History, Travel

The Muslims miles ahead of Columbus

Being African in a time when the continent is nothing more than a cake which is free for imperialist consumption is not really ideal as of now. On top of that, being Muslim in America is not ideal due to the misrepresentation of the faith largely due to foreign elements which have existed since the times of the Khulafa Rashideen. However, by nature, Islam is a faith of progression. In fact, Allah (swt) challenges us to strive in all of our lawful endeavours to reach excellence in them. A proof of this are reports that show an early Muslim presence in the Americas way before Columbus even thought about exploration.

As the Columbus Day holiday was only last month, I was compelled to write about this topic to show that the misinformation which is displayed about Islam really has no solid basis at all. When Islam was firmly established in North, West Africa, and southern Spain, it was a progressive time in history.

Not only did the religious sciences flourish but the secular sciences did as well. One of those sciences was exploration. This exploration was not limited to known territories, but also the unknown as well. One such explorer by the name of Don Juan gave a report to Spain’s Queen Isabella that confirmed that Indians in America were indeed trading with Muslim peoples from Africa.

When more European explorers reached Hispaniola (today’s Dominican Republic & Haiti) they were presented with spears, much like the ones found in the Muslim dominated savannah region of West Africa. It must be said with these developments that Colombus’ work of discovering of America was done for him. Colombus did indeed sail from Spain, but he took a route called the Guinea route derived from the West Coast of Africa to arrive on American soil.

In reality, we can say Colombus was more of a passenger on a different ship rather than true explorer.

The Kingdom of Al Andalus in what is today’s Spain and Portugal was prosperous largely due to the fundamental Islamic principles it was established upon. Moreover, it was connected with another Islamic kingdom in West Africa called Mali through religious, and economic grounds but also through exploration grounds. A serious of scholars of Arab Andalusian origin, by the names of Abu Zaid, Al Masudi, Al Idrisi, Istakhri, and Albufeda wrote various treaties in regards to geography. These treaties highlighted the fact there were lands beyond the European continent which they were residing in.

North African seafarers talk about the bounties of Americas didn’t go on deaf ears. Abu Bakari the Sultan of the Mali Kingdom of the time took heed to such reports. He took it upon himself to prepare a fleet of ships which would set sail as his north African counterparts have done before him. When he took sail he did not return but some of the other ships that set off with him did. They returned with reports of meeting with various people on the other side of the Atlantic.

What can be derived from these findings that are in accordance with Islamic traditions?

Muslim came to America as bringers of glad tidings. Rather than use colonial or conquistador like tactics of pillaging, robbing and stealing, they mingled, traded, and in some cases intermarried with the indigenous of the Americas. We Muslims as crazy as this may sound are more American than the descendants of Europeans whose ancestors came to this country in search of a better livelihood. Amazing how we do the same thing yet seem to have to apologize for doing such because of the actions of a few overzealous. The final point I would like to make is rather than get in shouting matches with Islamophobes, we should be reaching out to indigenous people of this land so history can possibly repeat itself. A society which we can live in without fear or weariness of practising our faith can exist how it existed before pre-Colombus times.

byΒ Yahaya Ba Sele

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  2. This article heavily implies that Muslims actually crossed the Atlantic before Columbus, and implies that Idrisi is a source for such a claim, however Idrisi’s report on the men who attempted to cross the Atlantic ends when they re-route to Mali (because they did not make it) and the people of Mali tell them the Atlantic cannot be crossed (because they had never crossed it either).

    Uncritical history such as this does not help the Ummah with the stigma of poor research methods and fanaticism.

    “No one knows what exists beyond this sea, no one has been able to learn anything for certain, because of the difficulty of crossing it, its profound darkness, the height of its waves, the frequency of its storms, the prevalence
    of its animals and the violence of its winds … no ship’s captain ventures to cross it or to travel under full sail. They are limited to coasting, without losing sight of land.”

    β€œThe Sea of Sin [China] is an arm of the ocean which is called the Dark Sea [the Atlantic].”

    Idrisi shows no indication of being aware of America, and heavily implies that no such continent exists. The real history, that he is aware that the Earth is round, and that his exact understanding of it was in the mind of Columbus (who was sailing to China/india) is much more interesting that historical reconstructivism anyway.

    1. Abu-Isa, You speak the truth.
      One of the explorers remarked that a mounded Cuban hill was “mosque-like” and of course the revisionist ideological domination zealots take that ball and run with it absurdly claiming “there was a mosq in Cuba when Columbus arrived”.
      But let’s just hypothesize that islamists had prevailed in the Americas (thank Jesus they didn’t!),
      The world would now be a primitive dysfunctional miserable human-rights-abuse caliphate like somolia or Syria, no phones, no electricity, no plumbing/refrigeration/sanitation, no cars, no airplanes, no railways, no radios/tv or music recording, no computers, no space travel or satellites…
      just camels tents oppression & ignorance.
      Oh, and the muslims would have been real nice to the American Natives, just like they are to Sudanese black Christians, just like they are to Jews, just like they are to Hindus.
      Why does this sight post such rhetoric propaganda and nonsense?
      No one but imbeciles falls for isLIEmic deceit, and if they do then they get hammered in the head & stabbed to death like the poor deluded English girl that married a deceitful mysoginist muslim zealot.

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