Eurocentric and Afrocentric believers are not the only people who want to remake the prehistory of the Americas in their own image. There is also a movement among some Muslim advocates to claim that Middle Eastern or North African Muslim groups came to America centuries before Columbus. Most of their “evidence” is vague accounts of Muslim travelers who sailed west from Islamic Spain and returned some time later claiming to have reached new lands. However, Dr. Youssef Mroueh of the As-Sunnah Foundation of America made a particularly fanciful claim in 1996 to celebrate the “millennium” of Muslim America that bears a bit of scrutiny since it is yet another example of alternative history’s slipshod scholarship and fabricated quotations.
Here is what Mroueh claimed Christopher Columbus said during his first voyage to the Americas, in October of 1492:
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.
Now that would be a surprising turn of events were it true. So where did Mroueh get his information? His source, he says, is Nigel Davies’s Voyagers to the New World (1979), a book that actually sought to debunk most trans-Atlantic contact theories. I can’t find a reference to this claim in the book, but Google’s search function may have missed it. Other sources attribute the claim to Ivan van Sertima, but in what publication I do not know. That isn’t important though because pretty much everything Mroueh reports is utterly wrong.
First, October 21, 1492 was not a Monday. The actual date of the event in question was Monday, October 29, 1492. Columbus and his crew were sailing near a particularly pleasant river that he had named San Salvador. There he encountered the source of Mroueh’s fictitious claim, as given (in the third person, from the redaction of Bartolome de las Casas) in his journal of his first voyage, describing what historians now believe is the region near Bariay, not Gibara, as Mroueh—following older sources—claimed:
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. The other river and port, in which he now was, has two round mountains to the S.W., and a fine low cape running out to the W.S.W.
And there you have it: The “mosque” was merely a poetic description of a natural formation.
But let’s take a moment to consider the impact of this dumb idea. First, and most disturbingly, this idea has been repeated time and again on the internet and in Islamic literature as support for the idea of a preexisting Islamic claim to the Americas predating European claims. (Native Americans, in this view, still don’t count.) It shows up in Christine Huda Dodge’s introduction to Islam, The Everything Understanding Islam Book (2003), and in Islamic websites far and wide. The Cuban government has done little to counter the speculation, and some scattered reports, including one in Frederick William Dame’s Muslim Discovery of America (2013), suggest that Cuba favors such speculation as a way of increasing financial ties with Arab nations.
The claims for a Muslim presence in America can be traced back to a passage in Al-Masudi, the tenth-century Islamic historian whose Meadows of Gold (c. 947 CE) offers this account of a voyage across the ocean, which, to my knowledge, is typically excerpted in highly redacted form by advocates of Islamic discovery of America:
On the limits where these two seas, the Mediterranean and the Ocean join, pillars of copper and stone, have been erected by King Hirakl the giant [i.e. Heracles]. Upon these pillars are inscriptions and figures, which show with their hands that one cannot go further, and that it is impracticable to navigate beyond the Mediterranean into that sea (the ocean), for no vessel sails on it: there is no cultivation nor a human being, and the sea has no limits neither in its depths nor extent, for its end is unknown. This is the sea of darkness, also called the green sea or the surrounding sea. Some say that these pillars are not on this strait, but in some islands of the ocean and their coast.
This is the oldest text advocates use to claim a Muslim voyage to America, and a truncated translation, comprising only the last few sentences, appeared in 1968 in a Journal of the Muslim Students’ Association article by Mohammed Hamidullah about the “Muslim Discovery of America before Columbus” and thereafter became canonical alternative history.
Alternative thinkers have read into this story a voyage to the Americas and back, though it’s clear from the first paragraph, often omitted, that Masudi himself assumed this impossible and that at any rate no regular commerce across the ocean was occurring. If this voyage ever really happened, it’s possible it actually went along the old Carthaginian route of Hanno toward sub-Saharan Africa, where medieval African kingdoms were known to have great wealth. Had Khoshkhash (also spelled Khashkhash) actually thought he had voyaged across the Atlantic, it surely would have occurred to Masudi to note that there were humans of some sort on the other side of the “limitless” ocean.
Special thanks to blog comment poster Mansa Musa for bringing this to my attention in comments on an earlier blog post.
6/22/2013 10:44:56 am
Jason, I must admit to being confused. It seems every ethnocentric alternative history group is stumbling over each other to lay claim to being the first to discover North America. What exactly is their endgame? If such a discovery can be proven true, how does this change anything? Your own research revealed that any land/legal claims were rendered void once America became a sovereign nation. It seems silly that anyone would put forth such effort to validate, what is ultimately, a moot point.
