The Battalion - News - February 27, 2004
Muslim leader speaks about Malcolm X
Muslim leader Imam Siraj Wahhaj said Wednesday (2/25/2004) that we can learn to be a better society by studying the legacy of the militant, black civil rights leader Malcolm X, who was assassinated in 1965 at age 40.
"I think it is wrong to study a man just to glorify him," Wahhaj said. "We need to use the legacy of Malcolm to make our society better."
Wahhaj, a founder of Masjid Taqwa in Brooklyn and former minister of the Nation of Islam, told an audience of about 250 that although Malcolm X had a terrible past, he was able to turn his life around and leave behind a legacy of unity.
"The legacy of Malcolm is the brotherhood of mankind, for sure," Wahhaj said.
Wahhaj was invited by the Muslim Student Association to give his speech "Struggling for Truth and Justice: The Legacy of Malcolm X" in honor of Black History Month. Wahhaj said Malcolm Xl was a revolutionary black leader who had a tremendous love for black people worldwide.
"Malcolm X was articulate, charismatic, bold and courageous," Wahhaj said. "Malcolm was not just concerned about black people, he was concerned about the struggle of dark people around the world."
Wahhaj linked Malcolm X to Martin Luther King Jr. and said both had a great impact on the civil rights movement by asking for justice and equality in society.
"People like Martin Luther King and Malcolm cared about their people and gave their lives for them," Wahhaj said. "There were two different businesses competing in the same market. If they ever got together what a powerful force it would be, and I think both of their lives were cut short because of that."
Wahhaj said one of the legacies Malcolm X left was to always keep reading and educating one's self, which Wahhaj said is vital to today's black society.
"More African-American women are going to college than men, and in some cases it's 20 to 1," Wahhaj said. "That scares me. We (black people) need education."
Wahhaj also said blacks should take action to help those struggling in Africa.
"This country gives a lot of money to foreign countries, but we, as African-Americans, need to push our country to be more equitable to Africa," Wahhaj said. "I also encourage African-Americans to spend time in Africa to help build Africa and to train our brothers and sisters there."
Mohammad Munawar, a senior industrial engineering major and a member of MSA, said they decided to bring Wahhaj to A&M because he is such a respected Muslim and black leader.
"He's a nationally renowned Muslim speaker and someone you can learn a lot from," Munawar said. "He's certainly a role model for Muslims in North America."
Wahhaj concluded by saying although the civil rights movement has made progress, that African-Americans still have a long way to go.
"Martin Luther King once said, 'He who gets behind in the race will always be behind, or will have to run faster to catch up.' We need to run faster," Wahhaj said.