There’s zero dispute over the fact that he was a Muslim, so I’m confused by your thread title. And he didn’t have a Christian funeral. There was a service in a Christian church, which is not the same thing. As to why it was held there, I’m guessing it was because of the church’s size. I’m not sure how non-NOI Muslims felt about Malcolm X when he died, but I don’t know if holding a service there would have been his option. And an NOI obviously was never going to be an option.
As for the long wait… he was a public figure and I guess his family decided to give the public a longer time to pay their respects.
You are aware that Malcolm X didn’t personally arrange his own funeral, right? He was rather indisposed at the time. I don’t know where he’d have chosen to have it if he’d had the chance, but I somehow doubt there was a mosque of suitable size available in the US in 1965.
IIRC, in the afterward to Malcolm X’s autobiography, Alex Haley mentions that there was some criticism from prominent Muslims in the Middle East about the length of time that passed before the funeral. But there was no “outcry from the Muslim community” because there was no sizable Muslim community in the US in 1965. Even if there had been, I think most Muslims have better things to do than “cry out” about other people’s funeral arrangements. Given how famous and controversial Malcolm X was, not to mention the mysterious circumstances surrounding his assassination, there likely would have been a LOT of outcry from a LOT of people if there had been a perception that the funeral was being rushed.
It is possible that Malcolm X’s widow, Betty Shabazz, was unaware of the traditional three-day time limit. Like her husband, she had not been raised a Muslim and may not have even attended a Muslim funeral before. Researching traditional practices was probably not a high priority for her in the days immediately following her husband’s death.
Unless you’re looking to invent a conspiracy, I don’t see anything to debate here. Malcolm X was a Muslim. He made the Hajj in 1964, which was not an easy thing for an American convert to Islam to arrange. He was actually detained by Saudi authorities who were suspicious of him for being an American, but his credentials were established and he was allowed to proceed on to Mecca. I don’t think there can be any better proof that he was recognized as a legitimate Muslim.
Elijah Muhammad was apparently buried three days after he died, but whether that was done in keeping with orthodox Muslim tradition or because it’s just a standard amount of time in the U.S., I couldn’t say.
> Given the recent al Qaeda message concerning Obama, I thought I’d review my
> understanding of Malcolm X who I thought was NoI and not Muslim.
As you can see in the Wikipedia article that you link to in the OP, Malcolm X was no longer a member of the Nation of Islam at the time of his death. He publicly announced that he was leaving the Nation of Islam on March 8, 1964, almost a year before his death on February 21, 1965. As you can see in that article, he considered himself a standard Sunni Moslem at the time of his death. He even did a hajj (a pilgrimage to Mecca) during that last year.
You’re thinking too modern. This was 1965, the majority of the people who’s church was used for the service probably had little, if any idea what a Muslim was at that point. They knew that a high profile member of the community at large had been killed, and the most Christian thing I think you could do at that point is to open your arms and your doors to those in need. You didn’t make a fuss about it, you just did it.