1421: The Year a Chinese Muslim Discovered America

Category: Americas, Featured, Highlights, World Affairs Topics: Americas, China Views: 70349

The British submarine engineer and historian Gavin Menzies gave an astounding seminar on March 15, 2002 to the Royal Geographical Society in London, with evidence to support his theory that Zheng He, a Chinese Muslim navigator in the Ming dynasty, beat Columbus by more than 70 years in discovering America.

Using evidence from maps drawn dated before Columbus' trip that clearly showed America, and astronomical maps traced back to Zheng He's time, Menzies is confident that the Zheng He should be honored as the first discoverer of America.

Menzies's conclusion is based on 14 years of research that includes secret maps, evidence of artifacts, and apparent proof of the voyage provided by the modern astronomy software program Starry Night.

As key evidence for a voyage that will remake history, Menzies says he obtained ancient Chinese navigation charts associated with the travels of Zheng He. The journey ran from 1421 to 1423. Menzies maintains that the ships sailed around the Southern tips of both Africa and South America.

The late evening southern sky as it would have looked on March 18, 1421, from off the southern tip of South America. Reconstructed with Starry Night Software to compare with maps found from Zheng He's voyages.

"I set Starry Night up for dates in 1421 for parts of the world where I thought the Chinese had sailed," explained Menzies, a navigation expert and former Royal Navy submarine commander. He found that in two separate locations of the voyage, easily recognizable stars were directly above Zheng He's fleet.

Those stars have since moved, due to changes in Earth's orientation in space. Earth's spin is slightly imperfect, and its axis carves a circle on the sky every 26,000 years. The phenomenon, called precession, means that each pole points to different stars as time progresses. Menzies used the software program to recreate the sky as it would have looked in 1421.

"I had Chinese star charts, and I needed to date the charts," he said. "By an incredible bit of luck, one of the courses they steered, between Sumatra and Dondra Head, Ceylon, was due west."

This part of the journey was very near the equator in the Indian Ocean. Both Polaris, the North Star, and the bright southern star Canopus, which was very nearly above the celestial south pole, were on the charts. "From that I was able to determine the apparent shift of Polaris (due to precession). I could therefore date the chart to 1421, plus or minus 30 years."

Phillip Sadler, a celestial navigation expert at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, says the estimation of a map's age based on star positions is possible. He said an estimate within 30 years, as Menzies claims, is possible.  (Continues on Page 2)

About Zheng He:

Zheng He (1371-1435), or Cheng Ho, is China's most famous navigator. He built a total of 1622 ships and made at least seven major excursions between 1405 AD and 1430 AD. He traveled more than 50,000km and visited over 30 countries, reaching Somalia and probably Europe (France, Holland and Portugal).

Zheng He constructed many wooden ships, some of which are the largest in the history, in Nanjing. Three of the shipyards still exist today.

In each trip, he led a troop of 27,800 people on more than 300 ships. In each trip, 62 major ships of this fleet were employed, each over 400 ft long and 193 ft wide, holding 1000 people per ship, dwarfing Columbus' Santa Maria (75 ft x 25 ft) more than six-fold.

In the 1930s, a stone pillar was discovered in a town in Fujian province. It held an inscription that described the amazing voyages of Zheng He.

Zheng He described how the emperor of the Ming Dynasty had ordered him to sail to "the countries beyond the horizon," all the way to the end of the earth." His mission was to display the might of Chinese.

The pillar contains the Chinese names for the countries Zheng He visited. He wrote:

We have...beheld in the ocean huge waves like mountains rising sky-high, and we have set eyes on barbarian regions far away hidden in a blue transparency of light vapors, while our sails, loftily unfurled like clouds, day and night continued their course rapid like that of a star, transversing the savage waves as if we were treading a public thoroughfare.

The countries and territories covered and recorded in the official Ming history includes Java, Sumatra, Vietnam, Siam, Cambodia, Philippines, Ceylon, Bangladesh, India, Yemen, Arabia, Somalia, Mogadishu. As a clear demonstration of his travel to Africa, among the souvenirs he brought back to China were the giraffes and lions, indigenous animals of Africa.

The official history also mentioned "Franca" (which was the territory to describe today's France and Portugal) and Holland. The Hollanders were described as tall people with red hair and beard, long nose, and deep eye sockets. If he did meet with the Europeans in their native countries, then the only way would be to navigate around the Cape of Good Hope before the Suez Canal was a throughway.

Unfortunately, Zheng He's magnificent accomplishment was later targeted by other courtiers as wasteful. Most of his records were destroyed and building of ships with more than three masts were considered crimes punishable by death. So, a large part of his excursion (which might include the America part) has no reports.

