إِنَّ هَذَا الْقُرْآنَ يِهْدِي لِلَّتِي هِيَ أَقْوَمُ وَيُبَشِّرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ الَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ الصَّالِحَاتِ
أَنَّ لَهُمْ أَجْرًا كَبِيرًا
“Indeed, this Quran guides humanity to that which is most upright and gives glad tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds, that for them there is a great reward of everlasting delight in Paradise awaiting in the Hereafter.”
~Surat Al-Isra’, Verse 9
Last month marked the 56th year since a beautiful soul was brought back to his Lord. This beautiful soul that I am referring to is none other than El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, otherwise known as Malcolm X. I chose this verse from Surat Al-Isra’ because it summarizes the journey of El-Hajj Malik.
El-Hajj Malik grew up in an era of racism, watching his own people be oppressed and segregated through Jim Crow Laws just because of the color of their skin. Much of his life was spent in crime due to societal pressures, until he was eventually arrested for robbery charges. While in prison, Malcolm X was exposed to a different version of Islam, one that is not of the true mainstream Islam we know, it was called the Nation of Islam. After serving his sentence, he joined this organization.
The Nation of Islam was led by Elijah Muhammad and held very extreme views of race. They believed in racial separatism which meant that white people were a race of “devils” and were inferior to the black race. Malcolm X quickly elevated and became a top leader for the organization. Eventually, Malcolm became publicly known for his strong affiliation with the nation and grew the NOI to the large movement it became. After some time, Malcolm realized that Elijah Muhammad’s version of Islam was not what he was looking for and broke apart from the Nation. Soon after, he embarked on his own journey to Hajj, in search of the true Islam.
This pilgrimage is what finally brought El-Hajj Malik to the true, beautiful Islam. In his letter from Hajj, he claimed “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. This is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem.”
What an amazing journey for one man. A man that once was a black man in America committing crimes, then arrested for robbery, then joined an organization that followed extreme racist views, has become a world renowned black Muslim Civil Rights activist. One may find it very hard to believe that an individual can have such an experience searching for the truth, Islam. However, we must remind ourselves of this Aya from Surat Al-Isra’: “Indeed this Quran guides humanity to that which is the most upright…” So long as Allah (swt) wills, He will guide anyone on the straight path, regardless of how hard it may be for that individual. So what should we get from the amazing journey of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz? Allah (swt) guides anyone He wills, and that the Quran is the best of guidance. Nothing is impossible, Allah (swt) took Malcolm X all of the way to Mecca to perform Hajj just to guide him on the straight path. Remember what makes Muslims unique: unity and brotherhood.
By Ahmad Salah