America before Columbus
West declared themselves the great scientists of the earth, before their own
Renaissance, Muslims already were making discoveries in science that took the
West hundreds of years to even begin to imagine. What a shame that people in
Europe were being persecuted by the Church for their suppositions that the earth
was round; they should have come to the Islamic world—- an Afghan Muslim had
proved that in 793 C.E.!
However, the studying of the universe brought forth more questions, and more
curiosity. The Muslims in West Africa were so intrigued by what was on the other
side of the Great Sea, that they began their expeditions into the great unknown.
Early reports of these travels are sketchy, but we can be sure that they crossed
the Atlantic by 889 C.E.
That was 603 years before Columbus. And that is not counting the actual physical
evidence in the United States today that dates back even further; however, we do
know, as De Lacy O’Leary pointed out, that Muslims definitely had the scientific
knowledge and skill to make journeys across the Atlantic ocean.
We were in the Americas, hundreds of years before Columbus, and of that we can
Clyde-Ahmad Winters. Barry Fell. Alexander Von Wuthenau. Ivan Van Sertima. What
do they have in common? A lot. They all provided evidence to the above
statement; and it is a statement of fact, not an opinion, although many have
chosen to ignore it.
Now, we are all aware of the grave tragedy that befell the various African
people after the discovery of America. Many people from there were forcefully
taken from their homes to America, to serve the people who had taken over that
land. Black slavery. We also know, for a fact, that many of these people were
indeed Muslims; that has never been in dispute, nor should it be. Clyde Ahmad
Winters has given us details of how huge numbers of Muslims were brought to
Latin America in a 1978 issue of Al-Ittihad: A Quarterly Journal of Islamic
Studies, although later on in 1543, Muslims in Spanish colonies were ejected
from them by the residing government.
Dr. Barry Fell, a noted New Zealand archaeologist and linguist of Harvard
University showed detailed existing evidence in his work, "Saga America" that
Muslims were not only in the Americas before Columbus arrived, but very active
there as well. The language of the Pima people in the South West and the
Algonquian language had many words in their vocabulary that were Arabic in
origin, and Islamic petroglyphs were found in places such as California.
In the Inyo county of the State of California, according to Fell, there is
another petroglyph that states, "Yasus bin Maria" which means in Arabic, "Jesus,
son of Mary". This is not a Christian phrase; in fact, the phrase is to be found
in the verses and ayahs of the Holy Qur’an. This glyph, as Fell believes, is
centuries older than the US. In the US he found texts, diagrams and charts
engraved on rocks that were used for schooling that dated back to 700-800 C.E.
The schooling was in subjects such as mathematics, history, geography, astronomy
and sea navigation. The language of instruction was Kufic Arabic, from North
The German art historian, Alexander Von Wuthenau, also provides evidence that
Muslims were in America, in the time between 300 and 900 C.E. This was at least
half a millennium before Columbus was born. Carved heads that were described as
"Moorish-looking" were dated between 300 and 900 C.E. and another group of heads
dated between 900 and 1500 C.E. An artifact found in the earlier group was
photographed, and when later examined was found to resemble an old man in a Fez,
like the Egyptians.
Ivan Van Sertima is widely renowned for his work, "They Came Before Columbus"
which showed that there was definitely contact between the ancient and early
African people with the Native Americans. This and another of his works,
"African Presence in Early America" both prove that there were African Muslim
settlements in the Americas, before the expedition of Columbus was even
conceived. His research has shown that Arab Muslim trade was active in America
and one can only imagine that the marvellous culture that the Native Americans
had that shared so much with Islamic teachings was of great attraction to the
Muslims that came so far across the sea.
And for the record, Christopher Columbus, the man who so-called discovered
America, himself declared that his impression of the Carib people (i.e.,
Caribbean people) were "Mohemmedans." He knew of the Mandinka presence in the
New World (Muslims) and that Muslims from the West coast of Africa had settled
down in the Carribean, Central, South and North America.
Unlike Columbus, they had not come to enslave the populations or plunder the
land; they had come to trade and they married among the Natives. Columbus
further admitted that on October 21st, 1492, as he was sailing past Gibara on
the coast of Cuba, he saw a Mosque. Remnants of other Masjids have been found in
Cuba, Mexico, Texas and Nevada.
On the second voyage Columbus took to the West Indies, the people of Haiti told
him that "black" people had been there before him. They showed him spears of
these visitors, and further study of the metals involved in their construction
showed that they could have been made only in one place: Guinea.
Another historian, P.V. Ramos, also showed in his essay in "African Presence in
Early America" that the dietary regulations of the Carib were similar to Islamic
But let us say that we are wrong. Perhaps it is all just a coincidence; after
all, there are no living survivors of the Native American Muslims, are they?
Wrong. And this last part is what originally drew me into this quest for
knowledge: an exposé written by a Native Muslim.
Brother Mahir Abdal-Razzaaq El wrote in his account, posted on the Internet,
about the Native Americans that were Muslims. He is of the Cherokee tribe; known
as Eagle Sun Walker, and a Pipe Carrier Warrior of the Cherokees in New York. He
tells of Muslim travellers that came to his land over one thousand years ago,
and what is more important, existing evidence of legislation, treaties and
resolutions that prove, beyond the shadow of a doubt that Muslims were in the
Americas and very active. Although these documents have not been written after
1492, it is still interesting to note that Islam was in fact there. The Treaty
of Peace and Friendship of 1787 have the signatures of Abdel-Khak and Mohammed
Bin Abdulla. According to a federal court case from the Continental Congress,
Native Muslims helped put life into the constitution.
These are a matter of record; they cannot be disputed. Go to the National
Archives or the Library of Congress and see for yourself; the Treat of 1987 show
that the Natives abided by an Islamic system in commerce, maritime shipping and
government. The records of the State of Carolina has the Moors Sundry Act of
1790. The Cherokee Chief of 1866 was a man called Ramadhan Bin Wati. Native
clothing up until 1832 was full Islamic wear. The name Tallahassee actually
means, "Allah will deliver you sometime in the future". In North America, there
are no less than 565 names of tribes, villages, cities, mountains and other
lands sites of Islamic or Arabic roots.
The truth of Islam and the truth of the Native American culture is one and the
same; many people hundreds of years ago realised that. The protection of the
land and of the animals; the non-wastage of resources and the non-pollution of
nature are all Islamic concepts.
I finish this article with a few Native sayings. And then, I want you to tell me
that Islam is not nurtured in the hearts of these people.
"Our belief is that the Great Spirit has created all things. Not just mankind
but animals, all plants, all rocks, all on earth and amongst the stars with true
soul. For us, all life is holy. All of nature is within us and we are part of
all nature." Chief White Cloud
"What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night." Crowfoot
"In the life of the Indian there was only one inevitable duty- the duty of
prayer - the daily recognition of the Unseen and the Eternal." Ohiyesa
Allahu akbar. Salaam wa allaykum wa rakhmatullah wa barakatu.
(When this article was written in 1998, Hisham Zoubeir was at the University of
Sheffield undertaking a multi-disciplinary degree in law. He has lived in Abu
Dhabi, Cairo and London. His main interests delves into peace, equality,
righteousness and spirituality.)