In Africa near Kenya today, there are tribes that are clearly Asian-looking. They also consider themselves as the descendants of Zheng He's crew.

His achievements show that China had the ships and navigational skills to explore the world. Mysteriously, China did not follow up on these voyages. The Chinese destroyed their ocean going ships and halted further expeditions. Thus, a century later, Europeans would "discover" China, instead of the Chinese "discovering" Europe.

China has a very old seafaring tradition. Chinese ships had sailed to India as early as the Han Dynasty. Chinese sailors had an important invention to help them-the compass. The compass, or "south pointing spoon," started out as a fortune-telling instrument used like an Ouija board. By the Song era, sailors had taken it up. As a foreign ship captain wrote, "In dark, weather they look to the south pointing needle, and use a sounding line to determine the smell and nature of the mud on the sea bottom, and so know where they are.

Chinese shipbuilders also developed fore-and-aft sails, the sternpost rudder, and boats with paddlewheels. Watertight compartments below decks kept the ship from sinking. Some boats were armor plated for protection. All these developments made long distance navigation possible.

After the Mongols were overthrown in 1368, the emperor of the new Ming Dynasty wanted to assert Chinese power. Because China was no longer part of a land empire that stretched from Asia to Europe, the emperor turned to the sea. He decided to build a navy. The Chinese made elaborate plans that would not be fulfilled for many years. A shipyard was built at the new capital of Najing (Nanking). Thousand of varnish and tung trees were planted on nearby Purple Mountain to provide wood for shipbuilding. The emperor established a school of foreign languages to train interpreters. While all this was going on, the man who would lead the navy was still an infant.

China's greatest adventurer, the 15th century Muslim,
Admiral  Zheng He

Zheng He was born in 1371 in Kunyang, a town in southwest Yunnan Province. His family, named Ma, were part of a minority group known as the Semur. They originally came from Central Asia and followed the religion of Islam. Both his grandfather and father had made the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. Zheng He grew up hearing their accounts of travel through foreign lands.

Yunnan was one of the last strongholds of Mongol support, holding out long after the Ming Dynasty began. After Ming armies conquered Yunnan in 1382, Zheng He was taken captive and brought to Nanjing. The eleven year old boy was made a servant of the prince who would become the Yong Le Emperor. It was Yong Le who renamed the boy Zheng He.

Zheng He is described in Chinese historical records as tall and heavy, with "clear-cut features and long ear lobes; a stride like a tiger's and voice clear and vibrant." He was well liked and admired for his quick wit in argument. Moreover, he was a brave soldier. When his prince seized the Chinese throne from his nephew, Zheng He fought well on his behalf. As a result, Zheng He became a close confidant of the new emperor and was given an important position at court.

The Yong Le emperor had ambitious plans. A vigorous man, he rebuilt the Great Wall to the condition in which it exists today. He also built his new capital at Beijing, next to the remains of the former Yuan capital. The emperor decided to go ahead with the sea voyages that had long been planned. He appointed Zheng He to lead them and gave him the title "Admiral of the Western Seas."

At each country Zheng He visited, he was to present gifts from the emperor and to exact tribute for the glory of the Ming. The Chinese had a unique view of foreign relations. Because China developed its culture in isolation from other great civilization, it says itself as the center of the world. The Chinese called their country "the Middle Kingdom."

The Chinese emperor's duty was to attract "all under heaven" to be civilized in Confucian harmony. When foreign ambassadors came to the Chinese court, they "kowtowed" as they approached the emperor. (The required process of "kowtow" was to kneel three times and bow one's head to the floor three times at each kneeling.) In return for tribute from other countries, the emperor sent gifts and special seals that confirmed their rulers' authority. In fact, these foreign kings were officially made part of the Ming Dynasty.

In 1405 Zheng He set out on his first voyage. No nation on earth had ever sent such a fleet onto the ocean. It included sixty-two large ships, some 600 feet long, larger than any other on the seas. Hundreds of smaller vessels accompanied them. A Chinese historian described them; "The ships which sail the Southern Sea are like houses. When their sails are spread they are like great clouds in the sky."

Zheng He's first port of call was in Champa, a part of today's Vietnam. He was surprised to find many Chinese living there. Merchants and craftsmen had emigrated from the coastal provinces since the time of the Tang Dynasty. They had already helped to spread Confucian ideals, and Champs's ruler willingly offered tribute for the Chinese emperor. In return, of course, Zheng He presented the king with lavish gifts that were probably more valuable. (Continues on Page 3)

Zheng He sailed away from the coast, westward across the Indian Ocean. The ships traveled for days out of sight of any land. Then they encountered a hurricane. The ships tossed wildly in the fierce storm and seemed to be on the verge of sinking. Then a "divine light" suddenly shone at the tips of the mast. "As soon as this miraculous light appeared, the danger was appeased," Zheng He wrote.


