Pre-Columbian Muslims in the Americas

Preparatory Commitee for International Festivals to celebrate the millennium of the Muslims arrival to the Americas ( 996-1996 CE )

Introduction

Numerous evidence suggests that Muslims from Spain and West Africa arrived to the Americas at least five centuries before Columbus. It is recorded,for example, that in the mid-tenth century, during the rule of the Ummayyed Caliph Abdul-Rahman III (929-961 CE), Muslims

of African origin sailed westward from the Spanish port of DELBA (Palos) into the “Ocean of darkness and fog”. They returned after a long absence with much booty from a “strange and curious land”. It is evident that people of Muslim origin are known to have accompanied Columbus and subsequent Spanish explorers to the New World.

The last Muslim stronghold in Spain, Granada, fell to the Christians in 1492 CE, just before the Spanish inquisition was launched. To escape persecution, many non-Christians fled or embraced Catholicism. At least two documents imply the presence of Muslims in Spanish America before 1550 CE. Despite the fact that a decree issued in 1539 CE by Charles V, king of Spain, forbade the grandsons of Muslims who had been burned at the stake to migrate to

the West Indies. This decree was ratified in 1543 CE, and an order for the expulsion of all Muslims from overseas Spanish territories was subsequently published. Many references on the Muslim arrival to Americas are available. They are summarized in the following

A: History Documents:

1. A Muslim historian and geographer ABUL-HASSAN ALI IBN AL-HUSSAIN

AL-MASUDI (871-957 CE) wrote in his book Muruj adh-dhahab wa maadin aljawhar (The meadows of gold and quarries of jewels) that duringĀ  the rule of the Muslim caliph of Spain Abdullah Ibn Mohammad(888-912 CE), a Muslim navigator, Khashkhash Ibn Saeed Ibn Aswad, from Cortoba, Spain sailed from Delba (Palos) in 889 CE, crossed the Atlantic, reached an unknown territory (ard majhoola) and returned with fabulous treasures. In Al-Masudi’s map of the world there is a large area in the ocean of darkness and fog which he referred to as the unknown territory (Americas).(1)

2. A Muslim historian ABU BAKR IBN UMAR AL-GUTIYYA narrated that during the reign of the Muslim caliph of Spain, Hisham II (976-1009CE), another Muslim navigator, Ibn Farrukh, from Granada, sailed from Kadesh (February 999CE) into the Atlantic, landed in Gando (Great Canary islands) visiting King Guanariga, and continued westward where he saw and named two islands, Capraria and Pluitana. He arrived back in Spain in May 999 CE.(2)

3. Columbus sailed from Palos (Delba), Spain. He was bound for GOMERA (Canary Islands)-Gomera is an Arabic word meaning ‘small firebrand’ – there he fell in love with Beatriz BOBADILLA, daughter of the first captain general of the island (the family name BOBADILLA is derived from the Arab Islamic name ABOU ABDILLA.).Nevertheless, the BOBADILLA clan was not easy to ignore. Another Bobadilla (Francisco) later, as the royal commissioner, put Columbus in chains and transferred him from Santo Dominigo back to Spain (November 1500 CE). The BOBADILLA family was related to the ABBADID dynasty of Seville (1031-1091 CE). On October 12, 1492 CE, Columbus landed on a little island in the Bahamas that was called GUANAHANI by the natives. Renamed SAN SALVADOR by Columbus. GUANAHANI is derived from Mandinka and modified Arabic words. GUANA (IKHWANA) means ‘brothers’ and HANI is an Arabic name.Therefore the original name of the island was ‘HANI BROTHERS’. (11) Ferdinand Columbus, the son of Christopher, wrote about the blacks seen by his father in Handuras: “The people who live farther east of Pointe Cavinas, as far as Cape Gracios a Dios, are almost black in color.” At the same time, in this very same region, lived a tribe of Muslim natives known as ALMAMY. In Mandinka and Arabic languages, ALMAMY was the designation of “AL-IMAM”or “AL-IMAMU”, the leader of the prayer,or in some cases, the chief of the community,and/or a member of the Imami Muslim community. (12)

Notes

4. A renowned American historian and linguist, LEO WEINER of Harvard University, in his book, AFRICA AND THE DISCOVERY OF AMERICA (1920) wrote that Columbus was well aware of the Mandinka presence in the New World and that the West African Muslims had spread throughout the Caribbean, Central, South and North American territories, including Canada,where they were trading and intermarrying with the Iroquois and Algonquin Indians. (13)

B: Geographic Explorations:

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