Better late than never. I am about one to two years late at discovering the greatness of Malcolm X through the talks made by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Reverend Curtis Flemming, Imam Zaid Shakir and Shaykh Dr Umar Faruq Abdullah in the two videos below.
My takeaways and reflections from watching the inspiring talks by those illustrious personalities:
That Allah is indeed Great and Generous in His rewards towards the tawabbin (the repenters). I thought it's impressive how Malcolm's sincerity about embracing his colorful "past" [early life] and his sincerity about his lack of skills in writing, made many people learn about sincerity from him. You must have heard from the learned about sincerity being a secret of Allah, that no one will ever know if anyone is sincere because it is a fine and subjective matter. But through people like Malcolm we could feel it - sincerity as a result of a man's naked acceptance of Allah's decree wholeheartedly.
Just reading about Malcolm belittling the slavemaster name imposed on him by one white man named Little, you could feel how brutally sincere he was about speaking his mind with regards to his own past and dignity. That he would rather name his surname simply as X. That decision to have an X as his last name is really a landmark gesture of his in honoring his real and true past which might have been greater than Little's self-imposed white supremacy.
According to Shaykh Dr Umar Faruq Abdullah, Malcolm X, in fact, hailed from a respectable African lineage known as the Fulani. [If I heard him correctly, Malcolm traced his roots to a prominent Islamic scholar Usman Dan Fodio]. Dr Umar quoted a saying by the Mandinka (a great West African tribe of kings and noblemen) that "The world is old, but the future springs from the past." How apt that saying in reference to Malcolm who sprung from a good past literally, lineage-wise. And we saw how Malcolm had sprung forth from his "criminal past" while still being in prison. While still in prison he experienced true freedom for the first time. He was referring to the awakenings he received through the knowledge acquired from voracious reading, among others.
I think one of the best gifts that Allah could honor a person is by making him/her a reason for someone to understand the truth and accept Islam through him/her. It's impossible to reckon how many people found Islam beautiful just by reading Malcolm X's autobiography, but it soothes the heart to see and know that one beautiful soul like Dr Umar Faruq Abdullah considered Malcolm as the person who was instrumental in him becoming a Muslim.
Allah guides whom He wills. Allah honors whom He wills.