Martin or Malcolm? MLK, Malcolm X, and Muslims

by J.Hashmi

As Martin Luther King Day rolls by, the question is invariably asked: Martin or Malcolm?  Sadly, for many Muslims, the answer is too easy: Malcolm of course!  For various reasons, Muslims have accepted the false characterization that MLK and Malcom represented Christianity and Islam respectively.  King’s “turn the other cheek” philosophy is then understood as a distinctly Christian phenomenon, whereas retribution and vengeance is attributed to Islam.  Erroneous analogies are made between the blacks and whites mentioned in Malcolm’s speeches with the Muslims and “kafirs” of today.  And perhaps most disturbing of all is the adoption by some of the “by any means necessary” approach.

Yet, the reality is that Malcolm X was not an expert of Islam.  He was not an Islamic scholar, nor was he knowledgeable of orthodox Islam.  Most (if not all) of the speeches quoted by some emotional Muslim youth today are from when Malcolm was not Muslim at all.  Rather, he belonged to the Nation of Islam (NOI), a heretical group that–despite its name–has very little to do with Islam; the NOI was created by a snake oil salesman as an amalgamation of masonry, numerology, Christianity, and Islamic symbology.  The reality is that Martin Luther King’s outlook was far more Islamic than pre-Islam Malcolm’s, which is not at all surprising considering the fact that Christianity is far closer to Islam than the NOI is; as the Quran itself testifies: “Closest to the believers…are those who say: ‘We are Christians.'”

I love and respect Malcolm X: he was a truly brave Muslim who sacrificed his life for the religion, and I pray that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accepts him as a martyr.  But it should be clearly understood that Malcolm converted to Islam only in the last year of his life.  Not only did he repudiate his former beliefs, but he made it his mission in life to counter them and those who still propagated them.  Malcolm was killed doing that; his assassin was a believer in the old ideology that Malcolm had jettisoned.  How then is it that some Muslims today quote Malcolm’s words when he was simply the mouthpiece of the same organization that assassinated him?  When in fact Malcolm, upon conversion to true Islam, set out to counter those very beliefs?  Is it not odd that the same Muslim youth who are so quick to call other Muslims “heretics” are embracing the ideology of the most heretical of groups?

It should also be understood–not as a means to disrespect Malcolm, but as a cautionary reminder to those who would foolishly follow other than the Quran and Sunnah–that even in his last year of life, Malcolm was new to the religion of Islam.  He cannot at all be seen as an expert of the religion, let alone one around whom an entire Islamic identity should be based!  At the risk of sounding patronizing towards a man who was hundreds of times better than I can ever hope to be, I am confident that had Malcolm lived longer, he would no doubt have matured from an Islamic perspective.  Yet, none of this is meant to take away from the profound Islamic legacy of Malcolm X; his work lived on past his death, and culminated in the mass conversion of black people to the religion of pure monotheism…something for which he should be loved by all Muslims.  But at the same time, we must be cautious in applying what he said to today’s context, or more dangerously, of accepting certain grave theological errors.

Turn the Other Cheek or Send Them to the Cemetery?

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Martin Luther King was famous for his “turn the other cheek” philosophy.  Malcolm X on the other hand is remembered for a speech he gave before he accepted orthodox Islam, something which was taught to him by a heretical group with beliefs considered anathema to Islam proper.  In this speech, Malcolm declared:

There’s nothing in our book, the Quran — you call it ‘Ko-ran’ — that teaches us to suffer peacefully. Our religion teaches us to be intelligent. Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery. That’s a good religion.

It may be a good religion according to the NOI, but it’s not the religion of Islam.  Malcolm was 100% incorrect when he claimed that there is nothing in the Quran that teaches Muslims to suffer peacefully.  In fact, the Quran repeatedly advises believers to react to insults and harms with patience and kindness as opposed to retribution and revenge.  The Book of Allah orders believers of those who harm them to “bear them in this life with kindness.” (31:15)  Even when a Muslim has the right to just retaliation, he is strongly urged by the Islamic religion to take the higher road–the one closest to taqwa (piety)–which is forgiveness and mercy.  This concept is so ingrained in the Quran that the loved ones of a victim are highly encouraged to forgive the murderer, instead of seeking justice (i.e. a life for a life).  It is unfortunate then that people (including Muslims themselves) envision only Christians as the ones who forgive those who brutally murder a loved one.  This concept is not specific to Christianity, but rather is a strong part of the Islamic ethos.  The fact that Muslims of today do not act on it is a different story.

Islam does not encourage believers to seek an eye for an eye; it encourages forgiveness for an eye.  But Malcolm went even further than an eye for an eye, by claiming that Islam advocates death (“send him to the cemetery”) for simply putting a hand on someone.  This is completely forbidden in the Quran, which categorically forbids reciprocation of harm over and above what was done to the aggrieved party.  The Islamic concept is this: under certain circumstances, a believer may be entitled to equal recompense, but never over and above; and even in the cases where equal recompense is permitted, it is highly encouraged to forgive instead.  And the reward for that is from and with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Erroneous Analogies

There is a desire by some Muslims to analogize the situation of the blacks in America during the 1950’s and 60’s to the situation of the Muslims today. While there might certainly be some parallels, the analogy is highly flawed.  But moving past that issue, the fact of the matter is that Malcolm was wrong and King was right.  Integration worked for blacks; the evidence for that is sitting in the White House today. (Of course, one could make the argument that the world needed a Malcolm for Martin to succeed, but that has really no relevance to our discussion here.)

This is not to say that the black community suffers from no problems whatsoever; there are indeed some grave issues.  But surely it is clear that the condition of blacks today is much better than had they chosen the path of segregation as opposed to integration; in that alter-universe, American blacks would be living in backward reservations and institutionalized ghettos or Bantustans.

Furthermore, Malcolm himself invited whites to work with him in the last year of his life, again showing the profound changes that took place in him after his conversion to orthodox Islam.  Therefore, if some young Muslims wish to analogize the situation of the Muslims today to that of Martin and Malcolm, this would not bode well for their argument, considering that history has proven Martin correct and Malcolm himself repudiated his old way.

Some Muslims have argued that one can simply replace the words “negro” with “Muslim” and “white” with “kafir” in Malcolm’s speeches.  This is troubling, considering that Malcolm in his NOI days adhered to a supremacist and hate-filled ideology.  Let us not then associate that with Muslims, who are encouraged in the Quran to walk the earth in humility, not with the arrogant pride of superiority.  Non-Muslims should be treated with kindness and mercy, not contempt and aggression.  Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) dislikes the aggressors and transgressors.

Those Muslims who make such erroneous analogies are quick to call so-and-so Islamic scholar, leader, or intellectual an “Uncle Tom” or “house negro,” just as Malcolm was very quick in his younger years to call certain black leaders as such.  But what these Muslims do not know–perhaps because they have never seriously studied the life of Malcolm X–is that Malcolm would later in his life apologize to those same individuals and express regret over his harsh words for them.  The manner in which these Muslims use such terms is very divisive, and undermines the Muslim community’s efforts.

By Any Means Necessary

The most dangerous of all is the idea of “by any means necessary.”  This philosophy could be used to justify Al-Qaeda’s methodology.  However, in Islam, the ends do not and cannot justify the means.  The means are bounded and constrained by the Law of God and we cannot transgress beyond that.  Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has forbidden us from murder, for instance, and we cannot contravene that order for the “greater good.”  Such a thing would destroy the essence of the Shari’ah.  One could say “by any halal means necessary,” but then: (1) it suddenly doesn’t sound as catchy, and (2) the addition of the word “halal” completely opposes the original meaning intended by the phrase.

We will answer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for our actions, which will be judged irrespective of the ends.  The means are delegated to us, but the ends rest with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) alone.  So we must pray for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for the ends, and opposing His pre-approved means is a surefire way to be amongst the losers in this life and the next.


The Muslim American view of Malcolm X and his ideology should be updated and clarified.  The usage of Malcolm’s speeches before he converted to orthodox Islam should be viewed with caution. Even his words after conversion should be checked with the Quran and Sunnah.

Contrary to popular misconception, Muslims do actually believe in forgiveness (i.e. turning the cheek). Martin Luther King’s approach towards the condition of his people, in spite of his personal failings that opponents bring up to take away from his legacy, was very close to the Islamic way.

A fellow Muslim colleague asked why there isn’t a Malcolm X Day like there is an MLK Day.  The answer to me seems obvious: Malcolm’s message, at least the one for which he is most known for and which he preached for a good part of his life, was an extremely controversial (and even offensive) one.  On the other hand, Martin Luther King’s methodology was very uncontroversial (and inspiring).  He combated hatred with kindness, much like Prophet Muhammad [s] dealt with the persecution in Mecca.  When the disbelievers assailed him on all sides, the Prophet [s] replied by praying to God: “O Allah, forgive my people for indeed they know not.”

It is my sincere hope (and I trust in Allah) that the proper reaction is to deal with the insults and harms inflicted upon us with softness, mercy, and kindness–a Martin not Malcolm response.  This is the Islamic way, and it was typified by a non-Muslim in this case.  The pessimists may disagree with my outlook, but what they cannot do is use Malcolm’s example as a proof.  History already proves that Martin was right, and (the pre-Islam) Malcolm was wrong.