6/22/2013 12:09:49 pm
No, there aren't any legal claims. It's about group pride and political/social empowerment. In the case of the Islamic voyages, it serves a social function by validating a longstanding Islamic presence and thus creating a sense that Islam "belongs" in America, making the United States a more comfortable territory. This is not dissimilar to the way the European colonists created an imaginary European prehistory for America, or more recently the way Scandinavian immigrants suddenly "discovered" evidence of Norse and Swedish incursions in the Midwest.
6/22/2013 12:51:57 pm
Thanks, Jason! Your commitment to truth and factual history is refreshing. Although AA Theory led me to your site, your body of work is wonderfully free of (self-)plagiarism and relentless spin-doctoring. Keep up the good fight!
11/15/2014 04:44:10 pm
Basically muslims are trying to claim america as their territory. If they can claim that they were there in the americas first in an islamic mind it would mean that this particular land belongs to muslims (this is how the islamic mind works). So what this does is just increase muslim resentment for the west. And this was the goal of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. I guess due to the state of mental disease westerners are suffering from it would mean that the scholars may not even attempt to correct the lies due to not wanting to labled an "islamophobe/bigot/racist". Well, when muslims come to claim (reclaim in islamic minds) i guess the western academics who abdicated from professional responsibility would have contributed to their own downfall.
11/16/2014 02:50:56 pm
I am sure Erdogan does not give a damn interest in whoever discovered Americas first. Is was a meeting with south American Muslim leaders and he knew this kind of a statement would take some attention from the world. And by the way islamic mind doesnt work as you described. Islam is not based on land. Its based on brotherhood. Lands are always concuered to bring islam to the others. Not to have their land, to let them know that there is just one god not 3 ;)
11/19/2014 10:22:16 am
I agree with Ethan, Erdogan doesnt care who discovered the Americas first. He is more interested in an influential and well-known/ recognised Turkey than anything else. Current talk of actually building a mosque in Cuba, I think, is a good step forward to not only opening up Cuba but also breaking down their barriers.
6/10/2015 03:08:50 am
What the fuck do you know about Islam and "Islamic Mind"... ???
11/2/2015 10:31:57 am
Sorry but muslims dont think that way , as they dont claim Jerusalem is thier holy land that was promised by god as other casts do , but they have holy mosque there so they wana defend it ,,
2/10/2020 02:05:28 am
You should keep this thing in your mind that according to Muslim creator of all the world and universe is Allah. They can perform their prayer anywhere in the world even in the universe. They need not to make a false claim of any land to offer their prayer.
12/4/2014 01:22:13 pm
the endgame is that radical muslims preach that ALL countries that muslims once ruled are destined to belong to them once again.. By saying there was a mosque in ancient cuba it lays the groundwork for a large muslim push to take over north and south america, and all the surrounding lands....
1/22/2015 05:00:31 pm
Actually, the theory of land ownership by Europeans comes through the Papal edict that was issued in 16th century to, 'capture and plunder the lands and enslave the descedants of Ham..' To address the issue at hand, 9th century Arabic texts of the Qur'an found in clay pots in Rhode Island just last year so it is already been confirmed that Muslims were here first. And yes we do have land rights that the U.S. does not want to recognize just like it has treaties with many other, "Native American", and it is acting like they don't exist or delaying the cases in court to allow the people they literally gave the land to to basically keep stolen property. That is why we keep bringing it up, land of the free? Yes the land that the U.S. claims is not all theirs the government knows it and doesn't want the rest of the world to know.
1/7/2016 06:04:42 am
Tariq that has been proven to be a hoax... Rhode island is an extremely inhospitable landscape... sea winds and cold and damp... next time you want to perpetuate a hoax you should pick a more suitable climate like new Mexico or Arizona.
5/29/2022 01:40:27 am
According to Julian Calendar , in Spain, October 21st 1492 was indeed Monday , and Sunday in the Americas. The Gregorian calendar started in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII as a modification of, and replacement for, the Julian Calendar. Therefore, the statement "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," written by Mroueh is correct. It is a known fact that Muslim Europeans of the Middle Ages were far more advanced than their non-Muslim counterparts, thanks to the Golden Ages of Spain and Sicily under Muslim rule. Yet, many people forget that Muslim astronomers and mariners played an important role in the discovery of the New World – for instance, the astronomical tools and maps which Columbus used had been perfected by Muslims. In fact, Muslims had made contact with the New World even before Columbus!
6/22/2013 06:01:26 pm
I'm glad you are through reviewing Hidden History, which was pretty dry, and back to exposing interesting weird claims.
6/22/2013 06:16:41 pm
This is the first I'm hearing of this, and I've spent plenty of time discussing America with Arab Muslims on their turf, certainly a group who can hold their own in ethnic braggery. I take it from that that this is not a widespread belief.
