El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz aka Malcolm X lived a revolutionary life. I read his autobiography earlier this year and I am kicking myself that it took me so long! My knowledge of Malcolm X from secondary school to sixth form is a testament to how the education system promulgates information that is an injustice to his legacy. He is usually contrasted with Martin Luther King and portrayed as the violent counter part. For anyone who wants to learn about Malcolm X, his autobiography is the best way to do so. It gives you amazing insight into the mind of a man who had such a drastic impact during the Civil Rights Era and continues to do so.
The most memorable aspects of his autobiography is the foreword where his assassination is described and his time in prison. I’m a really sensitive and emotional person and the foreword moved me to tears! What is haunting about this section of the book is the ominous cloud that follows Malcom X in the last years of his life and the deep conviction that he had that his death was imminent. There were so many moments of reflection for me whilst reading this book, the most unforgettable being when I read the quote below and he said:
I’m a man who believes that I died 20 years ago. And I live like a man who is dead already.
This reminded me of an Ayah in the Qur’an where Allah SWT says:
Every soul will taste death.
Quran Al Imran 3:185
Malcolm X lived a life where he feared only Allah SWT and that gave him the freedom to stand courageously in front of his oppressors and to stand for truth and justice even when it eventually cost him his life. Lastly, a final reflection that I try to carry with my in my personal life is that Malcolm X loved learning and he was never afraid to admit when he was wrong and to correct his mistake. For me this is a trait of a distinctive leader. Undoubtedly a pivotal moment in his life was when he was sentenced to prison. Maybe the world would not have known about Malcolm X if he did not spend seven years in prison. That period of solitude, self reflection and learning helped to shape the man that we know as Malcolm X today. Today we celebrate Malcolm X as man who is incredibly articulate and intelligent but that was possible through the self education that he gave himself in prison. It is also a reminder that Allah’s plan for all us is better than what we envision for ourselves if we have trust in him just as in Surah Yusuf.
Malcolm X’s life should be a reminder for all human beings that every single day that we have is an opportunity to live a life of service and courage.