When the Chinese sailors reached Calicut, India, their giant ships created a stir. The ruler there presented his visitors with sashes made of gold spun into hair-fine threads and studded with large pearls and precious stones. The Chinese were entertained with music and songs. One crewmember wrote that the Indians' musical instruments were "made of gourds with strings of red copper wire, and the sound and rhythm were pleasant to the ears."

On the way back to China, the fleet threaded its way through the Straits of Malacca, stopping at the large islands of Sumatra and Java. Zheng He established a base at the Straits that he would use for each of his seven voyages. There are thousands of smaller islands in this vast archipelago, and some were pirates' lairs. The pirates preyed on unwary fishermen and small merchant vessels. Zheng He, showing how the emperor treated those who disrupted harmony, attacked and destroyed a fleet of pirate ships. He captured the leader and brought him back to Beijing for execution.

When Zheng He returned, the emperor was pleased. He sent his admiral on ever-longer voyages. Seven times, Zheng He's ships set sail for unknown lands. On and on he went, following his orders to travel as far as he could. He reached Arabia, where he fulfilled a personal dream. He made the pilgrimage to Mecca that is the duty of every good Muslim once in his lifetime. He also visited Prophet Muhammad Mosque in Medina. On the fifth voyage, he reached the coast of Africa, landing in Somalia on the east coast.

Zheng He organized each expedition on an enormous scale. Besides sailors and navigators, they included doctors, scribes, shipwrights, and cooks. On some voyages Muslim religious leaders and Buddhist monks were brought along to serve as diplomats in lands where people were Muslim or Buddhist.

Each ship brought enough food to last the whole voyage, in case "barbarian" food was not acceptable. In addition to rice and other food that could be preserved, the ships carried huge tubs of earth on deck so that vegetables and fruit could be grown.

On each voyage the fleet anchored at the Malacca base, where provisions, tribute, and gifts were stored in warehouses. Zheng He found that foreign kings and princes particularly admired the famous blue-and-white Ming porcelain dishes, vases, and cups. Foreigners still yearned for Chinese silk, for cotton printed with Chinese designs, and for the coarse but long lasting, brownish yellow cloth known as Nankeen because it was made in Nanking (now Nanjing). The holds of Zheng He's ships were also crammed with gold and silver, iron tools, copper kitchenware, and perfumes.

In exchange for such wares, and as tribute, Zheng He brought back medicinal herbs, dyes, spices, precious, gems, pearls, rhinoceros horns, ivory, and exotic animals. On the homeward voyage, the fleet again stopped at their base to sort out the foreign goods and wait for a favorable wind to return to China.

The expeditions were an important source of information about foreign countries. A crewmember described the Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal off the east coast of India:

Its inhabitants live in the hollows of trees and caves. Both men and women there go about stark naked, like wild beasts, without a stitch of clothing on them. No rice grows there. The people subsist solely on wild yams, jackfruit and plantains, or upon the fish which they catch. There is a legend current among them that, if they wear the smallest scrap of clothing, their bodies would break into sores and ulcers, owing to their ancestors having been cursed by Buddha for having stolen and hidden his clothes while he was bathing.

In Sri Lanka, the Chinese visited Buddhist Temple Hill, where Buddha was said to have left his footprint on a rock. They marveled at all the temples, particularly one that held a relic of the Buddha's tooth. According to a crew member, the people of the island do not venture to eat cow's flesh, they merely drink the milk. When a cow dies they bury it. It is capital punishment for anyone to secretly kill a cow; he who does so can however escape punishment by paying a ransom of a cow's head made of solid gold.

Sri Lanka seemed like a treasure island, where rubies and other precious stones were abundant. The people harvested pearls from the sea and had discovered the trick of making cultured pearls by planting a speck of sand inside an oyster's shell.

The king of Sri Lanka was an ardent Buddhist who treated both cows and elephants with religious respect. However, because he did not show proper respect for the ambassadors from the Son of Heaven, he was taken back to China for "instruction." He was returned to his island on a later voyage.

When the Chinese reached the east coast of Africa, they found people who built houses of brick. "Men and women wear their hair in rolls; when they go out they wear a linen hood. There are deep wells worked by means of cog wheels. Fish are caught in the sea with nets." The Africans offered such goods a "dragon saliva, incense, and golden amber." The Chinese found the African animals even more amazing. There included "lion, gold-spotted leopards, and camel-birds (ostriches), which are six or seven feet tall." The most exciting thing that Zheng He ever brought back to the emperor's count was a giraffe.