11/15/2014 03:11:23 pm
Sure the djinn photos aren't actually kappa photos? And I'm not talking drunken frat kids. I'm talking about Japanese water spirits that go around pouncing on kids.
6/23/2013 03:17:01 am
6/23/2013 10:32:18 am
I doubt the authenticity of this stone as a runestone of any sort. It is clearly carved, yes, but even in the purported original photos, the pattern does not seem to match the purported transcription of runes below. I can say with some authority that the "face" is just a very normal human trait of seeing patterns in randomness; the human brain is hardwired to recognize faces before anything else, so there are a LOT of miscues during an individual's lifetime. The profile photos make it clear that the surface is more or less smooth, which makes the "face" merely the natural coloring of the rock. I would say that the band around it is more like a feather pattern than writing in any language, but without being able to see more than a series of photos--that the article itself even says not to strictly trust--clearly either I nor anyone else can be definitive. Nonetheless, I also find it highly suspicious that something supposedly so "important" was "defaced by acid" later while two scientists were "studying" it. If I heard such a story without photographs existing, I would look at the storyteller and call them an outright liar. With the photographs, I have to say that it sounds more like "I made this thing and took photographs of it, then destroyed it so nobody could look close enough to see that I used a dental drill on it."
6/23/2013 07:39:25 pm
As to the idea of the importance of who discovered America first, I actually believe, that Carl Barks explored the idea bes with two of his Donald Duck-stories.
6/25/2013 02:30:33 am
On the other hand, we don't want to ignore certain exploratory aspects of history, just because they may be "white."
6/25/2013 02:52:27 pm
Gunn, to which "certain exploratory aspects of history" are you referring? Of late, Jason's most recent posts have shown that there are probably as many claims for voyages leading to the discovery of America, as there are groups motivated by ethnic/cultural pride to support these claims. It matters not how fantastical or unfounded they may be; all that matters is that someone has bragging rights.
7/16/2013 04:15:38 pm
Yeah. You were right when you said that you heard it came from Ivan Van Sertima.
11/14/2014 10:37:04 pm
And why am I here at the middle of the night? Of course because our moronic president decided to claim this is true and I just had to google to see what the hell he's talking have about. The sad thing is I'm sure most of his voters never heard of this before and now it's an undeniable truth for them.
11/15/2014 06:24:35 am
Also here because of Erdogan! Haha. Thanks for the read.
11/15/2014 09:05:32 am
Here we go again, an old wound between Muslims and Christians opened up again.
11/17/2014 04:02:54 am
Amir, the "Red" Indians, or otherwise known by their self defined tribal bands, did not "live in peace".
11/15/2014 02:52:30 pm
Who gives a bleep? Maybe all the Cubans really wanted from the Muslims were Medina's steampunk umbrellas. You know, the ones around the Prophet's Mosque, that enormous building with the green dome that Wahhabis want to demolish because they think green domes are going to forment idolatry. Never mind that the green dome marks their own religion's Prophet's grave.
11/15/2014 02:56:10 pm
The Saudis want to sacrifice history to make Islam's holy ground a steampunk fantasyland. Think of the romance of the old tales of Araby, throw modern electricity into the mix and have everybody STILL walk all over it on foot. Oh yeah, and keep the Kaaba standing. Everything else can go, but keep the oversized black TARDIS in the middle of it all, because it's the holiest site in Islam.
11/15/2014 09:42:26 pm
Probably sailors from Islamic Spain and Iceland and who knows elsewhere did land in the Americas before Columbus. The great majority of events from history are unrecorded or records and their traces are lost. What we understand as history is utterly contaminated by the intervention of chance - intention, biased record keeping and preservation &c of course but overwhelmingly chance.
11/16/2014 08:51:52 am
Well we Native Americans were here in (America) when Christopher Columbus came to America. Therefore, he didn't discover anything unless the word DISCOVER has different meaning like Visitor or Guest or Immigrant or something similar. The Native Americans own America from South to North. Nobody else can claim it. Everybody else is an immigrant.
11/17/2014 02:30:02 am
Where is your land title? Please show us.
12/30/2016 08:35:18 am
So says the muslim, Suleman.
11/16/2014 03:33:29 pm
If mankind originated in Africa, as is widely believed, then everyone everywhere, with the exception of people near the point of origin in Africa, is an immigrant. This would include the Native Americans who "own America from south to north."
11/16/2014 05:55:04 pm
11/16/2014 08:12:14 pm
Forget about the West Coast. Lets talk about the west. We know for sure that there were contacts between Polynesians and Native Americans on one side and Polynesians and Chinese on the other. So, it's highly possible that the Chinese would have heard of a huge landmass way east, across the ocean. And it is always possible that a Chinese junk reached the Americas and it can be anywhere between 400 BC and 1400 AD. There are actually three more plausible routes for communicating with the Americas -
11/17/2014 04:13:56 am
You're assuming far too much in terms of human populace. It is entirely likely that those who crossed the landbridge represented the entire "tribe". These were very small groupings of nomadic peoples, well before establishes cities and wider cultural groupings.
