Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rooh's True Tales: My first impression with Malcolm X's grandson

Rooh with Malcolm's X's grandson. - Photo by Reza Sheikh

When I exited the car after the two-hour trek from Stockton, my legs immediately cramped up and so I just casually leaned against my dad’s ’88 Chevy Astro (he loves that car). As I awkwardly stood against the car, something fell down in front of me; I thought the world was coming to an end.
So I look up and I noticed a little tree house, some lady had managed to build a fort and was living in it for the Occupy Oakland protest. She looked down at me and yells, “Hey you there! Throw that back up here.” Cramped as I was, I leaned down with one leg in the air. I picked the thing up which turned out to be some sort of toy and threw it up there. I think I hit her in the head, but I just walked away right as soon as I heard a *thud*.
  I entered the little plaza and sat down next to my friend, Reza. There were a couple of speeches by people and then I saw him. He was wearing black and I thought to myself, “I’m wearing black, he must have good fashion taste!” He walked up to the little stage and spoke for an hour. It sounded like he never rehearsed it first, as if it was free flowing out of his mind, kind of sloppy but he got his point through, about how the government is some sort of conspiracy theory. It was pretty awkward for the cops and the mayor who were sitting there and watching.
After his speech, we marched around Oakland, which was a couple of hours and we walked like 5 miles. Malcolm Shabazz was in the very back and so I tried going up to him and talking to him but a bunch of Muslim ‘brothers’ surrounded him. I really wanted a picture with him, so one day I could show my kids and tell them of my celebrity status. Just kidding, but in all seriousness it would be pretty cool to have one with Malcolm X’s grandson.
  After the march, I finally took my friend Reza and went to Malcolm Shabazz. Reza told me to go talk to him first and I was like, “It’s not as easy as you think it is.” So I contemplated a plan where I would take the easy way out and would go stand next to him and my friend would take a quick snapshot and I would walk away, Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible style, discreetly. My friend said, "Just go up to him and ask him about his grandfather and then casually ask for a photo," but I didn’t listen. I walked up to him while he was talking to a group of people and just stood next to him.
  He looked at me and my body reflexed and I gave him a wink. I don’t know how he took that. I felt embarrassed but that did not stop me from my mission. My friend took his phone out and I gave an awkward smile, and right then, the flash went off. The plan had failed, he was onto me. I just looked away as if I never noticed my friend. Malcolm turned to me and said, “As-Salaam Aleikum, Brother,” (which means hello in Arabic), I look at him and reply, “Was-Salaam.” This is when I activate plan B, which I never wanted originally, but it was necessary to make the situation not awkward.
  I said my hellos and then asked him how his life was going (as if I was his long lost friend) and something about his grandfather. It was a nice little conversation and soon after it was time to go. I ask him, “Hey wait, can I get a quick photo” and he replied, “It’s going on Facebook, huh?” I give an awkward smirk and say, “Maybe…” He replied, “Make sure you tag me.” I give him a nod and say, “Oh yeah, for sure!” So I got up and stood next to him. He put up one finger, just like what his grandfather used to do and my friend looked at me and says, “Put a finger up!” I slowly put a finger up.
My friend took a quick snapshot and I said, “Thank you!” I give him a handshake and he started to walk away. I grabbed my friend’s phone and looked at the picture. The picture was horrible, so out of a sudden rush of adrenaline, I ran back up to Malcolm Shabazz and grabbed his shoulder and said, “I’m sorry but the photo makes me look like a pregnant mother of two, so can I get another one with you?” He shrugged and said, “Yes, that’s fine.” My friend took another shot and this time I had my eyes closed. It was hopeless. So I just said, “Thanks again.” He walked away and I end up putting up the pregnant looking photo on Facebook and on this article.
  So yeah, getting back to the point of this story. First impressions are important and most times being yourself can make other people comfortable talking to you. I was being myself with him and he seemed fine with it but I guess I’ll never know unless I ask him about it. I actually got his number, too, but I won’t be calling him or texting him anytime soon! Overall, be yourself around people, it is easier in the long run. If it is for some interview, you better be the best that you can be. That’s the only exception!

Malcolm X relative speaks at Ryerson Marwa Hamad Ryersonian Staff

Malcolm Shabazz talks to Ryerson students during Black History Month.
Marwa Hamad
Malcom X’s grandson spoke at Ryerson Thursday evening about what he called two of the most controversial topics — politics and religion.

