His friend and widow talk about his respect for Islam
– Originally published on December 9th, 1992 in The Battalion
By Anas Ben-Musa
The current interest in the life of the Malcolm X from various fads and films has created some misperceptions, declared his friend, Imam W. Deen Mohammed.
W.D. Mohammed is the son of Elijah Muhammad, the late leader of the Nation of Islam. W.D. Mohammed knew Malcolm from 1952 until his assassination. They became good friends when Malcolm worked for the Nation of Islam.
W.D. Mohammed stated most intellectuals interested in the life of Malcolm are trying to make it a “black thing.”
“Malcolm was a person drawn more to Islam than anything else,” W.D. explained. “He respected Islam more than anything else.”
Many African-Americans are not focused on Malcom, W.D. asserted. Rather, they are focused on Africa and the idea of African-Americans having their own Islam, he said.
“They are going into myths and creating their own stories of Islam,” W.D. Mohammed clarified. “This discredits the Islamic faith and discredits interest in Africa. A real intellectual accepts the truth.”
Malcolm traveled to Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 1964 with the help of two Egyptian friends to learn more about Islam, W.D. Mohammed said.
“He returned convinced that he should not be identified with that facet of Islam that was surrounded by misinformation,” W.D. Mohammed said.
“The pilgrimage helped clarify his views,” said Malcolm’s widow, Dr. Betty Shabazz.
W.D. said Malcolm realized the meaning of being a Muslim and the diversity and history of the Muslim world.
“Malcolm contributed to broadening American people’s minds to face the reality of the Muslim world,” W.D. reaffirmed. “There is a great, big Muslim world out there of over 1 billion people. Malcolm helped bring that out.”
“He has a great impact on all people, not just a particular organization or religious affiliation,” Dr. Shabazz said.
W.D. indicated many people try to follow Malcolm but fail because they are not truthful to themselves or what’s going on around them.
Malcolm was a man with a brilliant mind, W.D. revealed.
“He was a person with an independent mind, a person who was trying to get somewhere, W.D. stated.
“My husband did what he had to do,” Dr. Shabazz said. “He paid a debt to our ancestors and their efforts. He was a committed man.”
Malcolm’s deeply religious beliefs caused him to break away from the Nation of Islam in 1964.
“Malcolm was a man going through changes,” W.D revealed, “He changed from the old idea of the Nation of Islam to the universal understanding of real Islam.”
He said Malcolm even adopted the name to Malik Shabazz.
“He changed his name before he broke away from the Nation of Islam,” W.D. explained.
Malcolm had changed his surname from Little to X in 1952 as a form of protest.
“I’ll continue to use Malcom X as long as the situation that produced it exists . . . as long as there is a need to protest and struggle and fight against the injustices that our people are involved in this country,” Malcolm said in a 1964 speech.
Changing his name was one example of the evolving views of Malcolm, W.D. indicated.
“He saw moral contradictions in the man that fascinated him, that captured his mind and had also earned his respect, the honorable Elijah Muhammad,” W.D. described. Elijah, W.D.’s father, had relationships with two of his secretaries. W.D. confirmed his father secretly accepted them as his wives.
Malcolm had high moral standards and felt he needed to leave the Nation of Islam, W.D. said. “Malcolm couldn’t stop with the Nation of Islam, and he couldn’t stop with my father.”
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