Meet the Visionary Behind 36 Masajid in Canada

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    Allama Syed Badiuddin Soharwardy

    The Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “Allah builds a palace in paradise for him who builds a Masjid” (Ibn Majah). Let me introduce you to someone who has built 36 Masajid in Canada, he is the one and only Allama Syed Badiuddin Soharwardy. The founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, he is a scholar, a shaykh of the Sohrawardi Sufi order. His life and work show how a pious and religiously educated family produce strong servant leaders. Allama Soharwardy is an outstanding, successful inspirational leader. I met him in Canada last year, I was impressed with his charisma, sincerity and leadership style, so I invited him to visit the UK.

    The cosmopolitan city of Karachi, Pakistan is home to more than 15 million people today. A respected scholarly Syed family – people who are descendants of the blessed beloved Muhammad (peace be upon him) – settled here after the partition of Pakistan and India in 1947. Allama Syed Riazuddin Soharwardy became the Imam of the Jamia Baghdadi Masjid where he started Dar-ul-Aloom Soharwardia, a traditional Islamic seminary. He was a man of piety and poetry. Syed Badiuddin was born in Karachi in 1955. During his teens, he went to school and studied at the Dar-ul-uloom as well.

    Further studies and early academic career

    He has a BA in Islamic Studies from the University of Karachi as well as a degree in Electrical Engineering from NED University of Engineering and Technology in Karachi. He continued his studies in America gaining an MSc in Management Engineering and a M.Eng in Project Management. From 1987 to 1995 he was a lecturer at the King Saud University in Riyad, where he authored a few academic papers on Information Technology Management.

    Relocating to Canada and achieving success in Project Management

    He moved to Canada in 1995. Initially, he worked at DEC and then IBM the computing giant. Once settled in Calgary, he was involved in community development. As a community leader, he guided his people to face the challenges of living in the West. He held monthly Darse Quran gatherings in various cities from the East to the West Coast of Canada. This way he kept in touch with many people. When the students expressed a need for a masjid, Syed Sahib would spring into action. He would contact the local estate agent and seek a list of properties for sale in that area. Once he had identified the right property, he would pay a deposit and proceed with the purchase. Syed Badiuddin’s success in interfaith, advocacy for Muslims, Quran teaching and setting up Masajid made him a popular and well-liked Imam.

    Community development and Dawah work

    Syed Badiuddin is a strong supporter of interfaith cooperation. As a leader of Canada’s Multifaith Walk Against Violence, he walked 6,500 kilometres across Canada over nine months. He aimed to draw attention to the problems of child abuse, domestic violence, elderly abuse, gang violence, bullying, terrorism, and war.

    He has founded 36 Masajid in Canada from the East in Halifax to the West in British Columbia. Six of the Masajid run food banks serving the local area. Syed Badiuddin is always on a noble journey, dotting Canada with the houses of Allah, the holiest plot of land, he is committed to building yet more Masajid. His energy to provide this vital facility to the Canadian Muslim community is an amazing sacrifice. He carries out his work under the banner of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada.

    Love of the beloved Prophet ﷺ

    His father Syed Riazuddin Soharwardy was a poet, who wrote poetry dedicated to praising the beauty of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). His father would also beautifully sing them. Syed Badiuddin’s younger brother is the world-renowned Naat artist Syed Fasihudin Soharwardy. One of his Naats has garnered over 31 million views on YouTube. No wonder the love of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is part of his DNA. His motto is “Only for the love of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, Islam, Muslims and Canada”. He expressed this by starting Eid Milad-un-Nabi celebrations across the country including conferences and Parades. All the Masajid under the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada run a similar calendar:

    • Annual Mi’raj-un-Nabi events in the month of Rajab to celebrate the Prophet’s ascension.
    • Annual Khatm-e-Nabuwat Conference to emphasise the doctrine of finality of the Prophet.
    • Khulafa-e-Rashideen events to teach about the excellent lives and works of the Companions.
    • Giyarwi Sharif, the monthly spiritual development programme.
    • Muharram commemorations of the sacrifices of the Prophet’s family.

    Courageous, bold and imaginative

    Allama Badiuddin Soharwardy is a remarkable man, for 30 years he has selflessly served his fellow citizens. He is an imaginative leader. Pir Syed Lakhte Hassanain who is the chairman of Muslims Hands is a frequent visitor to Canada, he said, “I have visited several Masajid built by Syed Badiuddin and found that people pay homage to him for his selfless and tireless work. The Muslims who came to Canada were professionals, they came to build prosperous lives, but Syed Badiuddin has preserved the faith of their children. The future generations will appreciate Syed Sahib’s work.”

    Allah is with the righteous

    They say one way to get to know someone well is to travel with them. In my travels with Syed Badiuddin, I found him to be a sincere person, full of passion for good, a true Mujahid, a tireless worker and a servant of humanity. So, here is a role model for Muslim leaders, someone who even challenged extremists by publishing a book titled “Defeating Hate – A Comprehensive Rebuttal to Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS and Islamophobes”. He defended the Quran and the honour of the Prophet (peace be upon him). He is someone who champions Interfaith Dialogue and community cohesion. The Quran comments, “Those who strive and work hard for our sake we show them many ways to success. Allah is with the righteous” (Ankabut: 69).