Why was Malcolm X’s Janazah at a Black Christian Church? 

Malcolm X is an excellent ambassador of Islam to inner-city Black communities.  Those inner-city Black communities whose schools serve as pipelines to prison.  Those inner-city Black communities where many dont expect to make it past 21. Those inner-city Black communities wherein due to oppression, gangs and the drug economy have taken over as the primary mechanism for many to cover basic life necessities. Make no mistake about: Malcolm X  was a Black man from the hood. However, Islam redefined his life and his way of thinking; it meant everything to him. Malcolm X would write in his autobiography, “Islam meant more to me than anything I had ever known in my entire life.”

Though Malcolm X is a respected figure today,  the truth of the matter is when Malcolm X was assassinated, he was not a mainstream figure. The New York Times months before his death called him an “irresponsible demagogue” and an ”embittered racist.” However, one crucial question is, how did immigrant Muslims view Malcolm X?  If you happen to study Malcolm X, you feel inclined to ask   Why the funeral of Malcolm X was held at the ‘Faith Temple Church of God’ in Christ- an African-American Christian Church? Did Immigrant Muslims in America eagerly attend the Janazah of Malcolm X?

The answers to these questions are found in the revealing book Final Chapter: I Buried Malcolm X by Heshaam Jaaber. Heshaam Jaaber was responsible for Malcolm X’s Janazah prayers. According to Jaaber,  Immigrant Muslims were looking for excuses not to attend in Malcolm X’s janazah. He states, “These communities would proclaim that Haj Malik was not Muslim.” [1] Later, Heshaam Jaaber states that “We knew, however, that their failure to recognize Haj Malik at this time was due to the United States restrictions on their activities and their blatant cowardice.”  [2]

According to Heshaam  Jaaber, the U.S government never desired a funeral for Malcolm X that was attended by Muslims from all over America; thus it exerted considerable pressure on immigrant Muslims to not attend Malcolm X’s Janazah as it would amount to cement the place of Malcolm X as a genuine Muslim leader. Heshaam aaber writes that he struggled to get immigrant Muslims even to attend Malcolm X’s Janazah, stating: “We knew that as a sign of weakness in their faith and knew that the best we could hope for them was a bit of sympathy and prayer as they crawled into the niches and crannies of the mosques during the time when they should have stood tall.”[3]

The political commentary I offered concerning Malcolm X’s Janazah, subjected me to widespread criticism. One such critic was an individual named Idris Palmer. Idris Palmer writes:

 

 

 

According to this statement of critic Idris Palmer, a Church was selected for Malcolm X’s janazah because few New York City Masajid were large enough to cover the anticipated crowd. This statement of Idris Palmer is a flagrant misrepresentation of Heshaam Jaaber’s book I buried Malcolm X.

Heshaam Jaaber himself directly rebuts Idris Palmer’s claim in his book  I Buried Malcolm X. Heshaam Jaaber does say that Hasseen, who was searching for a Mosque to carry out Malcolm X’s funeral prayer informed him that they  “would have to wait a day longer because the family and his associates were busy trying to acquire a facility to accommodate the masses of the people.”[4] Idris Palmer would want people to think he story ends there.    Nonetheless, Heshaam Jaaber adds further, “However, I knew that all details were not being disclosed. After a bit of probing, he said that he had been informed that Haj Malik El-Shabazz must not receive a Muslim funeral because it might further jeopardize the progress the Orthodox (Sunnah) was making, plus he had received some phone call threats.”[5]

The fact is: Malcolm X was an outspoken critic of U.S democracy and its centuries of oppression of Black people. He was an agitator. Immigrant Muslims felt by associating with him could potentially have ‘immigration consequences” and harm their chances of obtaining the American dream?

An entire section of Heshaam Jaaber’s book directly refutes the notion that Heshaam Jaaber believed size consideration was the only factor that led to Malcolm X’s funeral being held in a Church henceforth when Hasseen told Heshaam Jabeer that size considerations were the factors dealing with delays in Malcolm X’s janazah, Heshaam Jaber responded “I knew that all details were not being disclosed.” [6] Thus, the question is, why is Idris Palmer presenting a position that Heshaam Jaber felt represented an unfull disclosure of details as the full picture? Either, Idris Palmer did not, in fact, actually read I Buried Malcolm X by Heshaam Jaaber, or he is academically dishonest.

Since Idris Palmer has written, “If you want facts, read books. Do the research and get to the sources.  Hakeem Muhammad can go viral with lies because people do not bother to fact check, especially when it is a popular or emotional topic. When I make a claim, I cite a source,” insisting on how diligent he is in reading and going to the sources; one can only state the latter is true.   Heshaam Jaber’s book unequivocally establishes the following:

1) Immigrant Muslim communities would proclaim that Malcolm X was not a real Muslim.