The animal came from today's Somalia. In the Somali Language, the name for giraffe sounds similar to the Chinese word for unicorn. It was easy to imagine that this was the legendary animal that had played an important part in the birth of Confucius. Surely, it must be a sign of Heaven's favor on the emperor's reign.

When the giraffe arrived in 1415, the emperor himself went to the palace gate to receive it, as well as a "celestial horse" (zebra) and a "celestial stag" (oryx). The palace officials offered congratulations and performed the kowtow before the heavenly animals.

When Zheng He came back from his seventh voyage in 1433, he was sixty-two years old. He had accomplished much for China, spreading the glory of the Middle Kingdom to many countries that now sent tribute and ambassadors to the court. Though he died soon afterward, his exploits had won him fame. Plays and novels were written about his voyages. In such places as Malacca and Java, towns, caves, and temples were named after him.

However, a new Ming emperor had come to the throne. His scholar-officials criticized Zheng's achievements, complaining about their great expense. China was now fighting another barbarian enemy on its western borders and needed to devote its resources to that struggle. When a court favorite wanted to continue Zheng He's voyages, he was turned down. To make sure, the court officials destroyed the logs that Zheng He had kept. We know about his voyages only from the pillar and some accounts that his crewmembers wrote.

Thus, China abandoned its overseas voyages. It was a fateful decision, for just at that time, Portugal was beginning to send its ships down the west coast of Africa. In the centuries that followed, European explorers would sail to all parts of the world. They would establish colonies in Africa, America, and finally in the nations of East Asia. China would suffer because it had turned its back on exploration. Zheng He had started the process that might have led the Middle Kingdom to greater glory Unfortunately the rulers of the Ming Dynasty refused to follow his lead.

Zheng He died in the tenth year of the reign of the Ming emperor Xuande (1435) and was buried in the southern outskirts of Bull's Head Hill (Niushou) in Nanjing.

In 1985, during the 580th anniversary of Zheng He's voyage, his tomb was restored. The new tomb was built on the site of the original tomb in Nanjing and reconstructed according to the customs of Islamic teachings, as Zheng He was a Muslim.

At the entrance to the tomb is a Ming-style structure, which houses the memorial hall. Inside are paintings of the man himself and his navigation maps. To get to the tomb, there are newly laid stone platforms and steps. The stairway consists of 28 stone steps divided into four sections with each section having seven steps. This represents Zheng He's seven journeys to the West. The Arabic words "Allah (God) is great" are inscribed on top of the tomb.

Click Here for Slide Show


1. http://www.1421.tv/

2. http://www.space.com/

3. http://www.chinapage.com/

  Category: Americas, Featured, Highlights, World Affairs
  Topics: Americas, China
Views: 70349

Related Suggestions

The opinions expressed herein, through this post or comments, contain positions and viewpoints that are not necessarily those of IslamiCity. These are offered as a means for IslamiCity to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization. The IslamiCity site may occasionally contain copyrighted material the use of which may not always have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. IslamiCity is making such material available in its effort to advance understanding of humanitarian, education, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, and such (and all) material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Older Comments:
The article does not say what part of America Zeng He visited ?

AFter reading some of the feedbacks on this article, I can't help but think that most of them have missed the point about Zheng He being Chinese Muslim. He was Oriental Chinese with Islam as his religion. He was not Middle Eastern person. Also, if you read/research further, you'll find out his expedition mandate, as set forth by the Chinese Emperor, was NOT to conquor foreign lands but to exchange and learn from these interaction.

Salaam alaikum:It is amazing,these people trying to lay clain to America.Why,says Muammar Qadhafi of Libya,America comes from Ameer Ka,also know as Abu Bakr the third.History had proven,that the African covered the entire world2il the Hindu(Aryan)invasion some 50,000 years ago.These Africans then amalgamated with thes invaders,producing these brown-skinned Mexican/Americans.I`m of Cherokee descent,and the Cherokees have been in America,30,000 years,supported by none other than President George Bush.Have a nice day,Ikhwean.Salaam.

Chinese did not "discover" anything - nor did those silly "europeans" --- This land had millions of people living here for tens of thousands of years! Get with it, Islamicity - your attitude towards Native peoples/Muslims is very condescending!

NA FROM US said:
Very nice article, Yes if we were to discover
America but America doesn't give the full credit,
where credit is deserved.

AQ FROM US said:
For H. A. >

You are just brainwashed .. just like the majority. You do not know the facts and do not want to know them. Only you do is watch TV and media instead of reading the real islam and its history from the good sources. In the past Muslims have ruled many parts of the world with peace and respecting all religions. Now it is different story, they are not following the real Islam and Hadith. It would have been a different muslim world if they do so.