This is not to deny Malcolm’s profound legacy.  Rather, my intention is to question what his legacy was.  As a practicing Muslim, I cannot but be impressed by the sheer number of people that Malik Shabazz brought to true Islam, with the Will of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).  Malcolm single-handedly crippled the Nation of Islam, by planting the seeds of true Islam in the hearts of the black community.  And for that, I pray to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for Malcolm’s entrance into the gardens of Paradise.

Nonetheless, I question the ideology that people have attributed to Malcolm.  They do him no service by praising  or promoting it.  He repudiated and distanced himself from it, and he is free from it.  It’s about time that the Muslim American community matures in its discourse.  Gone should be the days when we denigrate Dr. King by promoting the ideas spread about him by white supremacists; what he did in his own bedroom is his own business, and our religion has forbidden us from spreading slander or suspicion.  Gone should be the days when we try promoting Martin and Malcolm as the archetypal examples of Christianity and Islam respectively.  The reality is that Martin Luther King used a methodology inspired from the Abrahamic tradition that the sons of Ishmael also inherited.

100 / View Comments

100 responses to “Martin or Malcolm? MLK, Malcolm X, and Muslims”

  1. MR says:

    Maybe we should look at his lectures in his Muslim days.

  2. Anon says:


    Malcolm was a man who spoke the Truth as he saw it!

    This is an islamic principle!

    Anyone who listens to his talks will feel his sincerity!

    Maybe he was wrong at times. He also indicated that people should be killed for abusing muslim women, how many were influenced to go out killing others?

    He was remarkably peaceful for someone who was abused in a school by a racist system, who’s father was killed by white racists & had to endure watching his mother go senile under the pressure.

    Allah didn’t Will for Shuyukh to guide him as far as I know & he firmly did what he thought was right at each & every moment.

    A friend of mine done a Masters on both Malcolm & M L King. She studied their private lives & the muslim’s outer & inner were in harmony…..

  3. Mr M says:

    It is easier to preach Sir, but you fail to appreciate the western perception of Muslims is mainly due that caused by the Muslims themselves. In Somalia, a country where the population is 100%. They have failed to come together for a truth and reconciliation, but rather chose to send the criminal Generals behind the bombing of cities and mass murders to live abroad and are still protected by other Somalis. All done in the name of continuing an endless perpetual war as they still continue to take revenge against each other.

    This contrasts highly with Christian populations of similar African background such as in Rwanda and Angola with even far more heinous record than the Somalis. So for a people of the same race and intelligence, isn’t Islam a very good suspect responsible for the evasion of justice and the continuation of violence?

    The majority of Muslims don’t have much in common with black Americans, and usually do not bother to contribute anything except being obnoxious and crass like this article. Unlike the Muslims of today in USA, MX believed himself to be an American and not a guest, so you cannot blame him for not taking prisoners just like his white folks.

    • amad says:

      ‘This contrasts highly with Christian populations of similar African background such as in Rwanda and Angola with even far more heinous record than the Somalis. So for a people of the same race and intelligence, isn’t Islam a very good suspect responsible for the evasion of justice and the continuation of violence?’

      I am sorry but I fail to understand what you are getting at. There were far more killings and acts of violence in Rwanda than Somalia. So, how is Islam a good suspect that is responsible for violence? What am I missing here?

    • Shavon says:

      Can somebody tell me what the difference between Muslim and Islam is. Sorry not familiar (research project).

  4. tn says:

    Asalaamu alaykum

    You do realise:

    1) Someone doesn’t have to be a Muslim to have a memorable or true quote- in the same way many Muslims seem to be so impressed by Obama’s empty rhetoric (a non-Muslim Malcolm X was by all accounts a principled man, not responsible for killing thousands of Muslims)

    2) Islam does actually have something called ‘qisas’, and in matters of law there is not always room for forgiveness (and it certainly isn’t required)- and certainly not in all cases, or neccessarily of non-Muslims, especially when a case becomes public. As for ‘turning the other cheek’, then to put the quote in context:

    ‘You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.’
    —Matthew 5:38-42, NIV

    Does that sound anything like what Islam advocates? There’s a big difference between being forgiving by your own consideration and being oppressed/beaten

    3) Xtianity is shirk, NOI is similar; there may be ‘similarities’- but the differences between Islam and both are far greater

    And the sura quoted goes onto say…’And when they hear what has been revealed to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of what they have recognized of the truth. They say, “Our Lord, we have believed, so register us among the witnesses.’- Does this apply to all Xtians you think?

    4) You say how wrong it is to quote Malcolm or look up to him in his non-Muslim days, and then go on to say how great an example Martin Luther King is (although he was and died a non-Muslim)- and nothing is done to substantiate this support other than that he was ‘more peaceful’. Do you know much about the civil rights movement?

    I hate to say this bro, but you’re beginning to sound a bit weird

    ‘The answer to me seems obvious: Malcolm’s message, at least the one for which he is most known for and which he preached for a good part of his life, was an extremely controversial (and even offensive) one. On the other hand, Martin Luther King’s methodology was very uncontroversial (and inspiring).’

    Without being accused of being ‘radical’, or a ‘terrorist’, the message of the Prophet (sallAllahu aleyhi wasallam) was ‘radical’ for pagan Arab society and was certainly controversial. Please don’t take this to mean being radical is something good by default; being true to divine values, in spite of the society, around you is always admirable- and the West, for whatever good it undoubtedly has, is unfortunately full of not-so-divine values- the worst of them being disbelief

    He combated hatred with kindness, much like Prophet Muhammad [s] dealt with the persecution in Mecca. When the disbelievers assailed him on all sides, the Prophet [s] replied by praying to God: “O Allah, forgive my people for indeed they know not.”

    The Prophet sallAllahu aleyhi wasallam used diplomacy when it was appropriate; war when it was appropriate- I don’t know where you’re getting this weird pacifism from- the Prophet sallAllahu aleyhi wasallam fought battles, as did his successors, to defend Islam and spread it. That’s what every ideology and belief system does

    The Prophet sallAllahu aleyhi wasallam prayed for guidance for some and Allah’s Wrath on others- try to have a balanced picture insha’Allah

    • Wa alaykum as-salam,

      You do realise:

      1) Someone doesn’t have to be a Muslim to have a memorable or true quote- in the same way many Muslims seem to be so impressed by Obama’s empty rhetoric (a non-Muslim Malcolm X was by all accounts a principled man, not responsible for killing thousands of Muslims)

      If you had only used thirty seconds of your time to think about what you are saying, you would have realized that there is no need for you to say “you do realize,” considering the fact that in the article I specifically said that MLK was a non-Muslim who spoke good words.

      The Malcolm that most Muslims today quote is usually the pre-Islam one (other than the awesome quotes from Malcolm’s trip to Hajj)..Therefore my point is that we have two non-Muslims, Martin and pre-Islam Malcolm. We judge them according to their words, and I am arguing that MLK’s words and ideas were better and that history has testified to that.

      Does that sound anything like what Islam advocates?

      I argue yes, that there is a very similar concept in Islam, namely of forgiveness and mercy, as opposed to the “send them to the cemetery” approach. Clearly Martin’s approach in this was closer to Islam than pre-Islam Malcolm’s. One can argue on differences between the Islamic and Christian view, but both prefer forgiveness and mercy..and neither support the “send them to the cemetery” view.

      3) Xtianity is shirk, NOI is similar; there may be ’similarities’- but the differences between Islam and both are far greater

      I quite clearly said that the difference between Islam and Christianity is less than that between Islam and the NOI. Nowhere did I say that the distances are not great. I did not share my view on how great I think the differences are or are not.

      4) You say how wrong it is to quote Malcolm or look up to him in his non-Muslim days, and then go on to say how great an example Martin Luther King is (although he was and died a non-Muslim

      Please see my initial comment to you which should clear it up.

      The Prophet sallAllahu aleyhi wasallam used diplomacy when it was appropriate

      Are you arguing that whenever the Prophet [s] forgave non-Muslims, it was only due to a crass and opportunistic intention? In that, I am sure that the anti-Islam folks will agree with you. I on the other hand do not believe such a thing.

      I don’t know where you’re getting this weird pacifism from

      I never said that wars are never justified. I do, however, believe that peace is preferrable to war.


    • Saif Qalum says:

      Salaamu Alaikum brother # 3 nailed the point home where Allah swt says…and when they hear what has been revealed to the messenger you see their eyes overflowing with tears because what they have recognised as the truth and they say our Lord we have believed so register us with the believers. For Muslims Martin or Malcolm (may Allah have mercy on him) before Islam should not even be an issue of comparison-they were both wrong in application to their trials, however both respectivey reacted to their mutual oppressive circumstances according to their own studied beliefs and though they both had variations of Islam the points mute. Islam can not be mixed with anything. Forgive me brother for being too long winded I appreciated your point may Allah swt reward you Salaamu Alaikum

  5. Muslim Apple says:

    I would argue that integration while having some very noticeable positive effects has not been as rosy and beneficial as some would like to think particularly in education. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that were once thriving and produced some of the best and most vibrant talent in the African American community are now struggling and take a look at any inner city school district where minorities are in the majority, integration has not helped them get ahead of their surburban counterparts. And even in integrated settings, there is still much physical and ideological separation.

