The Autobiography of Malcolm X Chapter 17 Summary: Mecca
by Malcolm X, Alex Haley

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Chapter 17 Summary: Mecca

New People:

Wallace Muhammad: Elijah Muhammad’s son and Malcolm’s friend

Dr. Mahmoud Youssef Shawarbi: a Muslim lecturer, writer, professor, United Nations advisor, and close advisor to Prince Faisal, who helps Malcolm make his pilgrimage to Mecca

Prince Faisal: the ruler of Saudi Arabia

Abd ir-Rahman Azzam: author of The Eternal Message of Muhammad, who lives in Jedda

Muhammad Shawarbi: son of Dr. Shawarbi; a student at Cairo University

Dr. Omar Azzam: son of Mr. Azzam, and a Swiss-trained engineer who lives in Jedda

Muhammad, the Mutawaf: a young man who serves as a guide to Malcolm on his pilgrimage to Mecca

Hussein Amiri, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem: a Muslim leader

Sheikh Muhammad Harkon: judge of the Muslim High Court


Malcolm makes plans for his pilgrimage to the Holy City of Mecca. On his way to Mecca, his plane stops in Frankfurt, Germany and Cairo, Egypt. There, he goes sightseeing, meeting very friendly and hospitable people.

Upon his arrival in Jedda, an ancient seaport town in Saudi Arabia, Malcolm is temporarily delayed at the airport. He learns that, prior to his pilgrimage, he must first appear before “the Muslim high court which examined all possibly non-authentic converts to the Islamic religion seeking to enter Mecca.”

Bewildered and unable to communicate with the Arabic-speaking people he meets at the airport, Malcolm contacts Dr. Assam. Dr. Assam and his family provide him with food and lodging. The high court approves Malcolm’s pilgrimage to Mecca.

Along his pilgrimage, Malcolm encounters thousands of people of various racial and ethnic backgrounds. He is amazed by the true sense of “brotherhood” practiced by all of these people, “irrespective of color.” Consequently, Malcolm writes letters to his relatives and friends back in the United States, to share his new-found spirit of unity and brotherhood.


Malcolm’s final spiritual journey takes place in this chapter. When he arrives in Jedda he is lonely and bewildered; he is unable to speak the language and is unfamiliar with the customs and traditions of the Muslim people. The metaphor he uses to describe his feelings in this...

(The entire section is 516 words.)