skip to Main Content

STILL, BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY: The Life of Malcolm Shabazz, Grandson of Malcolm X


In the US, February marks Black History Month, a month-long commemoration of African-American history and achievements. The lives of many civil rights leaders, activists, and revolutionaries are celebrated, including legendary figures like the martyr of Islam, Hajj Malik el-Shabbaz, better known as Malcolm X. However, many may not have ever heard of Malcolm X’s grandson, the late Hajj Malcolm Latif Shabbaz, who was the namesake and first male heir to the revolutionary civil rights leader. Malcolm shared stark similarities with his grandfather and paralleled his life in many ways. Malcolm also went from a destabilized upbringing, street life, and incarceration to religious transformation, socio-political activism, and martyrdom. In an ultimate story of redemption, Malcolm dedicated his reformed years to upholding Islam, serving his community, and defending the oppressed. A life that could have potentially led to the next great African-American revolutionary and Muslim leader was cut short by a death shrouded in mystery, when he was killed at the tender age of 28. 

Malcolm was born on October 8, 1984 in Paris, France while his mother, Qubilah, was studying at Sorbonne University. Qubilah is the second of Malcolm X’s six daughters. Malcolm reportedly never met his biological father, who is believed to be of Algerian descent. He had a nomadic childhood, moving around often across many cities throughout the U.S. He lived with different family members, friends, and even through foster care, as his mother faced a highly publicized entrapment case and legal battle with the federal government. The absence of a father figure left a void often filled by the wrong crowd. The lack of consistency and stability in his life made young Malcolm rebel. At the age of 12, he was implicated in a tragic arson incident at the home of his grandmother, Betty Shabbaz, which led to her accidental death. 

Malcolm pleaded guilty to the juvenile equivalent of attempted manslaughter and arson. He was sentenced to 18 months in a juvenile facility and remained in state custody for about four years. At age 17, he was sentenced to three and a half years in prison after being involved in a physical altercation with a gang member; according to Malcolm, the man had attempted to rape a 12 year old girl and Malcom came to her defense. During his time in prison, Malcolm reports meeting many intelligent brothers who helped guide him and showed him love. It was during these years when he learned most about his iconic grandfather and the legacy he represented.

Upon his release from prison, Malcolm went back to school, hired a private tutor, and took the SAT’s. He was accepted into John Jay College of Criminal Justice and studied criminology. Unfortunately, he violated his parole after coming late from school one day by half an hour and was sentenced to another year in prison. Malcolm felt incredibly discouraged at this point, as he was just beginning to get his life on track. However, he later reports seeing the hidden blessing in what appeared to be a curse. It was during this prison stay that Malcom underwent a religious transformation and spiritual revolution. He met many learned Muslims, including a Shia Muslim who introduced him to the path of the Ahlulbayt (Prophet Muhammad’s Holy family, peace be upon them). Coming from a Sunni background, Malcolm did not know much about Shia Islam other than the common misconceptions associated with it. He spent his time in prison researching, reading, and engaging in debate and dialogue with Muslims from different schools of thought. He studied the various denominations and early Islamic history, including events like Saqifah and Ashura; he was especially inspired by Imam Hussein’s revolutionary stance in Karbala. Malcolm was highly influenced by two notable books, “Peshawar Nights”  and “Then I was Guided,” and thereafter, he embraced Shia Islam, becoming a follower of the Ahlulbayt. 

In 2008, at the age of 24, Malcolm was finally a free man and ready to turn his life around. Three weeks after his release, he traveled to Qatar for a ‘Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow’ conference. After coming back to the states, he decided to move to Syria to study in the Islamic seminary, where he lived for over a year. 



He visited Dubai, Lebanon, and Jordan; he was also invited as a guest of honor by an organization in Paris to speak on education, racial discrimination, and other socio-political issues. As he was a descendant of Malcolm X, it helped him network with other revolutionary-spirited individuals all over the world for human rights and social justice. 


Back in the states, he embraced activism, worked with the youth, and held public speaking events at schools, universities, mosques, and various organizations, following in the footsteps of his legendary grandfather. He appeared on talk shows, media outlets, and at various community and solidarity events. In 2010, Malcolm made the Hajj pilgrimage and traveled throughout Arabia meeting many influential figures, officials, and scholars from all over the Muslim world. 

He also attended ex-congresswoman Cynthia Mckinney’s delegation to Libya, which took place a week prior to NATO’s intervention.  He started working on his book – a compilation of memoirs with commentary- in order to clear his name and explain his past, as he felt misunderstood due to many media falsehoods. He was also planning on building mosques and schools across the US. Malcolm was a staunch advocate for unity and education and sought to raise awareness in socio-political and religious matters. Like grandfather-like grandson, he was especially concerned with the plight of black people in America, Muslims, and the oppressed. 

He addressed issues such as institutionalized racism, police brutality, and the prison-industrial complex. He was against the two-party system, believing it was fraudulent, and that Democrats and Republicans only represented different faces of US imperialism. He believed that Black people in America are killed with impunity no matter who was in office. He also questioned the official story regarding 9/11, believing it was a false-flag operation to turn the world against Islam. He called on oppressed people to get organized and to be leery of movements promoted by mainstream media, which he believed was a tool used by the enemies to control, manipulate, and mold the popular opinion of the masses. He was against the capitalist system that always guaranteed a lower class and believed the only solution was a complete change to a more just system. Malcolm was also a supporter of the Palestinian cause.



In 2012, Malcolm was informed that he was under investigation by the FBI, which expressed concern over his international travels and activities. Around the same time, he was often featured on Press TV, a renowned English-speaking news outlet based in Iran. 

In 2013, he was invited to travel to Tehran to participate in an international film festival to address the topic of Hollywood and stereotyping Muslims. Two days before departure, he was picked up by authorities. After going missing for a few days and people expressing concern for his whereabouts, Malcolm released an online statement disclosing in detail the events that had transpired, how he faced a pattern of harassment from law enforcement for months prior to his arrest, and also described the formula for a public assassination: the character assassination before the physical assassination; that one has to be made killable before the eyes of the public in order for their eventual murder to then be deemed justifiable. 

Three months later, Malcolm’s fateful formula and prediction materialized. 

On May 9, 2013, he was found murdered in Mexico City while on a trip to help disenfranchised Afro-Mexican workers. However, mainstream media was quick to demonize his character and report that his death was due to being drunk, beaten and robbed by bar staff for refusing to pay a $1,200 tab. Of course, those closest to Malcolm believed no such incident occurred and that he was assassinated. Although some arrests were made by Mexican authorities, Malcolm’s aunts believe those arrested were only scapegoats and that he was lured to Mexico in the first place. His aunts thus requested an independent investigation by the U.S. government. 

In 2015, Mexican authorities sentenced two individuals to 27 years in prison in connection with the murder. However, the details and circumstances surrounding his death still remain unclear. Malcolm left behind his mother, two daughters, and unlimited potential. 

If you value our journalism…

TMJ News is committed to remaining an independent, reader-funded news platform. A small donation from our valuable readers like you keeps us running so that we can keep our reporting open to all! We’ve launched a fundraising campaign to raise the $10,000 we need to meet our publishing costs this year, and it’d mean the world to us if you’d make a monthly or one-time donation to help. If you value what we publish and agree that our world needs alternative voices like ours in the media, please give what you can today.


Back To Top