This article I believe did not mean what you perceived.It is about the history and a muslim.
Of course there are crazy people(geeks) in all religions.We can give them any names but before doing that one should look at self and his people.Are you following the real holy book(original version) or the book that has been edited-revised many times for some reasons.

All Holy Books are the word of ALLAH(GOD) as long as they are not edited or revised.They were sent to us by GOD thru the prophets. They are Suhuf(Abraham),Zabur(David),Bible(Jesus),
Torah(Moses)and Quran(Muhammad).

Because GOD(ALLAH) said Quran is the final book and Muhammad is the final messenger and there wont be any new messengers or books to follow. Therefore, if Islam and Hadith (or any original/unedited/unchanged holy book) are followed by most people there would have been no slavery and oppression, no unjust wars, no nudity, no selfishness, no dictatorships etc. This world would have been a better place.

In fact muslims believe in JESUS as one of the important prophets whereas some other religios do no believe in him at all and plus they inflicted harm and put obstacles in his way.Why such people like you have hatred against Muslims/Islam?

May ALLAH show the right path and give the right knowledge to the people like you in this world.

Very nice article. Please post similar articles and inform the people who have Islamicity.com

There are lots of muslims who were Engineers, Architects, Scientists, Scholars ,Inventors, Discoverers, Great rulers, Physicists, Doctors, Commanders and so on. Unfortunately we do not see their names in the books or in history.

If we see read articles or have such knowledge, we should spread and share with all as it will be an encouragement for our muslim children, youth and adults and we feel proud.

This will also show the western world that muslims have done a lot can do much if they are not suppressed or invaded. Even the QURAN and Hadith has many miracles or things that is related to astronomy and medicine of the present times.

Some westerners have done work in such areas with their associates/students and take all credit and the western countries boost about them.

I pray to ALLAH(GOD) to show us the right path and bring peace to this world thru any group of people of any relgion. Miracles or good things can happen if keep praying. AAMEEN.

So what?

Would America be better if Muslims colonized North America?

Muslims even can't prevent a war taking place in their heartland. In fact, they are encourgaing it by provided air fields and free oil to the enemies of Islam.

And Muslims want me to believe that thay could have prevented slavery and oppression of Native Americans had they been in the USA before Europeans....I don't think so...

It is time Muslims look into the future and try to discover something in another Universe.It's hard to believe Muslims jumping up and down in joy for something that had taken place eons ago...I am just tired of self-centered, culturally-saturated Islamic geeks...

If anyone has hard time swallowing what I just said then that just too bad...

There were African and Arab Muslim in America 100's of years before Columbus see the book "They came Before Columbus"

A H FROM USA said:
Surely the North American continent was not the only place growing potatoes!

I would change the title to "The year a Chinese Muslim Reached America". Because columbus did not discover America, you can not discover something that is already inhabitted.


While it is interesting to learn whether or not Zheng He discovered America, it is important to realize:

1)There are indications that the Chinese had a few contacts in America earlier than Zheng He, notably some potatoes has been found in a Chinese tomb.

2)The Viking, Leif den Lykkelige (Litt. "Leif the Happy", though the sense is more correctly rendered by the translation "Leif the Lucky") discovered America around the year 1000 (Christian calendar) and dubbed it "Vinland". This has been corrobated by early medieval
sources and archaeological evidence in America.

3) While any early Chinese or Norse discovery of America is an interesting historical curio, it is necessary to realize that the only truly important discoverer of America is Columbus. Neither the Norse or the Chinese conquered anything on a permanent basis or killed in truly significant numbers. Only Columbus' discovery had that result, and thus it is the only important one.

And His are the Ships sailing smoothly through the seas, lofty as mountains: Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny?
--Quran 55:24,25

(Ramadan Mubarak!)

it was a amazing research article presented by menzies
as far the western concern it doesnt matter them
i couldnt believe how the history or fact can be hiden
like landing on moon ,made by Americans
hidden agenda?

It was a really good article & quite informative,please keep this up,do give us information on the muslims of the past who have done great things & we dont know about it.
It would be nice if you could give us some information on the islamic reign of educational power in the past as well as the islamic history of europe i.e islam in spain & in CIS & russia.

What an interesting and informative article! As part of our social studies curriculum, we study the great explorers and always resort to Ibn Battuta for a Muslim explorer. It will be great to introduce students to Zheng He!

If such a voyage took place it is extremely interesting and should be researched. But...It has already been proven the Vikings were in Newfoundland around the year 1000.

Mashaallah, what an excellent and informative article. Further proof of Islam's great achievements! Please post similar articles of great Muslim achievers. Thanks!