    • Yus from the Nati says:

      You right about HBCU’s and the declining legacy. I go to of the most famous, and it’s pretty horrible. Interesting to hear stories from the older faculty (70’s and up) and how time has changed.

    • I gather that the decline of historically black colleges and universities is because talented and capable black students are no longer as restricted to go there. Instead, they can go to an Ivy league school or other top-tier universities, just like all other Americans. Surely it would have been disastrous had blacks chosen the path of segregation and been limited to black only institutions.

      Note: This is not to bash the historically black colleges and universities…I have no knowledge of their quality and can’t speak on that at all.

      As for the situation of the inner cities, that problem cannot be denied. But it would have been a much larger issue had segregation been enforced. I doubt many blacks today would be fans of segregation as opposed to integration.


      • Muslim Apple says:

        Even within ivy league or top-tier schools and within the workplace, there is still self-segregation both physical (Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?) and psychological. Let me clear, I am not arguing for segregation, though I would argue that the institutions within the black community that helped it flourish during segregation i.e. churches and civic groups were weakened with de-segregation to the detriment of the community because what replaced it was often nothing more than a “catch-phrase” about equal opportunity for all.

        One of my colleagues at work lived through Jim Crow segregation and can recall the black community fed up with the sub-standard black-only public school raised funds privately to build a new middle school and high school. Can you imagine something like that happening today? And I think that the issue of “acting white” by excelling in education, may also have been diminished. Integration like segregation has its own set of problems, which I don’t think can be glossed over so lightly.

    • ibn Insaan says:

      Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullah,

      Dear sister,

      would you consider writing something on this any time soon for the MM site, or even elsewhere?
      The reason being not to detract from the potential worth of integration and its role, but just so that the discussion ojn it can be an informed one – and one which we can all go into clearly aware of as mauch of the pros and cons (even if just historically speaking) as possible. You seem well informed mashallah.



  6. tn says:

    ‘This contrasts highly with Christian populations of similar African background such as in Rwanda and Angola with even far more heinous record than the Somalis. So for a people of the same race and intelligence, isn’t Islam a very good suspect responsible for the evasion of justice and the continuation of violence?’

    Lawlessness isn’t unique to Muslim countries; neither are war crimes; neither is communal violence (or are they?). Some countries are more publicized in this regard than others- though some Muslim countries have these issues, so do non-Muslim countries. It would seem you’re pretty ignorant of world affairs

  7. Khalid says:

    I am sure that Martin Luther King Jr must have been right on every other issue as well, most especially Palestine:

    Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality. ”

    — Martin Luther King

    source: MLK a Strong Supporter of the State of Israel and Zionism

    • Nobody here said that MLK was right on every single issue. I believe only Allah [swt] is perfect.

      This article is simply talking about the general approach of MLK and Malcolm X in their quest for the equality of the black community, its relationship to the white one, and their respective roles in the civil rights movement.

      As for MLK’s support for Israel, this article here reflects my views on the matter.


    • Amad says:

      It’s amazing that we expect a person to have views that are 100% in accordance with ours before we accept anything from him or her!

      The IP issue cannot become the sole determination of a person’s entire life. There are many people who support Palestine who are terrible human beings as well. We cannot be a one-issue ummah!

    • Muhammad Sheikh says:

      I’m sure at least one part of what Brother Hashmi’s responses to your claim is that there was an amazing amount of confusion concerning the Isreal Palestine conflict back then.

      Sources and primary accounts were often jumbled, and clever scholars used specific examples for their agendas. Finkelstein goes over it briefly in the introduction and the first part of “Beyond Chutzpah” and even says on part of human rights organizations were mostly bias, and very unorganized. There were not the main sources available they had today (B’tselem, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, etc.)

      MLK regularly blasted American foreign policy. He regularly argued against involvement in Vietnam, and believed there to be alternate agendas on part of an American campaign including corporatism and the like. Saying these kind of things publically back then caused much criticism on part of the NYTs, Washington Post, and other credible sources of news.

      I feel confident in saying that if MLK was alive today in times where the issue has been widely simplified, he would not support the Israeli cause.

      • Thank you for your excellent comment, brother Muhammad.

        And I would like to sincerely apologize for my harsh comments to some people here. I lost my cool, and I apologize for that. No excuse for that.


  8. Abu Sauleh says:

    Assalaamu ‘alaykum,
    MLK and MX (pre-Islam) represented two opposite extremes… Islam, as in all things, represents the middle path. Consistent with the nature of the middle path (wasat), Islam holds a balance or a tension between the two extremes. It does not exclude them entirely. Hence both MLK and MX were close to the truth in some aspects and were far away in others, though in opposite directions. To say that MLK was more right than MX is subjective, and to me, is indicative of the current mental state of the ummah.
    What makes MX worlds apart from MLK though is his character and integrity, even in his NOI days.
    May Allaah accept him as one of the martyrs.

    • Wa alaykum as-salam,

      I don’t see how MLK was ever an “extreme” but I do agree with you that the character and integrity of Malcolm X was beyond question. For instance, no woman was ever able to seduce him in order to get him to commit adultery, much to the chagrine of the FBI.

      Yet, this article is specifically about the ideology and methodology of the two men in their quest to attain equality for blacks, their relationship to the white community, and their general role in the civil rights movement. As such, the personal lives of the two men is not being considered in this article.

      About your somewhat snarky comment on the “current mental state of the ummah”, I think some people in the Ummah are mental.


  9. Yus from the Nati says:


    Great post akhi. You have made some very interesting and though provoking points. JazakAllahukhair.

  10. Joyhamza says:

    Though I understood the theme of the author, the way it is written the purpose gets defeated.

    I believe had the author went analyzing these two personalities in different articles then readership could have been more objective. Why do you have to compare the two personalities and tread on this tricky and slippery path knowing very well that one of them is muslim and the other is not. If it was a Martin L. King article only describing how many of his ideas were in line with Islam and we can apply them as muslims then that would have been nice. Justice could have been served without no or little feud. Was it really necessary to compare him with Malcolm X. It only blurred the picture (and perhaps it is blurry essencially) and you can’t expect objective readership.

    You can’t compare Abu Talib with Abu Sufyan and say that though Abu Talib is a nonmuslim he had many islam-friendly accomplishments while though Abu Sufyan (radiallahu ‘anh) was eventually a sahabi did this and this terrible things. Muslims do not look at things in this manner. The scale of La Ilaha Illallah is much heavier then this.

    But nonetheless, Jazaakallahu Khaira for the attempt. May Allah bless you akhi J. Hashmi.

    • Haroon says:

      Excellent point.

    • Abu Ibrahim says:

      Yeah, I think that pretty much nails it. Our relationship to MLK and MX are disproportionate. Malcolm X could have said a million haraam things in his life and MLK could have said a million good things in his life.

      The bottom line when you compare them, for most Muslims, is that one died a Muslim and the other died a Christian. So comparing them in an Islamic perspective is flawed from the beginning.

      It would do more justice to both men to explain the good that they did and how we can apply it as Muslims.

      As an African-American I’ve been fed MLK lore since childhood. Malcolm X was always the dark prince we loved in private. The same holds true today as MLK is raised higher and higher with each passing year and the Presidency of BHO.

      But I’ve been Muslim all my life and Malcolm X was and always will be my personal hero (after Rasulullah [saws] and the companions). Simply because he took Shahadah, made hajj and died as a Muslim, perhaps even a martyr.

      Despite his lack of knowledge, that may put him leagues ahead of all of us (and Allah knows best).

  11. Abu'ubaida says:


    I agree with tn and to just add few things…..

    You qouted:

    “How then is it that some Muslims today quote Malcolm’s words when he was simply the mouthpiece of the same organization that assassinated him? When in fact Malcolm, upon conversion to true Islam, set out to counter those very beliefs?”

    Your words in the article present Malcolm in a very negative way. You are generalizing everything about him and vaguely presenting the facts…

    You should give an example of where Malcolm counter his previous beliefs and we as Muslims today advocate or use those beliefs?

    Whats wrong with the below quotes?

    “We are nonviolent with people who are nonviolent with us” (I hope you realize that’s Malcolm’s quote).

    “You don’t have to be a man to fight for freedom. All you have to do is to be an intelligent human being”.

    “If you are not ready to die for it, put the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary”.

    “You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is Wrong, no matter who does it or says it”.

    I don’t see a problem for an activist or anyone to re-use it (in its correct context) whether Malcolm said it while as NOI or Muslim. If there is anything i’m missin please show me…

    It is just not a balance article and I don’t think you gave Malcolm what he deserve…

    And yes Islam advocate that turning the other cheek is the best resort but it also acknowledge an eye for an eye as our brother tn explained above in his comment. Akhi, present all the fact and don’t take the ones that appeal to you.

    I also don’t think you are qualify to write about this subject… you haven’t gone through what Malcolm has or lived in those days as a black person…

    FYI, Malcolm only resorted to aggression when the other side was not cooperating. He was willing to diplomacy but realize there is no point when the other side doesn’t want beating and killing his people…

    Malcolm was the catalyst of why Blacks were respected and became independence during those days… they were able to have their own business, institutions, etc… This was no way because they wanted to be separate but because they were rejected and treated inhumanly by the dominant society…

    Your analysis of ‘by any means necessary’ is out of context so is the quote “send him to the cementary”…

    Through fighting oppression and injustice and him being a man of accepting truth Allah (swt) guided him to become a muslim…. through that he inspired many and many have become Muslims ’till today people are becoming Muslim… That’s his legacy. And i don’t see why you would want to question that legacy

    Forgive me if I offended any one.

