Wednesday, February 23, 2005

El-Hajj Malik al-Shabazz: Forty years since the death of Malcolm X

Salaam alaikum,

This entry is not going to be a brief overview of Malcolm X’s life. Most of the people who come across this blog already know all about that. We all know that after 40 years of his horrible and tragic murder, his message still lives inside of us. We all know how the player-pimp-hustler turned his life around and made the ultimate sacrifice for humanity and that he was willing to lose his life in order to speak truth to power. This entry is written in solemn reflection of a man who means so much to me as a Black woman, a Muslim and a human being.

I can’t help but wonder what kind of life would Malcolm X had lived if he was given the chance. While reading the last pages of his autobiography, I wonder if he would have mastered Arabic as he had hoped to. Would we have seen an older tall, light-skinned, red and gray haired sage conversing with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Iman Zaid Shakir? I imagine him as an older man tempered by the changes of time but still as poignant and articulate as ever and always able to silence an audience by his charismatic presence. I wish he were alive now. He would have been a wonderful spokesperson for Islam in America. On that dark day in September, he could have rose from the ashes as a familiar face of Islam and could easily convey to others how we want nothing to do with the murder of innocent people. I can only imagine what kind of man he would have evolved into but Allah knows and I know not. We leave this Earth for reasons only He knows and He is indeed most merciful.

But as with every great figure of history that God has graced us with, we must remember the message and life that they left behind. There are so many lessons that we as Muslims could learn from him but one that sticks out at this moment is that of self-determination. Brother Malcolm told us that instead of demanding that people accept us, we should cultivate a community life where we can be comfortable being ourselves and to stop proving our loyalty to those who have rendered the verdict “guilt by association”. It is great to fight for salah and hijab at work but even greater to have thriving Muslim communities where the businesses cater to our religious needs and not the other way around. He told us that we have to build our own houses. Muslims must have their own media and stop hoping for the major television networks to throw us a bone. Even a well-done newsletter or website can have an impact. We must build our own houses of worship where people are greeted with warm salaams and women feel just as welcomed as the men.

One of the many dangerous neuroses of Western colonialization is that some of us have been convinced that everything that we say, do, think and believe in must be measured up against the yardstick of Western society. And while I applaud the wonderful technological advances of the West and how people are living longer, healthier lives, I do not applaud the centuries of racism and the systematic destruction of indigenous peoples who dared to live according to their own values and traditions. I can not celebrate a society that claims to uphold and value of all lifestyles while not acknowledging the sins of its past and present genocidal tendencies. For those us who shed tears on September 11th and grieved along with our American family, we have no reason to be ashamed. If a few powerful men from a particular race can launch a pre-emptive attack against any country they will and still walk the Earth without shame, why should we, innocent Muslims, hang our heads for sins we have not committed? As Malcolm X once said, “We have been sitting down, lying down and bowing down for too long.” This is not the time to hide, remain silent and hope that this whole thing will blow over. If we do not raise up this deen, teach to others and ourselves, live it and believe in it, God will replace us with those who will. For this message of hope, love and courage that Brother Malcolm has given us, I am forever grateful.


Blogger blagdiblah said...

Our beloved Malcolm was a shaheed. May Allah have mercy on his soul. His life was a blessing for us.

12:31 PM  
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