How did human beings go to and settle in continents? How did they go especially to America?

Details of the Question
How did human beings go to and settle in continents? How did they go especially to America?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

In the Islamic resources, it is stated that some important occupations and technology like making clothes and clocks, shipping, forging, medicine, making armors were introduced by prophets.

This question may arise regarding the issue: Did prophets introduce them – as in the example of the dinner table sent down from the sky to Jesus – as absolute miracles or were they based on scientific rules?

We think that a definite answer like “yes” or “no” cannot be given to that question. However, some explanations can be made under the light of some verses without asserting a definite claim.

It is understood from many verses in the Quran that the miraculous technology that the prophets was given by Allah is not absolute miracles that have nothing to do with science. On the contrary, God Almighty could have given new technology to His prophets like the dinner table sent down to Jesus (pbuh) in order to meet the new needs felt by the humanity as a result of the development of the humankind. However, graces like that would have disappeared with the deaths of the prophets. The people who lived after them would not have learned anything from them for their material development.   

When the verses mentioning the miraculous technology that the prophets were given are examined, one can be convinced that at least some of the miracles are based on science and they are given in accordance with human conditions. We will examine two examples regarding the issue:

The example related to Noah: The verses related to Noah’s Ark are very interesting in terms of the issue. The verses make some explanations about the construction of the ship. Based on those explanations, we can say that the act of constructing was not based on an extraordinary miracle but was carried out by some efforts that were not regarded as odd by the people of that age as follows:  

1- The Ark was made of planks that were attached firmly to each other: In the verse, the Ark is described as “dhatil alwahi wa dusuri” (having planks and nails) (al-Qamar 13). "Alwah" means planks. Planks are made of wood. Lexically, dusur means rope made of fiber that attaches the planks of the ship together. It can be understood from the word dusur that metal nails were not known then and that the planks were attached by ropes. However, since the existence of metal tools like axes and saws is definitely necessary in order to produce planks from trees, it is understood that metallurgy was known. Then, it is more likely that metal nails are meant by the word dusur. As a matter of fact, most of the interpreters interpret dusur as nails and rivets.

Hence, it can be deduced that the industry of metallurgy, which is necessary to produce tools like axes and saws, existed during the time of Noah (pbuh). It strengthens the soundness of the narrations informing us that tools like hammers, anvils, pincers and maces existed during the time of Adam (pbuh).

That interpretation does not contradict the verse mentioning that iron was softened for Dawud (David) (pbuh) because the verse does not state that iron was discovered by David. It probably indicates that iron was started to be used widely during the time of David (pbuh). As a matter of fact, the oldest iron tool that has been found up to now is estimated to date back to 2700 BC; the Iron Age is estimated to have started in 1200 BC in the area of Kanan. It is known that David lived around 1000 BC. It can be said that the difference of 200 years may be a mistake of interpretation or estimation.

By the way, we should state that the information and figures in the books that are about the ages in the past do not express certainty. They are generally based on the estimates and interpretations of the researchers. According to an interpretation that will relieve the issue, some knives made of flint stone were produced after metal tools. Similarly, it is stated that the Bronze Age took place in 5000 or 6000 BC in Elam, Chalde and Egypt.

Another detail regarding the ship in the verses seems more interesting: the word tannur (oven). Based on this word, some interpreters think that there might be a steam boiler in Noah’s Ark. The verse in question is as follows: "There came Our Command, and the oven gushed forth! We said: "Embark therein of each kind two, male and female" (Hud, 40).

2- The ship was built based on the revelation of Allah and under His surveillance. One of the verses related to the issue is as follows: "So We inspired him (with this message): "Construct the Ark within Our sight and under Our guidance (al-Mu'minun, 27). We think that the miracle of Noah’s ship does not indicate that means of transportation used on water did not exist beforehand. It is highly probable that transportation on water existed in the form of small boats and rafts though it might be very primitive. Noah must have brought determination, system and new technology to the construction of ships through divine revelation. A presumably three-decked steam ship that can resist waves as huge as mountains, as it is expressed in the verse (Hud, 42), that can contain one pair from each animal at least those living in the region where Noah lived must be a wonderful revolution and a real miracle for that age. The detail stating that the ship had three decks (floors) originates from the Torah.   

