Autograph Letter Signed ("El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (Malcolm X)"), writing from Mecca on his transformation, and his new outlook on race in America, 6 pp, 4to (275 x 214 mm), on pictorial letterhead in Arabic, in ink with occasional Mecca, Saudi Arabia, April 25, 1964, old folds, minor tears at edges of some folds, clean.
A PROFOUNDLY IMPORTANT AND MOVING MALCOLM X LETTER ON THE TRANSFORMATIONAL POWER OF HIS PILGRIMAGE (HAJJ), WRITTEN FROM MECCA, AND ACKNOWLEDGING A TURNING POINT IN HIS THINKING ON RACE IN AMERICA. Malik El-Shabazz performed his Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca in April 1964, which resulted in an astounding transformation immediately following. Within days of return, he writes to "a friend in New York" (New York Times, "Malcolm X Pleased by Whites' Attitude on a Trip to Mecca," May 8, 1964), "what I have seen and experienced on this pilgrimage has forced me to 'rearrange' much of my thought-pattern and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions."
He continues, "During the past seven days here in Mecca (Jeddah, Mina, and Mustaliph) while undergoing the rituals of the Hajj, I have eaten from the same plate, drank from the same glass and slept on the same bed or rug – with Kings, potentates and other forms of rulers – but also with fellow Muslims whose skin was the whitest of white, whose eyes was the bluest of blue, and whose hair was the blondest of blond – I could look into their blue eyes and see that they regarded me as the same (Brothers), because their belief in One God (Allah) had actually removed the 'white' from their mind, which automatically changed their attitude and their behavior toward people of other colors. Their beliefs in the Oneness as made them so different from American whites that their color played no part in my mind in my dealings with them."
Applying his eye-opening experience to America, he goes on to posit that a widespread conversion to Islam of "white Americans" could solve the racism that plagues "America like an incurable cancer."
"...as America's insane obsession with racism leads her up the suicidal path, nearer to the precipice that leads to the bottomless pits below, I do believe that Whites of the younger generation, in the colleges and universities, through their own young, less hampered intellect, will see the 'Handwriting on the Wall' and turn for spiritual salvation to the religion of Islam, and force the older generation to turn with them— this is the only way white America can warn off the inevitable disaster that racism always leads to...."
He concludes, "You may use this letter in anyway you desire," and signed as "El Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (Malcolm X)," employing the recently earned honorific title with the completion of his pilgrimage. Apparently the friend did use the letter, as an article trumpeting Malcolm X's imminent return to New York, "Malcolm X Pleased by Whites' Attitude on a Trip to Mecca," appeared on the front page of the New York Times on May 9, touting his transformation and "his new positive insights on race relations." The article was written by M.S. [Michael] Handler, who would write the introduction for the Autobiography, and quotes widely from this letter, contextualizing el-Shabazz's recent split with Elijah Mohammed and the Nation of Islam.
He had written another letter in a similar vein and at about the same time for Alex Haley, published in his Autogbiography, but this example speaks more directly to race in America in the final paragraphs with some stronger language and development. A primary document of the development, both politically and spiritually, of one of the most important voices for Civil Rights, as well as an insightful and moving look at racism in America.