Born in poverty and obscurity on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm
Little, the fourth child of Earl and Louise Little, rose to become one of the
most dynamic Black Nationalist leaders of his time. He felt the sting of racism
and was denied opportunity from his earliest years, from most, if not all, of
the existing institutions of the day. Without the possibility, the hope, of
upward mobility, with less than a ninth grade education, a life of crime was practically inevitable for
After his arrest and subsequent incarceration, Malcolm began reading a variety
of literature made available to the prison by a rich philanthropist.
Religion, race and world history were his favorite subjects. He also had time
enough to review his old life-style. He began receiving letters from various
family members. Two of his brothers, Philbert and Reginald, began writing him
about a religious leader named Elijah Muhammad. At first he thought it was a
scam to get his prison sentence cut short. But Malcolm began listening to his
younger brother Reginald, who explained about his new faith. And Malcolm became
fascinated with the doctrine taught by Elijah Muhammad. Soon after, he embraced
the Lost and Found Nation of Islam, based in Chicago and headed by Elijah
Muhammad. Malcolm received his X symbolizing his unknown African tribal name.
It was also a candidates first step into the Nation.
From the time of his release from prison, in 1952, until he left the Black
Muslims, (as the followers of Elijah Muhammad were called in those days),
Malcolm X became not only the organizations most articulate spokesman, but one
of its architects and most ardent supporters. Malcolms only concern was to
change the condition of his people, long victimized by social injustice and
institutionalized racism. His approach to this state of affairs was to focus
attention on them, by reminding the powers of his day of their responsibility
for those conditions. He stressed the importance of not perpetuating such
conditions because of self-hate, ignorance, and substance abuse.
After falling out with Elijah Muhammad in 1963 and leaving the Nation of Islam,
Malcolm undertook the journey that every person of the Islamic faith must, as a
religious obligation. The Hajj or pilgrimage to the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
These two events culminated in a complete turnaround in Malcolms views on both
his religion and his approach to the problems of racism and oppression of blacks
While performing the pilgrimage rites at the first house of worship built for
the worship of the One God, Malcolm saw something he had only heard about, or
dreamed of before: the true equality of man, as believers of all colors, and all
social levels, stood to worship... the One God.
Understanding the true message of Islam as taught by the Prophet Muhammad (p)1 ,
Malcolm now saw that the problems facing man were usually the direct result of
the rejection of those beliefs and practices commanded by God from the earliest
times. He also understood that all men could live together as one when they
accepted the belief that the best of men are those who sincerely worship God and
maintain the duties God has placed on men regarding their interaction and their
relationship with one another.
In his own words, as told to Alex Haley, Malcolm wrote Never have I witnessed
such sincere hospitality and such 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 and all the other Prophets of Holy scriptures. For the past week
I have been truly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed
all around me by people of all colors. I have been blessed to visit the Holy
City of Mecca ... 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 practicing 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, even eaten with people who in America would have been
considered white, but the white attitude had been removed from their minds
by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen such sincere and true
brotherhood, practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.
You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what
I have seen and experienced has forced me to rearrange much of the thought
patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions.
Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts,
and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds. I
have always kept an open mind, a flexibility that must go hand in hand with
every form of the intelligent search for truth.
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
What better testament could there be to the unifying power of Islam, the faith
of over one billion people, comprising one fifth of the human race. This was the
only faith Malcolm believed in, one that could rid the world of the evils of
racism. Islam is a faith that rejects the ideas of inherent racial or
nationalistic superiority and that acknowledges the nobility of all men as their
birthright. This was the only religion whose message was powerful, yet subtle,
enough to capture the heart of this man possessing an indomitable spirit, of
resolute convictions and of faith in the Almighty Creator of the Universe.
The change of his name from Malcolm X to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz symbolized his
final stop on the journey from the darkness of erroneous beliefs to the truth
and the light of Islam.
There is one verse in the Glorious Quran, which not only restates the common
origin of man, explains the division of humanity into nations, or race and
tribes, tells us that the object and purpose of this division was also the
ultimate unification of humanity, but goes a step further: It points out to us
the one and only criterion, the only standard by which man is judged by god, and
thus by which we should also judge our fellowman.
you will presently see, ( THIS CRITERION IS NOT HIS COLOR, NOR HIS
RACE, NOT HIS SOCIAL STANDING OR CASTE, NOT EVEN HIS SKILL AND THE
DEGREE OF HIS INTELLIGENCE ) . It is something which to achieve lies
within reach of every human being, black or brown, white or yellow,
rich or poor, if only he made an effort to cultivate it within
Says the Glorious Quran:
O mankind we created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made
you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other. Verily the most
honored 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-Quran
This verse of the Holy Quran is the answer of Islam to racism, an answer which,
as far as the Muslim community is concerned, did not remain a pious exhortation
but sounded the death knell of racial discrimination in the world of Islam as
borne out not only by the example set by the Prophet Mohammed (p); but also
subsequent events in the history of all Muslim nations and by the general
attitude of the Muslims until the present day.
The Muslim community would like to invite every one to the light of faith,
reason and humanity, to the light of Islam!
1 (p) here stands for peace be upon him