I’m compiling a bunch of data on this al-Azhar mosque. Looks like it’s a crucial nexus.
“...Malcolm encouraged Muhammad to move the sect towards greater synchronization with orthodox Islam. Malcolm advised that the leader study Arabic before going to Egypt and planned to return in six months. Perhaps due to Malcolms advice, or to his own experiences in the Middle East in early 1960, Muhammad did in fact move the NOI in this direction: temples were renamed mosques, Arabic instruction was instituted, and his son Akbar was sent to study at Al-Azhar University...”
“...The vast majority of people have no idea how ultra-Orthodox Malcolm became during the last six months of his life. He studied the Koran and Hadiths for sometimes 12 to 15 hours a day. He was wrapped and buried exactly according to Islamic tradition. He knew that he was marked for assassination, so he drew up a plan to be carried out after he died.
In Saudi Arabia, Shabazz/Malcolm X’s studies were supervised by Shaykh Muhammad Sarur As-Sabban, the Secretary-General of theMuslim World League . During this period of time, The University of Medina offered Shabazz 15 scholarships for young African Americans, to go along with those offered by Al-Azhar. Thus it is evident that those detractors who think that Malik Shabazz had no formal Islamic training according to the Sunna are clearly mistaken. In fact, his intensive training occupied five of the last eleven months of his life...”
Malcolm X, traveling without any administrative support, took up offers of help from the sympathetic expatriate community. When he wasn’t meeting with African heads of state, days were spent in conference with senior officials of the Al Azhar Islamic Center, who are authorities of Sunni Islam. It was here that Malcolm X sought official consent for his break-away movement and support for himself as a genuine minister of Islam.
It is apparent that there was distrust at first, that he was considered a “pseudo Islamic leader,” but in the end, Al Azhar Islamic Center supported his movement. One person quoted at the time said, “They saw the possibility of him bringing people to Sunni Islam.” Today, Al Azhar pragmatically describes Malcolm X as “an Islamic reformer.”