Malcolm X: A Shining Example of Hikma


Malcolm X, who was assassinated in New York on 21 February 1965, was a unique figure in the history of Islam in America, and a leader who has inspired generations of Muslim everywhere, particularly those living in non-Muslim countries. On the 50th anniversary of his assassination, Fahad Ansari considers his legacy.

The Prophet Muhammad (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said in an authentic hadith that the best jihad is to speak a word of truth before an unjust ruler. When one considers the prevailing political climate in many parts of the Muslim world, where the slightest suspicion of dissent can lead to imprisonment, torture and execution, the reasoning behind this statement becomes self-apparent. To speak a word of truth in such circumstances requires the utmost courage and conviction and the most powerful iman.

For Muslims living in Britain, it is relatively easy to participate in this jihad. The consequences here are not yet as grave, although this pattern is steadily changing as Western democracies take on the characteristics of the despotic regimes they pretend to deplore. Yet, even without the fear of torture or death (or both), Muslims in the West remain terrified to speak out against the numerous injustices being committed against our ummah. However, what is more distressing is that those that do decide to make a stand make it on such shaky grounds that it almost worsens our plight. Refusing to condemn evil as evil, with the best of intentions these brothers and sisters ultimately compromise the rights of Muslims in the West. They believe that they are using hikma (wisdom) in their approach, and often condemn the more direct approach taken by other Muslims as “extremist”, “confrontational” or “misguided”.

They believe that it is wisdom to compromise about truth, and to negotiate with those who oppress us. They are of the opinion that to be weak is to be wise. Consequently, we have seen Muslim leader after Muslim leader use ‘hikma’ in their consultations and meetings on our behalf with governmental bodies and institutions in this country. For decades, British Muslims have been exercising this ‘hikma’ while our rights continue to be trampled by those very same institutions.

Why has the word hikma today become synonymous with submission and surrender? Why is it wiser to show weakness and compromise rather than to portray strength and wield influence? Nobody in this world can have any doubt that one of the greatest and most influential Muslim leaders of the twentieth century was Al-Hajj Malik el-Shabbaz or (as he was more popularly known) Malcolm X, the celebrated American Black civil-rights activist. Furthermore, nobody can doubt that Brother Malcolm possessed incredible hikma. But Malcolm was not one of these Muslim leaders who adopted the ‘hikma’ of compromises and concessions. No, when it came to human rights and human wrongs, Malcolm’s hikma was of a different type. He never minced his words nor compromised his beliefs. Where justice was at stake, he refused even to consider the possibility of compromise. This attitude achieved much more for the Black community in America in the sixties than the feeble approach of contemporary Muslim leaders has achieved for Muslims anywhere in the West today.

In an age when Muslims in the West find themselves as a minority, and while numerous theories of integration and assimilation are being discussed and debated in masajid and conference centres around the country, it is time for us to examine the life of Malcolm X and adopt his attitudes and beliefs as a template for our own attitudes and behaviour. It is primarily because of our own pathetic and pitiable mindset and our correspondingly weak behaviour that Muslims in the West are becoming lambs ready for slaughter. Apologetic and weak, we have become defenseless and ineffective in our struggle to be treated as equals. Our human rights and civil liberties continue to be ignored and violated. On the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, it is high time for us to study his life, and his death, and understand what it was that he did that brought a semblance of respect to the Blacks in America.

Many parallels can be drawn between the lives of Muslims in the West today and those of the Blacks in America in the past. Both peoples constitute minorities that are oppressed and deprived of many civil liberties readily available to the majority. Both communities have been demonised and slandered by the majority as uneducated, anti-democratic and irrationally violent extremists. And, just as many members of the Black community lost their traditional names, religion and language in the process of ‘integration’, so today we see many Muhammads being called ‘Mo’ and encouraged to abandon their people’s religious, cultural and linguistic values in the name of integration. Just as many Blacks in America regarded their colour as a prison holding them back from progress and success, so many Muslims today look upon their religion as an obstacle to advancement.

Objective: Recognition as Human Beings

“We have to keep in mind at all times that we are not fighting for integration, nor are we fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition … for the right to live as free humans in this society.”

The first thing to recognise is that Malcolm never fought for either segregation or integration. He believed that the use of these words actually clouded the real picture. Similarly today, Muslims must rise out of the complex jargon of sociology and realise the root of the problem. We must stand up and demand our basic right to be recognised and respected as equal human beings, with all that entails. Not to do so is to attempt to find a solution to our problems on other people’s terms.

Methodology: Direct Action

“Early in life, I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.”

