Muslims from Africa reached the New World 6th Centuries before Columbus – By Laila Hasib
Ask any schoolboy or girl in North America and the Chances are they will say that Columbus discovered America. They will even give the date: October 11, 1492. Not only did Christopher Columbus not “discover” any place or see the American shore, but also European historians, who dominate the world scene, have conveniently hidden the truth about the first contacts between the “new and old worlds”. To tell the world that that Muslims from Africa were the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean, disembark on solid soil and live in the Caribbean Islands and in South America would disrupt the imperialists’ false sense of Glory and Superiority.
Much has become known about the explorer Columbus through the strenuous efforts of native people eager to tell their story. Five hundred years after he washed up on the shores of San Salvador, it has become clear that Columbus stumbled upon not only “Indians” but Muslims as well. Muslims began traveling to the Caribbean six centuries before European contact was made (over 1,100 years ago). Columbus and early Spanish and Portuguese explorers were able to voyage across the Atlantic (a distance of 1,500 miles) due to Muslim geographical and navigational information and maps made by Muslim traders, in particular Al-Masudi’s drawings (d. 957 CE). Vasco da Gama consulted with Ahmad Ibn Majid on the African Western coast before setting out into the Atlantic. Ibn Majid was the world’s expert on navigation in the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Sea of Southern China and the waters around the West Indies.
As early as 889 CE, a Muslim navigator, Kashkhash ibn Saeed ibn Aswad, from Cordoba Spain, crossed the Atlantic and returned with wonderful treasures. In February 999 CE, Ibn Farukh landed in Gando (Great Canary Islands), visited King Guanariga, and continued westwards where he saw and named two islands, Capraria and Pluitana, he arrived back in Spain in May.
The famous Arab Geographer Al Sharif al-Idrisi (1097-1155) wrote in The Geography of Al-Idrisi: “A group of seafarers (from North Africa) sailed into the sea of Darkness and Fog (The Atlantic Ocean) from Lisbon (Portugal) in order to discover what was in it, and to what extent were its limits…. They finally reached an island that had people and cultivation…. On the fourth day a translator came speaking the Arabic language!”
When Mansa Musa the world-renowned Mandinka monarch of the West African Islamic Empire of Mali, was enroute to Makkah on his famous Hajj in 1324, he informed the scholars of Cairo that his brother, King Abubakari II, had undertaken two expeditions into the Atlantic Ocean. When the king did not return to Timbuktoo from the second voyage of 1311, Mansa Musa became ruler of the Empire.
The Mandinkas used the closest land base to West Africa, Brazil, as the center for their exploration of the Americas. They traveled along rivers through the dense jungles of South America into North America. In a document written in 1754 a Spanish banderista (land pirate) wrote of well laid-out cities in and around Minas Geraes in the interior of Brazil with suburb stone and mortar buildings, obelisks and statues. The jungle has reclaimed many of these Mandinka cities, but the early Spanish explorers saw a large number of them. The Muslims left a legacy of writing among the natives of the area, especially on the Koaty Islands of Lake Titicaca, where the ideograms are identical to the Mandinka script.
Even as far as the Pacific Ocean coast of South America, near Ylo, Mandinka Muslim writings have been found and translated: “man – To pursue worship, to mature and become matter without life. Man pursues a cavernous place” -(i.e. the grave).
Anthropologists have proven that the Mandinkas under Mansa Musa’s instructions explored many parts of North America via the Mississippi and other river systems. At Four Corners, Arizona writings show that they even brought elephants from Africa to the area.
In Panama, Central America, the Muslims had such an effect that even today the indigenous people are classified as either Mandingas (Mandinkas) of Tul.
When Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the Spaniard, reached Panama in 1513, he came upon Africans. His recorder wrote that when Balboa entered the province of Quarequa, along the Isthmus of Darien, he found no gold, but some black prisoners of war belonging to the king. He asked him where he had obtained them and was told that blacks lived quite near and were