Malcolm X was ‘caterpillar that turned into butterfly,’ says US Muslim activist

Malcolm X was ‘caterpillar that turned into butterfly,’ says US Muslim activist

‘Before Malcolm and after Malcolm is a different age for African Americans,’ Shaykh Khalid Yasin tells Anadolu

By Faruk Hanedar

ISTANBUL (AA) – Legendary civil rights activist Malcolm X was a “caterpillar that turned into a butterfly,” a US Muslim activist told Anadolu.

Shaykh Khalid Yasin was visiting Istanbul for a conference organized by the Istanbul Science and Culture Foundation.

Yasin, who describes himself as “an African American senior Muslim and social activist,” has devoted the last 35 years of his life to eliminating distortions and misunderstandings about Islam and Muslims.

During this period, Yasin gave lectures in almost 90 countries and inspired many people to choose Islam.

Speaking on Malcolm X, Yasin said that “he was one of the most dynamic, impressive, articulate people who, in the last four months of his life, impacted the world.”

“Watching the movie and talking about the person is two different things. Reading his autobiography and talking about the person is two different things,” he said.

Yasin said he met Malcolm X in January 1965, a month before his assassination at age 39.

“He was assassinated in February. I became a Muslim in October 1965. Malcolm, if you want to describe his life, for me, was like caterpillar that turned into butterfly,” said Yasin.

He also said that Malcolm not only influenced him but also thousands of people to choose Islam.

- ‘Martin Luther King wasn’t a Malcolm’

Yasin said that although Malcolm once was a criminal, he later converted to Islam and became a pure person through his sincerity.

“No drink, no drug, no dancing, no singing, no smoking. He became sort of like, not mutawa, you know, not so much like a religious in that sense, but a very disciplined, a very focused, a very surgical, a very genuine, a very deep thinker,” he said.

Yasin said that after going on a Hajj pilgrimage in 1964, Malcolm became a very different person.

“So from November 1964 to February 1965, he became the butterfly,” he said.

“Just that amount of time with his sincerity of what he knew about Islam, and what God gave him as a gift and his interaction with people. He became like a phenomena,” said Yasin.

Comparing Malcolm X to his contemporary Martin Luther King Jr., who also died at the hands of an assassin, Yasin said: “Before Malcolm and after Malcolm is a different age for African Americans. For Black Americans, before Malcolm and after Malcolm, before Martin Luther King after Martin Luther King … and although Martin Luther King was more educated, maybe he was a little bit more eloquent, but Martin Luther King wasn’t a Malcolm.”

- Muhammad Ali was ‘more popular than pope’

Yasin said he had the opportunity to meet in person with Malcolm X only once, a few months before his murder. Yasin was very close friend with Muhammad Ali, the famed boxer who also converted to Islam, and that they performed Hajj together twice.

“He was two different people in his life. The first was Muhammad Ali in boxing and show business. The other was Muhammad Ali, who was very humble, very honest, a very good gentleman and a very smart diplomat,” he said.

“In his prime he was more popular than the pope. More people in the world knew him than the pope. Personally, he was warm-blooded, intelligent, principled and a true Muslim. He was not a very sophisticated Muslim, but he was pure-hearted and principled.”

- Israel and Palestine

Speaking on the Israel-Palestine conflict, Yasin said that “this is an ongoing issue.”

“It is not something that happened yesterday, and it will not stop until Al-Aqsa is returned to the hands of those who are supposed to manage it,” he added.

“A criminal can never sleep comfortably in a house that does not belong to him, that he took from someone else,” Yasin said, adding that he never applauded what happened and that God does not like killing and that Israel committed a crime by occupying Palestine and entering Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque.

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