11/17/2014 02:27:17 am
And, of course, when Columbus sailed on, those Moslems who remained in Cuba on account of the mosque swam across the Straits of Florida with masses of chickens to take over the American mainland and, for climatic and other environmental reasons, swiftly transmorphed into Red Indians and substituted their conventional head-coverings with the feathers of those foul.
Jimbo The Great
11/17/2014 07:57:54 am
History is an interesting subject. We can argue about it...we can revise it...we can create it from our imaginations. Here are a few rules that we should apply to history:
11/18/2014 07:13:46 pm
Jason, you wrote:
11/18/2014 10:33:11 pm
I did not write that. If you read carefully, that is the false claim that I am debunking. That's why it is set up as a block quote: They are not my words. It is a quote from a man who said something that isn't true. As I state further down in the article, the correct date is October 29, and the "mosque" was a figurative comparison, not an actual claim.
11/19/2014 03:57:35 am
Weren't those Cuban Arabs the Lamanites of LDS lore? Was that a mosque or a temple? Did the Arabs become the Native Americans? And what about the Mandan people? Were they in fact the Nephites?
12/4/2014 09:02:36 am
I dont really see what the big deal is. We dont know for sure and we never really will. But ridiculing any possibility of muslims having laned in America but not ridiculing Viking landings is a bit errrr short sighted.
12/7/2014 05:30:04 pm
Ain't the so called "red indian" discovered america first? From what i knew, they are already "native" to the land when columbus discovered it, and long before.
12/19/2014 08:24:40 am
USA: Discovery Of 9th Century Quranic Manuscripts Predate Columbus Travels By Five Centuries - See more at:
3/1/2015 03:32:45 pm
You need to remember that Cortes was a military man. the Black people called MOORS ruled Spain for 700 years. They KNEW what a mosque was.
3/9/2015 11:34:12 pm
Surely if we're talking crossing the sea of darkness to find possibly America the tale of the Adventurers of Lisbon presented in al-Idrisi's work is much more detailed and note worthy than Khashkhash? By the way I'm not of the opinion that they did reach America.
Sheik Sharif Kalifa Rasul El
4/9/2015 02:16:52 pm
Your soul is saved because of your truth! 144,000.
5/14/2015 02:25:04 pm
Thanks for a very concise but fact-filled conclusive article that should hopefully work toward nipping these rumors in the bud where they belong!
7/1/2015 01:26:08 am
Yes, Muslims discovered American long time before Columbus
DISCOVERY OF 9TH CENTURY QURANIC MANUSCRIPTS PREDATE COLUMBUS TRAVELS BY FIVE CENTURIES
DISCOVERY OF 9TH CENTURY QURANIC MANUSCRIPTS PREDATE COLUMBUS TRAVELS BY FIVE CENTURIES
12/14/2015 12:40:06 am
Muslim always RE-WRITE the REAL HISTORY.Bcoz their goal is to conquered the WORLD by all means ( deceit or swords)
5/10/2020 09:10:35 am
Wow so much ignorance about everything. Want to keep it real the so called Middle East was inhabited by African people long before anyone else and that’s from Jewish texts and the Muslims were not the first to say “we made it first the New Worlc” this line of thinking didn’t start in 1966. Europeans were questioning the Columbus narrative as early as the 1700s. Go do some real research.
6/20/2016 02:23:21 pm
Born in Tikrīt, Iraq, Saladin (also written as Salâh ed Dîn or Salah ed-Din Yusuf) rose to power during the time of the Second and Third Crusades. He gained a reputation as a superior general, and contemporary accounts by Frankish and Arabic sources credit Saladin with being merciful and fair. His name is most widely recognized among Westerners for his military engagement with King Richard I during the Third Crusade. Among Muslims, he has often been viewed as a hero of Islam for his efforts to unite the Islamic states culminating in the capture of Jerusalem in 1187. <a href="http://whistory.org" >I liked your blog, Take the time to visit the me and say that the change in design and meniu?</a>
8/1/2016 02:58:55 am
I think that's mostly possible , that Muslims could reach America, but I dont think it was official visit , I mean by official visit that it was done by travelers not by Army
1/29/2017 06:48:25 pm
12/4/2022 02:53:39 am
This sort of pseudoscience and pseudohistory plagues many parts of the Muslim world like Pakistan but I was shocked to find Turkish religious channels promoting it, turkey which has a high literacy rate and room for open thought. How do we debunk stuff like this and this is really important.
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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