Malcolm X

Why I Embraced Islam?

Hajj Malik Shabazz
(Malcolm X)

“The color-blindness of the Muslim world’s religious society and the color-blindness of the Muslim world’s human society; these two influences had each day been making a greater impact and an increasing persuasion against my previous way of thinking…

There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual. Displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white.”

– Hajj Malik (Malcolm X)

Brief Chronological History

1925, May 19Born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska
1940Drops out of school at age 15
1946Convicted of burglary and sent to prison
1949-1951Studies the Nation of Islam
1952Leaves prison, dedicates himself to building Nation of Islam, changes name to Malcolm X
1963, Dec 4Suspended from the Nation of Islam
1964, MarchLeaves Nation of Islam, starts the Muslim Mosque, Inc.
1964, April 22Makes his Hajj and becomes Al Hajj Abdul Malik Shabazz
1964, June 28Forms the Organization of Afro American Unity
1964, July 17Speaks at the Organization of African Unity in Cairo
1964, Aug. 13U.S. State and Justice Department take notice of his influence on African Leaders at the U.N.
1965, Feb. 13Al Hajj Malik’s house in Queens, N.Y. bombed
1965, Feb. 21Al Hajj Abdul Malik Shabazz was assassinated in New York

On May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm Little was born to Reverend Earl Little and Louise Little. The Rev. Little, who believed in self-determination, worked for the unity of Black people. Malcolm was raised in a background of ethnic awareness and dignity, wherein violence sprang from white racists to stop such Black people, like the Rev. Little, from preaching for the black cause.

When Malcolm was six years old, his father was murdered by white racists. The history of Malcolm’s family tree shows that his dedication to Black people, like that of his father, may have been motivated by the total oppression of his family. By the tender age of six, Malcolm, his parents and brothers and sisters, had been shot at, burned out of home, harassed, and threatened, culminating in the death of his father.

Some years later, Malcolm became a “drop-out” from school at the age of 15. Learning the ways of the streets Malcolm came to know the hoodlums, thieves, dope peddlers, and pimps. Convicted of burglary at 20, he was in prison until he was 27 years old and was released in 1952 a changed man. During his prison stay he attempted to educate himself. Just as important, it was at this time of imprisonment that he came into the knowledge of the Black Muslim sect.

Upon learning about the Black Muslims, Malcolm studied the teachings fully. When released from prison he went to Detroit, joined the daily activities of the sect, and was given instructions by Elijah Muhammad himself. Malcolm’s personal commitment helped build the organization nationally while making him an international figure. Envy and other problems forced Malcolm to leave the Black sect with intentions of starting his own organization on March 12, 1964.

“I feel like a man who has been asleep somewhat and under someone else’s control. I feel what I’m thinking and saying now is for myself. Before, it was for and by guidance of another, now I think with my own mind.”

– Malcolm X

Malcolm was 38 years old when he left Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam. It is then that Malcolm reflects on event that happened prior to leaving. “At one or another college or university, usually in the informal gatherings after I had spoken, perhaps a dozen generally white-complexioned people would come up to me, identifying themselves as Arabian, Middle Eastern or North African Muslims who happened to be visiting, studying or living in the United States. They had said to me that, my white- indicting statements was sincere in considering myself a Muslim–and they felt if I was exposed to what they always called “true Islam,” I would “understand it, and embrace it.” Automatically, as a follower of Elijah Muhammad, I had bridled whenever this was said. But in the privacy of my own thoughts after several of these experiences, I did question myself: if one was sincere in professing a religion, why should he balk at broadening his knowledge of that religion?

Those orthodox Muslims whom I had met, one after another, had urged me to meet and talk with a Dr. Mahmoud Youssef Shawarbi…Then one day Dr. Shawarbi and I were introduced by a newspaperman. He was cordial. He said he had followed me in the press; I said I had been told of him, and we talked for 15 or 20 minutes. We both had to leave to make appointments we had, when he dropped on me something whose logic never would get out of my head. He said, “No man has believed perfectly until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”

The pilgrimage to Mecca, known as the Hajj, is a religious obligation that every Muslim fulfills, if humanly able, at least once in his or her lifetime. The Holy Quran says it,

“Pilgrimage to the Ka’ba is a duty men owe to God; those who are able, make the journey.” God said: “And proclaim the pilgrimage among them; they will come to you on foot and upon each lean camel, they will come from every deep ravine.”

It was after leaving the Nation of Islam that Malcolm became an Orthodox Muslim, made a holy pilgrimage, traveled through the Mid-East and Africa, and talked with many diplomats and heads of state. The effects it had and his change was clear in his attitude, words, and actions to the degree that many were confused as to what his new program was. The Quran was his guidepost and historical as well as personal experience made him the most dynamic leader of the Black Revolution.

