Pilgrimage to Mecca and Malcolm X’s Change of view
When Malcolm X undertook the pilgrimage to Mecca, he found true friendship. He felt very happy because during the pilgrimage he was treated as an equal. Such a good treatment had never experienced during his life in America. The people he met in his pilgrimage greeted him with a polite greeting, and a very friendly attitude. Pilgrims from different countries, with different skin color, meet for silaturrahim, and they regard each other as brothers (Haley, 1992:368).
In the belief of Malcolm X, God has opened the eyes of their hearts, to give mutual respect and love each other. The Hajj experience also changed the radical point of view of Malcolm X in the fight against African American civil rights. This view was a reflection of deep feeling of hatred against the practice of oppression by whites against African American. At that time, Malcolm X chose an open attitude, with a flexible and open mind to cooperate with anyone (including white people) who tried to seek the truth associated with the civil rights of Africans in America. Even so, he would attack anyone who knowingly committed violence against African American.
The pilgrimage to Mecca led to Malcolm to new insights about the doctrine of Islam. He tried to collect the data obtained during a trip to Mecca. To change the radical view, Malcolm began to realize that what was presently in his mind was hatred toward white Americans. He became more open and flexible, and willing to collaborate with anyone who sought the truth. He declared that he and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had the same purpose, although they used different approaches. The aim was a peaceful life and to avoid bad treatment which hurt blacks. In the climate of racism in America, everyone supposed that extremists could overcome, both through the violence or non violence (Malcolm, 1965:310).
Nevertheless, the experience he gained during the Hajj did not change his fight against whites. Malcolm's views toward the whites still continued to show hatred. He never forgot the bitter experience that happened in a row in his childhood. His mother suffered from an attack by the Ku Klux Klan, who ransacked their house and made her lose her mind. His father was also murdered viciously by white people.
Malcolm X, in an interview with Ebony magazine's Hans J. Massaquoi (cited in Malcolm) on 15 September 1964, said upon his return from Mecca that Malcolm would always struggle in earnest to enforce civil rights throughout the mainland United States. In the journey to Mecca, Malcolm realized that not all white people were racist, and a trip to Mecca opened his eyes that not only white men committed inhuman acts against African American (1965:359).
Malcolm X’s short interview with Hans J. Massaquoi:
Hans : Is it true that since your recent pilgrimage to Mecca, you no longer hold to your earlier belief that all whites are devils?
Malcolm X : True, my trip to Mecca has opened my eyes, I no longer subscribe to racism. I have adjusted my thinking to the point where I believe white are human being as long as this is born out their humane attitude toward Negroes.
Hajj experiences were enriching the spiritual experience in social life. Malcolm's view on white people had changed. In the past he accused all white people of being evil, but he began to think that not all white people were racist. Even some white people can honor the Africans with appropriate respect. According to Malcolm X, Islam states that hating other human beings, including white people, is an act of evil, as evil as the actions of whites who hate blacks. Nonetheless, according Malcolm, in America only a fraction of whites behave friendly. (1965:356).
Malcolm X made a pilgrimage to Mecca, and his experiences on this trip caused a decisive revision of his religious views, especially regarding whites. After his trip to Mecca, he abandoned the idea of whites’ being devils. Instead, he insisted that Islam provided the solution to racism: America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. "Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, even eaten with people who in America would have been considered “white” but the “white” attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color" (Hall, 2003:229).
The pilgrimage to Mecca is a religious obligation that every Muslim fulfills, if humanly able, at least once in his or her lifetime. The Holy Quran says it, "Pilgrimage to the Ka'bah is a duty men owe to God; those who are able, make the journey." Allah said: "And proclaim the pilgrimage among men; they will come to you on foot and upon each lean camel, they will come from every deep ravine" Al-Qur’an - Al-Hajj 27 (Haley, 1992:201).
For the first time Malcolm X heard about Hajj from Arabs, originating from east middle, or Muslims from North Africa. They encountered one another at high school or universities, where Malcolm X gave religious speeches. They were students who studied in the United States. Although, many of the statements made by Malcolm during his speeches tend to discredit white people, it was true when viewed from the perspective of Muslims, and it was one way to expose what they called "true Islam". Malcolm understood and believed it. As followers of Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X tried to recall what Elijah said.
In the privacy of Malcolm’s thoughts after several of these experiences, Malcolm did question himself: if one was sincere in professing a religion, why should African balk at broadening his knowledge of that religion? Once in conversation Malcolm broached this issue with Wallace Muhammad, Elijah Muhammad’s son. He said that yes, certainly, a Muslim should seek to learn all that he could about Islam. Malcolm had always had a high opinion of Wallace Muhammad’s opinion (Haley, 1992:345).
Malcolm never felt the thrill which he felt when he entered the area where people have to wear Ihram, he took off his clothes, and cover his body with two white towels. First Izar is wrapped around his waist, and then wrapped around the neck close with the arm and shoulder. A pair of sandals was worn down over the ankles. Outside Izar, there was a small bag, like a handbag, a place to store money or passports and an identity card (1992:352).
Every one of the thousands at the airport, about to leave for Jeddah, was dressed this way. You could be a king or a peasant and no one would know. Some powerful personages, who were discreetly pointed out to me, had on the same thing I had on. Once thus dressed, we all had begun intermittently calling out “Labbayka! Labbayka” (Here I come, O Lord!) the airport sounded with the din of Muhrim (Muslim brotherhood) expressing their intention to perform the journey of the Hajj (1992:204).
Malcolm X is really very happy on the hajj pilgrimage which features many different races. Black skin, red, brown, and also with one who has blonde hair, that each of them feel that they are brothers. "It is because of the glory of God that opened my eyes, so that, each of us can be appreciate others"(Hall, 2003:230).
From that intercourse with the Hajj pilgrimage, Malcolm had many experiences and Islamic knowledge, starting from interaction with others, prayer, ritual ablution before prayers, Arabic prayers and so on. Malcolm X felt that he got a heaven sent from God so that he can visit to Mecca. Malcolm walked around the Ka’bah seven times led by a young Mutawaf named Muhammad; Malcolm drank Zam-Zam water and ran round the Ka’bah (Thowaf) seven times between the peaks of Al-Safa and Al-Marwa.In Mecca, Malcolm watched tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans. "But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white" (Haley, 1992:213)