  12. Wadiya Ali says:

    Malcolm preached Freedom, Justice and Equality, is this not what Martin preached also? They were closer than you know.

  13. Taqiudeen says:

    As salaam alaikum!

    This article is seriously flawed. Dr. Hashmi JazakAllahuu Kahir for sharing your views, but make sure you research them before you post them on one of the most visited Muslim blogs on the internet.

    Br. Amad:

    I don’t get why this article was even posted. Muslim Matters should be known for quality, not quantity.

    Thanks for Reading, may Allah bless us all… Ameen!

    • Care to explain what parts are flawed? What part was ill-researched? Seems like you just disagree with my opinion, not the facts. If you have proof of where I got the facts wrong, then do say.

      It’s an editorial. You may agree or disagree with it.

      Funny how you end your post in that du’a. How disingenuous.


      • Taqiudeen says:

        Dr. Hashmi,

        There is no need to insult me. May Allah give us all a better understanding… Ameen!

        I invite you to go to wikipedia and read the biographies of both Dr. King and Malcolm. You will see the many of misconceptions you have about them and their work.

        In brief, Dr. King was about civil disobedience and non violence, he wasn’t against integration, but to make it seem that was what he was all about is completely incorrect. I also find it absolutely horrible that you mentioned the accusations that he had extra marital affairs. Neither Dr. King and Coretta ever confirmed this, and I don’t want to hear that the FBI is the source. The fact that Malcolm never cheated on Betty as a proof of his sincerity is a low ball approach and says very little about his true greatness.

        As far as the greatness of Malcolm, at the end of his life he was laying down the foundations of the Black Power movement. The Black Power movement had little to do with segregation and every thing to do with the economic and political empowerment of the Black (or African American) community. Malcolm also tried to establish ties with his ancestral homeland (Africa), establish the African American community with in the global African community and escalate the struggle of civil rights, or a struggle for human rights.

        I could also write about the evolution of Dr. King, his protests against the Vietnam war, and his steps towards moving the civil rights movement to a human right’s movement, but these are big topics and deserve better then just a reply.

        All this information and more is on wikipedia, you didn’t even have to crack a book.

        There is much, much more, but I don’t have time..

        Now for me, and you got personal. How dare you call me disingenuous. You don’t know my intentions. It seems you like to write on topics you have know knowledge of. I hope the editorial board of Muslim Matters keeps that in mind the next time they post one of your articles.

        May Allah bless us all, wal humdulialh!


        • In brief, Dr. King was about civil disobedience and non violence, he wasn’t against integration, but to make it seem that was what he was all about is completely incorrect.

          I never said that Dr. King was “against integration.” Where did you get that from? It was Malcolm who was opposed to integration, i.e. “the only thing I like integrated is my coffee.”

          I also find it absolutely horrible that you mentioned the accusations that he had extra marital affairs.

          I specifically said that Muslims should not delve into this because it involves what went on in the bedroom and is his personal matter. I mentioned it because whenever MLK comes up, some Muslim mentions it.

          Ok, so far you are 0 out of 2 :)

          The fact that Malcolm never cheated on Betty as a proof of his sincerity is a low ball approach and says very little about his true greatness.

          Low ball approach?

          The fact that Malcolm was faithful to his wife, in spite of the women who were throwing themselves onto him, speaks volumes about his character. I don’t see how it is “low ball” of me to mention that.

          0/3 :)

          As far as the greatness of Malcolm, at the end of his life he was laying down the foundations of the Black Power movement. The Black Power movement had little to do with segregation and every thing to do with the economic and political empowerment of the Black (or African American) community. Malcolm also tried to establish ties with his ancestral homeland (Africa), establish the African American community with in the global African community and escalate the struggle of civil rights, or a struggle for human rights.

          I simply said that the quotes people use from him generally come from before he converted to Islam and when he promoted an anti-integration approach, which really ends up being the same as segregation.

          The fact that he evolved near the end of his life is very well known to me, and does not appear relevant to the discussion here.

          0/4 :)

          I could also write about the evolution of Dr. King, his protests against the Vietnam war, and his steps towards moving the civil rights movement to a human right’s movement, but these are big topics and deserve better then just a reply.

          I am familiar with MLK’s disillusionment and his speech about how his dream turned into a nightmare.

          The reality is that MLK and Malcolm X came closer to each other near the end of their lives. But again, none of this has relevance to the article. So you coming in here saying that I had the facts wrong–when I never mentioned these facts to begin with–is strange.


          I hope the editorial board of Muslim Matters keeps that in mind the next time they post one of your articles.

          Yes, because we all know how MM articles never get negative feedback. :)

          Anyways, I expected criticism when I posted it…The point is to challenge the Muslims to think, not to always spoon feed them what they want to hear.

          In any case, you made a claim that I got the facts wrong. Which fact did I get wrong?

          Perhaps you could simply have disagreed with my opinion and stated why, instead of assailing me and MM.

          J. Hashmi


          • Taqiudeen says:

            Dr. Hashmi, I love you for the sake of Allah!

            I am not sure of the main point of your article, and if I knew I probably wouldn’t comment even if I disagreed. I hardly read or make comments.

            If you wish, I give permission for the administrators of the website to give you my e-mail, we can set up a time and talk, or exchange e-mails.

            I would like to mention that Manning Marable has a book coming out some time this year. Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention.

            I would recommend every Muslim to read, or re-read the last 3 chapters of his Malcolm X’s autobiography, and the epilogue by Alex Haley. The best book on Malcolm outside of his autobiography is the Judas Factor by Karl Evanzz.

            The best book I have read so far on Dr. King is his autobiography (letters, personal writings, and speeches that were complied after his death).

            I don’t know how much we can use from them, or if what they did is applicable now, but they were great men, and sacrificed everything for what they believed in.

            May Allah increase us in beneficial knowledge…Ameen


      • ibn Insaan says:

        Brother, for someone endeavouring to emphasise the place of clemency forgiveness and mercy within Islam, your own responses so far on this editorial have been rather abrasive and brash.

        Now even finishing on a du’a is something whihc is to be read into and censured?

        • You’re right, brother Ibn Insaan. I reacted very poorly. I apologize. I took a couple days off away from the internet to cool off. I had felt swarmed at that time and started lashing out at people.


          • ibn Insaan says:

            Akhi, what was said wasn’t stated to prove one right over the other, it was just meant to be sincere advice, fabarakalahu feekum – and may He be always be kind and gracious to you, and increase you in ‘izzah for your humbleness and humility. Aameen.


  14. Ibn Waheed says:

    Salamu Alaikum

    The author of this article seems to be out of touch with a number of things. Firstly, Malcolm X has never been considered a scholar by Muslims or non-Muslims, thus the need to write an article about it and put it on the front page of muslim matters is wasteful. Malcolm X was an African American leader who advocated for human rights using an effective approach that most black historians say would have prevailed had he been alive. It was this approach that he is universally known for and it just so happens that he formed these views between 1964 and 1965 when he was Muslim. If you studied Dr Martin Luther King’s views you would know that Dr King himself leaned more towards what would be considered radicalism from 1965 to 1968.

    I encourage the author to research the socio-political climate of the post jim-crow 60’s before discrediting Malcolm X whose views were recognized by many credible personalities and institutions including heads of states, and universities such as Oxford at which he was invited to debate.

    I also encourage the author to study the effects of Malcolm X on the rise of Islam in the west. African-American Muslims make up a little over a third of the American Muslim population, making them the largest ethnic group of Muslims in America. Yes Malcolm X might have been quoted saying things that might not conform with Islam, but believe it or not, that was the situation of Islam and Muslims in the west at that time. Black Muslims, including many NOI members had very little access to Islamic resources but one cannot doubt their sincerity and quest to follow the truth. Today the NOI is weak with very little followers… but not because they died out…it is because most of their members left and became orthodox Muslims. But when we alienate ourselves from the black community, which we have been doing for the past decade, we lose that connection. It is from that community where Islam is thriving.

    Writing an article discrediting Malcolm X is counterproductive to Muslims in America. You cannot zealously judge someone by googling famous quotes and breaking them down to the teeth. I would be interested in knowing your book references.

  15. Shaheen says:

    You say: “It is possible that the NOI’s ideology of “by any means necessary” was a result of their disbelief in the Hereafter. ”

    This was not an NOI ideology. This was Malcolm’s ideology after he left the NOI. In fact if you know the entire sentence of the quote, you would know that the NOI was staunchly against it.

    To the Muslim Matters staff: This is one of my favorite sites, but editorials like these will shake the credibility of this site and should not be permitted.

    • Shaheen, Ibn Waheed,

      As for your input, you did not even carefully read the article, as evidenced by your paragraph here:

      I also encourage the author to study the effects of Malcolm X on the rise of Islam in the west. African-American Muslims make up a little over a third of the American Muslim population, making them the largest ethnic group of Muslims in America. Yes Malcolm X might have been quoted saying things that might not conform with Islam, but believe it or not, that was the situation of Islam and Muslims in the west at that time. Black Muslims, including many NOI members had very little access to Islamic resources but one cannot doubt their sincerity and quest to follow the truth. Today the NOI is weak with very little followers… but not because they died out…it is because most of their members left and became orthodox Muslims.