I already visited some native american tribes who told me that their forefathers were muslims and that a muslim who discovered america! they also show me some proofs! but unfortunatly the muslim world talk more than do! we are able to see cowboy movies and enjoy them but not able to finance some muslims to have immediate meeting with the native Americans! our muslims are unable to get out from the western complex yet!

The article on Zheng He is excellent and I'm sure unknown by many. There were also African Muslim explorers that came to American before slavery. Please continue to post historical articles of Muslim conquerors, etc. We know too little of our glorious past around the world today. This information tends to tie up a lot of loose ends. I intend to share this informative bit of history with my family, friends and neighbors. Thank Allah, for the continued Islamic support of your website. It's the best!

Your sister in Al-Islam


The west did discovered american and they conquered her. It was the culture of the west they did visited malacca (currently knows as Malaysia) and they conquered her too. It's the western culture when they see new land they will conqured. The bad habit of the western culture. After the imperialism of british, spains, portugas, today the world has witnessed the emergence of new world imperialist, the American. In 1511 we were conqured by portugese (today known as portugal) juga because they liked the richness and prosporeous nation of Mallacca. Mallaca has been traded with Arab, Indian and even Chinese since 13th century, none of these countries have any attention to conqured her. The moment, portugese came to Mallaca, then they conqured her.

The western culture has no respect of other human rights. That the truth, today they used the keyword of glabization just to create a new world of imperialism.

This is what i perceive from they western culture. Look at what has happened in the western soceity, they failed to show the kindness toward other people. The history of western civilazation has shown us.

I think its time that we got recognised for other discoveries as well to prove that ISLAM (as so many see it, even Muslims)is not a backward religion.

to all these people who cry about "who cares who discovered America", well you must care since all your educational systems teach that Columbus was the one. I find it funny these days..since we live in a new world now, how so many of the oppressers??? say..who cares, we are all the same. All of a sudden that seems to be a switch in thinking these days. History is important, that is the problem in the States...we have no sense of real history, just distorted facts, and info they want us to think is the absolute truth, until the real truth is diplayed. Then it's who cares atitude again. peace.....M

what does it matter if one sailed to america in 1421 or one sailed to america in 1492. there were people living in the america's already. they didn't come from space but travelled from the eastern hemisphere. you sound like those who endorse manifest destiny


There is no doubt that this is true. May Allah bless those muslims who have strived in the cause of Allah and present the muslims with some proud and honorary history in the advancment of this world- and in this case Zheng. There have been actually many articles written about this same theory- but have just accounted them as just theories and not any evidence.

No one "discovered America"!!! People lived and flourished here before Columbus and this Chinese guy and Lief Erickson, et.al.

As Salamu Calaykum Wa Raxmatullahi Wa Barakatuh

Let's not get enlarged heads. Pride cometh before a fall. History is for learning, not using it to stroke our weakened egos. We are muslims. So what!! It doesn't mean anything when a monkey like George Bush can stand in judgement over us. What is there to be proud of.

Learn, do not satiate yourselves with stories of success. Learn the reasons for the fall of our empire. Laziness, Jelousy, Pride. Such things were our downfall and are now the rocks which keep us flat on the ground. We spend all our might in fruitless arguments and we expect the nonmuslims to accept our history. You got to earn it. Black Africans were stripped of their faith by cruel slavers, do not think that that history will not be repeated. Teach your children. Knowledge is not restricted to hadith quotes that will help you win a religious argument. Your children are the only way you can truly win. Teach. Shield them from hatred. They are a trust. If you cannot help them, what use is knowledge.

It's amazing to learn about this, which gives lights to better understand how Islam came to Malay Peninsula (you can see 'Malacca' on the map in the article.) In our short and formal history relating to early Malay 'government', quite a number of occasions related that China had very-very close relations with Malay, esp. in trade. But we should suspect more than trade, because Malacca was a strategic meeting place between people from west and east, or probably a stop-over for their journeys. Obviously we need further research, and I hope our archeologists and historians work more systematically, as we know that the western community would not like to publish anything in favour of our (Islamic) civilisation.

(continued) Large numbers of Chinese came to the Americas to perform all kinds of jobs around the middle of the 19th century and some of them must have been Muslim and some of them integrated with the Native Americans however it has been documented that African Slaves were converting Native Americans to Islam in the 1500s. Now about the cities with Arabic/Islamic names. Yes it is true that there are some cities that appear to have been named that way prior to Columbus' arrival in the New World however many cities were actually named after Biblical places in the Bible by European settlers that is why there are towns named Lebanon or Egypt or the state of New Jersey, which means New Jerusalem. There are even cities in middle America named Mecca and Medina and they were certainly founded by Old World settlers who had heard stories about a mysterious place called Arabia.

