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March 8, 1999 - March 21, 1999
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Muslim Students Celebrate
Black History Month


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By Amanda Wheeler
Guardsman News Editor
Published Mar. 8, 1999


In celebration of Black History Month, Amir Abdel Malik Ali presented a lecture entitled "The Legacy Of Malcolm X" to a diverse crowd of 100 people in the Smith Hall Cafeteria on Wed., February 23, at an event sponsored by nine clubs.

Sponsored by the Muslim Students Association, the African American Achievers Club, the Cultural Affairs Club, La Raza Unida, the Polynesian Club, the Native American Study Organiz-ation, Filipinos for Education, Art, Culture and Empowerment, and the Psychology Club, the event marked the 34th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights activist Malcolm X.

It opened with a traditional Muslim prayer session in which all audience members were encouraged to participate. Toni Hines, President of the Psychology Club, opened the lecture with a small introduction to Black History Month.

"Black History Month was started by Carter G. Woodson as a week-long celebration about 70 years ago to instill values. The purpose of Black History Month is to acknowledge the important contributions and achievements African Americans have made." Hines went on to explain the importance of this particular event. "Malcolm X was assassinated 34 years ago this week. According to Muslim tradition a martyr should be recognized on the day he died, so in remembrance of Malcolm X, let us honor him today."

Amir Abdel Malik Ali took the floor, dressed entirely in black, and was flanked on both sides by two similarly dressed men. Though a small man, Ali is a powerful speaker. He used his booming voice and sense of humor to bring his message to the audience. He informed the audience he wanted the focus of his lecture to be the last 11 months and 13 days of the life of Malcolm X, (whose Muslim name was Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz), the period after he had been "kicked out" of the Nation of Islam.

Ali wanted the audience to recognize that Malcolm X had gone through three different stages in his life: the period before he joined the Muslim faith, the era of his involvement with the Nation of Islam, and the final period, after his involvement with the Muslim faith had ended.

"When he made a particular statement you have to know where he was in his lifetime," Ali said. Ali wanted the audience to realize that it was after Malcolm X had left the Nation of Islam in America that he traveled the Hajj to Mecca. Ali describes the Hajj as "a spiritual journey for purification that has a major effect on your being."

Malcom X’s journey to Mecca changed his inner beliefs, according to Ali. Malcolm X abandoned what he had previously thought and taught and admitted it was wrong. He is quoted as saying, "I can no longer say that any people[race] is inherently evil. You must decide on an individual basis."

Ali also noted, "One of his legacies is he was a spiritual warrior, he could not be bought off, he was not worried about material things." Ali continued," a spiritual warrior thinks beyond the material. A materialist cannot win against a spiritual warrior because he is not afraid."

In addition to speaking about Malcolm X’s life, Ali informed the audience about the Muslim faith. "Everyone one of us have an Ilah, something we put first in our life, every human being has an object of worship. Shirk means you worship a false god, for example your car."

Another important idea defined by Ali was that of Assabia, or supporting a person not because they are right, but just because they are the same ethnicity as you. "Do not stand with a person if they are wrong just because they are the same race as you. Stand with them because they are right. We cannot let ourselves get to the point where we let the racism of this country get to us, where we can’t stand with brothers and sisters of our own mind," he said.

Ali took questions from the audience after the speech, some of which were difficult to answer. "How does the Muslim faith see same-sex relationships?" asked City College student Kris Gleason. "We are told same-sex marriages are not good because Allah tells us so," Ali answered. "We are taught anything that jeopardizes the family unit is wrong, we define the family unit as male, female, child."

"How do you explain the thousands of animals and insects that are homosexual, and doesn’t your stand go against the acceptance of diversity in your religion?" Gleason asked as a follow-up. "We look at homosexuality as being wrong," Ali said.

"We cannot compromise our position, we are taught the nature of things in a human do not go towards homosexuality and that the homosexual person needs to be rehabilitated."

"Are women considered to be people [by the Muslim faith]," asked student Peter Waymire. "Women are considered to be equal." Ali answered. "We play complementary roles in our society. In order for a woman to be dehumanized, you deal with her on a physical level, but we deal with our sisters on an intellectual level."

Students enjoyed refreshments after Ali’s speech and continued to discuss his points. Hasani Gomez, President of the African American Achievers club, was impressed with Ali. "What I receive from the message is a sense of motivation and inspiration to take what has gone on in the past and applying it to people today."

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