Malcolm was not the type of person to sit quietly and humbly accept his fate. He was not one to sit back and wait patiently for the oppressor to hand him his rights. He knew that freedom and human rights were values which had to be fought for. This meant upsetting the status quo, causing commotion and disturbance. For his struggle, he was often labelled as “the angriest Black man in America”. But it was this “anger” that brought about reform. As Malcolm put it, “Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.”

Like Muslim activists today, Malcolm was also called an “extremist”. His reply was characteristic of his bluntly honest attitude: “Yes, I’m an extremist. The black race here in North America is in extremely bad condition. You show me a black man who isn’t an extremist and I’ll show you one who needs psychiatric attention!” By not hiding from their label, and by demonstrating the justification for this extremism as a natural reaction to the oppression of the Black community, Malcolm turned the tables on his enemies and deprived them of their ammunition. He refused to be sidelined and isolated by such labels. Contrast this with some contemporary Muslim leaders and self-appointed spokespeople, who fall over themselves to avoid being identified as “extremist”. The word “extremist” has become a gun at our heads; we will do anything to avoid the trigger being pulled. Muslims in Britain today unfortunately now regularly label one another “extremist” in order to give themselves an air of moderateness.

No Compromise

“If I’m following a general, and he’s leading me into a battle, and the enemy tends to give him rewards, or awards, I get suspicious of him. Especially if he gets a peace award before the war is over.”

Malcolm also taught us to be wary of any form of compromising engagement with the oppressors. Where justice and freedom were at stake, the ideas of compromise and conciliation would never even enter Malcolm’s mind. The importance he placed on these values could be seen by his willingness to do anything to obtain them. Nothing was too radical or too extreme in order to secure one’s freedom. “When a person places a proper value on freedom, there is nothing under the sun that he will not do to acquire that freedom. Whenever you hear a man saying that he wants freedom, but in the next breath he is going to tell you what he won’t do to get it, or what he doesn’t believe in doing in order to get it, he doesn’t believe in freedom.”


“I say, you’ve been misled; you’ve been had; you’ve been took …”

Malcolm was fervently dedicated to educating the Black community about politics and the political system. He believed that it was crucial for the Black community to understand what politics was supposed to produce and what part it played in their lives. He reasoned that unless and until the Black community became politically mature, Blacks would always be misled or deceived into supporting someone politically who didn’t have the interests of the community at heart. He was very critical of Black leaders who continued to follow parties which had repeatedly let down the Black community. His comment that “anytime you throw your weight behind a political party that controls two thirds of the government and that party can’t keep the promises that it made to you during election time, and you are dumb enough to walk around continuing to identify yourself with that party, you’re not only a chump but you’re a traitor to your race” is one which most Muslim leaders in Britain today would do well to ponder deeply.

Nevertheless, Malcolm did not discourage voting, as long as it was strategic, with an achievable meaningful purpose. “A ballot is like a bullet. You don’t throw your ballots until you see a target, and if that target is not in reach, keep your ballot in your pocket.”

With the upcoming general election, it is very important that the Muslim community does not fall into the trap of accepting tokenistic gestures in exchange for their votes. In a previous election, the government promised to outlaw discrimination against Muslims and Muslim leaders began rallying the masses to thank them for this, in the form of our support. But as Malcolm said, “How can you thank a man for giving you what’s already yours? How then can you thank him for giving you only part of what is yours?” Muslims should not simply vote for individuals or parties over red herring issues such as the banning of halal food but should engage with politicians over far more sinister deprivation of liberties like the Counter Terrorism and Security Act.

Although it may speak the language of equality regardless of religion, the British government (both past and present) has hypocritically created a two-tier system of justice: one for Muslims and one for everyone else. Over the past decade, it has only been Muslims who have been detained without charge in maximum security prisons. Only Muslims were deprived of their basic liberties under control-order regimes. Only Muslims are treated like terrorists for simply travelling. It is Muslims who have become the primary victims of police harassment, anti-terror raids and wholesale institutional Islamophobia. Although this is currently happening under the watch of a Conservative led government, its foundations are rooted in laws and policies introduced the reign of a Labour government.


“It is a time for martyrs now, and if I am to be one, it will be for the cause of brotherhood. That’s the only thing that can save this country.”
Because of his bold and courageous stances and statements, Malcolm created many enemies for himself, both in government and within the Black community. History has shown us that people of justice are often demonised during their lives, and it is only death that brings their message to the hearts of the masses. Malcolm knew this and was ready for it. His whole struggle had prepared him for it. He knew the value of freedom and the price of freedom. “If you’re not ready to die for it, put the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary.”

