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West London Islamic Centre & Jamia Masjid

Islamic Articles::Pillars of Faith

Malcolm X:The Shining Black Prince

With the Hajj season fast approaching, let us take a look at the historic presence of an individual whose life was transformed upon completion of this ancient ritual that mankind has been performing for centuries.

As ordained by Allah (swt) and explained by the Prophet (pbuh), the pilgrimage of Hajj is a pillar of Islam, that if performed correctly and accepted by Allah (swt), will mean that the person returns to his home in a state akin to a new born baby with no sins at all and futhermore the individual will attain nothing less than paradise. So who was the individual called Malik El-Shabazz and referred to in his eulogy as 'our shining black prince'.

'There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times. Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain — and we will smile. Many will say turn away — away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man — and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate — a fanatic, a racist — who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them: Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him.' (Ossie Davis-Malcolm X Eulogy)

His Belief

"Before I get involved in any thing nowadays, I have to straighten out my own position, which is clear. I am not a racist in any form whatsoever. I don't believe in any form of racism. I don't believe in any form of discrimination or segregation. I believe in Islam (which Iiteraly means submission and surrender to the will of God Almighty). I am a Muslim ( one who surrenders to the will of God). It just teaches us to believe in Allah as God." (Malcolm X, just eight days before his assassination, Detriot).

God Almighty says in the Qur'an the final revealed guidance for the whole of mankind:

"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male (Adam) and a female (Eve) and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other, (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)." (Al-Qur'an 49:13)

The Early Days

In 1925, Malcolm Little was born in Omaha, Nebraska, into a poverty-stricken family. Although the brightest in his class of white children, he was told that a "nigger" could never be more than a carpenter. After moving to Boston, he began a notorious life of crime: dope-pedlar, street-hustler, bootlegger, pimp and armed robber. He was finally caught and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

The Change

In the third year of his imprisonment, 'Satan' (as he was nicknamed) underwent a tremendous upheaval and joined the Nation of Islam. In his own words:

"You know what my life had been. Picking a lock to rob someone's house was the only way my knees had ever been bent before. I had to force myself to bend my knees. And waves of shame and embarrassment would force me back up. For evil to bend its knees, admitting its guilt, to implore the forgiveness of God, is the hardest thing in the world ... Again, again, I would force myself back down into the praying to Allah posture." (Malcolm X: The Autobiography)

The Nation of Islam

After prison, Malcolm became the main driving force behind the Nation of Islam, which he built into the most powerful black movement in America. He preached a message of hate and racism; the white men being devils, and the black men being gods.

Members of the Nation of Islam have never been considered Muslims by the Islamic World because they believe that: Allah came down to Earth as a man; Elijah Muhammad (their leader) is a sinless Prophet; and one race is superior to another. They convieniently side-step the first charter of equal rights as constituted by the final Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) during his own Hajj, on the mount of Arafat in what Muslims refer to as the last sermon, where he said,

'All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor does a black have any superiority over a white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim, which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.'

It was many years later that Malcolm realised this. Sex scandles surrounding Elijah Muhammad and his gross abuse of funds, drove the final nail home. He left the Nation of Islam in March 1964.

"I totally reject Elijah Muhammad's racist philosophy which he has labelled 'Islam' only to fool and misuse gullible people as he fooled and misused me ..., (Islam) doesn't use the colour of a man's skin to measure him ..., Islam judges a man by his intention, by his behaviour, by his deeds." (Malcolm X, New York Times & Audubon Ballroom)

The Hajj (Pilgrimage)

In his subsequent search for truth, Malcolm developed an interest in true Islam which led him to make pilgrimage to Makkah (the Hajj). Makkah proved to be revelation for him, and a major turning point in his life. He officially adapted Islam and changed his name to Malik El-Shabazz. In his own words:

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

The Holy Quran says, "In it are Signs Manifest; such as the Station of Abraham; whoever enters it attains security; Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah,- those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures." (Al-Qur'an 3:97)

Allah said: "And proclaim that the people shall observe the Hajj. They will come to you walking or riding on various exhausted (means of transportation). They will come from the farthest locations." (Al-Qur'an 22:27).

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 on e 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!" (I am present, O my 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 outlook 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.

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.

America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem ... I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practised by all colours together, irrespective of their colour ... 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.

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, irrespecitve of their color." (Malcolm X: The Autobiography)

The Return

After the Hajj, Malik EI-Shabazz toured several African states, before eventually coming back to America. Here, the radical change within him astonished the public. After consolidating the two organisations he had set up (Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organisation of Afro-American Unity), Malik EI-Shabazz proceeded upon a whirlwind tour of appearances up and down the country, motivated by his new found faith of Islam.

"And I know, too, that negroes would not rush to follow me into the orthodox Islam, which had given me the insight and perspective to see that black men and white men truly could be brothers. America's negroes - especially older negroes - are too indelibly soaked in double standard of oppression ... I said to Harlem street audiences that only when mankind would submit to One God, Who created all- only then would mankind even approach the 'peace of which so much talk could be heard ... but towards which so little action was taken."  (Autobiography, a few weeks before his murder)

The Last Months

Malik EI-Shabazz worked at a tremendous pace, often going without sleep and hardly seeing his family. He travelled abroad extensively, speaking in England, France, and many African states. By now he was well aware that his phone was tapped and his movements were carefully monitored. He was becoming too much of a threat, and he knew it.

The Assassination

On 21st February 1965 at the Audubon Ballroom, Malik El-Shabazz stood up and addressed a crowd. As he began with the traditional Muslim greeting "Ass lam 0 alaikum brothers and sisters" three men stood up and pumped sixteen bullets into his chest at close range. By the time Malik EI-Shabazz reached the hospital, he was dead. Amongst his last words to his biographer were:

"And if I can die 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." (The Autobiography)

The much lauded 2008 electoral victory secured by the black democratic presidential candidate Barak Hussein Obama is a testimony and fruition of the work, dedication and sacrafice of civil rights leaders such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King.

The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said; 'Whoever states "Suhan Allah Wabihamdi" one hundred times a day, will be forgiven all his sins even if they are as much as the foam on the sea.' [Sahih Bukhari]