Was Malcolm X a political Islamist?

The only way we can assess if Malcolm X became an Islamist or his political trajectory was heading towards that direction is to unpack what he said or did not say after his split with Elijah Muhammad’s ‘Nation of Islam’ (NOI). It goes without saying that for as long as he was a member of the NOI he was the leading advocate of its distinctive cultural, social, economic and political theology and/or ideology.

First of all what do we mean by Islamism and/or radical political Islam? According to the scholar Oliver Roy in a study for the United Nations, Islamism “is the brand of modern political Islamic fundamentalism which claims to recreate a true Islamic society, not simply by imposing sharia, or Islamic law, but by first establishing an Islamic state through political action.” Earlier in the study he had unpacked and defined ‘fundamentalism’ as “a call for the return of all Muslims to the true tenets of Islam (or what is perceived as such): this trend is usually called “salafism” (“the path of the ancestors”).” Individuals who uphold this ideology are referred to as Islamists of one variety or another.

Split with NOI

Malcolm X’s split with the NOI began with a suspension for ninety days following his now famous comment, “chickens coming home to roost” with regard to the  assassination of President Kennedy on the 2nd December 1963.[1] The NOI hierarchy had previously sent out instructions Continue reading

The ‘British Fox’ and the Limits of Liberal Dissent

“…Whereas we played the card, ‘We very humbly beg you to accept the service we offer to your grand movement’…all the while conspiring like crazy. Very British.”

Tony Blair[1]

Anyone who has ever been influenced or inspired by the radical African-American tradition will not fail to come across warnings or vituperations about mainstream liberals. This warning has never been better articulated than by Malcolm X. He often referred to them as foxes disguised as sheep wanting to make you his meal or as tricksters who want to pull the wool over gullible eyes.

In effect what this insight highlights with this observation are not only the limits of the liberal approach to socio-political issues but also a hidden and far from honest political agenda.

But does this socio-political insight apply to those us, ‘people of colour’, and/or those of us who wish to challenge injustice and imperialist war inEngland? Continue reading