Malcolm’s assassination itself is a great lesson for the entire Muslim community in the West. Too many Muslims sit idly by while injustices are being committed against us. Very often, these armchair-mujahids claim that they are waiting for the opportunity to go and fight jihad against oppressors on battlefields around the world and become martyrs for Allah. The vast majority of them never go anywhere and die ordinary deaths; their whole lives are wasted in waiting. The assassination of Malcolm X is a sign that the best jihad can be conducted right here in the West with our minds and our actions; if it pleases Allah, He will bless us, as he did Malcolm. But this takes courage and sacrifice, principles and qualities we have today forgotten.

Throughout his life following his imprisonment, Malcolm publicly exposed the false leaders of the Black American community, and in the process demonstrated the real traits of leadership – honesty, intelligence, a respect for logic, uncompromising morality, brotherhood, self-sacrifice and total submission to Allah and Islam.

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Fifty Shades of Grey: What Muslim Teens Need to Know

2.24.15| Umm Reem (Saba Syed)

“OMG, the Fifty Shades of Grey movie is coming out!” a high-school girl I mentor cheers with excitement. I nod but don't say anything. “I have to tell my friend. She will be thrilled. It is her favorite book!”

I feel goose bumps on my skin, because I happen to know her friend as well. She is not an ordinary girl. Masha'Allah, she just finished memorizing Qur'an earlier this year out of her own dedication, while maintaining full time high school.

“You do know that it's not only a soft-porn book, but it also has some really disturbing material.” I remind her.

“No Miss, apart from all that stuff, it has an amazing love story!” her voice melts as she recalls the “love” between Ana and Christian Grey.

Last summer, I skimmed through the series to be aware of what our young women are reading. Needless to say, the more I read the book the more horrified I was.

It was the first time in years –after the Twilight series–that I asked my teen daughter not to read a book, and I explained to her my reasons, “If you read this book now, you will have a messed up concept of sex, and some content may even be emotionally disturbing and psychologically damaging.”

She promised, and since then she's been offered the book several times at her “Islamic” school. Not only has the trilogy made it to this Muslim country where I currently live— pornographic material is banned here– it also has found its way to the hands of practicing Muslim girls.

I understand that it is not easy to stop the young adults from reading a book, let alone a trilogy so popular that it has sold more than 70 million copies in 2012, even surpassing the Harry Potter series as the fastest selling paperback of all time . The book is popular in the West and in the East, among the non-Muslims and Muslims. So now that most of our teens have read it, who is going to do the damage control?

Let me start of by explaining why I'm alarmed by this specific trilogy though there are many erotic books available out there.

Because this trilogy has become more famous than any other book, sending the author straight to the top of the highest-earning authors' list.

My real concern however, lies in the plot—this is a disturbing book about a millionaire sadist who enslaves young girls under a “mutual agreement” and inflicts physical pain on them for his sexual pleasure and in return he offers them generous amount of money and cossets them with lavish cars, extravagant clothes and jewelry. Abused as a teenager, he partners with his abuser in a business and doesn't necessarily see anything wrong with what his abuser did to him. Moreover, since his own mother was a prostitute who committed suicide, he chooses girls who look like his mother so he can inflict pain on them, to satisfy his anger towards his her!

A young, ambitious, educated, innocent girl, who is not only a virgin but very naïve about sex, falls in love with him, even though he stalks her, traces her calls, convinces her to sign the submissive-contract so he can use her for his sexual enjoyment.

Then…. they get married and after the marriage he gives up his addiction and they live happily ever after.


As it is we already have intimacy issues among Muslim couples. We don't have parents who openly communicate with their children and educate them about sex and sexuality. We don't have enough speakers talking to our teens about sex, especially female speakers. We don't have enough Muslim counselors/therapists resolving intimacy issues between couples. On top of that, if our girls are going to read books like Fifty Shades of Grey, they are going to be left with a seriously damaged concept of intimacy.

Just recently, I received a request from high school girls to hold a “Talk Session” so they can discuss their fears about marriage and intimacy. Some of the girls specifically brought up what they read in Fifty Shades of Grey and how they have developed fears and insecurity after reading the book (yet they are in love with Christian Grey!)

I cannot discuss all the points in the book thoroughly in just one article. However, to highlight some major issues, I want to tell my dear teenage daughters:

Christian Grey in Real Life:

1. It is not okay to be sexually abused by someone and then accept the abuse as a lifestyle, just because the abused starts enjoying the abuse.

