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July 15, 2007

Comments

Salih Yucel

It is not me who is claming all that. All it is from Western sources. Please read “ Saga America by Barry Fell” then make judgment.
Salih Yucel

miss kelly

Thank you for your comment. Western sources can be as full of pseudo-science or "cult archeology" as non-Western sources. Barry Fells, a respected marine biologist, is not regarded by historians as credible on the subject of archeology or linguistics.

I think you should go over and read Deafening Silence's quite thorough debunking of some of these claims. She found many, many inaccuracies, and she documents her sources.

miss kelly

And for a Muslim's take on this, from a lengthy comment over at History News Network:

http://hnn.us/readcomment.php?id=88725&bheaders=1#88725

As a Muslim I find discussions of the possibilities that Islamic peoples might have visited America before Columbus to be most interesting. But it is highly frustrating when so much of the "evidence" for such possible visits is so flimsy and even possibly "cooked up."

Other than this article, I have no knowledge of Ms. Shabbas or her teachers' handbook, but based on what is written in this article, her activity has been scandalous and done harm to a serious study of the subject.

Much of the other material mentioned by this article is similarly doubtful.

For example, there is supposed to be an inscription from before Columbus saying Yasu bin Maria? But that is not Islamic nor is it "common in the Qur'an." In the Qur'an Jesus is referred to as 'Isa ibn Maryam, or one might spell it 'Isa bin Maryam.

Christian Arabic texts do refer to Jesus as Yasu', based on the Syriac version of his name, so such an inscription, if it is genuine, might represent evidence that Arab Christians were in America.

That would be no less fascinating than a pre-Colombian Islamic inscription in America, but since the author made the mistake of saying that the phrase in that form is in the Qur'an - which it is not - it makes me wonder about the "inscription" itself. Where exactly is it? Is it not possibly the work of Arabs ("Moors") who accompanied the Spaniards after Columbus? Such people are known to have been present. Dating an inscription on a rock is not a simple matter and uncontroversial matter, even if it indeed exists.

Then there are the Bahamian Islands named Guana Hani which supposedly comes from the Arabic for "Hani Brothers". Actually, that would be al-Ikhwan Hani" in Arabic. Is such linguistic corruption from al-Ikhwan Hani to Guanahani possible? I suppose so, but I personally would like to see a bit more corroborating evidence than just a name that "sounds like" something.

The same goes for the "almama" tribe who supposedly were descended from some Imam.

It seems to me that if these tribes were so influenced as to take on the names of Arab visitors, that they would also adopt a number of customs that are typically Arab or Islamic, yet there is no mention of that here.

It also would seem likely that there would be medieval Islamic artifacts around if - as these stories tend to suggest - such visits were not chance shipwrecks of individuals.

It is known that the Vikings landed in North America prior to Columbus and I believe there have been artifacts dug up that attest to Nordic settlements in the precolombian period. Of course one might claim that we simply have yet to find the Islamic ones in the Bahamas and South America. That well may be, but it seems that pending such discoveries, we must be cautious when approaching this evidence.

Finally, as to the historian Abu al-Hasan 'Ali al-Mas'udi who supposedly mentioned a voyage to the Western Hemisphere.

His imposing historical-geographical-travel work "Muruj adh-Dhahab wa-ma'adin al-jawahir" ("Meadows of gold and mines of gems")is well known and is one of the great medieval histories. It was written around 943 CE. The basis for the work are al-Mas'udi's own travels. Al-Mas'udi was reportedly born in Baghdad and visited lands as far to the south as Sri Lanka and to the east as China before coming back to Syria and Egypt.

Al-Mas'udi is very informative and entertaining, but unfortunately also famous for being full of good stories that are not always as reliable as the writing of other Arab-Islamic historians of the Middle Ages.

I would appreciate a more detailed reference to where this "tale of a voyage to America" appears in his history - which is several volumes in length. There might well be such a story, but I don't happen to know of it. I have never heard of a map showing the Western Hemisphere being included in al-Mas'udi's history.

It's quite possible that such a tale does exist in al-Mas'udi and it might indeed point to early Arab - Islamic trips to the New World, but if so, al-Mas'udi's text should be presented with more care than passing reference.

So did Muslims visit America before Columbus? I think it quite possible, but to go from there to any measure of certainty we need more information than that reflected by the various authors quited in this interesting article. And we also need to examine the evidence with a critical eye, certainly not inflating possibilities into supposed "facts" to be included in text books.

Best regards!

Muhammad Abu Nasr

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