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Hijrah and Hajj

  • William David Hart
Chapter
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Abstract

In 1964 Malcolm fled. One step ahead of spies and assassins, he fled the political and religious confines of the United States. His trip to the Holy City of Mecca appears as both a pilgrimage and a search for refuge, both Hajj and Hijrah. This chapter is an extended meditation on the introductory epigraphs.

Keywords

Black People White People Federal Bureau Black Church White Supremacy 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    See R. J. Rickford, Betty Shabazz (Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2003), 14.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    S. Freud, Future of an Illusion, trans. James Strachey (New York: W. W. Norton, 1961), 24.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    B. Perry, Malcolm X: The Life of a Man Who Changed Black America (Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Press, 1991), 3, 5–6. In his semihagiography of his uncle, Seventh Child: A Family Memoir of Malcolm X (Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publishing Group, 1998), R. P. Collins, the son of Malcolm’s older half sister Ella, does not mention his grandfather’s abuse; nor does Malcolm’s third daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz. See I. Shabazz, Growing Up X: A Memoir by the Daughter of Malcolm X (New York: One World/Ballantine, 2002).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Perry, 8, 11. Perry’s biography is controversial. For two strong critiques, see L. A. DeCaro, 298–9 and Bill Yousman, “Who Owns Identity? Malcolm X, Representation, and the Struggle over Meaning,” Communication Quarterly 49 (2001): 1–18. http: //web4.infotrac (last accessed on December 24, 2007). I agree with the critics of Perry as far as his jaun-diced reading of Malcolm’s significance is concerned. He seems hell-bent on undermining Malcolm’s importance as a political figure and gives scant attention to his religious sig-nificance. In this regard I think that Perry is an unreliable guide. On the other hand, the scope of his research and his often insightful analyses cannot be denied. I rely on Perry for biographical information and psychological insights not for ethical-political analysis.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    S. Freud, Totem and Taboo, trans. A. A. Brill (New York: Vintage Books, 1918), 170–1, 181–9.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    DeCaro tries to impugn the legitimacy of Earl Little’s Baptist faith by suggesting that it was merely cover for his Garveyism. I disagree. The complex relations between New Yoruba traditions of Orisha worship, such as Santeria, and Catholicism is a better model for under-standing the relation between black Christianity and the religion of Garveyism. Here as elsewhere in his account, DeCaro’s evangelical, pseudoscholarly notion of “orthodoxy” undermines his analysis. See DeCaro, On the Side of My People: A Religious Life of Malcolm X, chapter 4: “Early Life and Religious Training.”Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    After Earl’s death, she would join a splinter group (sect) of the Adventist church known as the Seventh Day Church of God. See Perry, 21.Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    Object Relations is a psychoanalytic theory that privileges relationships over instinctual drives. This theory holds that “the early formation and differentiation of psychological structures (inner images of the self and the other, or object)” are crucial to the develop-ment of self and that these inner structures are evident in interpersonal relations. The mother is an especially important “object” within this theory. A healthy object relation-ship with the mother, specifically, with her breast is the basis of all relationships. See M. St. Clair, Object Relations and Self-Psychology: An Introduction (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1986), 2, 10, 42, 74.Google Scholar
  9. 17.
    Color appears to have been a major issue in Malcolm’s life. According to Perry, he appears to have been racially marginal: “A loner, he mixed infrequently with pupils of either race.” In Lansing, blacks were no more accepting of him than whites had been in Mason. I think that Perry’s interpretation betrays his relative ignorance of color dynamics among black Americans. Malcolm’s light skin color was as likely a badge of pride and source of envy as a cause of marginality. See Perry, 4–5, 16, 32, 40.Google Scholar
  10. 23.
    There are significant differences between historical memory, which relatively speaking is disciplined, orderly, and logical and autobiographical memory, which is not. See D. C. Rubin, ed., Remembering Our Past: Studies in Autobiographical Memory (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995).Google Scholar
  11. 24.
    Indeed, Louis X a.k.a. Louis Farrakhan had written a popular Nation of Islam song in 1958 entitled: “White Man’s Heaven is a Black Man’s Hell.” See V. L. White, Jr., Inside the Nation of Islam (Gainesville: University of Florida, 2001), 40.Google Scholar
  12. 25.
