Sunday, January 08, 2012

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

In my mind, Malcolm X stood for justice, humanity, and confidence. I read his 'Autobiography' book as fourteen year old and it made a lasting impression on my thinking. Almost no Muslim leaders existed in the early 90s or were visible on a national scale.

I'd like to share some excerpts of from the Malcolm X biography by Manning Marble that was released last year.

This first section is Malcolm's experience during Hajj...

Still, the powerful sight of thousands of people of different nationalities and ethnicities praying in unison to the same God deeply moved Malcolm, as he struggled to reconcile the few remaining fragments of NOI dogma he still believed in with the universalism he saw embodied in the hajj. Like many tourists, Malcolm purchased dozens of postcards and send them to acquaintances back home. These letters revealed the profound shift in his attitudes about white people. Writing to Alex Haley on April 25, Malcolm confessed, "I began to perceive that 'white man,' as commonly used, means complexion only secondarily; primarily it describes attitudes and actions." In the Muslim world he had witnessed individuals who in the United States would be classified as white but who "were more genuinely brotherly than anyone else had ever been." Malcolm was quick to credit Islam with the power of transform whites into nonracists. This revelation reinforced Mlacolm's newfound decision to separate himself completely from the Nation of Islam, not simply from its leadership, but froom its theology."

The near 500 page biography of Malcolm briefly covers his Hajj but Marble aptly notes how the experience was a shift in way of thinking about white and black. Was Malcolm still a black nationalist? Irrefutably yes, but his thinking of what 'black power' meant was not simplistic as 'hate' of white people just on the basis of them having white complexion skin but the embodiment of denying others, like blacks in America or non-whites internationally, their rights - be it civil rights in America or self rule internationally.

One final excerpt I must share...

[After the Hajj] Malcolm then flew to Medina, Saudia Arabia on April 25, and en route he continued to make detailed notes on his travel diary. He was convinced on the pilgrimage "everyone forgets Self and turns to God and out this submission to the One God comes a brotherhood in which all are equals." He embraced an inner peace he had not known since the years he was incarcerated in Massachusetts . "there is no greater serenity of mind." Malcolm reflected, "than when one can shut the hectic noise and pace of the materialistic outside world, and seek inner peace within one-self." Late that evening Malcolm wrote, "The very essences of the Islam religion in teaching the Oneness of God, gives the Believer genuine, voluntary obligations towards his fellow man (all of whom are One Human Family, brothers and sisters to each other) ... the True Believer recognizes the Oneness of all Humanity."

I think Malcolm captured the beauty of Islam: that submission to One God helps us realize that were all God's creation and to be respected and treated equally.



At 9:54 PM, Anonymous anver said...

nice book, very inspired

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At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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