Remembering Malcolm X
By Bilal Cleland is a keen reader, a prolific writer and a regular columnist of AMUST based in Melbourne.
This is a time when many of us remember the martyrdom of Malcolm X, El-Haj Malik El-Shabazz, on 21 February 1965.
The evolution of his development towards Islam is worthy of study as to how an individual can come to terms with oppression and how it might best be resisted.
The depth of white supremacist ideology in the United States has not been fully understood by those outside that divided nation, perhaps more divided now than it was in the period of the Civil Rights Movement.
The attitudes of the Nation of Islam of Elijah Muhammad can be understood from the viewpoint of visceral reaction to oppression, but they were not in accord with the teachings of the Quran or the example of the Prophet (s).
Malcolm’s Letter from Mecca, with which millions of Muslims are familiar, is a valid illustration of the evolution of his Islamic consciousness.
Letter from Mecca – Malcolm X
“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……
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 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.”
As he developed his awareness of the nature of oppression he broadened from a focus on the USA to its universal characteristics.
His extended journeys through Africa and the Middle East in that year of his Haj brought him into contact with people who had the same experience as him.
He saw that oppression had similar roots throughout the world.
He understood that the struggle of the African-Americans for civil rights should be transformed into a struggle for international human rights.