      I myself said that Malcolm’s greatest legacy was bringing so many black Americans to Islam, and of crippling the NOI by absorbing its followers.

      You did mention one good point, however, which is the one about the words “by any means necessary” being said after his conversion. But it does not change the argument, as I already said that his words after conversion must conform to the Quran and Sunnah. If one takes “by any means necessary” literally, then it is wrong. If it’s not meant to be taken literally, then that’s fine.


  16. People need to understand that I am not trying to demean Malcolm X or deny his legacy. I am simply questioning *what* his legacy was. To me, it is the fact that he brought so many people to Islam.

    As for the ideologies he is famous for in the West–amongst non-Muslims–especially in contrast to MLK–I believe they are contrary to Islam, which is no surprise considering he was not a Muslim when he said those things.


  17. Shaheen says:

    -We recognize that the same IP address doesn’t guarantee sock-puppets, so we have pulled the comments related to this. -Editor

  18. Abu Muawiyah says:

    Masha Allah, great post!

    In fact I was thinking about the exact same thing the other day and was planning to write a post on this topic but you saved me the work.

    Malcolm X was a role model to me but that does not mean we take his words as Gospel as so many people that I know do, he was not a scholar and died soon after converting so his life can be looked at for inspiration but his speeches should be checked against Quran and Sunnah.

    The bets lecture I heard about Malcolm X is by Khalid Yaseen and is available from 1Islam Productions, people should check it out.

    • Jazakh-Allah khair.

      I really appreciate it.

      To tell you the truth, I just want to get the conversation started…I may be wrong, and I’d love to hear counter views. The only issue I had with some of the responses was that they weren’t giving counter-views, but instead just bashing me (or at least that’s how I felt). Instead of people saying “you’re not qualified” or “why on earth would MM post such a thing” etc etc., it would have been better if they had just provided a counter view in a courteous manner.

      Having said that, I reacted in a harsh manner, so I was wrong myself.


  19. vindicated says:

    I don’t disagree with what is being said in this post, just how it has been portrayed. I’ve personally never thought of Malcolm X as a scholar or anything. And I don’t understand how/why anyone would do that.. One must be really ignorant of his life to do something like that.

    Anyway, what really impressed me was his attitude of acting for what he believed was the truth with full conviction and firmness. This integrity is something that is lacking in our people these days- we love to complain about this issue and that issue, and perhaps write blogs and articles, but not go out and talk to people, convince them to act. And also act ourselves, and be the change we want to see in others. This is the biggest lesson i got from his autobiography.

    I believe the question ‘Martin or Malcolm’ is flawed in itself- you can not expect Muslims not to view Malcolm in a positive light. It is natural that they idealize someone who rose from the depths of darkness and eventually found the ultimate truth. I believe that all his life he was looking for the truth, and as a result of that Allah guided him to that.

    In essence, I’m not saying what he did or said in his entire life is something for us to follow word for word, but his attitude towards life and message of action is what we direly need. For example,

    “… you won’t find anybody more time-conscious than I am. I live by my watch, keeping appointments. Even when I’m using my car, I drive by my watch, not my speedometer. Time is more important to me than distance.” (The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Alex Hailey)

    This attitude is what amazed me. How many Muslims among us have such respect for time? And this is just one thing, there are many many more lessons to be learnt from his autobiography.

    Maybe MLK’s words and ideology of how to go about improving the conditions was better, but I believe there is still a lot to be learnt from Malcolm as well. And this post might give those who don’t know much about him a negative view of him, and discourage them to learn and read about him in an unbiased manner.

  20. Ibn Waheed says:

    Br Hashmi

    I don’t agree with your understanding of Malcolm’s ideology. Malcolm was not a segregationist. This is also well documented in many of his interviews. Malcolm believed in economic independence. Him being labeled a segregationist by his foes should not lead to us using such labels. Your forecasting of Malcolm’s methodology is off as is your observation of contemporary black life. The truth is that wherever African-Americans are living in poverty… the housing, job market, businesses, and education are controlled by people who invest their money and resources outside of the black community. Thus the situation for African-Americans is not too different than it was in the 60’s. In fact, although racial violence might be down, the socio-economic situation is in many cases worse. Government zoning initiatives began in those days and the effects are shown today. Remember, a democracy only benefits the majority. The minority loses. In our present white-dominated economy, black males will be the last to be granted jobs which is one of the major causes of drug trafficking in the American ghettos–which leads to racial profiling–which leads to imprisonment–which leads to a criminal record–which leads to unemployment again–which leads to you being stuck in the same game–which leads to your kids being born in the same game–and the cycle continues.

    This is what Malcolm X’s ideology tackled. His solution was economic independence similar to many other sub-cultures such as the American Jews. Plain and simple.

    Barack Obama cannot be considered the model African-American success story because he did not live the African-American experience as mentioned above and does not represent the typical lifestyle of the average black male.

  21. Amad says:

    I would just like to make a general comment in response to those who are questioning the credibility of the site, and how articles such as this affect it.

    Please remember this is a blog. We don’t present opinions as hard-cold facts. Each author makes his/her own conclusions and judgments on materials he/she has reviewed.

    If you disagree with these conclusions or the opinions, you are free to do so of course and even question the author about it. This is what makes blogging different from news where you are expected to swallow everything given to you. Instead of hurting site credibility, it provides an outlet for different POVs, which makes a site even better.

    So, we would appreciate all commentators to stick to discussing issues in the post instead of attacking the site/author, because this way the discussion will remain more cordial and less emotional. We have also requested Dr. Hashmi, who is mashallah a prolific writer, to keep the post environment more healthy and pleasant. Blogging can be quite painful sometimes and bloggers take attacks on their credibility quite personally… a raw emotion that we have to try to keep at bay.


    • Taqiudeen says:

      As salaam alaikum Amad!

      JazackAllahuu kahir for the reply. I think my bad writing must have made you feel that I was questioning the credibility of Muslim Matters. It was the exact opposite. Who am I do question the credibility of de facto blog of Shaykh Yasir Qahdi and Shaykh Yasir Birjas.

      But, as some others have mentioned, with that comes a responsibility.

      Sorry if I offended anyone. May Allah have mercy on us… Ameen!


    • Jazakh-Allah khair, brother Amad.

      I reacted poorly, and thank you for the reminder. It’s hard for me to take the heat…it will be something I will have to learn.

      J. Hashmi

  22. midatlantic says:

    O Allah bless the Muslims of the West with a leader like Malik Al-Shabbazz. And may Allah turn his mistakes into hasanaat and grant him the highest jannah.

  23. Sincerity says:

    I agree with most other commentators! I understand that this is an opinion based article, however that needs to be done with proper analysis , facts and present both sides of the story.

    Also, most of the Ayah in Quran which speak about remaining patient were revealed during Makkan period, when Muslims didn’t have power or other resources. Once they migrated to Medinah, then they were commanded to fight.

    Islam is a practical way of life, it realizes turning the cheek is not always the most practical thing to do, hence both options are available to us (however forgiveness is obviously more praiseworthy but the other option is just as valid if done within the bounds of Islamic legislation).

  24. Jeremiah says:

    As salamu alaikum Brother J. Hashimi,

    First, I think I understand your motivation for writing this article. If I am not mistaken you are troubled by the disenchanted youth taking quotes or snippets from Brother Malcolm and trying to apply them to our contemporary issues.

    However, I have to say that this article displays a critical lack of awareness of the context and methodology of both MLK and Brother Malcolm. To paraphrase John Henrik Clarke, the late giant of African-American History, the goal of the civil rights movement was not integration, but removing injustice. MLK’s methodology was based on the belief that he could appeal to people’s conscious. As we see later in his life, he began to move away from that approach.

    Brother Malcolm on the other hand did advocate segregation, but not just solely for the sake of segregation. His methodology, as I understand it, was based on the belief that a weaker party would always be dominated by the stronger one. He preached disengagement, development of self-sufficiency and then re-engagement.

    The truth is that this debate (and its variants) is an age-old argument in the Black community (for example see Booker T. Washington/W.E.B. Dubois, etc.).

    I ask you sincerely as a brother in Islam to please educate yourself on issues and make sure that you are not transposing contemporary issues or personal viewpoints on historical events. Your comments about integration, HBCUs and the inner-city indicate that you are not very familiar with African-American social and cultural issues.

    As one of the earlier posters suggested, a possible better perspective would have been identifying the Islamic mores in MLK’s approach and neglecting the commentary on social and historical issues that you are not familiar with.

    In closing, I hope my comment does not come off as too sarcastic. That was not my intent.


    • Jazzak Allaahu Khayr brother Jeremiah. You make many good points. This article offers some interesting thoughts and perspectives, but suffers from a simplistic historical understanding of both MLK and Malcolm X.

      • Taqiudeen says:

        As salaam alaikum Abu Noor!

        You just summed up all of my comments in two sentences, and did it in such an elegant manner that you did not offend anyone, Mashaa Allah. I wish you were my English teacher.


