America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem.
In the course of recounting his pilgrimage in Chapter Seventeen, “Mecca,” Malcolm reveals his continued faith in Islam as a potential source for social change in America, but also reveals the difference between his experience of Middle Eastern Islam and the form of Islam he has practiced in the United States. While affiliated with the Nation of Islam, Malcolm uses Islam as a vehicle for promoting spiritual, social, political, and economic self-sufficiency among black people. Malcolm’s is a simplified version of Islam, bent around demonizing whites and giving a rigid version of independence to black people. Later, in Mecca, at a time of personal upheaval and exile from the Nation of Islam, Malcolm discovers a much deeper Islam that is concerned with universal theological questions rather than with immediate political concerns. This quotation, steeped in the wisdom his experiences have given him, shows that Malcolm believes that America’s race problem is resolvable. Malcolm bases his contention that Islam “erases from its society the race problem” on his experience of brotherhood in Mecca with white-skinned Muslims. His ability to live closely with them, without a trace of racial tension, enables him to see beyond the racial hierarchy of American society.