2)Immigrant Muslims made up a variety of excuses not to attend Malcolm X’s funeral.

3) Heshaam Jaaber does not believe that size consideration was the sole factor in the delays of Malcolm X’s janazah being held in a Church. Indeed, when Hasseen correctly attributed delays in Malcolm X’s janazah to size consideration, Heshaam Jaaber expresses skepticism that this was this sole consideration after which he was informed that immigrant Muslim Mosques believed that “Hajj  Malik El-Shabazz must not receive a Muslim funeral because it might further jeopardize the progress the Orthodox (Sunnah) was making.”  [7]

 

Idris Palmer completely obfuscated Heshaam Jaaber’s critique of the treatment of Malcolm X  by Immigrant Muslims, which is recurrent through his book I Buried Malcolm X. 

Denying the Undeniable

  I know it is a painful reality to some that the embrace of Malcolm X by large segments of the immigrant Muslim population was largely posthumous, and today many co-opt Malcolm X’s image in a way that is not true to his politics.  Unfortunately, rather than dealing with this critique by working to forge a deeper connection with oppressed African-American communities, there has been a complete and utter denial.

For example, in response to Idris Palmer’s attempted “rebuttal,”   Moazzam Begg, director of CAGE, a prominent U.K Muslim organization, tweeted “May Allah bless you, grant you strength and reward you with the very best for dismantling this attempt to sow division regarding a man who is deeply loved respected throughout the Muslim world.” The Director of Los Angeles CAIR, Hussam Ayloush, M.B.A.accused me of being part of “racist attempts to create a rift between American Muslims” as he lauded Idris Palmer’s attempted rebuttal.

What Hussam Ayloush of  CAIR-LA views as actions to “create a rift between American Muslims” are the actions of inner-city Black Muslims in the hood who live outside of mainstream American Muslim society reasserting themselves in Muslim spaces that have marginalized them and holding colonized Muslim institutions wedded to an  “American Muslim identity”; accountable for their misappropriation of Malcolm X and anti-Black politics. A textbook case of this is CAIR attempting to honor John Mccain, a senator who opposed civil rights legislation for Black people and Malcolm X simultaneously.

 

Idris Palmer and The New York Times

 

In response to my opinion, Idris Palmer writes that “Allah SWT says in Suratul Hujuraat, إِن جَآءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌۢ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوٓا۟  “if a faasiq comes to you with any information, VERIFY IT.” The word فَاسِقٌۢ in the above ayat refers to any fabricator, liar, an unreliable or unrighteous person. To support his criticism, he went on further by stating that: “Ibn Katheer explains:’Allah the Exalted orders investigating the news that sinners & the wicked bring, to make sure of its authenticity. Otherwise, if the sinner’s word is taken for granted and a decision is based on it, regardless of whether the information is true or not.

 

The New York Times was an enemy of Malcolm X when he was alive. The New York Times referred to Malcolm X as an “embittered racist” and “irresponsible demagogue.” Nevertheless, Idris Palmer turns to the New York Times for his information about Malcolm X citing the New York Times Article: Harlem Church Where Malcolm X was Eulogized Faces its Own Final Days by Journalist  David Dunlap.   Who is this, David Dunlap, that Idris Palmer quotes, and promotes as an authentic source on Malcolm X to the Muslim community?

 

The New York Times states that “he covered the gay, lesbian and AIDS beat for the New York Times,” including audio recordings and interviews and events, photographs from gay rights parades.” What needs to be noted here is that David Dunlap does not qualify at all as an expert or even a student of African-American history, African-American Muslim history, or the history of Malcolm X, yet Idris Palmer upholds  David Dunlap as a reputable source on Malcolm X.

Even more troubling is that this New York Times article promoted by Idris Palmer relies upon and indeed cites the prominent Black socialist intellectual Manning Marable’ book titled Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention.  This book, which David Dunlap relies upon in his New York Times article as the basis for its information, also makes various slanderous claims against Malcolm X,  that out of respect we will not repeat here.