        • I don’t know what you consider well read on the topic. I am certainly not a historian, but I have taken a couple courses on the subject, read a few books, watched documentaries on the topic, and spoken in depth with black Muslims who knew Malcolm X and have dedicated a good portion of their lives to the subject matter. But I am certainly not considered a scholar on the topic, so I’ll cede that to you. At the end of the day, it’s just an opinion piece by a layperson.

          My feeling is, however, that I am more well-read on the topic than many of the people who posted that I am not well read on it, lol. But alas, one can never know that for sure.

          Lastly, I just want to advise you, as people have advised me about my manners (and which I am trying to heed): it is really not helpful of you to say general things like “please educate yourself on the topic.” It sounds very condescending.

          If you are a historian, then yeah, I can see you saying that. But my feeling is that most of you who are saying such things are not historians at all, but rather on the same playing field. If so, I advise you to simply state your counter-points without assuming you know more or less on the topic. Jazakh-Allah khair.

          J. Hashmi

  25. Mr M says:

    Why Jews Support Black Causes – Interview With Kevin MacDonald PhD

  26. Yousef says:

    If you wanted to praise Dr. King, you could have found a more constructive way than by degrading the legacy of Malcolm X, whither it was your intent or not. You should remove this article.

    • Qas says:

      Nope. The article should stay. It’s a perspective on the subject of MLK and Malcolm and in no way denigrates brother Shabazz. The fact that people are projecting their thoughts on the article doesn’t mean the article says what they think.

      • Jazakh-Allah khair, brother. At the end of the day, it’s just an opinion piece and people are free to disagree. For the record, Malcolm X is–and has always been–one of my heroes. Nonetheless, I simply think we should be clear on some points of disagreement with what he was known for (at least before he converted to Islam). But again, people are free to disagree…I just hope they do it in a courteous manner instead of “take it down” and “how dare MM post this!?” Having said that, my own reaction was inappropriate and I have been duly chastised by MM staff for that.

        J. Hashmi

    • Umm Bilqis says:

      I agree with Yusef here is way to celebrate Martin Luther King, and still discuss the massive abuse of the human rights of many Muslims by Gilad Atzmon.

      As Muslims we are against violence towards innocents no matter who perpetrates this.

  27. Adnan says:

    I’m not a big fan of the article, but it doesn’t mean that Dr. Hashmi’s points do not encourage interesting debates. I think the article shouldn’t be deleted. After all, look at the abundant comments already. I like the way he briefly underscored the youth of today, and that’s what I hope future articles on this website could explore for the readers.

    I also hope that some of the young activists would be involved in this type of discussion.

  28. Osman says:


    JazakumuAllah khair for offering your thoughts Dr. Hashimi. I would also like to thank the brothers and sisters who work on this site for all their hard work and dedication.

    I would like to offer a few thoughts concerning what has transpired through the comments on this section in regards to this article, and perhaps share some advice as well on how we can collectively benefit and learn from each other while maintaining respect between the writers and the readers.

    Also, we should also all be mature enough to know how to accept criticism and realize that many of those who criticize do so in order to guide and correct mistakes. Regardless of how well the critic conveys his thoughts, the one on the receiving end should try and benefit from what has been said to the best of his ability.

    1. The critic should maintain a respectful discourse at all times, and try not to belittle or blast the thoughts or personality of the author. If one wants his criticism to be accepted, the least he can do is to offer his thoughts with respect and maturity.

    2. It seems the author of the article is adamant that there are no mistakes in this article and attempts to refute every potential criticism. This often leads the critic to become more upset and harsh in his criticism. Perhaps the author can accept that he may have been vague, made some generalizations, or perhaps his tone was not the best to convey his message. However, by completely rejecting all criticism from a number or readers, this only adds fuel to the fire.

    3. The author of this post, and all other authors (on this Islamic blog and others) must have thick skin. If you are going to write opinions and propose new theories or perspectives, you must realize people will disagree and respond. If this blog seeks to educate and stimulate discussion, all those who work for it must show good character, patience, and be humble enough to accept legitimate criticism. What harms an Islamic website more than anything else is when those who work for the site show poor character. That shakes a reader’s confidence in a site far more than a difference of opinion on a matter not related to a fundamental aspect of Islam.

    One of the writers commented saying this is a blog and its all about sharing thoughts and promoting discussion, and that authors make their own judgments based on what they review.

    I would like to say that this is not completely fair. This blog is perceived to be a website offering legitimate advice, reminders, and guidance on issues of deen. You have to realize you are shaping the thoughts and minds of readers, especially those who frequent the site for guidance, and not to criticize or for entertainment. Even opinions should be based on solid research, evidence, and be peer reviewed if necessary for accuracy and appropriateness.

    Lastly, I would like to add that as Muslims we should show extra respect to those who gave their lives for this deen. When criticizing martyrs such as Malcolm, we should show extreme caution in not harming their legacy or their reputation. I know this was not the author’s intent by any means, but obviously the readers feel otherwise.


  29. Abu 'Ubaida says:

    Jazakhallah Brother Osman for the advice.

  30. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Al_Mawaddah: Martin or Malcolm? MLK, Malcolm X, and Muslims: by J.Hashmi As Martin Luther King Day rolls by, the question is in…

  31. tsuk says:

    Assalamu alaikum warah matullah.

    The author is right!. i believe him.. Many Islamic teaching especially in attitude that i have realised came from the advised of my christian friend. meaning we can learn many good thing with christians and often they are very Islamic.

  32. Bint Maryama says:

    “Martin or Malcolm? Sadly, for many Muslims, the answer is too easy: Malcolm of course! ”

    Never questioning the intention of the author, better use of words could have been used. Regardless of the message of the article, I was turned off by that first sentence. There is not a muslim that would choose Martin over Malcolm (May Allah SWT be pleased with him and enter him in the highest part of jannah). And I don’t see why loving a believer in Allah SWT especially one of this importance as Malcolm would be “sad”. Yes of course Malcolm! Martin was a great man, who struggled for not just his people alone but against injustice in this country and history will remember him as so, but Malcolm, Malcolm was the reason real change occurred for African Americans in this country, as others have mentioned the author is flawed, Malcolm didn’t preach violence against the innocent which is what Islam teaches, but standing up to injustice and not taking oppression from tyrants, just because he was part of Nation of Islam during this time, does not at all negate the truth of his message.

  33. ibnmasood says:

    I just have one question for the author of this post: have you read the Autobiography of Malcolm X?

    Jazakum Allahu khairan

  34. Sarah says:

    Malcom x is cristain and turned into muslim right?

  35. Sarah says:

    Masha Allah All of those comments were true.

  36. LILayla says:

    May ALLAH bless you for this obviously thought-provoking post. I think it was well written and you made some very good points from the perspective of someone who is perhaps somewhat removed from the history and culture of the times that bred both Martin Luther King and Malcom X, who later became Malik El Shabaaz.

    Although your concerns for Muslim youth whom you have stated idealized his speeches, you have belittled the struggles of a man who played a significant role in the civil rights movement. The speeches you criticize and juxtapose against the less fiery rhetoric of MLK were important factors in the acceptance of white America to the idea of ending the segregation and oppression of African Americans (use of the term “blacks” is insulting). Malcom X represented a different stand against hundreds of years of slavery (where his people were treated like chattle) Jim Crow and Segregation, where the oppression and death of African Americans through poverty and arbitrary murders by white hate groups and indeed a government dominated by racist whites unchecked. It is a strongly held view amongst historians that without Malcom X’s encouragement for African Americans to stand up against their oppressors and fight fire with fire, MLK would have made little progress. Also it would be better when addressing historical figures, to try and present as much of the persons as possible. Malcom X was a man of great discipline and despite what some quickly label as incendiary speech, those under his leadership did not have unbridled anger but were ready to what was necessary to protect their people. This was more threatening to the oppressive American establishment even more so than his speeches.

    Additionally, at the converts into the Nation of Islam considered themselves as becoming Muslim and where not made aware of the differences between it and traditional Islam until after Malcom X’s travels abroad and Hajj. So to say he was not Muslim is a drastic statement that I am sure upon further reflection you will realize is not to made simply. Our beloved Prophet (saws) said, I have not been ordered to investigate the hearts of the people nor to rip open their bellies.” This is a matter of Iman, which is not for us to judge or measure.

    Furthermore, to call a Christian minister more “Islamic” than a fellow Muslim who was at least on the path to guidance is inappropriate. The gentleness of MLK’s speeches and his noble mission notwithstanding, he was someone who set up partners with ALLAH until his death and to put him at a higher historical stature than a man who spoke the truth of Islam, even when it alienated him from his people is erroneous. It may lead to the mistaken belief that a person who utters the word “La ilaha illaLLAH” with Eeman, who struggles for the deen could ever be diminished to the stature of one who does a million good works for other than ALLAH.

    It is also an error to allocate Malik El Shabazz’s legacy to the conversion of “blacks” (did I mention that is insulting) when his autobiography contributed to the conversion of members of the western civilization of various races, creeds and backgrounds.

    I completely agree that much of Malik El Shabazz’s rhetoric is taken out of historical context. However, I urge you not to take the man out of context to prove a point. This was your Muslim brother and as you have stated, he died for his beliefs. I think that once you better hone your argument and perhaps do more to teach about the man along with the historical figure, you may find others more responsive.

