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Manning Marable's "Malcolm" ... And Other Related Matters

02 May 2011

By El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan

Assalaamu Alaikum (Greetings of Peace):

About a month ago, I informed a number of friends and associates (Muslim and non-Muslim) - who were inquiring on my opinion of the latest release on Malcolm X - that I would soon share my thoughts on the controversies surrounding this newly released book, and, more importantly, on the book itself. I apologize that it has taken me this long.

I began composing my thoughts on the matter about three weeks ago, after reading a number of reviews and criticisms, and listening to a number of radio broadcasts on this controversial work by the late Columbia University historian, Professor Manning Marable. But as my thoughts began to unfold, I realized the tone of my opinion on the matter was so strident, that to be on the safe side (to be on the side of truth and justice), I should first read the book myself. I'm glad that I did.

Despite the comparatively small amount of sometimes shocking and salacious allegation concerning Malcolm and [wife] Betty's personal life (without the appropriate evidentiary foundation, in my humble opinion), I personally found Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention to be a very important read; not only on Malcolm's philosophical and political legacy, but also on the unique times, experiences, and personalities that helped to shape that legacy!

In short, I now consider this book (after having read it from cover to cover) to be the most definitive work to date, on the life and legacy of one of the most noble and influential personalities of the 20th century, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (aka, Malcolm X). I consider this book a must read.

Insha'Allah, sometime in the next week or two, I plan to produce an audio CD, which will outline in more detail some of the reasoning behind my personal analysis - and also respond to some of the more regrettably salacious elements of the book.

On a final note, I do hope that this book will open the door to, and exert more pressure for, a more robust and conclusive investigation into the identification and prosecution of those persons who were responsible for the political assassination of Br. Malcolm. There is no statue of limitations on cold-blooded murder. Justice Delayed is Justice Denied!

El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan


Another Matter of Concern:

While at the ICNA-MAS conference in Hartford last weekend, I was approached by an immigrant brother who wanted to know if I was aware of a letter or statement (containing some measure of criticism) that Imam Zaid Shakir was supposed to have made concerning me and my work. (And if so, what my response was.)

I knew of no such letter or publicly made statement by Imam Zaid, concerning me or my work, and so I sent my brother a brief message containing the following request:

"...If indeed there is a letter [or statement] that you recently addressed to me (reportedly raising some concerns), could you please send it my way so that I can read it; and if appropriate, respond to it. Shukran."

Imam Zaid's response (via e-mail) was as follows:

As-Salaam 'Alaikum Brother Saalakhan,

Insha Allah you and your family are well. I know of no such letter in no way, shape, or form. If you see such a letter please forward it to me in order that I am aware of the guiles of potential mischief-makers and sowers of discord. If there were anything I needed to say to you I would do so in a direct and brotherly fashion, as I have your email address and could easily obtain your phone number. The whole idea of an "open letter" to you is preposterous, as that is the way to attempt to communicate with someone like Obama with whom one has no direct access, not with a respected community member who is readily accessible. I would demand of the brother that he produces such a letter since he broached the subject with you.

Please remember us in your prayers.

Imam Zaid

To the Reader:

I share this with our online network for a couple of reasons. The sowing of discord between men and women of goodwill (especially among people who are working for the establishment of truth and justice) is an age old tactic of the enemy. They do it well; and two of their most effective devices are the use of "poison pen letters" and informants/agents-provocateurs.

(And on this note, I'm not suggesting that the brother who approached me at the ICNA-MAS Convention was either of these things, but it's quite possible that the source of the letter, or statement, that he referenced, may have been.)

During the time of Malcolm, the Nation of Islam (NOI), and other African American-led advocacy organizations, were deeply infested with informants and provocateurs from the TOP on down! Poison Pen Letters and provocateurs were an operational cornerstone of COINTELPRO (the FBI's Counter Intelligence Program).

The divide and rule strategy (involving government agents) - coupled with the petty jealousies and corrupt self-interest of some of the NOI's most prominent "leaders," and the blind/slavish allegiance within the NOI's rank and file - is what ultimately led to the assassination of one of the seminal personalities of the 20th century, on February 21, 1965!

Muslims in America (and in other parts of the West) would be very naive to think that our organizations - from community masajid and centers to national advocacy organizations - are not similarly infested with this type of human excrement!

With that said, I would urge today's leaders and activists to exercise caution in their dealings with each other - especially during times of challenging disagreement. Always give your fellow Muslim the benefit of the doubt when you hear unpleasant things attributed to them; check and verify before reacting to even a perceived slight; and when necessary, disagree without becoming disagreeable.

In short, if we follow the prescription given to us in The Noble Qur'an and the Prophet's Sunnah (pbuh), we will be, to a significant degree, Islamically insulated from "the guiles of potential mischief-makers."

May ALLAH fortify and protect us, in our collective struggle for truth, justice, and a better world for all humanity. Ameen.



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