Anyone who knows about the life of Malcolm X will know that his stance, before he was assassinated, was that if America was to understand Islam, it would erase the race problems in America. 55 years after Malcolm X was shot and killed, his words still resonate with American society even today. In light of the George Floyd protests across America, this article explores why Malcolm X was right over 5 decades ago.
During the early part of Malcolm X’s life after he spent time in prison, he began educating himself. He joined a cult named ‘Nation of Islam’ who, despite the name, are not considered Muslims for the heretic beliefs they have regarding the denial of the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ finality of prophethood and their strange beliefs about Allah.
For years Malcolm X harboured a reactionary racist position against white people, believing that they were inherently evil. At the time in America, racism was part of society. Black people were segregated from white people and not allowed to share public transport, drinking fountains, restaurants or go to the same schools and university as white people. While slavery had been abolished nearly a century before, by Abraham Lincoln, racism was ingrained in American society. The civil rights movement achieved much and managed to end most segregation and give black people equal rights.
In 1964 Malcolm X realised that the prophet of the Nation of Islam, Elijah Muhammad was involved appropriate behaviour and several extramarital affairs. When Malcolm X reassessed his position he left the Nation of Islam and found true orthodox Islam and converted.
After his conversion to Islam, Malcolm X went on pilgrimage. A journey which would change his outlook on race relations forever. On the yearly Muslim pilgrimage, Hajj, Malcolm X saw how Muslims prayed side by side with other Muslims regardless of their colour. Black people prayed with white people who prayed with Asians; all the same before Allah.
“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.
During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept on the same rug, while praying to the same God, with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the deeds of the white Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana.
We were truly all the same, because their belief in one God had removed the white from their minds, the white from their behavior, and the white from their attitude. 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 color.”Malcolm X after returning from Hajj
This is because the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ eradicated racism in Muslim society over 1400 years ago. Among the companions of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, one of the closest of all companions was Bilal, a black former slave. Bilal had been a slave and treated unfairly in racist Arab society. At the advent of Islam this completely changed how Arabs dealt with race. Bilal was chosen as the one to call people to the prayer, he was one of the most senior companions and the Prophet ﷺ even told people Bilal will go to paradise.
When the Prophet ﷺ gave his well known “Farewell Sermon” he commanded that people relay what he had said in it to those who were not present. In it he declared:
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black, nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action”The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in his final sermon
This has meant that Islam eradicated racism from Arab society. We find that even in Saudi Arabia today black people are found in every part of society even in the most respected roles from Shaikh Adam Al Ethiopi, one of the most senior scholars in Saudi Arabia, to Adil al Kalbani, a former Imam of the Holiest site of Islam Masjid Al Haram.
Former rapper Mutah Beale, known also by his rap name “Napoleon” from Tupac’s outlaws, now lives in Saudi Arabia after converting to Islam. He explained in a recent video how living in Saudi he doesn’t experience any racism in Saudi and is given the same respect as any other person of any other complexion.
With race riots in America after the killing of George Floyd, Malcolm X’s words speak as if they had been said today not nearly 60 years ago. When he returned from Hajj he said “What the religion of Islam had done for those people over there, despite their complexion differences, it would probably do America well to study the religion of Islam and perhaps it will drive some of the racism from this society as it has driven racism from the Muslim society”