Who discovered Americas before Columbus?

European explorer, Christopher Columbus, is wrongfully credited for the discovery of the American continent. Columbus made four voyages across Atlantic Ocean from Spain (1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502) to discover a short route to Indian Sub-continent. Instead, he accidently stumbled upon the Americas.

When Columbus and his crew landed on the island of San Salvador on October 12, 1492, the West hailed him the “Founder of Americas”, even though tens of millions of Muslim, Christians and Pagans already lived on that mass of land unknown to the Europeans.

In reality, the history of the Americas and its people stretches back over twenty-thousand years. It tells the story of a rich continent with thriving civilizations and talented, organized human beings. It reveals, to the objective readers, tales of beautiful cities, abundant agriculture, linguistic and philosophical achievements, high technology, pyramid building, respect for and development of women, highly developed political structure, and extensive migrations,” says Abdullah Hakim Quick PhD in book, ‘Deeper Roots’.

The distorted image of Americas by the earlier Europen settlers was no different than the 20th century European Jewish settlers in Palestine; ‘A land without people for a people without land‘.

In 1987, ‘American History: A Survey’, co-authored by three eminent historians, Richard Current, Harry Williams and Alan Brinkley, had claimed: “For thousands of centuries, in which human races were evolving, forming communities, and building the beginings of national civilizations in Africa, Asia, and Europe – the continents we know as the Americas stood empty of mankind and its works. The story of this new world, is a story of the creation of a civilization (by the criminal European settlers), where none existed.”

In 1312, Muslim explorers from Mali and other parts of West Africa arrived in the Gulf of Mexico for exploration of Americas interior using the Mississippi River as their access route.

Christopher Columbus carried a copy of treaty of the 13th-century Muslim scholar, Al-Idrissi, an adviser to King Roger of Sicily – in which Al-Idrissi mentioned the discovery of Americas by eight Muslim explorers. Al-Idrissi also refuted Biblical claim of Earth being “Flat”. He claimed that Earth was in fact “Round”.

On his first voyage to India, Columbus had two captains with Muslim family backgrounds, Martin Alonso Pinzon, the captain of the Pinta, and his brother Vicente Yanex Pinzon, the captain of the Nina. The Pinzon family was related to Abuzayan Muhammad III, the Moroccan Sultan of the Marinid Dynasty (1196-1465).

A Chinese Muslim, Admiral Zheng He, visited Americas during his seven maritime expeditions between 1405 and 1433. The Chinese community in Indonesia has built Cheng He mosque in memory of Admiral’s visit to Indonesian Islands.

Professor S. Federick Starr (Johns Hopkins University) in a recent article, titled, ‘So, Who Did Discover America?, claims that Muslim scholar and adventurer, Abu Raihan al-Biruni (born 973) discovered Americas centuries before Columbus without sailing to that part of the world.

Leaving aside patently absurd theories, there are a number of serious­ claimants for the title. First comes Zuan Chabotto (c.1450-99), the Venetian navigator and explorer. His claim turns on the fact that Columbus did not reach the American mainland until 1498, while he touched the North American shore a full year earlier. That he had set sail from England caused him to be remembered in the Anglophone world as John Cabot and shifted bragging rights from Venice to the ‘Sceptred Isle’. Then it turned out that, while Cabot found investors in Bristol and received a patent from Henry VII, his principal financial backer was an Italian banking house in London. The laurels shifted back to Italy,” says Starr.

Amid this ping-pong match, Francesco Guidi-Bruscoli, the Italian historian who had discovered information on Cabot’s Italian backers, came across a yellowed parchment map with an intriguing notation suggesting that Cabot may have been dispatched to confirm a discovery made many years earlier. Written in Italian, it states that ‘Giovanni Chabotte’ (Cabot) from Venice had been commissioned to sail to the ‘new land’. That the reference to new land was preceded in Italian by the definite article, il, rather than the indefinite un suggested to Guidi-Bruscoli that Cabot’s sponsors already knew of the Americas, thanks to reports by an earlier explorer. Cabot was simply verifying what was already known,” adds Starr.

Abu Raihan al-Biruni was born near the Aral Sea in what is now Uzbekistan. Biruni during his youth had mastered mathematics, astronomy, mineralogy, geography, cartography, geometry and trigonometry. He spoke Persian, Arabic and Khwarazmian and Sanskrit. Biruni followed the footstep of earlier Muslim scientist, Ahmad al-Farghani, who established that Earth is round and not “flat” as decribed in the Bible.

Columbus used Farghani’s data to argue before sceptical potential sponsors that it was small enough for him potentially to circumnavigate. However, Columbus wrongly assumed that Farghani had presented his measurements in Roman miles rather than Arab miles. This caused him to understate the actual circumference of the earth by 25 per cent. His misreading caused (or, if it was deliberate, enabled) Columbus to place Cipango, or Japan, near the Virgin Islands. This convenient error proved crucial in Columbus obtaining funding for what he estimated would be a relatively short voyage to China,” says Starr.

Did Biruni discover America in the first third of the 11th century? In one sense, definitely not. He never laid eyes on the New World or the continents about which he wrote…. Yet Biruni is at least as deserving of the title of North America’s discoverer as any Norseman. Moreover, the intellectual process by which he reached his conclusions is no less stunning than the conclusions themselves. His tools were not the hit-or-miss methods of Venetian seamen or Norse sailors but an adroit combination of carefully controlled observation, meticulously assembled quantitative data and rigorous logic. Only after a further half-millennium did anyone else apply such rigorous analysis to global exploration,” concludes Dr. Starr.


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