What is Mecca in The Autobiography of Malcolm X?

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dswain001 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mecca is a city in Saudi Arabia. For those who practice the Muslim faith, Mecca is the holiest of all cities. The Sunni Muslim religion teaches the 5 Pillars of Faith. According to these 5 pillars, there are 5 duties that every Muslim must obide by. One of which is Hajj, an annual pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.

Mecca is significant because according to Muslim history, it was once inhabited by the prophet Muhammad. Muhammad was run out of Mecca by the Meccans after he began preaching monotheism (the beleif that there is only one God), the Meccans practiced Animism. He lived in exile for many years until he and his army defeated the Meccans in 628. After which, the city was purged of its idols and the inhabitants began practicing the Muslim faith.

Malcolm X's journey to Mecca was a definite turning point in his life. This Hajj changed him and the way he viewed the world around him. Specifically, his attitude towards whites. He no longer held hatred in his heart for whites and for him, the attitudes that he witnessed on his Hajj represented what true Islamic principles were. In his autobiography, he stated;

“In my thirty-nine years on this earth, the Holy City of Mecca had been the first time I had ever stood before the Creator of All and felt like a complete human being.”

After his return, Malcolm X began to see the Nation of Islam and Elijah Muhammad for what they really were and he slowly began to separate himself from the group.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mecca is the most holy city in Islam, and plays a huge part in the religion of that area.  Muslims who worship in Mecca have a certain ritual that they follow; when worshipping outside of Mecca, it is customary that they place their prayers mats in such a way that they face east--toward the holy city of Mecca.

Since religious conversion is a huge theme in this book, it makes sense that Malcolm X makes a journey to Mecca.  Here, he takes a religious pilgrimmage on which he notices all the different skin colors of the people around him during prayers.  It is here that he realizes that his blanket statement that all white people are bad was a misconception, and so he changes his views.