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Free Study Guide-The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X-Free Notes
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Chapters 17, 18, & 19

Summary

Malcolm had wanted to make the pilgrimage since a long time. Not only members within the organization but also people he had met during his tours around the country had advised him to visit Mecca. Many of them were whites from the Gulf. They told him that since he was so sincere in considering himself a Muslim, he should be exposed to 'true Islam.' For this, he should visit Mecca and learn more about Islam.

Some of these people had urged Malcolm to meet and talk with Dr. Mahmoud Youssef Shawarbi. Mr. Shawarbi was a United Nations advisor. An eminent and learned Muslim, he had authored several books. After having worked as a full-time professor at the University of Cairo, he was in New York, as the Director of the Federation of Islamic Associations in the U.S. and Canada. One day, Malcolm was introduced to Mr. Shawarbi by a Newsperson. They talked for a few minutes and parted since both had to attend to some appointment.

Malcolm's sister Ella had been saving up money to visit Mecca. However, when Malcolm expressed his wish to go to Mecca, she gave him the money. Malcolm had the opportunity to meet Mr. Shawarbi once again when he was in the process of applying for a visa. The Saudi Ambassador told Malcolm that any Muslim converted in the U.S. could get a visa for Mecca only if he/she gets a signed letter of approval from Mr. Shawarbi. Malcolm called Mr. Shawarbi, who called him over to his office.

In his office, Mr. Shawarbi handed over the letter of approval and presented him a book: 'The Eternal Message of Muhammad' by Adb-ar-Rahman Azzam. To Malcolm's surprise, Mr. Shawarbi informed him that Mr. Azzam had been closely following him (Malcolm) in the press. Mr. Azzam was an international statesman, and one of the closest advisors to Prince Faisal, the ruler of Arabia. As Malcolm was leaving the office, Mr. Shawarbi gave him the telephone number of his son-Muhammad Shawarbi who was a student in Cairo. He also gave him Mr. Azzam's sons telephone number Mr. Azzam's son-Omar Azzam lived in Jedda.


On the way to Cairo, Malcolm's plane stopped at Frankfurt. At Frankfurt, he had a few hours before his plane would leave for Cairo. So he and his seatmate (a Muslim) decided to go sight seeing. In the men's room of Frankfurt Airport, Malcolm met an American student (a white) abroad, who recognized him. After eyeing him for a while, he came over to him and asked: 'Are you X?'

When Malcolm and his 'Muslim brother' came back to the Airport, they saw throngs of people, all Muslims setting off for the pilgrimage. These people were of various different colors. For the first time Malcolm realized that there was no color problem here. The feeling of friendship and warmth that prevailed between the Muslims of various nationalities made Malcolm feel free. Free from the prison-like atmosphere he was living in back home.

Malcolm stayed in Cairo for a few days before he proceeded to Saudi. In Cairo, Malcolm was really impressed and surprised to see that Cairo was highly industrialized and had modern schools, houses, highways etc. At Cairo, Malcolm met Mr. Shawarbi's son Muhammad Shawarbi, who was a nineteen year- old studying Economics and Political Science at the University. The other people he met in Cairo were surprised to learn that he (Malcolm) was a Muslim-from America.

From Cairo he joined a party of English speaking people who were going to Mecca. This group of people were contacted by the 'Muslim brother' Malcolm befriended in the journey from the U.S. to Frankfurt. The manner in which people turned up to help Malcolm on his way to Mecca, made him believe that Allah wanted it this way. At Jeddah, when Malcolm was detained at the Airport because his status as a Muslim was not clear, he was helped by Mr. Azzam. Malcolm had remembered to get in touch with his son, whose phone number was given to him by Mr. Shawarbi.

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