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Muslims Discovered America Before Columbus

Posted: 2004-08-15
From: The Muslim Weekly
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It is an established, but not much publicised knowledge among historians that Muslims had very early contacts with the people of the lands now called Americas. There are plenty of records and evidences for the arrival of Muslims in America, not less than 600 years before Columbus.

Despite the plainly obvious argument that an empire/empires which ruled (directly or indirectly) more than half of the then known world for more than 800 years would have been the most probable to reach a land only 1500 nautical miles from its shores. (The distance between Freetown, Sierra Leone and Natal, Brazil is 1822 miles/2933 km/1583 nautical miles, which is less than that between the ports of Aden and Colombo, a distance Muslim traders covered with much ease), history has been forced down the throats of the mankind that Columbus "discovered Americas" in 1492.

Historians have confirmed that during the golden days of the Muslim nation, Muslim ships were plying the Atlantic Ocean, which was then known as the Sea of Injustice, and they were heading west.

Years in which the parts of Americas were "discovered". Piri Muhyid Din Re’is’s map (Below)showed them all in 1513.

Muslims reached the shores of the lands now known as the Americas in the following instances: 1. In the year 889 AD, Muslim sailor Khishkhash ibn Said ibn Aswad Al-Qurtuby (of Cordoba) set sail from the port of Palos in Muslim Spain and reached a certain land in the west. He returned home with huge treasures. He drew a world map calling these areas in the Atlantic Ocean "the unknown land". The Muslim geo-historian Al-Masoudy records this in his book "Muruj-al-Dhahab wa Maadin Aljawhar"(956 AD);"Some people feel that this ocean is the source of all oceans and in it there have been many strange happenings. We have reported some of them in our book Akhbar az-Zaman. Adventurers have penetrated it on the risk of their lives, some returning safely, others perishing in the attempt. One such man was art inhabitant of Andalusia named Khashkhash. He was a young man of Cordoba who gathered a group of young men and went on a voyage on this ocean. After a long time he returned with a fabulous booty. Every Spaniard (Andalusian) knows his story."

2. In Feb. 999 AD, Ibn Farukh from Granada in Muslim Spain landed in Gando (Great Canary), visited King Guanariga and continued his journey westwards till he found two islands, which he called Capraria and Pluitana. He arrived back in Spain in the month of May that year. Abu Bakr b. ‘Umar al Qutiyya relates the story of his voyage.

3. In twelfth century AD, a group of North African sailors: According to the famous Arab geographer Al Sharif al Idrisi (1097-1155);"A group of seafarers sailed into the sea of Darkness and Fog (the Atlantic Ocean) from Lisbon in order to discover what was in it and to what extent were its limit. They were a party of eight and they took a boat, which was loaded with supplies to last them for months. They sailed for eleven days till they reached turbulent waters with great waves and little light. They thought that they would perish so they turned their boat southward and travelled for twenty days. They finally reached an island that had people and cultivation but they were captured and chained for three days. On the fourth day a translator came speaking the Arabic language! He translated for the King and asked them about their mission. They informed him about themselves, then they were returned to their confinement. When the westerly wind began to blow, they were put in a canoe, blindfolded and brought to land after three days’ sailing. They were left on the shore with their hands tied behind their backs, when the next day came, another tribe appeared freeing them and informing them that between them and their lands war a journey of two months." From "The Geography of Al Idrisi".

4. In 1310 AD, Abu Bakari (Abu Bakar), King of the Malian Empire: The predecessor of the world-renowned ruler of the African Islamic Empire of Mali, Mansa Musa set off on a voyage to discover the limits of the neighbouring sea (Atlantic ocean). The emperor narrated this on his famous Hajj pilgrimage in 1324.(See his narration below). There are ample proof that African Muslims from Mali and other parts of West Africa (Mandinga) arrived in the Gulf of Mexico around 1312. They used the Mississippi River as their access route for exploring the interior.

5. In 1421, Cheng He - The legendary Chinese admiral: Cheng He (A Muslim)travelled around the world in the fifteenth century. British marine historian Gavin Manzies proves in his book " 1421 - The year China discovered America" that Cheng He beat Columbus by 71 years. A Chinese historical document known as the Sung document records the voyage of Muslim sailors to a land called as Mu-Lan-Pi (America) in 1178. This document mentioned in another publication - the Khotan Amiers - published in 1933 after the Cheng He voyages.

6. The first map of Americas by Piri Muhyid Din Re’is in 1513. The famous Turkish admiral in charge of the Ottoman Red Sea and Indian Ocean fleets made this map and presented it to Sultan Selim I. Even though Columbus has been to the Caribbean by then, the areas accurately depicted in the map had not been "discovered". Therefore it is logical that the Ottoman admiral was well aware of the areas. ( Refer figure).He was a famous navigator and mapmaker and wrote a handbook on the Aegean and the Mediterranean Seas, known as Piri Re’is Bahriye. The map was discovered by chance in the library of Serallo, Istanbul in 1929 by Khalid Edhem Bey.

7. The "First" to see the Americas became Muslim. May be as a divine justice on a false historical claim, the first Christian to see the American land, Rodrigo de Triana or Rodrigo de Lepe, became a Muslim on his return to Spain, "because Columbus did not give him credit nor the King any recompense, for his having seen before any other man, light in the Indies."
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