In A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable’s Malcolm X, Jared Ball refutes the claims made by Manning Marable’s tabloid-like book. If anyone were labeled a “fasiq,” which Idris Palmer states about me, it would be Manning Marable for his numerous slanderous accusations against Malcolm X.  Idris Palmer’s decision to promote David Dunlap, a New York Times Journalist the New York Times, as a reputable journalist about Malcolm X cannot be a mistake because Mr.Palmer assures us in how scrupulous and diligent he is in checking and examining his sources writing: “If you want facts, read books. Do the research and get to the sources. … When I make a claim, I cite a source. “ 

Other Sources on Malcolm X’s Janazah

The fact is that there is an additional statement that corroborates my commentary concerning Malcolm X’s Janazah. In a lecture titled Black & Noble: A Study of Important Black Figures in Islam, Imam Khalid Griggs gave significant insights about the relationship of the larger Muslim community about Malcolm X.  Imam Khalid Griggs states:

“If truth be told, no matter how much we talk about loving Malcolm X, when the time when Malcolm was alive, the majority of Muslims in the country would not go anywhere near him.  Even after he left the Nation of Islam, even after he was assassinated in the Audubon Ballroom o February 21st, 1965, even in death, the Muslims would not go anywhere near, for the most part, Malcolm X… Why was Malcolm X laying up in a church, why was Malcolm X laying up in a funeral home it was because Muslims would not go anywhere near his body… that is why this happened. His widow Betty Shabazz told me herself that it was shameful to her and so hurtful to her that when Malcolm X was assassinated that the Muslim community, for the most part, stayed away from her and her family like they were lepers. She said had it not been for white socialist and leftist that she and her family would have starved. This is from her mouth to my ear.

The usage of the “leper analogy” to describe her treatment by the Muslim community should initiate serious concern because people who suffered leprosy disease in biblical, medieval, and even in certain contemporary societies are often shunned, persecuted, and certainly hated. Leprosy in the Bible is associated with being subjected to a cursed.

 

 The Significance of Final Chapter: I Buried Malcolm X by Hesham Jaaber

Heshaam Jaaber’s book I Buried Malcolm X is an essential read as it reveals accurately how large segments of the Immigrant Muslims turned their backs on Malcolm X. Especially the last chapter of the book is certainly recommended to all those desiring to know more about  Malcolm X’ Janazah and the attitude of non-African American Muslims toward Malcolm X back then and now.

Well, contrary to the assertions by my critics, the intent behind opening this pandora box was not to create rifts among Muslims nonetheless but to genuinely help fellow Muslims to reflect on the events of Malcolm X’s Janazah and their relationship with the Black community at present. In a way, I desire a remedy for the Muslim community. So that non-African-American Muslims would be able to comprehend the issue and connect with the African-American Muslim community by learning about their trials and pains.  Instead of dealing with an undeniable yet sad fact of history and working to rectify it by standing in solidarity with African American Muslim communities, many remained in denial.

In the end, having answered the objections raised by the critics, I feel inclined to quote Heshaam Jaaber, regarding the Janazah of Malcolm X. He writes: “where all had succumbed to fear and threats, we affirmed our faith in Allah for the world to witness.”  Indeed it is our firm belief in our creator that enables us to embrace hardships with grace and stand on the righteous path. The matters relating to Malcolm X’s Janazah are undeniable. The solution is not to rewrite history or deny the undeniable truth. My message to non-African-American Muslims who are distraught by this information concerning Malcolm X’s janazah is simple.

If you want to show the African-American community that you are better than your predecessors then combat the ubiquitous Arab Muslim liquor stores in the Black community that tarnishes Islam’s image in the African-American community, speak out against the  Zaytuna College, and its faculty that blatantly disrespect and downplay the violence that Black folks face at the hands of the police; speak out against CAIR- national’s laudatory eulogy of John Mccain who was an oppressor of Black people. Support  Malcolm X ‘s political legacy the struggle against white supremacy today.  Join the struggle to free Rap Brown aka Imam Jamil Al Amin.


Sources

[1]  The Final Chapter: I Buried Malcolm (Haj Malik El-Shabazz), by Heshaam Jaaber, 67.

[2] The Final Chapter: I Buried Malcolm (Haj Malik El-Shabazz), by Heshaam Jaaber, 77.

[3] The Final Chapter: I Buried Malcolm (Haj Malik El-Shabazz), by Heshaam Jaaber, 67.

[4] The Final Chapter: I Buried Malcolm (Haj Malik El-Shabazz), by Heshaam Jaaber, 76

[5] IBID

[6} IBID

[7] IBID

1 thought on “Why was Malcolm X’s Janazah at a Black Christian Church? 

  1. Not only did the immigrant Muslim community abandon Hajj Malik Shabazz, but present day, it has also abandoned his successor, Imam Jamil Al-Amin.

    If the immigrant Muslim community wants to show the African-American Muslim community that they are better than their predecessors, I would add that they join us in combatting Imam Jamil’s unjust conviction and subsequent incarceration, and that they support the struggle for his immediate freedom and exoneration today.

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