2. It is not okay for a man to lure a girl into marrying him with his money or good looks while expecting her to overlook his habit of objectifying women as mere sexual objects.

3. Decent men normally don't stalk girls.

4. Grey is domineering, a control freak, a stalker, and a manipulator. In real life, these character flaws cause real marital problems. Unlike Ana, most women can't endure being stalked, watched and forced into submission while compensated with wealth and erotic intimacy. In real life, most men simply do not have the luxury of gifting the company where she works to the wife while forcing her into submitting.

5. One legitimate fact in the book worth pointing out is that Grey has a problem with Ana's male friends. Yes, that I can assure you dear daughters, especially those of you who have studied with boys and have Facebook friends of the opposite gender from school or work, that your husband may raise this objection. Or if you are used to “hanging out” for school projects at a public place, he may ask you to stop doing so. You either talk this through before marriage or you should be prepared to “submit” on this point after marriage and keep in mind that in exchange for your obedience, a luxurious ski trip to Aspen in a private jet with your girlfriends is not guaranteed.

Addiction and BDSM:

6. It is not okay to marry an addict especially if a girl finds out about his addiction before the marriage. This is a serious matter and unlike the book, addicts don't lose their addiction just by marrying someone they love.

7. It can take years for an addict to overcome his addiction. Addicts almost always have relapses and those relapses can take a tremendous toll on the marriage.

8. I've come across countless men who have issues of child molestation, mother-father family issues, and desperately need therapy, but they will refuse to acknowledge any problems with their behavior let alone seek therapy. Our hero Mr. Grey, seeks counseling even before Ana asks him to seek help for his psychological issues. Dear daughters, the unfortunate fact of life is that it may take months of convincing, even arguments, and at times even family/friends' intervention, before the husband finally agrees to seek therapy.

9. It is not okay for a man to inflict physical pain on his wife for his sexual pleasure.

10.Sadism/Bondage/Submission and Dominance (BDSM) are acts of sex that may develop among couples in a halal way but it takes time. Initially a relationship needs understanding and normal intimacy. Once both partners, especially the wife, become comfortable and confident then they may experiment with different types of intimate practices.

11. After both husband and wife become comfortable with each other especially during intimacy, they may play around with different techniques and a variety of intimacy including BDSM. However, if it reaches to the point of inflicting pain where a wife starts crying with discomfort, or her eyes overflow with tears trying to endure pain, that's crossing the line. There is a difference in “delirious pain” and tearing up with pain.

12. Spanking the wife for rolling her eyes is wrong (even though it may be an acceptable practice among the Christian Domestic Discipline). Hitting the wife with a belt to inflict physical pain for a husband's sexual pleasure is physical abuse. A decent man will draw his own limits for his sexual pleasure and a wife doesn't need to burst out in tears and start crying for him to realize that what he was doing was beastly.

Virginity and Intimacy:

13. No virgin has multiple orgasms on her first night. Do not enter your marriage with this misconception.

14. It may take days to weeks before a virgin experiences vaginal orgasm. (In rare cases, it may take up to months and may need therapy)

15. Communication and comfort is essential in making intimacy successful and pleasurable, especially for those girls who've guarded their chastity and are experiencing intimacy for the first time.

16. In normal circumstances, acts of BDSM should not be practiced on a girl who's been recently deflowered.

17. Men are not born expert-lovers. In real life, couples have to discuss their fantasies and communicate what they like and explain their desires, and not just once. Sometimes these fantasies have to be explained many times before the spouse finally understands. It may take months, sometimes years before sexual fantasies become realities. The book definitely raises the bar of expectations in many ways.

18. Yes, sex is a lot more than just penetration (as most Muslim women complain about their intimacy being dry and boring) but most Muslim men are not as experienced and “sex gurus” as Grey, especially those who have kept themselves pure before marriage.

19. Grey can read Ana's body language and knows exactly what will turn her on and what will bring her pleasure AND he is always ready to give her that. Dear daughters, in real life things are very different.

20. In the beginning of a marriage, most Muslim men don't know how to make a women experience an orgasm during every intercourse. They need to learn and the wives need to help them learn. It is a give-and-take relationship.

Romance between Ana & Grey:

21. There is never a “dull moment” in their romance. In real life, issues start rising after a few weeks of marriage–real issue—issues that need to be talked through and resolved. These issues cannot be resolved through “erotic intimacy” and “expensive gifts”.

22. Unlike Grey, men have mood swings too and they may not be romantic all the time.

23. Men want their wives to be romantic too and take initiatives and plan romantic events, dinners, outings etc. Unlike Grey, real men are not always full of romantic surprises.