The verse that states "Every time that the chiefs of his people passed by him, they threw ridicule on him" (Hud, 38) during the construction indicates that it took more time than usual to build the ship. The reason of ridicule must be based on the fact that such a big ship was built in a place far away from the nearest body of water not on the fact that something unknown was built suddenly and miraculously. The construction of the ship is not a miracle that was shown based on a demand to prove the truthfulness and prophethood of a prophet, like the splitting of the moon (shaqq al-qamar).

The miracles of prophets became guiding lights in science and technology for people; people of the first ages reached overseas thanks to ships.

The researches of Barry Fell, a former professor at Harvard University, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, show that Muslims reached America during the period of Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Uthman and opened shipping schools there. Another remarkable piece of information about the traces of Islam in the USA is the fact that some Samarqand dirhams (coins) of the ninth century with the words "La ilaha illallah, Muhammadun Rasulullah" (There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah) inscribed on were found during road building excavations in Boston.

The process that led Salih Yücel to search the lost traces of Islam in the USA started after he finished the Faculty of Theology at Ankara University in 1982 and was appointed as a religious official to Redfern Mosque in Sydney, Australia 14 years after his graduation. While he was doing his masters in theology at Sydney University, he made radio programs about religion and became an administrator in the Association for the Fight Against Discrimination in NSW; he became a member of the Religious Affairs Upper Committee, which included representatives of all religions, while serving as a "Muslim jail preacher" for four years.

Salih Yücel then traveled to the US to pursue his doctoral degree in "Religion and Mental Health"; he is currently a preacher at the School of Medicine Hospital of Harvard as well as a member of the religious affairs planning committee of these hospitals. In addition, he is a preacher at School of Medicine Hospital of Boston and a jail preacher, and an administrator of the Boston Dialogue Foundation. Another remarkable aspect of Salih Yüce is his researches about the traces of Islam in the continent of America.

The most important findings he notes are the ones found by the research of Barry Fell, a former professor of Harvard University, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Perhaps the most impressive finding of this research is that Muslims reached America during the period of Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Uthman and opened shipping schools there. Another remarkable piece of information relating to the traces of Islam in America is this: Father Thaddeus Mason Harris saw that workers working for the construction of today's "Route 16" from Malden to Cambridge, Boston Massachusetts, in 1787 found some coins while excavating. Workers thought the metals were worthless and asked father Harris to take a handful of coins. Father Harris sent them to the Library of Harvard College (known as Harvard University today) for identification. The coins shown in Figure 6 turned out to be Samarkand coins dating back to the ninth and tenth centuries. Due to these findings, Salih Yücel says, "some of the Companions of Muhammad and some people from the generation after them must have come to the USA."

Professor Fell bases his conclusion that there were Muslim schools in the seventh and eighth centuries in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and Indiana on findings unearthed in archeological excavations. Writings, drawings, and tables found on rocks in the wilderness of West are the remnants of a Muslim primary and secondary education system. The evidence consists of the old Kufi Arab letters used in North African Arabic, and of the topics about reading-writing, arithmetic, religion, history, geography, mathematics, astronomy and shipping. The writing "With the name of Allah" found on a rock in the Nevada excavations, and another rock inscription "Muhammed Nabiyallah" (Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah) (picture 1) are Kufi style writings used in the seventh century.

Fell's discoveries indicate that Arabs lived in the seventh and eighth centuries in Nevada. Professors Heizer and Baumhoff from the University of California joined excavations at Nevada 25 site. The result unveiled there indicates there was a school in which Islam, science, and shipping were taught. In the Nevada excavations, Naskhi and Kufi styles of Arabic writings were found on the rocks and stones (figure 2). In this figure, the mathematical formula of five diamonds is equal to an A in Arabic (Alif) is seen.

Salih Yücel emphasizes the similarities among scriptures bearing the name of the Prophet Muhammad found at archeological excavations at different times in America and Africa. Shape A in figure 3 was found in Al Ain Lahag in Morocco and shape B was found in the East Walker river. Shape C was found in Nevada, shape D and E in Churchill County, shape F in Al Haji Minoun in Morocco, shape G, drawn on a piece of ceramic, was found in Al Suq, Tripoli in Libya, shape H in Cottonwood Canyon and shape I was found on the Libya-Morocco border. These scriptures date back to the 8th and 9th centuries and explicitly show the similarities between North America and North Africa. Those found in the U.S. are now kept at the University of California.

