Malcolm X and The Nation of Islam
Malcolm loved the organization and quickly advanced within the ranks. He started out as a minister of a small Nation of Islam Temple in Detroit.
But his fiery and passionate speeches made him very popular. He soon became minister of the largest Nation of Islam temple in New York City. And from there, he eventually became the Nation of Islam’s national spokesman. As Malcolm X grew, so did the Nation of Islam.
When he first joined, The Nation was a small organization. But with Malcolm’s determination, zeal and motivation, it grew exponentially. During the ten years that he was with the organization, the Nation of Islam grew from 500 to 25000 members.
Malcolm X was considered by many to be the de-facto leader of the Nation of Islam. As Elijah Muhammad grew older and sicker, he was certainly the most prominent and visible face of the Nation.
But with his increased influence came jealousy. Many people within The Nation spread rumors and lies about Malcolm X. In addition to this, the FBI and NYPD had infiltrated the Nation and planted informants and spies.
Malcolm ignored the rumors for as long as he could, but something happened that changed his entire outlook. He learned that his leader, Elijah Muhammad, had committed adultery on several occasions. As mentioned above, this was a cardinal sin within the Nation.
Though Malcolm tried to come to terms with his leaders actions, he became disillusioned. And then President Kennedy was assassinated. Elijah Muhammad ordered all of his ministers not to speak on the President’s death.
Malcolm X knew of the order, but when he was asked by a reporter about it, he replied that Kennedy’s assassination was a case of “chicken’s coming home to roost”.
Elijah Muhammad ordered Malcolm X be silenced for 3 months, meaning he could give no interviews or public talks. At first Malcolm complied with the order, but he eventually went against it. He broke with the Nation of Islam and decided to start his own organization.
El Hajj Malik Shabbazz
Malcolm became a Sunni Muslim and decided to make the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj). While in Mecca, he learned that Islam is a universal religion that goes beyond nationality and race. He saw people of many different races and colors at the Kaaba in Mecca. He believed that only the Islam religion could bring racial harmony to America.
Having realized that The Nation did not practice true Muslim beliefs, Malcolm traveled throughout Africa and the Middle East. He wanted to bridge the gap between African-Americans and Africans. He returned to the United States with hopes of building his new organization and implementing these goals.
But that was not to be.
The tensions between Malik Shabazz (Malcolm’s new Muslim name) and the Nation of Islam continued. Death threats were made against him and his family, and his home was firebombed. This all culminated with his assassination while delivering a speech in New York City.
Malcolm X is responsible for the rise of Black Pride and Black Nationalism in the United States.
But more importantly, I believe Malcolm X is responsible for the upsurge of Sunni Islam amongst African Americans. His influence is especially felt in the northern states were there are several memorials to him and his legacy.
Ultimately, El-Hajj Malik Shabazz a.k.a. Malcolm X a.k.a. Malcolm Little is the most influential American Muslim of all time. May Allah have mercy on him. Ameen.