Are there bald Native Americans

Were the Indians Muslims?

Islam belongs to the Indian peoples of ancient America. The thesis can be read from a current article in the Turkish magazine “Aksam”. The Muslim religion found its way to the American mainland as early as 650, just 20 years after the death of the Prophet Mohammed, the paper writes. Remains of Islamic religious schools have been discovered in the southern states of the USA.

“Aksam” is considered to be close to the government, and therefore the article should not have appeared by chance at a time when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a remarkable statement: America was discovered by Muslims, a good 300 years before the famous Crossing by Christopher Columbus. The Genoese and his Spanish teams found a mosque in Cuba in 1492, says the president. He demanded that the children of his country should learn that in school from now on.

Who wouldn't want to claim the greatest coup in the history of discovery for their country? Chinese scholars celebrate their ancestor, Imperial Admiral Zheng He. Its fleet, consisting of many dozen ships, is said to have reached America as early as 1421 and then circumnavigated the world. The British writer and Navy commander Gavin Menzies had given the Chinese this reading in a long book a decade ago. And Norway celebrates its Vikings. Their trip to Newfoundland around the year 1000, their discovery of America, makes these cruel fellows into heroes today.

Of course, the claims about Zheng He, the Muslim schools in Nevada and the mosque in Cuba are not to be taken at face value. Erdogan runs the risk of being ridiculous. But if he and the magazine “Aksam” had been more careful, if they had chosen the right examples, they could have pointed to a very exciting aspect of the early history of discovery. In response to open questions: What did Columbus know about the other side of the Atlantic before he crossed it for the first time in 1492? What kind of cards were there then, and which parts of America appeared on them and when?

The map of a Turkish seafarer of all places plays an important role in these questions. It is stored in the archives of the famous Topkapi Palace, an extensive museum complex near the entrance to the Golden Horn in Istanbul. Unfortunately, to the disappointment of friends of old world maps who visit Istanbul, it is not on display - almost incomprehensible in view of Erdogan's recent campaign to highlight the great successes of Islam in the early modern period, especially its Turks in the Ottoman Empire at that time. If he continues to pursue his line, he should first work to ensure that the management of the Topkapi Palace finally gets the piece of jewelery out of the basement.

It was not until 1929 that the card appeared in the Ottoman palace library. Incidentally, found by the Protestant theologian Adolf Deißmann from the Palatinate, who passed it on to his colleague, the orientalist Paul Kahle, for scientific investigation. Based on the marginal glosses and other related texts, it turned out that the work was written in 1513. It was originally four times as big. Only the part with the Atlantic and its peripheral areas in West Africa and especially America has been preserved. But it has it all.

The map was drawn by Piri Reis, a Turkish cartographer and admiral of the Ottoman fleet. Reis had received the information for the map from his uncle Kemal Reis, also a seafarer who had pursued piracy for many years - an occupation that was widespread among members of the Muslim world in the Mediterranean at the time. In 1501 the uncle had got his hands on about 20 cards on a Spanish ship near Valencia. Piri Reis later claimed that it included maps from Columbus's possession. Of course, it is unclear where this information and the plans originally came from - and whether information from a completely unexpected source was not included in the map of nephew Piri Reis' 1513. Were Muslims more advanced in cartography then, especially as far as the New World was concerned?

Several details on Piri Reis' map are astonishing. Most noticeable: the Andes chain, which runs through almost the entire west of South America, also with an animal on a mountain that looks like a llama. The mountain range was officially unknown in the ancient world in 1513, at least not in Europe, and certainly not in 1501. According to the prevailing reading of historians today, the first information about the Andes was only obtained in the West after the conquests of the Conquistador Francisco Pizarro through the Inca Empire - in 1532. The prevailing doctrine is that it was not until 1513, when the map was drawn, that Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, a man from the Old World, stood on the Pacific after a murderous march across the Isthmus of Panama on September 25th.

A map of Columbus as we know it cannot have been based on that of Piri Reis. In any case, the Genoese, celebrated as the discoverer of America, believed until his death that he had landed in Asia. He set foot on the American mainland for the first time in 1502 - without realizing it.

It is undisputed that the Portuguese Pedro Álvares Cabral accidentally landed in Brazil in 1500 on the way to India, near today's Porto Seguro far more south than the mouth of the Amazon. And that subsequent trips by compatriots brought some more knowledge about the Brazilian coastal region. From 1507, when Martin Waldseemüller drew his famous world map, the opinion prevailed in Europe that Columbus had not landed in China, Japan or India 15 years earlier, but in a new world, "America". Everything else was incompatible with what was known about the circumference of the earth. But this sparse information cannot explain the map of the Turkish admiral Piri Reis.

After all, it is not just the Andes with which Piri Reis puzzles map historians. If you compare the map with contemporary plans from Europe, such as that of Waldseemüller, you will not only notice the abundance of almost correct details, such as the lower reaches of the Orinoco, Amazon and La Plata rivers. The course of the coast is even more astonishing: the high degree of correspondence with the actual topography could not actually be achieved with European navigation techniques at the time. In the Occident one could determine the latitude with the simple measurement of the midday sun high. In contrast, no European was able to determine the degree of longitude until clocks that were accurate to the second were available towards the end of the 18th century. And this is where Fuat Sezgin, Turkish orientalist, who has headed the Institute for the History of Arab-Islamic Sciences at the University of Frankfurt since 1982, comes in.