As a matter of fact, the descendants of Muslim generations who lived during that period in the US are defined as the Iroquois, Algonquin, Anasazi, Hohokam and Olmec indigenous tribes today. In the 12th century, the region where Arab Muslims lived in Nevada was invaded by Ithacan tribe comprising Apache and Navajo natives; local Arabs were forced to escape or were driven to the south. However, these indigenous people, who were illiterate, were amazed with what they found in the schools established by the Arabs. They even went so far as to emulate the same courses (perhaps thanks to the captives they held). They portrayed the shapes as mythical monsters. This continued for centuries. Figure 4, which was found in the White Mountains in the neighborhood of Benton town on the Nevada border in 1951, bears the kufi style of writing: “Sheitan maha mayan” (The Devil is the source of all lies). This is an example of kufi writing belonging to 7th century. The piece of rock bearing the letters H-M-I-D (Hamid) in kufi-style in figure 5 belongs to the 7th century. It was also found on the Atlatl rock in the Fire Valley in Nevada.

The rock in figure 7, which was found in a cave in the La Gruta de Carinto region of Salvador and which was determined to date back to the 13th century, has the words “Malakah Haji mi Malaya” inscribed on. This rock is shown to indicate that Muslims immigrated to North America from Indonesia. In fact, during the second voyage of Christopher Columbus, the indigenous people of Espanola told him about the black people who reached the island before him. They showed spears left by African Muslims to Columbus as evidence of their claims. The spears were edged with a yellow metal that the indigenous called guanine (gold alloy). A remarkable point here is that the word guanine is associated with the Arabic word ghina, which means richness. Columbus later brought a piece of guanine to Spain and recorded that they had a content of 56,25 percent gold, 18,75 percent silver and 25 percent copper. These percentages were then the metal processing standard of Africa Guinea.

Columbus, who made his third voyage to the new world in 1498, went to Trinidad. Later on, when his crew went ashore in South America, they observed the symmetric woven patterns of the fabric and colorful clothes of the indigenous people there. Columbus referred to these clothes as “almayzar”, noticing that they were very similar to the headscarves and belts in Guinea in terms of color, style and usage. The word “almayzar” means “cover”, “bond” “smock” or “skirt” in Arabic; it was the local clothing of the North African people of Arabic and Berberi origin known as Moors, who had conquered Spain in the 8th century. Columbus noted that indigenous married women wore cotton clothes, and he wrote that he wondered from where these women learnt the concept of chastity. Spanish conqueror, Hernan Cortes, recorded the clothing of indigenous women as being long veils and draped skirts painted with patterns resembling those of the Moors. Ferdinand Columbus also wrote that the cotton clothes of the indigenous people were extremely similar to the patterned long shawls that Moors women wore in Granada. In addition, the similarity between the cradles that the indigenous people laid their babies on and the cradles of North Africa is striking.

Salih Yücel says the following related to the findings: “Columbus wrote that he saw a mosque on a beautiful mountain while sailing in the neighborhood of Cibara, in the northwestern Cuba, on 21 October 1492. Some relics of mosques bearing Quranic verses on their minarets were found in Cuba, Mexico, Texas and Nevada. Leo Weiner, famous historian and linguist from Harvard University, says in his book, ”Africa and the Discovery of America” that Columbus was aware of the existence of Mandingos in the new world. The same source indicates that Columbus knew that West African Muslims lived in Central America, South America, North America including Canada, and the Caribbean, and that they had marital and commercial relations with the Iroque and Algonquin indigenous tribes.”