So please let's not reconstruct a questionable and or false pre-Columbian Muslim history for ourselves. What we need is scholars to write sound books based on solid research and we also need a media presence online as well as on TV which presents a more complete picture of how Islamic civilization helped in the formation of modern world history and I invite anyone who is interested and or who has the financial means to bring such a project to life to contact me at [email protected]


Farouq abdul Aziz

Yes there is a need for revisionist history and yes there is a need to educate ourselves as well as other about our past however the way in which this article is presented is misleading and therefore unislamic. 1421: The Year a Chinese Muslim Discovered America is in fact the title of Gavin Menzies' book on the voyages of Zheng He and that's the way in which this article should have been presented. There is ample evidence to support the presence of other explorers to the New World long before Zheng He. In fact Islamicity sells a videotape by Dr. Hakim Quick which places Muslims in the New World some 200 years before Zheng He and there is also the work of Dr. Ivan VanSertima, They Came Before Columbus and there is his also his edited work African Presence in Early America, which goes back to Ancient Egyptian explorers.

I am happy to have a site like Islamicity and I pray that Allah (swt) will reward them in their efforts however as Muslim we can't just print anything that looks good and spread it around as definitive truth. I see that many people are praising Islamicity for posting the article and they are forwarding it to others, that is how I got it, and I urge anyone who does so to include a note that says something to the effect that this is an interesting article about a Muslim explorer who might have reached the New World before Columbus.

I also need to respond to the comments posted by Misbah about Native Americans and the possible connection with Zheng He and the fact that they have "Oriental" eyes and that some have Muslim names and the so-called cities that have Arabic/Islamic names like Tallahassee and Islamorada Fl. Native Americans came across the land bridge from Asia to the New World and that's why they have slanted eyes, they are Asian and the reason why some have Arabic names is two fold. (continued in next post)

Really amazing! How sad that we forgot our history. Thanks a lot to that British Marine who discovered these facts.

SalamuAllah alaikum

Indeed, the works of Admiral Cheng Ho is great and had been found in numerous literatures. However, not all were to report of his Muslim faith.

There is a need to promote the good works that Muslims did / are doing more vigorously. Coz most what we heard are from those who wish to discredit Islam by the actions of the bad ones among us. The great actions of Muslims has never been really extolled.

WaAllahu 'alam

May the blessings of Allah swt be with you.

My brothers and sisters in Islam, its wajib to propagate and preach the truth, well I've already mass e/mail this article hope you do the same.
Thanks for the article, Muslims worldwide need sucess stories, champions and victories, we have been at the receiving end most of the time.

salaam. www,muslimheritage.com is where you will find more articles of the same nature.when westeners "discover" something they say that they are great ,when we "discover" something we say Allah is great!.We donot "discover anything untill Allah shows it to us.How can you "discover "something that was there all along?

Was salaam

Greetings of Peace.. Hearty Congrats to islamicity for its wonderful presentation. Me and my dad to whom i was reading out the article aloud, were virtually traversing thru the mountain like waves, with cloud like sails in the fleet of Zheng He.

There is a very important point that i wish the islamicity managemnt took note of. On page 3 towrds the end it has been mentioned that "The new tomb was built on the site of the original tomb in Nanjing and reconstructed according to the customs of Islamic teachings, as Zheng He was a Muslim."

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to submit here, that construction/reconstruction of tomb over a grave may be a custom/practice but against the teachings of Islam, i.e., Qur'an & Sunnah. The article which is on the net with access to millions, is in clear words telling the readers that 'construction of tomb over grave is an islamic teaching' while it is factually not. The constuction of tomb is against reasoning. The vast expanses of earth would not be sufficient if people would have constructed tombs over each grave. Islamic teaching are for easing life with an eye on present, future but not to make things difficult.

Also, the author of the article was not mentioned.

Jazakallahu khayraa for the wonderful article, May Allah bless Islamicity and its teacm.. Ma'Assalam.

Islam that is being demonized by USA has been a peaceful religion for thousands of years in China along with other religions. Muslims such as Zhen He has made a big name in the history. Compared with Muslims being constantly and systematically criminated, discriminated and marginalized in today's USA, one has to ask how serious those USA politicians are when they preach their democracy and freedom? Their tolerance is even less than ancient Chinese monarchist court!

Assalamu Alaikum Jami-an,
Congratulations to all of those who have contributed to the bringing about of this article. At least, this topic can stir up some debate and cognitive dissonance of some sort. This article is as informative and important as the Internet itself. I love it when we are all brought together, Moslems, Jews, Christians, and others to discuss matters in a very concordant way. Having access to all sorts of technologies, we can bridge our gaps of misunderstandings and work for the common good of all humanity and above all the Almighty, the One who has created us and Who has destined for us to go back to him. No matter what the evil forces do, the truth will come out as it has started to emerge for all of us to see. Do we have to hate the Christians or others for disseminating the wrong info. (if it is)? Of course not. Islam is a religion of love, peace, and tolerance. No one who has peeked into the historical books can deny this. It is our duty as God-created beings to come together and promote his word. Let the righteous overpower the plotters.
Your brother.

