After Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam and traveled to Mecca and Egypt, his world-view went through a drastic change. Prior to that, he had been against the Civil Rights movement in the United States and preached racial separatism. Ironcially, during the time he followed Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam, he was not a Muslim. It was only after rejecting the corruption and hypocrisy of Muhammad that Malcolm began a sincere study of Islam and eventually became a Sunni.
In a conversation with Gordon Parks, not too long before his assassination by Nation of Islam members, he said:
“Listening to leaders like Nasser, Ben Bella, and Nkrumah awakened me to the dangers of racism. I realized racism isn’t just a black and white problem. It’s brought bloodbaths to about every nation on earth at one time or another. Brother, remember the time that white college girl came into the restaurant—the one who wanted to help the [Black] Muslims and the whites get together—and I told her there wasn’t a ghost of a chance and she went away crying? Well, I’ve lived to regret that incident. In many parts of the African continent I saw white students helping black people. Something like this kills a lot of argument. I did many things as a [Black] Muslim that I’m sorry for now. I was a zombie then—like all [Black] Muslims—I was hypnotized, pointed in a certain direction and told to march. Well, I guess a man’s entitled to make a fool of himself if he’s ready to pay the cost. It cost me 12 years. That was a bad scene, brother. The sickness and madness of those days—I’m glad to be free of them.”
Clearly, Malcolm X had come to understand that people of different colors and faiths could live together in peace and harmony, and he deeply regretted that his earlier strident rhetoric had incited violent behavior among his brethren.
If Malcolm X were alive today, I believe he would refer to the Taliban as the “zombies”, and compare their behavior to that of Elijah Muhammad and the separatism espoused by his Nation of Islam. He would say that both were as equally hateful and intolerant as the racism which incited them. More importantly, as a Sunni Muslim, he would reject the coercive, violent philosophy of the Taliban. While he had embraced the same kind of xenophobic ideas that we now see manifest in the Taliban, Malcolm X’s beliefs in his final days had completely changed. He came to be a major proponent of human rights and religious tolerance, which is antithetical to the Taliban.
Even so, some misguided and uninformed supporters of the Taliban mistakenly point to Malcolm X as one of their forerunners and heroes. Visit this disturbing blog to see what I mean.