24 December 2010
JEDDAH: Two personalities at a focal point – the journey to perform Haj formed the common denominator between them and contributed in their entering a phase of intellectual soul-searching and self-criticism that led to changing misconceptions that were embedded in their minds for a long time.
Here, the two personalities – of Malcolm X, the grandfather and Malcolm Shabaz, the grandson – converge.
The grandfather returned from the Haj journey to his place of birth with new ideas that eliminated misconceptions of Islam he had learned during his early years. His grandson, too, corrected some misconceptions he had about Islam, which were instilled by extremist groups.
It is actually a new phase, as described by Malcolm Shabaz, the grandson of the legendary Malcolm X and the son of his daughter. It started when he saw the Holy Ka’ba, with his own eyes, standing tall, with worshippers circumambulating it.
The Haj journey was a turning point in his life. “That journey was so beautiful that I’ll never forget it,” he said. “It encouraged me to carry out the acts of worship with a present soul and heart to participate with my Muslim brethren in the Haj rituals.”
Being there provided profound insights and experiences he did not get from afar.
“I found the circumambulation of the Holy Ka’ba different from what I used to see on TV, for I realized there was a kind of hardship in carrying it out, but it only increased my love for this rite,” he said.
Shabaz described his feelings when he saw the Holy Ka’ba for the first time. “I felt something move inside my chest and I felt I was born once again and the stories I read about the Ka’ba were scattered before my eyes,” he recounted.
“I had a mixed feeling and I was in a state of great astonishment. I couldn’t restrain my tears before that awesome scene.”
This scene reminded him of things in the past, some of which were frightening. He recalled his grandfather, who circumambulated the same Ka’ba in 1974.
Shabaz has memories from his trip of visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina, a number of historical places and an outing to the desert, where he drank camel milk and of meeting prominent people who extended great kindness and wisdom.
When he met Sheikh Saleh Al-Hussayen, general president for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, he was eager to listen to his advice, which was conveyed to him in English. He could not hold back his tears when Sheikh Al-Hussayen told him he had read most of the books written about his grandfather.
“I’ll never forget the advice Sheikh Saleh gave me when he urged me to follow my grandfather’s footsteps,” he said.
“Also, Dr. Abdullah Bin Biyyah, vice president of the International Federation of Muslim Ulama, advised me to follow the example of my grandfather and read about religion in particular and other subjects.”
Shabaz was astonished when Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Zamil presented him with a rare, old copy of the Holy Qur’an and called on him to work hard to unify the ranks of Muslims in America.
Looking further back, Shabaz said he was sure his grandfather was murdered by a group from the Nation of Islam, which he described as a deviant group, and denied that this is merely a theory being circulated by people who have not studied the matter.
Shabaz is following in his grandfather’s footsteps by helping people through his efforts as a legal-rights activist and as an active member of a number of human-rights societies. He also gives lectures at American universities his grandfather used to visit.
These lectures are attended by large audiences, especially youths who have not been able to continue their studies and those whose conduct and practices are misguided, he said.
Shabaz said he maintains good relationships with the sons of the late civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated in 1968, three years after Malcolm X was assassinated.
He said those relationships were built on cooperation and that the men encourage him and express optimism that he will be like his grandfather.
He always tells them that he is at the beginning of the road.
Photo Credit: Saudi Gazette