Malcolm Shabazz, 28, is the first male descendent of Muslim civil and human rights activist Malcolm X. He has travelled the world to spread a message he shares with his grandfather “the importance of education & unity.”

His talk was a part of the Students Against Racism event called Freedom Dialogues.

Shabazz said that education does not just mean textbooks and traditional schooling, but rather anything that raises awareness, including spoken word, poetry and art.

“Most often, we aren’t aware of our own oppression,” Shabazz said of marginalized communities. “Today, brothers and sisters walk around as slaves, but they think they’re free.”

Shabazz was critical of the Occupy Wall Street movement that swept the world. He said that protesters were “sitting down” when they should have done more to bring change. He stressed the importance of using all the tools and technologies that are at protesters’ disposal to make a difference.

When he was the age of most students in his audience, Shabazz spent six years in prison, where he said he came across the most intelligent men he had ever met. “I knew why they were there. They were threats. Not threats in a dangerous way, but threats to the status quo.”

Shabazz said Ryerson students shouldn’t strive to recreate leaders from the past — like his grandfather or Martin Luther King — but instead create new voices of resistance.

“Everything we liked about our previous leaders is a mirror-reflection of something we possess within ourselves.”

Malcolm X’s grandson: The Hajj journey changed me a lot

Two personalities at a focal point – the journey to perform Hajj formed the common denominator between them and contributed in their entering a phase of intellectual soul-searching and self-criticism that led to changing misconceptions that were embedded in their minds for a long time.

Here, the two personalities – of Malcolm X, the grandfather and Malcolm Shabazz, the grandson – converge.
The grandfather returned from the Hajj journey to his place of birth with new ideas that eliminated misconceptions of Islam he had learned during his early years. His grandson, too, corrected some misconceptions he had about Islam, which were instilled by extremist groups.

It is actually a new phase, as described by Malcolm Shabazz, the grandson of the legendary Malcolm X and the son of his 2nd eldest daughter. It started when he saw the Holy Ka’ba, with his own eyes, standing tall, with worshippers circumambulating it.

  The Hajj journey was a turning point in his life.  “That journey was so beautiful that I’ll never forget it,” he said. “It encouraged me to carry out the acts of worship with a present soul and heart to participate with my Muslim brethren in the Hajj rituals.”

  Being there provided profound insights and experiences he did not get from afar.
  “I found the circumambulation of the Holy Ka’ba different from what I used to see on TV, for I realized there was a kind of hardship in carrying it out, but it only increased my love for this rite,” he said.
Shabazz described his feelings when he saw the Holy Ka’ba for the first time. “I felt something move inside my chest and I felt I was born once again and the stories I read about the Ka’ba were scattered before my eyes,” he recounted.
“I had a mixed feeling and I was in a state of great astonishment. I couldn’t restrain my tears before that awesome scene.”

  This scene reminded him of things in the past, some of which were frightening. He recalled his grandfather, who circumambulated the same Ka’ba in 1974.
Shabazz has memories from his trip of visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina, a number of historical places and an outing to the desert, where he drank camel milk and of meeting prominent people who extended great kindness and wisdom.

  When he met Sheikh Saleh Al-Hussayen, general president for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, he was eager to listen to his advice, which was conveyed to him in English. He could not hold back his tears when Sheikh Al-Hussayen told him he had read most of the books written about his grandfather.

“I’ll never forget the advice Sheikh Saleh gave me when he urged me to follow my grandfather’s footsteps,” he said.
“Also, Dr. Abdullah Bin Biyyah, vice president of the International Federation of Muslim Ulama, advised me to follow the example of my grandfather and read about religion in particular and other subjects.”

Shabazz was astonished when Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Zamil presented him with a rare, old copy of the Holy Qur’an and called on him to work hard to unify the ranks of Muslims in America.

  Looking further back, Shabazz said he was sure his grandfather was murdered by a group from the Nation of Islam, which he described as a deviant group, and denied that this is merely a theory being circulated by people who have not studied the matter.

Shabazz is following in his grandfather’s footsteps by helping people through his efforts as a human-rights activist and as an active member of a number of human-rights societies. He also gives lectures at American universities his grandfather used to visit.

These lectures are attended by large audiences, especially youths who have not been able to continue their studies and those whose conduct and practices are misguided, he said.
  Shabazz said he maintains good relationships with the sons of the late civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated in 1968, three years after Malcolm X was assassinated.

He said those relationships were built on cooperation and that the men encourage him and express optimism that he will be like his grandfather.
  He always tells them that he is at the beginning of the road.