de tolérance et d'acceptation de l'autre.
« Mon pire cauchemar avant de commencer était le Québec parce que je ne connais pas le français, a-t-il dit. J'avais au sujet des francophones cette idée voulant qu'ils ne parlent pas l'anglais », a-t-il affirmé
« Mais j'ai reçu plus d'amour au Québec que n'importe où ailleurs. J'ai dit à ma femme si Dieu me donne un peu d'argent, je vais acheter une maison au Québec ».
« Ils n'étaient pas capables de parler anglais et je ne pouvais pas parler français, mais ils ont fait en sorte que je me sente bien grâce à leur langage corporel et leurs poignées de main. »
Né et élevé à Karachi, au Pakistan, M. Soharwardy fait également partie de groupes interconfessionnels partageant son point de vue sur toutes les formes d'agression.
jour: 26/06/2008 19:47
Afin de protester contre la violence
Une étape à la fois, un kilomètre après l'autre, un imam de Calgary découvre le Canada sous un jour différent dans le cadre d'une marche contre la violence.
Syed Soharwardy, âgé de 52 ans, a entrepris son périple il y a six semaines, le 20 avril, à Halifax. M. Soharwardy espère arriver sur la colline du parlement le 1er juillet, jour de la fête du Canada, et faire une pause à l'occasion des célébrations. Il entend reprendre sa marche le jour suivant.
Le fondateur du Conseil suprême islamique du Canada et de l'organisation des Musulmans contre le terrorisme a décidé d'entreprendre cette marche afin de protester contre toutes les formes de violence, incluant la violence faite aux enfants et la violence familiale, le terrorisme, les gangs de rue, l'intimidation et la violence envers les personnes âgées.
M. Soharwardy affirme avoir observé tout au long de son périple le bon côté des Canadiens en ce qui concerne la tolérance et l'acceptation des autres.
Né et élevé à Karachi, au Pakistan, M. Soharwardy ne mâche pas ses mots lorsqu'il est question de terrorisme et de violence de quelque type que ce soit. Depuis longtemps, il fait également partie de groupes interconfessionnels partageant son point de vue sur toutes les formes d'agression.
«Mon pire cauchemar avant de commencer était le Québec parce que je ne connais pas le français, a-t-il dit. J'avais au sujet des francophones cette idée voulant qu'ils ne parlent pas l'anglais», a-t-il affirmé lors d'un entretien téléphonique accordé à La Presse Canadienne, alors qu'il approchait de Sault Ste. Marie, en Ontario.
Mais j'ai reçu plus d'amour au Québec que n'importe où ailleurs. J'ai dit à ma femme: Si Dieu me donne un peu d'argent, je vais acheter une maison au Québec.
«Ils n'étaient pas capables de parler anglais et je ne pouvais pas parler français, mais ils ont fait en sorte que je me sente bien grâce à leur langage corporel et leurs poignées de mains.»
By Linda Zachri
Media and Public Relations Coordinator
Multifaith Walk Against Violence, 2008
The largest, and most arduous part of the Multifaith Walk Against Violence ended on October 27 at the grounds of the Legislative Assembley of Victoria, B.C. in an event which called into play the organizing and creative abilities of a truly dynamic group of British Columbians.
As some of you may recall. Syed
Soharwardy began the Walk at the docks of
Prominent among those present at the legislature were:
Karima Ramji - MC - President of the
Rev J. McRee (Mac) Elrod - a key organizer, and host for Syed and the other volunteers.
Sheila Flood - VMS
Councillor Chris Coleman (acting Mayor City of Victoria)
Sarfaraz Ahmed (Canpak
Ruth Cook (Aboriginal Elder)
Waheed Chaudhry of Canpak
Naz Rayani, who arranged the media
We were delighted to hear that a number of faith leaders and faith group members took the time to come to the gathering.
Reverend Mac and many others have thoughtfully sent on pictures so we could vicariously enjoy the day, but wish I could have heard the beautiful music of David Person on his accordion, the singing of Kathryn Whitney and the inspiring words of Elder Ruth Cook who opened the event with a prayer. Of course, the Raging Grannies were there to help with a “spirit injection”. We also heard from some groups whom, regrettably, we had overlooked, or had been unable to contact. We apologize to you, but we hope you will contact us and tell us about your work and your position against violence.
We invite you all to follow this link for an account of the day’s events (good pictures, too!)
I also wish I could have tasted some of the potluck supper organized by members of Canpac and the InterCultural Association of Victoria. I would like to make special mention of Jean McRae (Executive Director, InterCultural Association of Victoria) and
Steven Bailey (InterCultural Association of Victoria) and executives and members of Canpak: Sarfaraz Ahmed (President), Ali Kharaghani (Vice President), Dr. Abdulla Siddiqi, Safeer Badshah and Asif Ahmad (Directors), M. Aleemuddin (Treasurer)
Waheed Chaudhry and Abul Manzur.
Last but not least, we would like to thank
all of you who lent us your support. Some have walked with the walkers,
or met them along the way. Some, like Pete Vere in
In his interview with Times Colonist,
Katherine Dedyna, Syed Soharwardy reiterated that the walk was about changing
people's opinions about violence. The walk was not about one faith or one
group of people, but a walk for all Canadians and faith members to say that
violence has no place in any religion. In helping the walkers at the end
of their long trek across
“NO this is not acceptable!”
We will not be told, cajoled or threatened by those within our faiths to accept the idea that our religion justifies violence. We will not passively accept the judgment that it is “normal”, “part of the culture” and (therefore) excusable when members of other faiths become victims of abuse. Most of all, we will not dismiss any victims of violence/abuse as somehow deserving of this treatment. We are our fellow man, and to allow abuse without united protest or action diminishes us all. Violence has no place in any religion.
Today, on the 90th anniversary of the Armistice of World War I, I watched a broadcast from Vimy, once the site of 300 days and nights of constant shelling and fighting, now the location of a memorial with row on row of white crosses. Visible on my television screen, but less well known, is a Muslim graveyard, and small mosque - also located at Vimy. The brotherhood of the dead crossed many boundaries in World War I. People called it “the war to end all wars”, only to learn that greater and more terrible wars were to come and that war cannot be ended by war.
I saw one of the last surviving soldiers of
the Great War, a man of 110, weep as he remembered holding the hand of a dying
comrade. What pain wars inflict even after the shelling stops! We
must not forget, we must remember. However, the word “remember” can
itself be exploited to inflict more pain. In the same BBC broadcast,
there was more news of fighting in
“This is what happened. We see the result. We will remember and learn.”
Now we have begun discussions with faith
leaders and representatives across
We do this so as not to break faith with
those who died. Let them sleep in
Walk in peace,