The Ephraim Bahar Cultural Center’s annual Walk for Moral Excellence on July 29 drew hundreds of community members who came together to encourage an end to violence and positive change in society. The aim of the event according to the Bahar Center is to continue its relationship building with the local community to help facilitate a more safe and prosperous neighborhood and city.
“We are in the heart of a warzone in Chicago.” Imam Omar Abdul Karim, Executive Director of the Ephraim Bahar Cultural Center said. The center, which is located at 2525 W. 71st St., is situated in one of Chicago’s most violence-prone neighborhoods. “This is why we walk for moral excellence.”
Imam Omar emphasized the importance of Muslims influencing positive change in their communities. “It was the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who said: “Whoso-ever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” He followed the hadith by encouraging Muslims to take definitive and positive steps in changing society for the better. “We want to help. We want to be and are a part of the solution, so people can see how our solutions work.”
During the walk, hopeful messages were displayed on signs such as “Save our children, save our future,” “Freedom means self-responsibility,” “Stop the violence,” and “Moral life is intelligent life.” The crowd chanted “What do we want? Moral Excellence! When do we want it? Now!” as they began the morning walk from 69th Street and Western. The walk ended at Marquette Park and speakers representing community organizations such as the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC), the Chicagoland Shura Council, Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), CMECCA, Islamic Center of Wheaton (ICW), and shared inspiring words about unity, community, and our collective responsibility to make a positive difference in the world.
As part of the day-long event, the Ephraim Bahar Cultural Center also distributed nearly 150 backpacks filled with school supplies and provided meals for over 500 people.
The Center’s Walk for Moral Excellence began over 15 years ago with only 6 people marching on a sidewalk to encourage positive change in their neighborhoods, community, and society. The Center’s mission has always been to keep its doors open to the neighboring community, welcoming them to utilize their facility for block club meetings. “We’re here to build better relationships in our community. We’re here to make life better for our neighbors.”
The center is following up on the walk with a community social this weekend in which neighbors will enjoy games, activities, halal food, and another distribution of backpacks and school supplies.