Malcolm X and Islam
The other day, I was watching a 20/20 special on Islam. It mentioned how Malcolm X was a prominent leader of Islam in his time, and how we need more leaders like him. I was interested by this discussion, and decided to learn more about Malcolm X in regards to Islam. Malcolm X was highly influenced by the religion of Islam, but it can be argued that the influence wasn’t always to the benefit of his cause. The influences came in different parts of his life; the first influence came while Malcolm was in prison and then later continued as he aided in the growth of the Nation of Islam. The second type of influence came when Malcolm went to the Islamic pilgrimage of Haj, and later became known as Al Hajj Malik al-Shabazz.
The way Malcolm was affected by Islam early in his life first started when he went to prison. He was exposed to the message of Islam, but not the Islam of the eastern world, but the Islam of Elijah Muhammad. After being released from prison Malcolm was able to educate himself in many different areas of studies as well as Islam. Malcolm preached the message because he believed it was the only religion that recognized and could allow the black race to grow. He was so engulfed by the idea of Black roots; this pride led him to instruct his fellow African Americans to accept the religion of their forefathers. So in this stage of his life, Islam acted as a tool for unifying the black race, and uprooting the heritage of his people.
The greatest area of influence that Islam had on Malcolm X came after he went on the pilgrimage of Hajj. Malcolm’s entire ideology was in the process of changing. His idea of black pride, and black supremacy was slowly beginning to decay. The Islam of the East portrayed to him the illustration of a melting pot; people of different races, ethnicities; all acting as one. Malcolm was amazed; he later was fascinated at how the people at the pilgrimage were acting equal, and promoting the idea that under God all were equal. As he mentions in his speech, “Whether we are Christians or Muslims or nationalists or agnostics or atheists, we must first learn to forget our differences”. This was a prominent goal throughout his life, and a main factor in Islam. In order for individuals to understand each other, they must learn about each other’s differences. This helped create a change in the policies he changed when he returned to the United States and branched away from the Nation of Islam. Malcolm then later established the Muslim Mosque, Inc. Malcolm began preaching the idea that when speaking of religion; the focus must remain on religion and refrain from ideas that would interfere on the focus of religion; politics, economics, and social and civil agendas. This message was limited and directed when the Muslims where inside of the mosque, but as soon as the services were over, and they had left the mosque, they could then engage the system.He mentions in his speech The Ballot or Bullet that:
“I would like to say, in closing, a few things concerning the Muslim Mosque, Inc., which we established recently in New York City. It’s true we’re Muslims and our religion is Islam, but we don’t mix our religion with our politics and our economics and our social and civil activities–not any more. We keep our religion in our mosque. After our religious services are over, then as Muslims we become involved in political action, economic action and social and civic action. We become involved with anybody, anywhere, any time and in any manner that’s designed to eliminate the evils, the political, economic and social evils that are afflicting the people of our community”.
This is the guideline of what Malcolm X based his journey of Islam on. When it comes to ” eliminating evils, the political, economic and social evils”, all the people of the community must come together regardless of their race or identity. Unity is the key!