The Moors & the Discovery of America

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he discovery of America is often attributed to Christopher Columbus, despite this fact being refuted several times (the presence of the Vikings being the most popular alternative). There are many theories explaining the presence of humans in America, but the best known is that of the Beringia Land Bridge. This theory suggests that towards the end of the last ice age, humans crossed a strip of land connecting Siberia to Northwest America.

Source: National Geographic

This land passage existed thanks to the low sea levels, going as low as 120 meters. The melting of the glaciers at the end of this ice age caused the waters to rise, making the land bridge disappear along the way.

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Pre-Columbian Moorish explorers to the New World

In an interview on The Deen Show with Jerald Dirks, American author and psychologist, Dirks said that Muslims went to America long before Christopher Columbus, adding, “We Muslims were here long before Christopher Columbus ever thought of coming to America.”

There were a number of trips from the Muslim world to the Americas long before Christopher Columbus. The oldest of these was that of Khashkhash ibn Said ibn Aswad, leaving Muslim Andalusia in the year 889CE. Sailing west across the Atlantic to discover a new land which turned out to be the Caribbean Islands. Ibn Aswad ended up making a roundtrip to the carribeans and back to Andalusia.

Ali al-Masudi's map including a continent in the West, according to the discoveries of Ibn Aswad.

A Muslim geographer and scientific advisor to the king of Sicily by the name of Sharif al-Idrisi written in the 12th century about a group of eight Muslim sailors who sailed west across the Atlantic from Andalusia to arrive on two new islands where they were captured by Native Americans and held captive. After two or three days, an indigenous king who acted as a translator between the locals and these travelers organized their release and their return to Andalusia. This shows that Native Americans had close contacts with Muslims. However, these trips were not only made from Andalusia but also from Africa.

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Pre-Columbian Mandingo explorers to the New World

Around the year 1310 CE, the Sultan of the Mali Empire named Mansa Aboubakar II, brother of Mansa Musa, sent expeditions west across the Atlantic. He called on engineers from Lake Chad to build ships so that he could launch his fleet across the ocean. He hired a crew of sailors, traders, builders, artists, warriors, and scholars and provided them with enough rations to last for two years. After a lone captain and one of the 200 ships he had sent returned to Mali claiming that the other ships had been pulled into a current and disappeared, Mansa Abubakar II started preparing a fleet again. Mansa Abubaker II decided to make the trip himself in 1311 CE. He travelled with his men on 1000 ships and sent another 1000 with provisions.

Aboubakar's fleet landed in the Americas. We have proof of this because there is an indigenous South American tribe that, even today, continues to use Mandingo ideograms as a form of written communication. There is also a North American Indian tribe whose word program was written by a Moravian missionary in the middle of the 18th century. When modern linguists examined it, they discovered that many of these words were in Mandingo, the language of the Mali Empire. The Mandingos explored parts of America, intermarried with Native American tribes, and gradually their history was lost.

The most convincing proof will come from Christopher Columbus himself, who wrote in his diary that Native Americans confirmed: “People with black skin had come from the Southeast in boats, trading in gold-tipped spears.” These spearheads were described as “guanin” by Native Americans, which is the Mandinka word for gold, the language of the Mali Empire. Adding to that, chemical analysis of the spearheads revealed that the gold came from West Africa.

During Christopher Columbus's third voyage to the New World in 1498, he landed in Trinidad. He and his son Fernando Columbus discovered that Native Americans had woven cotton towels like those used in West Africa as well as similar clothing from Muslim Moors. Hernando Cortez described indigenous women dressed as a “long veil” and men as “panties painted in the style of Moorish draperies.” In addition, Fernando Columbus notes the similarity between the hammocks of Aboriginal children and those of North Africa.

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Pre-Columbian Moroccan explorers to the New World

A famous Moroccan geographer and cartographer by the name of Sharif al-Idrissi (1099-1166) wrote in a book of his that a group of marine navigators from Morocco set sail onto the Atlantic Ocean from Lisbon. On the fourth day, they reached an island where they met a translator speaking to them in Arabic, which suggests that its residents were Muslims from North Africa, most likely from Morocco.

In 1291, Sheikh Zayn Eddine Ali Ben Fadhel al-Mazandarani left Tarfaya to the west under the reign of King Abu-Yaqub Sidi Youssef (1285-1307). He describes his journey through the “sea of fog and darkness” leading him to reach Green Island in the Caribbean.

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All of these trips contributed to the knowledge we have today about the Americas. The Moroccan Empire and the Mali Empire exerted a significant influence on the culture and practices of Native Americans. Both empires have made great strides in discovering the new world with some theorists arguing that without the sailors and explorers of North Africa and Andalusia, just as with the Ottoman Empire blocking the Silk Road, the American geopolitical climate would not be the same today.

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