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To self-build as an example to others: ‘This is truly the best gift that I can bring back strong’

Malcolm Shabazz (third from left) during his first Hajj

Malcolm Shabazz (third from left) during his first Hajj

By Malcolm Shabazz
Trice Edney Newswire

Editor’s Note: The following is an exclusive essay, written by Malcolm Shabazz, the grandson of Malcolm X, at the request of Trice Edney News Wire in December 2010 and published Jan. 3, 2011. It is a reflection upon his trip to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for his first Hajj, the annual spiritual pilgrimage taken by millions of Muslims in submission to Allah, God.

The Trice Edney News Wire decided to republish the article in its entirety in the wake of young Malcolm’s untimely and violent death on May 9.

According to a source close to the family, his mother, Quibilah Shabazz, has recently gone to Mexico City, the place of his demise, to retrieve his body. Arrangements for memorial and burial were still undetermined.

A release from the family stated, “We are deeply saddened by the passing of our beloved El Hajj Malcolm El Shabazz. To all who knew him, he offered kindness, encouragement and hope for a better tomorrow. Although his bright light and boundless potential are gone from this life, we are grateful that he now rests in peace in the arms of his grandparents and the safety of God. We will miss him.” 

In October 2010, in New York City — just before the trip to Mecca — the then 26-year-old faced a small, private audience, pulled together by Trice Edney Wire columnist and former Malcolm X associate A. Peter Bailey. During that forum, Malcolm Shabazz publicly discussed detailed aspects of his young life for the first time. 

In addition to many social and political issues affecting Black people, he openly discussed his past of having served time in penal institutions, including juvenile detention, after setting the fire that killed his grandmother, Betty Shabazz, when he was only 12 years old.

Malcolm recalled his then immature thought processes. He recalled his plan that if he set a fire, his behavior would be considered so bad that his family would force him to live with his mother Quibilah, which was his ultimate desire. The result was the tragic and accidental death of his grandmother, among the painful memories of his past.

Young Malcolm, with the rich and booming voice of his grandfather, wrote that he had returned to the U. S. with a gift. That gift, he reflected in part, was the change in his life that could only have come from his youthful experiences and — like his grandfather —the deep spiritual experience of the Hajj. The following are the reflections of the now late Malcolm Shabbazz:

In the name of Allah the Most Beneficent the Most Merciful: I have been all over the Middle East, from Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and so forth. And I must say that Madina and Mecca have absolutely stood apart.

One reason is that this is a main pillar of Islam. It is obligatory upon every single Muslim around the world to at least have the sincere intention to make the holy pilgrimage to the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, at least once in their lifetime if they are physically and financially able.

I’ve never met a person who expressed disappointment or had any ill words to relay about this “holy” experience. But, I do know people who came back from Hajj and after a few weeks — let alone a few months — they were right back to their old ways. They could almost tell me about the Hajj with an alcoholic beverage in their hand. But, for others, I can bear witness to the awesomely profound impact that it had on their lives.

It had such a profound impact on my grandfather’s life. So I came over here anticipating much while not knowing exactly what to expect. My intentions were pure. So before embarking on this journey, I resolved to devote my heart to Allah; stripping it of every preoccupation and barrier.

I arrived in Madina on Nov. 5 at approximately 10 minutes before our morning prayer was to begin at about 4:55 a.m. I immediately noticed that despite the fact that there were millions of pilgrims that had all come in to the same place, around the same time and from all over the world, the atmosphere was still so calm and serene.

I had never witnessed this many people in one place at the same time. It was like the ultimate concert, except there was no rapper, singer or any other type of entertainer. We were all here for the sake of seeking nearness to Allah.

For the most part, I was received quite well; though we must remember that here on earth every place has its ups and downs. And anywhere you go in this world, you will witness that Black people are most generally discriminated against.

However, this prejudice has absolutely nothing to do with Al-Islam. When most people in the Middle East encounter Black people from the States — unless they take notice of our American style of dress or the fact that we speak English — they most likely assume that we are from Nigeria, Sudan or another African country.

When they find out that one of us is actually from America, they become quite curious. Many of them are unaware that there are many Black Muslims in the United States. What most of them know of us is what has been portrayed to them of us on television as entertainers, athletes, criminals and thugs. This goes to show the power of mainstream media and how it doesn’t have our best interest at heart.

Also, I couldn’t wholly blame them for their perspectives of us because the way that we most often perceive ourselves is the image that we project unto others. We, as Black Americans, often project onto others the images that have been fostered to us by our oppressors.

It was a profound blessing for me to be afforded the opportunity to worship Allah within the Masjid-e-Quba, which is located between the Makkah Province and Madina. It was the first Masjid ever to be built in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It is also the first Masjid where Salatul Jama’ (Congregational Prayer) was recited. I also offered many prayers within the Masjidun Nabi (The Prophet’s Mosque), which was the second mosque to be built in Madina. This is the city of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself. It was quite humbling to realize that I was actually treading upon the very soil upon which he once set foot. This is the first city in the world where Islam was firmly established.

There was much to see and people to meet. I met with royalty, dignitaries and various other high-ranking Saudi officials, including Sheikh Saleh Husain, president of affairs of both the Grand Mosque (Masjidul Haraam) and the Prophet’s Mosque (Masjidun Nabi); Sheikh Faisal Ghazawi, imam (Islamic leader) of the Grand Mosque (Haramain); Dr. Anwar Eshki (Former Maj. Gen. Saudi forces), president of Middle East Center; and Abdulrahman Zamil, former member of the Shura Council.

My grandfather once said, “The past is not to be dwelt upon but rather looked to as a road map or compass — in the present — in order to help us successfully navigate into the future.”

At present and by the will and grace of Allah, I am a revolutionary Muslim who is in service to the people; especially to the masses of down trodden and oppressed. If I learned anything from my grandmother, Dr. Betty Shabazz, it’s that one must first help his or herself before thinking about being a savior toward others. Recently, I have been busy with self-building. Now, I am preparing to build with others while continuing to purify myself.

After a hajji (one who has completed the pilgrimage) returns from Makkah and Madina, they are obligated to convey through their actions that which they have brought back with them. My speech, actions, mannerisms and disposition must be an example for others who also desire to self-build. And this truly is the best gift that I can bring back for the people.

I have learned that wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age. It comes with experience. And experience is irrefutably the best of teachers. If there is any truth that we are, somewhat, products of our environments, then I suppose this would explain my current circumstances — the events that led to these points in my life. It is not necessary for me to run down a list of ills that may have affected me in one way or another. I will say that I have quite often been placed in many undesirable situations. Yet I alone made the decisions that produced the consequent outcomes.

We often find ourselves in situations where we wish that we could turn back the hands of time, to go back and do things differently. But time travel is not a reality. So, I resolve that the only remedy is to be as conscious as possible in the present in order to successfully navigate into the future.

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