    A final note…MLK was influenced more so by Ghandi (having learned about his nonviolent tactics) than the Prophet Ibrahim (saws), who according to the Christian tradition, gathered an army of his men and was victorious at the Battle of the Vale of Siddim. The motive, to save his nephew Lot, hardly something MLK would have been a proponent of. I advise some more historical research to make a truly compelling argument.

    Ma’a Salaams

  37. LILayla says:

    Sorry, one more thing. You dismiss Malcom’s speeches that he made when he was part of the Nation of Islam but you applaud Martin when he was completely outside of Islam? This is very contradictory and necessitates you either accepting them both because you see neither as Muslim (which would eliminate the need for your post) or eliminate it from your argument.

    “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who its for or against.”

    “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”

    “You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it.”

    “You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.”

    “You don’t have to be a man to fight for freedom. All you have to do is to be an intelligent human being.”

    – Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik El Shabazz)

    Sounds Islamic to me!

  38. Umm Bilqis says:

    Well said sister lilayla,
    “A slave is one who waits for someone to come and set him free.” Ezra Pound
    MLk’s approach came from Gandhi who was inspired by the Suffragettes or first wave feminists. It can work if you are dealing with people who have a semblance of morality, and ethics not necessarily with people who tear up or don’t adhere to their own Geneva Conventions.

  39. rhiohki says:

    I believe this article, hastily written and not really well thought out, historically speaking, was in direct response to Umar Lee’s blog. Umar and Muslim Matters have been known to have stark differences of opinion on political and social issues. Allah is my witness, I remember reading just several days prior to this article’s release, a post by Umar which included all of the points here that was used to start the counter points, even down to the cemetery quote. Unfortunately, I can’t find the specific post on Umar’s blog anymore. Perhaps it was deleted. He is currently facing some legal trouble, so please make duah for him.

    Now, the author may correct me if I’m wrong, if there were other online-public discourses that necessitated the creation of this article, of which I am probably not familiar, please let me and the other readers know. My point is that opinions written as counter arguments toward another opinion where facts are not checked and generalizations about muslim populace is assumed causes confusion. Certainly, this has happened here.

    Ma’a Salaams

    • Amad says:

      I am not aware of this being a direct response to any other post, or at least something that was discussed between us. Umar is certainly entitled to his opinions, as are all 20+ writers on MM, so unless any post is by “MM”, it only represents the author’s opinions, which may or may not be shared by others. I’ll let Dr. Hashmi answer the comment directly so he may enlighten all of us.

      Despite my personal disagreements and disappointment with some of his recent posts, including attacks on MM, his quandary is a direct testimony to how careful one has to be online in whatever he or she writes, and this is especially true for Muslims as we are constantly under the spotlight. Freedom of speech is a good slogan but it is being tested in the case of Muslim speech everyday.

      May Allah put ease in Umar’s affairs, for him and his family.

  40. huzaifa says:

    May Allah swt guide the author, and all Muslims writing online to the truth. It is going to be hard enough for us all to answer for our tongues and now we have to answer for what our fingers are typing. Keeping this in mind, I would like to highlight something from MM

    his quandary is a direct testimony to how careful one has to be online in whatever he or she writes

    First, I neither have read Br Umar’s writing nor about his legal troubles, but from the above comment the reader can sense an over arching fear of the government when writing, which in my opinion dilutes your objectivity. Not to say that you had claimed objectivity, but it should be well noted by your readers. Secondly, I think we as Muslims fundamentally must have more fear of Allah swt than any government when writing.

    I find it a very sad state of affairs.. May Allah guide us all! Ameen!!

    • Amad says:

      This is not “overarching fear of government”, it is a recognition of current times and common sense. A lack of either dilutes your wisdom in addressing situations. The same thing can be said two different ways: one which could bring harm, the other which would not. If you do not know what Umar said, maybe you should research it and then you will have a better sense of what the context of this comment was. He himself regretted it quite a bit and removed the post. Another cavalier website that championed its “non-censorship” eventually instituted rules to moderate discussions.

      Our readers are quite well aware of our stances, thank you very much for your “sincere” reminder.

      Conflating care in speech with fear of Allah is another leap that YOU took, not I. You are not helping the “sad state of affairs” with your below-the-belt attacks. Feel free to be productive.

      • huzaifa says:

        “Our readers are quite well aware of our stances”

        Just because they are aware doesn’t make your stances right! That is no defense.

        If at any point you or any author feels that due to “current times” or “common sense” that they cannot write or truly express the truth, then I think that is a sad state of affairs. If the truth is not worth protecting, then what is.

        I encourage you to remember why Abu Hanifah (Ra) was thrown in jail. I’m not saying that we should not be careful but you need to stand your ground as well. In my eyes it seems that day by day we are losing ground.

        “Conflating care in speech with fear of Allah is another leap that YOU took, not I. You are not helping the “sad state of affairs” with your below-the-belt attacks. Feel free to be productive.”

        My intention was not to make a below the belt attack, and I sincerely do not think I did. Nonetheless, please accept my apology, forgive me and pray for me. I feel by reminding the readers and authors on this website about fearing Allah swt more than the government I was being productive.

        Lastly, this is not about you or me winning a debate. I just wanted to give you a naseeha and Insha Allah if it was sincere than I pray it will cause benefit.

        And Allah swt knows best.

  41. Alhamdulillah says:

    This article was a complete waste of time. There was no need for it, no legible, constructive conclusion at the end, and neither any lasting benefit.

    Muslims these days love hating on and discrediting other Muslims and their works. It’s become a popular past time.

    In my books, Malcolm X will forever be a better role model as a Muslim than MLK. He was a Muslim; MLK was not.

    You don’t have to be a PhD student to figure that out.

  42. BintMaryama says:


    Sorry if that came across wrong, i wrote it quickly, I was saying that is what islam teaches, which is non-violence against innocent people and which Malcolm believed even before he accepted true islam and furthermore and more importantly we have the example of our prophet scw as an example in mecca to endure with patience, and to fight against injustice, oppression, and tyranny which is also haqq, i realize their is method to follow and that is entire different debate. Great points were made by others and yourself. Wa salaam

    here is a great video on Malcolm X

    • LILayla says:

      As Salaamu Alaykum…

      I figured that is what you meant sister. I just wanted to bring the typo to your attention :) May Allah bless you.

  43. I just wanted to thank everyone for their input. And again apologize for my harsh reaction initially. I took a two day cool down period in between, so sorry for the late responses.

    J. Hashmi

  44. Blackman says:

    J. Hashmi, are you an African-American? Born before, during or shortly after Malcolm’s time?

    If so you would understand “by any means necessary” was a call, slogan, MEANING DO NOT GIVE UP ON JUSTICE!!!!! Be willing to DIE FOR JUSTICE!!!! Meant nothing to do with violence, but if you punch me, I will punch you back. For those that are not in the African-American community, that phrase scares them, this phrase coming from a people that for far to long had been treated unjustly, seemed threatening.

    I would recommend for you Islam and the Blackamerican, and concentrate on the section regarding Black religion.

    Also you have to understand Blackamericans, for the most part we are a “Buck the system, type people” based on how we were socialized.

    Forward this article to Dr. Sherman Jackson, I would be interested in his take.

    Allah knows best but I think you meant well, but to speak about a topic without truly understanding Black-America and it related to both individuals, will get the responses you have seen.


  45. Faheemday says:

    Asalaam Alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh to all those that will read this. I guess the most appropriate way to start this post would be: Dear brothers and sisters, staff, friends and enemies. In fact I think we’d be fooling ourselves, if we had a site such as this and didn’t realize that we had enemies present. Ok, so that was partly because I always wanted to start a speech or something I wrote the way Br. Malcolm started his speeches so what better time to try this out than to write a post in which he was grossly misrepresented. Ok so now that this little “fantasy” is out of the system I’d like to excrete a few more things out of the system. I’d like to first start by saying I’m glad you had the guts to make the comparison and take this stand, just having the guts to do this shows that you’re an out of the box thinker and have somewhat of creative ability to have a bright future Inshallah in the world of journalism [not that I’m some authority in validating anyone’s career, just as you’re no authority in writing about Malcolm other than just expressing your opinion which is all I got out of your article as it had very little evidence and no sources listed], but I digress. So what I would like to do is breakdown your article Inshallah and go through some of the points you discussed and not just give my opinion but give proof with links to audio speeches, quotes from various books and excerpts from his speeches Inshallah. I’m not trying to argue or debate here because I honestly do agree with what I thought/think the general point of your article was but it was just delivered very poorly.

    Paragraph #1

    • What’s so sad about picking Malcolm over MLK? Pretty much an easy choice to me. I don’t take Malcolm as a scholar of Islam nor do I take what he said as fatawa and technically speaking, most Muslims don’t even know about Malcolm X because they are very much confused about his whole life and what really went on. (I promise I’m not categorizing YOU in this group). Fact of the matter is, Muslims always gravitate towards other Muslims that have accepted Islam after going through many tribulations as Malcolm X did.

    • You’re making a lot of conclusions and generalizations without very much evidence.

