The Autobiography of Malcolm X

by Malcolm X, Alex Haley

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What is the correlation or connection Malcolm realizes between the oriental rugs he had stolen and that of the prayer rug used in Jedda and Mecca?

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The explanation is found in Chapter Seven. Malcolm has realized that rugs in Muslim society, rugs are used as a sort of courtroom. He finally understands the irony that he has stolen something that is used not only in everyday life for the serving of food, rest, and prayer, but also to render judgment . Here is the passage in which the author explains the connection:

"As the sleeping Muslims woke up, when dawn had broken, they almost instantly became aware of me, and we watched each other while they went about their business. I began to see what an important role the rug played in the overall cultural life of the Muslims. Each individual had a small prayer rug, and each man and wife, or large group, had a larger communal rug. These Muslims prayed on their rugs there in the compartment. Then they spread a tablecloth over the rug and ate, so the rug became the dining room. Removing the dishes and cloth, they sat on the rug—a living room. Then they curl up and sleep on the rug—a bedroom. In that compartment, before I was to leave it, it dawned on me for the first time why the fence had paid such a high price for Oriental rugs when I had been a burglar in Boston. It was because so much intricate care was taken to weave fine rugs in countries where rugs were so culturally versatile. Later, in Mecca, I would see yet another use of the rug. When any kind of a dispute arose, someone who was respected highly and who was not involved would sit on a rug with the disputers around him, which made the rug a courtroom."

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