1019 GMT March 31, 2020
Friday night, the 40-year-old father of two concluded his religious journey at the Islamic Association of Greater Detroit in Rochester Hills, where he is the muezzin, the name for the person who recites the call to prayer five times a day announcing to the faithful it's time to worship God. He's believed to be the first person to recite the prayer in all 50 states.
'It was amazing,' Syed said of his 35-day trip across America. 'It was an epic journey on some many levels.'
Syed interacted with Muslims of different races and ethnicities, and many non-Muslims as well, striking up conversations in taxis, airports and mosques, Detroit Free Press reported.
'I was in awe of the generosity and hospitality and love from people I never knew before,' Syed said.
In Hawaii, he recited the Muslim call to prayer after meeting non-Muslims on the beach. In California, he said it inside a prayer room at Disneyland. And he met with the families of victims of hate crimes: in Chapel Hill, N.C., at the mosque attended by three Muslim students shot dead in January, and in Kansas City with the father of a Somalian-American boy killed in a hit-and-run.
His journey came at a time when Islam was once again in the spotlight. The Boston Marathon bomber verdict happened near the beginning of the trip, and the shooting in Garland, Texas, outside an anti-Islam cartoon event, happened near the end.
At the start, anti-Islam bloggers circulated an article bashing Syed's trip, sparking concern he could be attacked by haters. But Syed said he had positive experiences.
In addition to reciting the call to prayer, Syed delivered the last speech of Mohammed [PBUH) in mosques, a speech that he said called for racial and gender equity, fairness and peace. Syed said that Prophet Mohammed's [PBUH] message is needed more than ever, recalling that people cried in mosques when he delivered it.
Syed said he hoped the trip helped promote harmony at a time of division. Referring to the attack at the cartoon event, he said: The anti-Islam cartoonists 'are hatemongers, and the people who reacted to it are hatemongers. It's just sad this is the world we live in. Faith is supposed to bring people together.'
Syed hopes to write a book and produce a documentary about his experiences. The logistics of the travels were difficult. But with the help of his faith, he got through.
Syed said: 'It was not easy, but ... God always comes on time.'