Thoughts Lead To Appreciation
Prince Faisal, the absolute ruler of Arabia, had made me a guest of the State.
Among the courtesies and privileges which this brought to me, especially – shamelessly – I relished the chauffeured car which toured me around in Makkah with the chauffeur-guide pointing out sights of particular significance.
Some of the Holy City looked as ancient as time itself. Other parts of it resembled a modern Miami suburb.
I cannot describe with what feelings I actually pressed my hands against the earth where the great Prophets had trod four thousand years before.
The roads offered the wildest drives that I had ever known: nightmare traffic, brakes squealing, skidding cars, and horns blowing.
I remember one night at Muzdalifa with nothing but the sky overhead I lay awake amid sleeping Muslim brothers and I learned that pilgrims from every land – every colour, and class, and rank; high officials and the beggar alike – all snored in the same language.
Particularly, the Arab Muslims smoked constantly, even on the Hajj pilgrimage itself.
The smoking evil was not invented in Prophet Muhammad’s days – if it had been, I believe he would have banned it.
I dreamed to see the day when shiploads and planeloads of American Muslims would come to Makkah for the Hajj.
There was a colour pattern in the huge crowds.
Once I happened to notice this, I closely observed it thereafter.
Being from America made me intensely sensitive to matters of colour.
I saw that people who looked alike drew together and most of the time stayed together.
I would tell Americans this observation, that:
Where true brotherhood existed among all colours, where no one felt segregated, where there was no “superiority” complex, no “inferiority” complex – then voluntarily, naturally, people of the same kind felt drawn together by that which they had in common.
Constantly, wherever I went, I was asked questions about America’s racial discrimination.
Even with my background, I was astonished at the degree to which the major single image of America seemed to be discrimination.
As some of the poorest pilgrims heard me preach, so did some of the Holy World’s most important personages.
I talked at length with the blue-eyed, blond-haired Hussein Amini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.
I talked with the Mayor of Makkah, Shaykh Abdullah Eraif, who when he was a journalist had criticised the methods of the Makkah municipality – and Prince Faisal made him the Mayor, to see if he could do any better.
The lobby of the Jeddah Palace Hotel offered me frequent sizable informal audiences of important men from many different countries who were curious to hear the “American Muslim”.
I met many Africans who had either spent some time in America, or who had heard other Africans’ testimony about America’s treatment of the Black man.
I remember how before one large audience, one cabinet minister from Black Africa told of his occasionally travelling in the United States.
Just recalling the indignities he had met as a Black seemed to expose some raw nerve in this highly educated, dignified official:
“Why is the American Black so complacent about being trampled upon? Why does the American Black not fight to be a human being?”
Black leaders would find that many non-white officials of the highest standing, especially Africans, would tell them – privately – that they would be glad to throw their weight behind the Black cause, in the United Nations, and in other ways.
But these officials understandably feel that the Black in America is so confused and divided that he does not himself know what his cause is.
Again, it was mainly Africans who variously expressed to me that no one would wish to be embarrassed trying to help a brother who shows no evidence that he wants that help – and who seems to refuse to cooperate in his own interests.
One honour that came to me, I had prayed for: His Eminence, Prince Faisal, invited me to a personal audience with him.
As I entered the room, tall, handsome Prince Faisal came from behind his desk.
I never will forget the reflection I had at that instant, that here was one of the world’s most important men, and yet with his dignity one saw clearly his sincere humility.
Our interpreter was the Deputy Chief of Protocol, Muhammad Abdul Azziz Maged, an Egyptian-born Arab, who looked like a Harlem Black.
Prince Faisal asked me to understand above all that whatever he had done had been his pleasure, with no other motives whatever.
His son, Muhammad Faisal, had “met” me on American television while attending a Northern California university.
Prince Faisal had read Egyptian writers’ articles about the American “Black Muslims.”
“If what these writers say is true, Black Muslims have the wrong Islam,” he said.
I explained my role of the previous twelve years, of helping to organise and to build the Nation of Islam.
I said that my purpose for making the Hajj was to get an understanding of true Islam.
“That is good,” Prince Faisal said, pointing out that there was an abundance of English-translation literature about Islam – so that there was no excuse for ignorance, and no reason for sincere people to allow themselves to be misled.
From The Autobiography Of Malcolm X ~ El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.