James Monroe King Warden was born in Brooklyn New York and raised in the impoverished Morningside Park section of Harlem, New York. He attended the The Bronx High School of Science, from which he graduated with honors. He then initially enrolled in the City College of New York but transferred to Lincoln University in Chester County, Pennsylvania after a year, though he soon left that school as well to join the Army. Following his discharge, he returned to Lincoln, graduating with honors in English in 1958. He received a master's degree from Columbia University.
in 1958, he entered the Nation of Islam at Mosque No. 7, on 102 West 116th Street in New York City, under Minister Malcolm X. As was the custom of all others who entered the Nation of Islam, he abandoned the surname of Warden as a vestige of chattel slavery and became the 67th James in Mosque No. 7.
By 1960 he was promoted to Lieutenant of the Fruit of Islam, subordinate to Captain Joseph X. Gravitt (later known as Yusuf Shah). Subsequently, he was appointed Circulation Manager of the Muhammad Speaks Newspaper for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, thus directly answerable to Minister Malcolm X.
Subsequent to the split between Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, Malcolm formed the Muslim Mosque Incorporated and appointed Mr. Abdur-Razzaq Secretary of the organization, as well as Captain of the Men. Upon Malcolm’s instruction, Abdullah – then still known as James 67X – abandoned the 67X and took the name of James Shabazz.
Brother James, as he was called then, was held responsible for the formation of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). The OAAU was a secular organization which Malcolm had also formed – and patterned after Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s Organization of African Unity – through which he planned to charge the United States with the violation of the Human Rights of its chattel slave descendants.
Abdullah H. Abdur-Razzaq, then known as James Shabazz, was a constant and willing aide to Malcolm, both in Malcolm’s capacity as head of the Muslim Mosque, Inc. and as head of the Organization of Afro-American Unity. He remained with, and vigorously assisted Brother Malcolm, up until the leader's murder on February 21, 1965.
Abdur-Razzaq spent the years following Malcolm X's murder raising a family and co-founding Al-Karim School (which would later become Brooklyn's famed Cush Campus Schools) with Ora Abdur-Razzaq. He would later move to Guyana, where he worked as a farmer. Returning to the U.S. in 1988, he earned his nursing degree, and he worked in this profession up through his retirement in 2004.
In subsequent years, Abdullah Abdur-Razzaq’s work as Staff Consultant for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, had been invaluable in cataloguing rare photographs, letters and accounts of Malcolm X’s life and times. Furthermore, his expertise was widely solicited by journalists, authors, film makers and educators alike. In addition to his contributions to a wide array of published works, such as Bruce Perry’s Malcolm X: The Last Speeches, Mr. Abdur-Razzaq was featured in several television interviews and films, including Malcolm X: Make It Plain and Gil Noble’s Like It Is. The DVD version of Jack Baxter’s acclaimed Brother Minister documentary includes an “Exclusive Interview with Abdullah Abdur-Razzaq, Malcolm X’s closest associate.”
In April 2013, Abdur-Razzaq returned to his alma mater, Lincoln University to speak about his memories and experiences working with Malcolm X.
Battling leukemia, Abdur-Razzaq was admitted to Harlem Hospital in late 2014. After spending several weeks here, he was transferred to Bellevue Hospital Center in Kips Bay, Manhattan, where he died on November 21, 2014 at the age of 82.
He is survived by children, grandchildren, and a large extended family.