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Remembering Malcolm Latif El-Shabazz Print E-mail
Written by Hajj Ali Jafri   
Friday, 19 July 2013 05:15


“Kill us! Our nation will awaken even more.” – Imam Khomeini (r)


Karbala, Iraq - July 15, 2013 – In the late afternoon on May 9, 2013, I received a series of text and voice messages asking me to confirm Malcolm Shabazz’ death. The ensuing hours and days are a blur. We came together as a community to bury, mourn and remember our fallen brother, tragically taken from us much too soon. We also witnessed a vicious character assassination in the media and within our own communities. I had been unable to articulate my feelings or place Malcolm’s life and death into context until reaching this land and the blessed tomb of the Master of Martyrs, the Chief of the youth of paradise, Imam Hussain ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib (a).


Like many Americans and people of conscience, I grew up deeply inspired by Shaheed Malik Shabazz (“Malcolm X”). Shaheed Malik journeyed from the lowest depths of society to reach the lofty status of martyrdom. He did so by standing up for the oppressed and being uncompromising in his quest for truth. He was humble and sincere enough to admit his errors and always accept rational arguments. He accepted as much of the truth as he received, even at the cost of tremendous power and eventually his life. He was ruthlessly martyred in the presence of his wife and daughters because his existence was a threat. He will forever remain a symbol of incorruptibility, rational thinking and courage.


In 2010 I learned that Shaheed Malik’s grandson, Malcolm Shabazz, had accepted the path of the Ahl ul-Bayt (a) while incarcerated. I began corresponding with Malcolm while he was studying Islam in Damascus, Syria. Malcolm explained that like his grandfather, he was a truth seeker. After reading Peshawar Nights, studying texts and speaking with ulama from various schools of thought, he had accepted the path of Ahl ul-Bayt (a). He said he would be dishonoring the legacy of his grandfather if he did not accept the rights of Ali ibn Abu Talib (a) after the truth had been made evident to him. These words confirmed everything we had believed about Shaheed Malik’s heart.


I once showed Malcolm a book I found published in 2006 about Muslims in America. The book concluded with a conversation between the author, Michael Knight, and Malcolm, while Malcolm was incarcerated in the Upstate Correctional Facility. Malcolm had never seen the book. He had assumed the author was a fed. Malcolm had good reason to be skeptical of everyone and everything. The same forces which targeted his grandfather still feared the rise of a “messiah who could unify, and electrify…” At the same time, many heaped unreasonable expectations on Malcolm. At age 28, he was expected to be Shaheed Malik at 39. We will never know what Malcolm would have been at 39, but at 28 Malcolm was smart, articulate, sincere, and schooled in the path of Imam al-Hussain (a).


As Malcolm developed as a Muslim, husband, father and revolutionary, every word he spoke could have impacted mainstream American society. His good nature allowed him the unique ability to connect with all, regardless of religion, race, age, social status or ideological persuasion. He was extremely well versed in American and world history. The lofty legacy he represented provided him a platform to spread the message of education and unity to the masses. Which other revolutionary Muslim American is invited to speak on panels with professional athletes or travel to meet heads of states? Would the death of any other Muslim American have made the front page of every mainstream national and international media outlet? His lofty potential made his existence a threat to those who wish to maintain the current world order of exploitation.


In early 2013, Malcolm wrote the following: “The formula for a public assassination is: the character assassination before the physical assassination; so one has to be made killable before the eyes of the public in order for their eventual murder to (sic) then deemed justifiable. And when the time arrives for these hits to be carried out you’re not going to see a C.I.A. agent with a suit & tie, and a badge that says “C.I.A.” walk up to someone, and pull the trigger. What they will do is to out-source to local police departments in the region of their target, and to employ those that look like the target of interest to infiltrate the workings in order to set up the environment for the eventual assassination to take place.”


In the days and weeks following Malcolm’s death, the exact scenario Malcolm described occurred. Countless articles were published about Malcolm’s “troubled past” and implicitly predictable death. The only consistency in the dozens of incoherent and untenable reports about his death was that each attempted to degrade Malcolm’s character. Shaheed Malik once said, “The media's the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent...” A trail of lies and fallacious reasoning is easy to spot. Malcolm died because of who he was, not where he was. We can now better appreciate how those living under the rule of Muwawiya asked “Did Ali pray?!” when they heard Amir ul-Momineen (a.s.) was assassinated in Masjid-e-Kufa.

Shaheed Malik once stated, “To have once been a criminal is no disgrace. To remain a criminal is the disgrace.” Malcolm learned from his past to better himself and strived to follow in the footsteps of Jesus (a), Prophet Muhammad (s) and Imam Ali (a). He loved dua Abu Hamza Thumali, memorized the lyrics of Yusuf Abdul-Mateen and woke up to an alarm featuring the voice of Sayyid Hassan. He never spoke to me without first asking about the well-being of my family.


The loss of Malcolm is irreplaceable not only to for family and friends but for the oppressed American masses. Like his grandfather, his legacy cannot be claimed by one group or captured in one post. He belonged to all Americans, a unifying force struggling for a better future. His passing leaves a heavy weight and a tremendous responsibility for each of us to bear. We must redouble our efforts to educate ourselves and our countrymen and to struggle against all forms of ignorance and oppression.


But to truly honor Malcolm and his daily struggle, we must strive to rid ourselves of our own criminal conduct, individually and as a collective. As a community we are often criminal in our disunity, criminal in our neglect of the oppressed and criminal in our racism and ethnocentrism. Whenever a sincere and striving Muslim is released from the dungeons of the New Jim Crow to a Muslim community that rejects him because of his race, tattoos or felony record, know that we have dishonored Malcolm, his grandfather, and all they stood for.


Our hearts ache but we find solace in the promise that awaits those lucky strugglers like Malcolm, who boarded the ship of love toward their eternal abode. The following verse is inscribed on the grave of Abolfazl Abbas ibn Ali (a), “Indeed Allah has bought from the faithful their souls and their possessions for paradise to be theirs: they fight in the way of Allah, kill, and are killed. A promise binding upon Him in the Torah and Evangel and the Quran. And who is truer to his promise than Allah? So rejoice in the bargain you have made with Him, and that is the great success.” (Holy Quran, 9:111) Malcolm left us with one final gift. Through his death he answered the question of who was responsible for his grandfather’s murder, just as Imam Hussain (a) unmasked Bani Ummayah on the plains of Karbala.


Knight ended his 2006 book with a chilling paragraph. I watched Malcolm read the paragraph in amazement in my room back in 2011. Malcolm stated “Subhanallah” and then told me he was unfamiliar with the tragedies faced by Imam Hussain ibn Ali (a) when Malcolm spoke to Knight. Malcolm smiled and asked me if he could keep the book. I nodded and returned the smile, though the author’s implications left my heart uneasy: “Malcolm Shabazz had quoted Ho Chi Minh as saying that when prison gates are opened, the real dragon flies out. And he told me that the race goes not to the swift but to those that can endure until the end. I think he’s living his grandfather’s life all over again. Every day is Ashura, every land is Karbala. Some cry tears and some cry blood.”

“If anything that I have done may have been of benefit, then all praise belongs to the Lord of the worlds. Ramadan Mubarak”

–        from the Facebook page of Malcolm Latif El-Shabazz, July 25, 2012.

Recite a Surah Fateha for Hajj Malcolm El-Shabazz & remember him during the Qadr nights.

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