Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan appears to have the same fluid understanding of history as he does civil rights. Erdogan became the latest — and certainly highest ranking — person to proliferate the myth that Columbus not only found that Muslims had discovered the New World before him but that there was an actual mosque left on a mountain in Cuba to greet the explorer.
Erdogan is repeating a myth among some Muslim scholars that has been discredited repeatedly and is based on a clearly false reading of the diary kept by Columbus. The claim was made in a widely ridiculed 1996 paper from Youssef Mroueh of the As-Sunnah Foundation of America. Mroueh wrote that “Columbus admitted in his papers that on Monday, October 21, 1492 CE while his ship was sailing near Gibara on the north-east coast of Cuba, he saw a mosque on top of a beautiful mountain.” It is a bizarrely false reading of a clear metaphor used by the explorer in a log of Columbus’ first journey in 1492. Tt was made on October 29, 1492 and recorded by colonization historian Bartholome de Casas: “Remarking on the position of the river and port, to which he gave the name of San Salvador, he describes its mountains as lofty and beautiful, like the Pena de las Enamoradas, and one of them has another little hill on its summit, like a graceful mosque.” “Like a graceful mosque” was taken as literal while such a structure would have prompted considerable attention and action from the Christian explorers if it was a literal observation. There is no evidence to support the claim.
Nevertheless, the myth has grown in Muslim circles and led Erdogan to tell an audience of Latin American Muslim leaders summit in Istanbul (people with more than a passing knowledge of such subjects) that “The religion of Islam was widespread before Columbus. Muslim sailors had arrived in the shores of America in 1178. In his diaries, Christopher Columbus referred to the presence of a mosque on top of a mountain in Cuba.”
The myth shows the danger of academics who strive to validate or advance their own religion in history. Islam has an amazing history of scholarship, inventions, and exploration. However, there has been growing effort to prove that it was Muslims who first discovered and colonized the New World. Whatever the truth of such accounts (and there could have been such explorers), the use of the Cuban myth discredits anyone seeking to establish such a connection. Some scholars have even claimed that words like “Seminole” comes from the Turkish ‘Sami nal’ or “Semites who ran away.”
No archeological evidence has been found to support such claims. Erdogan went further in his speech to compare the role of Christianity and Islam — arguing that Christians forced people to convert and killed those who did not. He insisted that “Converting people by force, by the sword, has never been a part of Islam. Our religion has never been a tool of exploitation.” I assume that he is not speaking of the widespread use of apostasy and blasphemy abuses in Islamic countries or such radical groups as Islamic State. However, he is certainly more accurate in describing the abuses of early Christian explorers than he is the discovery of Columbus in Cuba.
66 thoughts on “Erdogan: Muslims Discovered America Before Columbus”
for the ones who is hating on muslim, plz shut up!!!! Did you guys know that over the 2014 summer, a lot and when i mean a lot i mean alot!! of jews killed muslims!!! even families, pregnant women, children , even the elderly. once two six years old got seperated from their mother also a israeli (jewish) soldier shot a pregnant lady in the stomach!! when the doctor was trying to survive the baby , the baby died! Israel vs. Palestine?!?!?!
~ Free Palestine everybody!~
Amrin Ahad – cite your sources.
Prof Barry Fell of Harvard University has somehow archaeological proofs on indication of early arabs/muslims in the continent, please see the book by Frederick Dame.
Obviously it is something new to most of you and you’d got mixed up readily with problems in Islamic World since 19th cent, so I don’t blame your limit of open-mind which leads of difficulty in accepting the possible truth.
Long before Columbus discovery of the continent, the muslim of north africa had conquered Spain until their defeat in only late 15th cent AD by the christian union from the north of Iberia. They were mastering in astronomy, sea navigation and advance weaponry during that period. So discovering a huge continent was not something quite big deal.
Similarly to the discovery of the Kangaroo Continent, the muslim merchants/sailors originated from South Sulawesi/Celebes and western timor (today part o Indonesia which is only a short distance away) had intense trading activities long before the westerners discovered the continent.
Similarly to possible discovery of america by the early muslim, the same happened to ‘the discovery’ of australia, the muslim didn’t express it very well the term of discovery itself, since the muslim of celebes/western timor regularly visited the continent merely for business purpose.
No one on this site is ignorant myself included. The first thing I thought was, “Oh this must be the one who thought the ancient Phoenicians came here”
Yes, it was and he was a Marine Biologist so this is not his specialty but an avocation of sorts.
The point is the description was of looking like the Mosques, not that they were the Mosques. There was nothing here. Remember. They came looking for gold and spices and silks and came across the “savages” of the West Indies.
happypappies – I can buy the Phoenicians making it to the New World. Once you get to the Canary Islands, you just let the current and the breezes carry you over. On his first trip Columbus used both the fastest way over and the fastest way back. No reason the Phoenicians could not have done the same.
Paul – my Dad read the Hornblower series, but he liked O’Brien better. Wasn’t Hornblower the one where one of the main characters suddenly did a 180 and started acting out of character in the last book?
Karen – what Horatio Hornblower turned gay in the last book?
First, by sneaking books from my parents, I am saving a poor little tree somewhere! I will get them anyway when they die, sooo what’s the diff? Plus, they know where to steal them back if they want to.
My father had some Hornblower books but I never read them. I did watch the TV show which was maybe British IIRC???
Squeeky – it is nice of you to try to save trees but stealing from your parents is off putting. 🙂
The Hornblower series, whether on TV or books is excellent. Also the Sharpe series. It may be better on TV with a younger Sean Bean starring. 😉
Hmmm. That gives me an idea! I will buy the first Outlander book for my mom and give it to her at Christmas, then sneak it away after she reads it! I am sure she will continue the series. . .Is that wrong??? 🙂
Anyone who can get me passionately interested in 18th century British naval warfare tactics, and teach me about the “weather gage”, “draw”, and various and sundry sails has got to be a exceptionally talented writer. The Master and Commander series is truly excellent – the story of a lion-at-sea-and-an-ass-on-land.
Karen – if you liked Master and Commander, you should try the Hornblower series.
Plus Claire is an example of a strong female character written by a female author who clearly has a very strong mind of her own.
Hopefully Herself will continue writing for a long while. I can always build a new bookcase.
The only other author I’m that passionate about is Patrick O’Brian, one of the greatest writers of all time who wretchedly passed away in the middle of writing his last book. I plan to have a long talk with him about character development and final plot lines when I reach the Pearly Gates.
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