    See A. H. Fauset, Black Gods of the Metropolis (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001) and H. Brotz, B1ackJews of Harlem (KnopfPublishing Group, 1998).Google Scholar
  13. 26.
    Like other sectarian forms of religion, Christian, Islamic, and Jewish, Pentecostahsm emerged in the big city, among the lower socioeconomic classes. “Sect” like “cult” is a technical term in religion study; used properly, it is neither normative nor invidious. To call a group sectarian or cultic is only to say, respectively, that it has splintered from another religious group or that it, like the primitive Jesus movement, has a charismatic leader at itsGoogle Scholar
  14. center. Many readers of Malcolm’s autobiography do not properly distinguish between the scholarly and the popular uses of these terms, especially “cult,” which in popular usage car-ries an invidious significance. Pentecostalism has long since transcended its early status as a sect, and is now, perhaps, both institutionally and transinstitutionally, the most important movement within Christianity worldwide.Google Scholar
  15. 27.
    Conjure is the residual presence of the “African sacred cosmos” in the cultural practices of black Americans.Google Scholar
  16. 28.
    According to Perry: “Neither Ella nor Earl was as dark as Malcolm claimed. His insistence that they were was indicative of the way he equated blackness with the strength his light-skinned mother had lacked.” Perry, 42.Google Scholar
  17. 33.
    DeCaro, 71. In his earlier, more comprehensive, but thoroughly controversial biography, Bruce Perry takes Malcolm’s claim of having been run out of Harlem at face value. He sug-gests that it was Malcolm who had trouble acknowledging this fact. See Perry, 89.Google Scholar
  18. 34.
    Transcribed from The American Experience, “Malcolm X: Make It Plain” part I. (© 1994 WGBH, Boston, MA and Blackside. Distributed by PBS VIDEO).Google Scholar
  19. 35.
    Fanon refers to Hegel’s famous “master-slave” dialectic as well as his account of self-consciousness and the role that mutual recognition plays in the process. Fanon ques-tions the adequacy of the account and its inability to account for the psychopathological depths of white supremacy. See G. W. F. Hegel, Hegels Phenomenology of Spirit (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977), 111–19.Google Scholar
  20. 38.
    See S. Cotta, Why Violence? A Philosophical Interpretation (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1985), 59.Google Scholar
  21. 39.
    My comments have nothing to do with whom Malcolm ought to have desired or loved. We desire whom we desire and love whom we love. My comments go to the construction of his desires and his level of self-knowledge.Google Scholar
  22. 40.
    Perry, 77–8. Perry writes: “Like a prostitute, he sold himself, as if the best he had to offer was his body” (83.). This aspect of Perry’s analysis seems to especially vex DeCaro, 65.Google Scholar
  23. 43.
    C. Cullen, The Black Christ and Other Poems (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1929), 83.Google Scholar
  24. 44.
    W. R. Jones, Is God a White Racist?: A Preamble to Black Theology (Boston: Beacon Press, 1998), 28–36.Google Scholar
  25. 52.
    For a similar view, see V. Harvey, Feuerbach and the Interpretation of Religion (Cambridge University Press, 1995).Google Scholar
  26. 53.
    G. E. Kessler, Studying Religion: An Introduction through Cases (Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2003), 86, 89.Google Scholar
  27. 54.
    C. Holmes, “Women: Witnesses and Witches,” Past & Present, no. 140 (1993): 45–78.Google Scholar
  28. 55.
    For Fanon’s comments on the Devil as a black man, see F. Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (New York: Grove Press, 1967), 146, 167, 188–190.Google Scholar
  29. 60.
    See T. Harris, Exorcising Blackness: Historical and Literary Lynching and Burning Rituals (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984) and O. Patterson, Rituals ofBlood: Consequences of Slavery in Two American Centuries (Washington, DC: Civitas/CounterPoint, 1998).Google Scholar
  30. 61.
    Malcolm’s Nation of Islam demonology is heir to the Jewish and Christian traditions of demonization that E. Pagels describes in The Origins of Satan (New York: Random House, 1995).Google Scholar
  31. 62.
    C. H. Johnson, ed., God Struck Me Dead: Religious Conversion Experiences and Autobiographies of Ex-slaves (Philadelphia: Pilgrims’ Press, 1969), 59.Google Scholar
  32. 63.
    See W. Proudfoot, Religious Experience (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), 122–4, 188, 224–5.Google Scholar
  33. 64.
    See M. C. Taylor, ed. Critical Terms for Religious Studies (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 334.Google Scholar
  34. 65.
    Taylor, 335.Google Scholar
  35. 66.
    T. K. Beal, Religion and its Monsters (New York: Routledge, 2002), 17.Google Scholar
  36. 67.
    Taylor, 337.Google Scholar
  37. 68.
    Taylor, 338.Google Scholar

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© William David Hart 2008

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  • William David Hart

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