Muslims in the Caribbean Before Columbus
Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick
Abdullah Hakim Quick was born in the United States of America and accepted Islam in Canada in 1970. He pursued his study of Islam at the Islamic University of Madinah in Saudi Arabia where he graduated and received an Ijaza from the College of Da'wah and Islamic Sciences in 1979. He later completed a Masters Degree and a Doctorate in African History at the University of Toronto in Canada. His thesis was an analysis of the early life of Sheikh 'Uthman Dan Fodio, a great West African Scholar, Mujaahid and social activist.
Shaykh Abdullah has served as Imam, teacher and counselor in the USA, Canada and the West Indies. For three years he contributed to the religious page of Canada's leading newspaper. He has travelled to over 51 countries on lecture, research and educational tours.
Presently he is a senior lecturer on the history of Islam in Africa at The International Peace University South Africa in Cape Town and a member of the Muslim Judicial Council, Cape Town, South Africa. Shaykh Abdullah is also the Director of the Discover Islam Centre (Cape Town) and Ameer of the Dawah Coordinating Forum of South Africa.
Today's world is in need of innovative rethinking based on original, authentic sources. Dr Abdullah Hakim provides an example of this new, progressive thinking.
Another part of the pre-Columbian African hereditary legacy is that left with the Carib people from whose name we derive the word 'Caribbean,' One of their scholars wrote in The Daily Clarion of Belize on November 5, 1946, "When Christopher Columbus discovered the West Indies about the year 1493, he found there a race of white people (i.e., half breeds) with wooly hair whom he called Caribs, they were seafaring hunters and tillers of the soil peaceful and united. They, hated aggression. Their religion was Mohammedanism and their language presumably Arabic." On the other hand the British Honduras Handbook states that the Carib "are very clannish and speak a language of their own which they guard jealously. It appears to be basically an African dialect with a strong admixture of French, Spanish and English words."
The Black Caribs, also had a number of clearly Islamic practices like the complete prohibition of the eating of the flesh of swine which they called "coincoin or bouirokou." The Handbook of South American Indians describes the Caribs with the following: "The most prized possessions of the [Carib] men was the Caracoli, a crescent-shaped alloy of gold and copper framed in wood which the warriors obtained during raids upon the continental [South American] Arawak. Some of the Caracoli were small and served as ear, nose, or mouth pendants; others wee large enough to be worn on the chest. They were a sign of high rank, being passed down from generation to generation, and worn only on a ceremonial occasion and during journeys."
Islamic words having a West African, Manding root have been found in native languages not only in the Caribbean region, but also in North America.
The renowned American historian and linguist, Leo Weiner of Harvard University in 1920 wrote a controversial but well documented work entitled Africa and the Discovery of America. He proved in it that Columbus was well aware of the Mending presence and that the West African Muslims had not only spread throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America, but they reached Canada and were trading and intermarrying with the Iroquois and Algonquin Indian nations!