Most of the voyages that Columbus and fellow pioneering Spanish and Portuguese explorers made to the other side of the Atlantic were realized thanks to geographical and sea navigation knowledge that Muslims gathered. For example, Masudi’s (871-957) book titled “Muruj az-Zahab” was written as a result of similar information gathered by Muslim merchants from Africa and Asia. Two captains of Columbus in his first intercontinental travel were Muslims. The ship named PINTA was under the control of Martin Alonso Pinzon, and the ship NINA was under the control of his brother, Vicente Yanez Pinzon. The origin of the Pinzon family goes back to the Morocco Marinid royal family from Sultan Abu Zayan Muhammad III (1362-66). The Pinzon brothers, who were rich shipping merchants before they joined Columbus, helped Columbus organize his exploratory voyage and prepared the flagship Santa Maria by meeting the expenses. Columbus noted that local people in some of the Atlantic islands adorned their noses with gold and wrote their letters in Arabic. Missionaries who traveled to America in the 16th century saw that copper reserves in Virginia, Tennessee and Wisconsin were not run by local people, but rather by those who had come from the Middle East, and also that the American Indians had a deep sense of love for the Middle Eastern people.

Salih Yücel continues his amazing explanation as follows:”The names of 565 places, 484 of them in the US and 81 in Canada, such as the names of villages, towns, cities, mountains, lakes, and rivers, come from Islamic and Arabic roots. These places were originally named by local people before Columbus ever set foot in America. Some of these names are even Islamic place names; for instance: Mecca (population 720) in Indiana; Medina (population 2100) in Idaho; Medina (population 8,500) in New York; Medina (population1,100) and Hazen (population 5,000) in North Dakota; Medina (population 17,000) and Medina (population 120.000) in Ohio, Medina (population 1,100) in Tennessee; Medina (population 26,000) in Texas; Medina (population1,200) and Aria (population700) in Ontario; Mahomet (population 3,200) in Illinois; Mona (population 1,000) in Utah. When the indigenous tribe names are examined in the US, it is understood that most of them derive from Arabic and Islamic roots. They are names such as, Anasazi, Apache, Arawak, Arikana, Chavin, Cherokee, Cree, Hohokam, Hupa, Hopi, Makkah, Mahigan, Mohawk, Nazca, Zulu, Zuni.”

Archeological excavations carried out in North America and North Africa also reveal vast similarities in architecture belonging to the 9th century. For example, a building structure in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco belonging to Berberis (figure 9) is the same as a building structure (figure 8) in New Mexico. There is again a similarity between the Montezuma Tower, found in excavations in Arizona, and the architecture of Berberis in the Mesa Verde region of Colorado. According to a research conducted by Professor Cyrus Thomas from the Smithsonian Institute, a small hut made of stone in the Ellenville region in New York has almost the same structure as a hut made of stone in the Aqaba region of South Arabia. These structures are presumed to belong to the 8th century.

The last Muslim tower in Spain, Granada, fell, just before the Spanish Inquisition was established, in 1492. Non-Christians either were forced to convert to Catholicism to save themselves from the tyranny of the Inquisition or were exiled from the country. Documents exist which prove the existence of immigrant Muslims in Spanish America before 1550. In 1539, an edict from Spanish King Charles V was put into practice which forbade the immigration of Muslims to settlements in the West. This edict was later expanded to expel all Muslims from overseas Spanish colonies in 1543. Salih Yücel’s opinion on the issue is as follows: “The existence of Muslims in overseas islands and regions was known; that is why the Spanish king issued such an edict. Again, in many Islamic sources, it is noted that Muslims living in Spain and North Africa made overseas voyages during the Andalusia period. I will deal with this issue in another research”.

According to Salih Yücel, archeological excavations and analyses by the linguists of the language and place names in the region, coins, household goods and other objects belonging to 8th and 9th centuries of the Abbasids period found by antique dealers show that Muslims began to immigrate to the American continent around the mid 7th century. These people established settlements, mosques and schools, enormously influencing the indigenous public, American Indians. Salih Yücel says, “From the researches of Professor Fell one can conceptualize that some of the Companions of Muhammad and some people from the generation after them came to the continent. Columbus saw the existence of Islam and Muslims in America when he reached the continent; however, Western researchers often ignore this.” Stating that his goal in conducting this research is to draw the attention of young researchers to the existence of Muslims on the American continent since the 7th century, Salih Yücel says, “Many doctorate theses may be prepared about this issue. These studies will shed light on the many documents which remain secret both to Muslims and Americans. They will perhaps prepare the groundwork for rewriting the history of the American continent in the future.”

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