    • Christianity DOES teach turn the other cheek

    • Islam DOES teach to to fight oppression and to not back down in the face of injustice. I’m not sure which speeches you listened to but there are far more speeches of Malcolm X available from after when he accepted the orthodox Islam than in his NOI days because most if not all speeches from this time were directedly ONLY to the NOI members and gatherings whereas AFTER his pilgrimage to Mecca and Africa, Malcolm had become an international figure and was even making the efforts to take the US government to the UN for the mistreatment of its African American citizens. It was then when he was invited to many college campuses to speak to a mixed audiences and if you YouTube “Malcolm X speeches” you are likely to find a speech in entirety from his latter days than from his earlier NOI days. The only thing available from his NOI days are written transcripts at best and some audio excerpts of those speeches.

    • By any means necessary approach is not an offensive approach but an approach that is to fight the oppression that the African Americans were facing at the time where innocent civilians had fire hoses and K9s unleashed on them BY THE POLICE, not to mention the lynchings that were happening on a regular basis. Your comment about the by any means necessary approach is very out of context granted people DO take this out of context today not just muslims but you see a hint of “this approach” in hip hop lyrics in context of making it out of the “ghetto” even if it means to kill, rob and steal. So to say that Muslims have adopted this role because Malcolm is Muslim is inaccurate because the we would have a lot more people in favor of suicide bombings and other actions that you can characterize it to the “by any means necessary approach” but that’s a whole different can of worms. I don’t like worms, so I won’t get into that. Not that I have anything against worms. Other than that I don’t like them.

    Paragraph 2

    • I have yet to meet anyone that has taken Malcolm X as an authority on Islam. I’ve only met two types of people in relation to what their knowledge is of Malcolm X. One type of people is that they have no clue and the other is they’ve read his autobiography by Alex Haley and seen the Spike Lee Flick. ( from your article it seems like you’ve only watched the flick. Sorry  ) the only time I’ve heard Malcolm being referred as a religious figure is by his own words in this speech in 1964 “Ballot or the Bullet” ( at about 1:50 mark) Not only that even Malcolm says to “keep religion at home” (12:00 mark) so he understood that he was no authority on religion.

    • So you’re basing your opinion of what Muslims think of Malcom based off of “few emotional youth” (not a good way to build credibility. What do you think?)

    • Again, most famous speech by Malcolm X and the speech that is studied by almost all of the classes that are taught on him, is “Ballot or the Bullet in 1964”. In fact, most of the multimedia found of Malcolm X is either a TV interview from his NOI days or a recorded audio speech from after accepting the orthodox Islam.

    • Although Malcolm was literally speaking what he had been spoon fed in his times of NOI, given the factors the African Americans were facing, of fire hoses, K9s and lynchings, his approach was STILL not less Islamic than MLK’s.

    • Your use of the verse from the Qur’an is very misused. No one is debating that NOI is no where close to Christianity just as no one is debating that Malcolm X is NOT seen as a religious figure but an activist who stood up for his people.

    Paragraph 3

    • “Alex Haley relates that the last time he saw Malcolm alive, early in January 1965:
    ‘he talked about the pressures on him everywhere he turned and about the frustrations, amont them that no one wanted to accept anything relating to him except “my old ‘hate’ and violence’ image. He said “the so called moderate” civil rights organizations avoided him as “too militant” and the “so-called militants” avoided him as “too modereated.” “they won’t let me turn the corner!” he once exclaimed, “I’m caught in a trap!” [The last year of Malcolm X , The Evolution of a Revolutionary by George Breitman]

    • I’m not sure what you’re referring to as “heretics” but if it’s the militancy, he never renounced or stopped being anymore less “militant” when it came to fighting oppression. (2:00 mark ) and to end of the video (2:40 mark) ; (10:35 to 12:00 mark) “Today it’s time to stop singing and start swinging.” (13:50 mark)

    Paragraph 4:
    • When studying Malcolm you have to realize that there were distinct phases of his life:
    o NOI
     NOI spoon fed

    o Transition
     This was after he had bee suspended from NOI and left NOI after his comment after JFK’s assassination

     Those that have studied Malcolm have stated that NOI was just looking for an excuse to get rid of Malcolm. The fact is that towards the end of the 50s and early 60s, people were starting to realize that the Black Muslim movement was only good if you were a black muslim and that the NOI was all talk and not much action taken. This was part of the reason why Malcolm was ready to take action and was actually even trying to unite people of all ages and color. This was apparent when an 18 year old African American boy was shot and killed by the LAPD and nothing was done. People were waiting for some type of action taking place by the Black Muslims but although Malcolm made the effort to organize community leaders to carry out some serious civil disobedience, he got orders from Elijah Muhammad to hold off on any such actions. Malcolm and Elijah Muhammad were having ideological differences which is why he was banned/suspended at a comment he made which wasn’t any different than any other comments he had made before. [Page 26, The Last Year of Malcolm X, Evolution of a Revolutionary )
    o Final Phase
     Accepting the orthodox Islam after his trip for Hajj and Africa

    • I agree many muslims don’t make the distinction. But I think you’re over exaggerating the amount of people who are so caught up in quoting Malcolm that they don’t know which portion of his life the quote was derived from

    Turn the other Cheek or Send them to the Cemetry? there was no Cemetry afterewards but there was no sitting down or singing! (16:00 mark)
    Your comments under this general section seemed very apologetic and as if Malcolm was promoting violence in general. This was explicitly against those that were going around and lynching the African Americans and the cops that were unleashing k9s and fire hoses on women. Yes, islam does teach forgiveness and peace but at the same time it is not for the type of peace that MLK and his movement was portraying.
    Erroneous Analogies:

    • I agree that these anaologies are not very accurate . Malcolm wasn’t for begging for integration. He said that if white people didn’t want to integrate than he was fine with the segregation and not to go begging those that were treating them like they were less human than the white Americans.

    • Your comment about President Obama is comedy. I won’t even touch that. O:-]

    • The situations and the issues today that the black people face and those situations that have improved are not the cause of integration.

    In conclusion, the cases you’ve made in your article have no evidence and it seems more like a blog entry than an article. If you study the latter times in the life of MLK, you will see that he too starts to take on some of the ideologies of Malcolm X. One book I would recommend is Trumpet of Consciousness which is a compilation of MLKs speeches from his latter days right before his assassination. Although I agree that Malcolm X is a very mis-understood and misused individual by Muslims AND Non-Muslims alike, I would pick Malcolm over MLK anyday. Pre-Islam or not.

    NOI: Malcolm X

    Malcolm X after he left NOI: put out a order to kill me

    Ballet or the Bullet:

  46. Faheemday says:

    p.s: here is the LAPD incident i was referring to in my post:


    By Any Means Necessary AFTER orthodox Islam. Damn, you shoulda did your research homey :)

    the sound lags :(

  47. ttopo says:

    Wow what a defeatist article, and without concrete proof that we should suffer peacefully. tsk tsk.

  48. Abdul Vakil says:

    A al-Hajj Malik al-Shabazz (Malcolm X) refutation? Non-violence resistance as an effective response to oppression more aligned to Islamic concept of justice? Interesting…. thanks.

  49. Marya says:

    Very saddened by this article. :( El-Hajj Al-Malik Ash-Shabazz was a revolutionary, a hero, and a martyr.

    I interviewed someone just this past week for One Legacy Radio where he cited that the reason he came to Islam – SUNNI Islam – was because of Malcolm X. This is cited by many other indigenous Muslims I know.

    To be honest, this article seems to be very lacking in terms of understanding the indigenous Muslim narrative, and would be one of the reasons there is such a gap between the immigrant and indigenous Muslim population. I say this as a child of immigrants. I really believe this article is very disrespectful to the legacy of Malcolm X, as well of Islam in America.

    The life of Malcolm to me symbolizes the history of Muslims in the US – the Muslim slaves who were brought here and forcefully converted, as well as the mass movement during the Civil Rights Movement to come back to Islam. To use Islam as an empowering tool for community organization, to fight for freedom, and to connect to the ULTIMATE truth – belief in the One God.

    Malcolm was the descendant of slaves, who struggled to win back the rights of his people, and through his sincerity, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala guided him to the haqq. Allah also used him to guide hundreds of thousands of other people. That, to me, is inspirational. I cannot think of many other Muslim figures from American history that can claim anything close to that.

    I will always choose Malcolm, insha’Allah. May Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala grant him the highest levels of Jannah. Ameen.

  50. Irshad says:

    MX taught the oppressed to respect themselves and stand up for their rights and justice, whereas MLK was about begging for rights minus self esteem; and acceptance whether or not there’s justice.

    MX never preached “violence”. Dont even call it violence when its in “self defense”. The use of force to defend oneself againt violence IS NOT violence, sir – its antiviolence.

  51. Taqiudeen says:

    Just finishing up “On the side of my People: The Religious life of Malcolm X” by Louis A. DeCaro Jr. This is a book about the spiritual development of Malcolm X. A great book on Malcolm, and Malcolm being a Muslim. I would say that it is a must read.

  52. Just a thought says:

    Reading this two years later and I’m loving the discussion.

    Ma sha Allah.

  53. Taqiudeen says:

    I think that this sums up what the author was trying to say.

    May Allah Guide us… Ameen!

  54. dua says:

    May Allah bless the Muslims of the West with a leader like Malik Al-Shabbazz. and grant him the highest jannah.

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