Malcolm made the pilgrimage that every Muslim must make at least once in a life time to the holy city of Mecca. It is during this time that Malcolm reflects on his pilgrimage to Mecca. “Every one of the thousands at the airport, about to leave for Jeddah, was dressed this way. You could be a king or a peasant and no one would know. Some powerful personages, who were discreetly pointed out to me,had on the same thing I had on. Once thus dressed, we all had begun intermittently calling out ‘Labbayka! (Allahumma) Labbayka!’ (Here I come, O Lord!) Packed in the plane were white, black, brown, red, and yellow people, blue eyes and blond hair, and my kinky red hair–all together, brothers! All honoring the same God, all in turn giving equal honor to each other…”

“That is when I first began to reappraise the ‘white man’. It was when I first began to perceive that ‘white man’, as commonly used, means complexion only secondarily; primarily it described attitudes and actions. In America, ‘white man’ meant specific attitudes and actions toward the black man, and toward all other non-white men. But in the Muslim world, I had seen that men with white complexions were more genuinely brotherly than anyone else had ever been. That morning was the start of a radical alteration in my whole out look about ‘white’ men.”

“There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue- eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white.”

“America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white–but the ‘white’ attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.”

“Each hour here in the Holy Land enables me to have greater spiritual insights into what is happening in America between black and white. The American Negro never can be blamed for his racial animosities–he is only reacting to four hundred years of the conscious racism of the American whites. But as racism leads America up the suicide path, I do believe, from the experiences that I have had with them, that the whites of the younger generation, in the colleges and universities, will see the handwriting on the wall and many of them will turn to the spiritual path of truth–the only way left to America to ward off the disaster that racism inevitably must lead to.”

“…I believe that God now is giving the world’s so-called ‘Christian’ white society its last opportunity to repent and atone for the crimes of exploiting and enslaving the world’s non-white peoples. It is exactly as when God gave Pharaoh a chance to repent. But Pharaoh persisted in his refusal to give justice to those who he oppressed. And, we know, God finally destroyed Pharaoh.”

“I will never forget the dinner at the Azzam home with Dr. Azzam. The more we talked, the more his vast reservoir of knowledge and its variety seemed unlimited. He spoke of the racial lineage of the descendants of Muhammad (PBUH) the Prophet, and he showed how they were both black and white. He also pointed out how color, and the problems of color which exist in the Muslim world, exist only where, and to the extent that, that area of the Muslim world has been influenced by the West. He said that if one encountered any differences based on attitude toward color, this directly reflected the degree of Western influence.”

Malcolm also took time to recognize the contribution that his sister, Ella had on his life. “I couldn’t get over what she had done. She had played a very significant role in my life. No other woman ever was strong enough to point me in directions; I pointed women in directions. I had brought Ella into Islam, and now she was financing me to Mecca.

It was during his pilgrimage that he began to write some letters to his loyal assistants at the newly formed Muslim Mosque in Harlem. He asked that his letter be duplicated and distributed to the press. “Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and the overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this Ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad, and all the other Prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors…”

“You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to re-arrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for me. Despite my firm convictions, I have been always a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.”

“During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept in the same bed (or on the same rug)–while praying to the same God-with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the actions and in the deeds of the ‘white’ Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan, and Ghana.”

“We were truly all the same (brothers)–because their belief in one God had removed the ‘white’ from their minds, the ‘white’ from their behavior, and the ‘white’ from their attitude.”

“I could see from this, that perhaps if white Americans could accept the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the Oneness of Man–and cease to measure, and hinder, and harm others in terms of their ‘differences’ in color.”

“With racism plaguing America like an incurable cancer, the so-called ‘Christian’ white American heart should be more receptive to a proven solution to such a destructive problem. Perhaps it could be in time to save America from imminent disaster– the same destruction brought upon Germany by racism that eventually destroyed the Germans themselves.”

“….They asked me what about the Hajj had impressed me the most…I said, “The Brotherhood! The people of all races, colors, from all over the world coming together as one! It has proved to me the power of the One God.” “…All ate as one, and slept as one. Everything about the pilgrimage atmosphere accented the Oneness of Man under One God.”

Malcolm returned from the Hajj pilgrimage with new spiritual incite as Hajj Malik Al-Shabazz with the knowledge that the struggle had increased from civil rights of a nationalist, to human rights of an internationalist and a humanitarian. The question had been raised concerning the support of African and Muslim people even in the United Nations on the treatment of minorities in America. Malcolm was Hajj Malik, a true Muslim and a threat to the immoral establishment of America.

Malcolm in becoming Hajj Malik, called America (Black and White) to the true religion of humanity. He saw Islam as the answer to individual and national problems such as racism, and perhaps the only hope for America.

“If I can die having brought any light, having exposed any meaningful truth that will help to destroy the racist cancer that is malignant in the body of America, then all of the credit is due to Allah. Only the mistakes have been mine.”

-Al Hajj Malik Shabazz

Al Hajj Malik Shabazz was assassinated on February 25, 1965, at a rally. Thanks to God, he performed the Hajj and was guided to the true religion of Islam.