World Bulletin / News Desk
People across the world are remembering and paying their respects to the late, great Afro-American rights activist Malcolm X, who passed away 49 years ago today.
Malcolm X, otherwise known as al-Hajj Malik al-Shabazz, was shot dead on February 21, 1965 while giving a speech the Organization of Afro-American Unity in Manhattan's Audubon Ballroom, New York, after some commotion broke out in the conference hall.
Once the security guards were distracted, Malcolm X was shot by a man sitting in the front row. Two other man later stormed the stage and shot his many times over.
His death was blamed on the Nation of Islam, a heretic cult movement to which Malcolm X used to belong after converting in prison in 1948, when he was around 24 years old.
After pledging his allegiance to Elijah Muhammed, a self-styled prophet who taught his followers that he had been sent by movement founder Wallace Fard Muhammad. He taught that Wallace was God incarnate and had appointed him as a messenger to free the Black nation of White Supremacy.
As was the custom, upon initiation into the movement, Malcolm Little disowned his slave master-given surname and adopted the letter X to signify his rejection of the White rule and his search to find his true African roots.
On his release from prison, Malcolm X became a prominent minister and speaker in the movement, launching a campaign up and down the US calling African-Americans to rise up against the system which treated them as second-class citizens, in his words, 'by any means necessary.'
His controversial views were loved by many, but on the other hand, loathed by many as well. After the assassination of US president J.F. Kennedy, public comments made by Malcolm X describing his death as a case of 'chickens coming home to roost' drew condemnation not only from the majority of White Americans, but also by his own organization.
As a result, the Nation of Islam decided to disown Malcolm X, who was then left alone without any allegiances. Making the most of his time out of the spotlight, Malcolm X decided to perform the Hajj pilgrimage, the fifth pillar of Islamic worship.
When he arrived in the holy city of Mecca in 1964, Malcolm X was surprised to find Muslims from all over the world, from different backgrounds and races, all performing the pilgrimage together. It was then that he realized that Islam was not a Black supremacist religion, but an all-inclusive universal way of life for all humanity. To signify his newfound sense of identity, he changed his name to Al-Hajj Malik al-Shabazz.
Writing on his experiences during the Hajj, Malcolm X wrote:
‘There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But 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 the non-white. America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought patterns previously held.’
His changed views proved to be a threat to his former friends in the Nation of Islam, who began a campaign of death threats against him after he started contradicting their teachings by preaching the true, peaceful message of Islam. In fact, an attempt was made on his life when his home was set ablaze while he and his family were sleeping.
It was only a few months that he had come back from the Hajj that the tragic incident of February 21, 1965 took place. Although he was only 39-years-old, his name went down in history as one of the most influential and outspoken activists of the 20th century, honored throughout the world by people of all colors and creeds.
Last Mod: 21 Şubat 2014, 14:43