What is happening in Chapter 17 of The Autobiography of Malcolm X?  

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In chapter 17 of his autobiography, Malcolm X shares his experience on the Hajj, or the traditional Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. Prior to the events of this chapter, Malcolm decided he wanted to distance himself from the Nation of Islam, a more radical African American interpretation of Muslim beliefs, and he wanted to associate himself with the true religion of Islam. To do so, he decided to embark on the pilgrimage.

While he encountered some delays and difficulties beginning the journey, he is aided by several prominent Muslims, including Prince Faisal. Through his experience, he sees that true Islam shows acceptance and equality for its followers, regardless of race or cultural heritage. This gives him a new outlook on equality and brotherhood, and he believes that Islam could be the avenue to helping fix the racial divide in America.

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The pilgrimage to Mecca is Malcolm's most powerful moment of spiritual transformation.  The background is evident in that at this point in the narrative, Malcolm has officially decided to break away from the Nation of Islam and the honorable Elijah Muhammad.  At this point, Malcolm decides that taking the hajj, the most spiritual of pilgrimages for those who follow the Islamic faith, would allow him to better understand his past decisions and his future beliefs.  The pilgrimage helps to allow Malcolm to understand the transcendent power of religion, in particular Islam.  Essentially, the reader is seeing a maturation in his belief systems and in his spiritual and political sense of focus.  Reading it will allow you to gain the full extent of this transformation.

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Chapter 17 of this book discusses one of the major turning points in the life of Malcolm X.  It is about his pilgrimage to Mecca.

If you have read the rest of the book, you know that Malcolm X was, like most of the Nation of Islam at that time, very anti-white.  He believed, for example, that white people were made by the devil rather than by God.

But when he went to Mecca, Malcolm found that he had to rethink his ideas.  While there, he met many Muslims of all races.  He came to realize that people of all races could be good or bad.  This led to a great change in his attitude towards race relations.

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