24. Real men in real life have work to do at work. They simply cannot romantically email back and forth all day from work.

This is just a brief clarification I can offer you, of not just one but three books about an abused billionaire turned into a sadistic-domineering-control freak-emotional abuser's “amazing love story”!

About the author:
Umm Reem (Saba Syed) has a bachelor’s degree in Islamic Studies from American Open University. She studied Arabic Language & Literature at Qatar University and at Cairo Institute in Egypt. She also received her Ijaazah in Quranic Hafs recitation in Egypt from Shaikh Muhammad al-Hamazawi. She was one of the founders of Daughters of Adam magazine and remained the publishing director until 2007. She had been actively involved with MSA, TDC, and other community activities. She has also been actively involved with the Muslim women of her community spiritually counseling with marital and mother-daughter issues. She has hosted several Islamic lectures and weekly halaqas in different communities, including special workshops regarding parenting and issues related to women.

Reader comments:

Amina: After working with Muslim youth for a number of years, it is clear to me that most Muslim parents never check the content of books that their youth are reading. I’ve found that quiet bright shy smart kids in Islamic schools (weekend and otherwise) are having their minds warped with ideas about wizardry, magic, sex, and now bondage and violent sex……… please parents! please read at least a few chapters of whatever your children are reading, check their backpacks. If you have trouble with English, find a trusted friend (many of us converts around) and ask them. Don’t assume just because they are not online or on their i-pod that they are safe. Shaytan is trying hard in any way he can – including through a seemingly innocent past-time as reading. So many parents are just happy that their kids ARE READING, but this is a MISTAKE. Please check the content of everything your children are reading!!

The Salafi Feminist: one criticism of Fifty Shades of Grey *by* practitioners of BDSM is that it portrayed it completely inaccurately and in fact, quite harmfully.

Kirana: I believe the author told her daughter “If you read this book NOW, you will have a messed up concept of sex, and some content may even be emotionally disturbing and psychologically damaging.” (key word capitalised). It does matter which information reaches you first, psychologically speaking. Your brain favors the earlier ones (I believe it’s called first conclusion bias). It is better to access things with high emotional impact, prioritising true ones first, and ‘recreationally untrue’ ones later. This is less important for topics of low emotional impact or clearly irrelevant to one’s life. Once you have good information, and positive experience, then it is a lot easier to slot fictional unhealthy depictions appropriately, since you’re able to evaluate it *relative to* something else. For a virgin to do this is a lot harder, there’s no reference experience.

Um Reem: yes Kirana, that’s exactly what I told my daughter is not to read it NOW because it DOES matter which information reaches us first. And as you said once a person has good information AND positive experience then it’s easier to differentiate between fantasy and reality. I’m married yet there were parts in the book that emotionally upset me but Alhamdullilah I was able to talk them through with my husband. On the other hand our teenage girls are not only unmarried but unfortunately they are not even educated about their sexuality properly (our-Muslims- and parents’ fault).

Amy: Hello, being neither Muslim nor coming from a Muslim country, it was by chance I stumbled across this article. It is well written and real unlike the books in question. Thank you. I am involved in the BDSM community. Trust has to be earned – it is not a given and this can and does take time. Beware the partner who wishes to go from 0 – 100 mph instantly (as does Mr Grey). These people are dangerous. I intend to show this to my daughter. 50 Shades is neither about love nor sex it is about power and that is wrong.

Aaj: Not only are the young Muslim teens reading the book but will also be watching the movie that just came out. These type of soft-porn effects the psyche in a negative way that the young minds are unable to perceive. Sadly, such trash is being read and watched by Muslims today, especially young teen Muslim girls, including those going to “Islamic” schools. Game of Thrones series is also very popular with these teens. This book and TV series are also soft-porn material. The graphic porn scenes of the TV series leaves little to the imagination but a lot of damage to the psyche, innocence/modesty/haya, and the eman of the believer. The "islamic" schools clearly failed to incorporate islamic moral values they advertise as well as discuss contemporary issues with the students. Also, parents need to take an active role in the lives of the kids, otherwise, they will be running to the local imam for "help" when it is too late or they will see the repercussions of this in their kids’ lives down the road.

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With Him are the keys of the Unseen, the treasures that none knoweth but He. He knoweth whatever there is on the earth and in the sea. Not a leaf doth fall but with His knowledge: there is not a grain in the darkness (or depths) of the earth, nor anything fresh or dry (green or withered), but is (inscribed) in a Record clear (to those who can read). 6:59

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