“I have just completed my pilgrimage (Hajj) here to the Holy City of Mecca, the holiest city on earth, which is absolutely forbidden for non-Muslims to even rest their eyes upon. This pilgrimage is the most important event in the life of all Muslims, and there are over 226,000 who are here right now from outside of Arabia. From Turkey came the largest contagion, around 50,000 in over 600 buses. This refutes Westerner propaganda that Turkey is turning away from Islam.
I very much doubt that 10 American citizens have ever visited Mecca, and I do believe that I might be the first American-born Negro to make the actual Hajj itself. I’m not saying this to boast but only to point out what a wonderful accomplishment and blessing it is, and also to enable you to be in a better position intellectually to evaluate it in its proper light, and then your own intelligence can place it in its proper place.
This pilgrimage to the Holiest of Cities has been a unique experience for me, but one which has made me the recipient of numerous unexpected blessings beyond my wildest dreams.
Shortly after my arrival in Jeddah, I was met by Prince Muhammed Faisal who informed me that his illustrious father, his Excellency Crowned Prince Faisal had decreed that I be that I The ruler of Arabia be his Guest. What has happened since then would take several books to describe, but through the ***** of his Excellency I have since stayed in ***** hotels in Jeddah, Mecca, Mina – with a private car, a driver, a religious guide, and many servants at my disposal.
Never have I been so highly honored and never had such honor and respect made me feel more humble and unworthy. Who would believe that such blessing could be heaped upon an American Negro!!! (But) in the Muslim World, when one accepts Islam and ceases to be white or Negro, Islam recognizes all men as Men because the people here in Arabia believe that God is One, they believe that all people are also One, and that all our brothers and sisters is One Human Family.
I have never before witnessed such sincere hospitality and the practice of true brotherhood as I have seen it here in Arabia. In fact all I have seen and experienced on this pilgrimage as forced me to “re-arrange” much of thoughts pattern and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This “adjustment to reality” wasn’t to difficult for me to undergo, because despite my firm conviction in whatever I believe, I have always tried to keep an open mind, which is absolutely necessary to reflect the flexibility that must go hand in hand with anyone with intelligent quest for truth never comes to an end.”
This is how Malcolm X expressed his feelings from Mecca in a letter dated April 25, 1964, which he penned to Gloria Owens, one of his friends in the U.S., after he completed that famous Hajj pilgrimage that turned him into a brand new person and a solid Muslim. The letter is accompanied by postcards that will allow us to see how Mecca and the Kaaba looked in those years. In a postcard he sent to Owens, Malcolm informs her that he will continue his African tour after the pilgrimage. We know from the diaries he kept, his letters, and the notes he jutted in his notebook that he also visited Lebanon and Egypt after the pilgrimage and met with his friends there.
Perhaps one of the greatest examples of the transformative and reconstructive role of Hajj is epitomized in Malcolm X's person. Leaving Mecca, where he set foot as a person inclined to the supremacy of the black race, as a muwahhid who grasped the universal and supra-racial message of Islam, Malcolm not only completed his own quiet but also asked everyone: "What is Hajj actually?" He also prepared one of the most fundamental answers to that very same question.
I have made the long excerpt above from the book "The Chronicles of the Pilgrimage 1964," which consists of the notes of Malcolm X's long journeys in the heart of the Islamic world. I highly recommend it to all readers who, both those who go and those who cannot go, these days are experiencing the excitement of Hajj.
If I can, I will include the pilgrimage impressions of another convert, German diplomat Murad Wilfried Hofmann, in my Saturday column. It would be of great value to pay attention to the interesting details recorded by the eyes of those who observe us from the outside…/ yenisafak