Many Allah bring al-hidaya to all over humanity.

That might explain why Native Americans have oriental eyes and also why some Native Americans were/are Muslims. Also, many cities in America have Muslim/Arabic names. Ex: Tallahasse(FL), Islamorada(FL), etc. These were named by Native Americans. Good article!

Excellent article.....

I was borned in Malacca, Malaysia where Admiral Cheng Ho and his mens had made settlement and have had good diplomatic relation with the Sultan of Malacca then. In fact my family tree was trace back all the way from China. I am a mixed blood of Malay, Chinese and Indian.

If Admiral Cheng Ho can made it from china to the Arabian Peninsular, I am not surprise he would continue on to the America Continent, anyway it only 1/3rd. more or the journey to complete the cycle. Infact these people are probably the first to Travel Round the World.

Allah is great and we must believe and accept what ever happened to Muslims (good or bad)now and in the past is Qada & Qadar. For it is one of the six poles of Iman.

i rather think that Native Americans will not be pleased that the article said Cheng Ho discovered America. That was quite rude, I think. Anyway, the Admiral Cheng Ho is quite famous in the history of my country as well - I was born in Malacca, once one of the greatest ports of East Asia. I read that after him, China sent no more voyagers, because the dynasty changed or something and they changed foreign policy - decided for a closed-foor policy instead. what a shame. anyway, i've often observed that the chinese (and indians, and arabs) have come to Malacca to trade centuries before the Europeans, and they never tried to conquer us, merely came to trade. but as soon as the Europeans came, they decided to take the port of Malacca rather than negotiate trade treaties. how's that for rude?

This is the fact and facts are sometimes ironic. Current political situation and American bashing of Muslims around the world specially Muslims living in America with such bad situation would be a good news however the west specially the American would not accept this truth. He was a Chinese it is ok but he was a muslim that is the problem to get him recognized and acceptance the fact. The media will not talk about it becasue it is Jews owned anything rather than terrorism specially commited by so called muslims would be ignored. May Allah opens the truth and only truth would set all us free.

In fact, it is thought that muslims, as early as the 12th century, visited the Americas. They were from West Africa and were sent by their kings. In fact, Columbus was said to have found Africans (with muslim-style garb) when he "discovered" America! Also, there are several (closely-protected, secret) "mesa" areas in southern US where centuries-old glyphs have been found: some arabic, some astronomical and other data (some years back, I saw myself an item on BBC news about arabic inscriptions found in a southern US desertic region). It is thought by some that these African muslims sailed up the Mississipi and encountered numbers of first nation tribes, some of whom adopted muslim ways and manners of dress! It is said that the Chinese had (have?) medieval documents referring to these earlier travels... But don't expect to find any of this confirmed in the media or main academic circles! Politics, eurocentricism (white-o-centricism?) and hatred of all things muslim makes that as likely as Darwin being denounced as a fraudulent monkey!

Allahu Akbar. Assalam Alaykum.

As a Chinese moslem who often visits this
site, I cannot speak of the joy in reading this
article about our greatest hero, Zheng He.
There are many millions of Chinese Moslems
and we have contributed much to the great
Chinese nation and civilization. We have
produced many great intellectuals, generals
and heroes that have performed great feats in
their faith to Islam as well as their dedication
to their country of China.

This article proves that at a time when China
was the most powerful and advanced nation
in the world, it was tolerant and peaceful. A
Moslem admiral was able to be the greatest
ambassador and leader of China's navy. And
China set out around the world to learn and
spread goodwill. This is far different from the
European Christians who spread out around
the world with nothing but hatred, greed and
evil in their hearts. Who subjugated,
dehumanized, murdered and made into
animals the peoples of foreign lands.

So when the descendents of the Europeans
today speak of evil threats coming from
Moslems or the Chinese, we know who the
real threat to world peace is. Let us pray to
Allah and hope that their evil ways can be
changed, and they can find love in their hearts
to finally co-exist peacefully with others in the
world. Long before when China and the
Islamic world were the greatest civilizations in
the world, they existed with peace and respect
with each other. The greedy and arrogant
Europeans still have not learned this lesson
of respect and love for others. May Allah
change their ways and let love enter their
hearts so they can finally understand the evil
they have caused and are still causing in
palestine, iraq, and many other places.
Alhamdulilah irabiyalamin, alrahman alrahim.

Allahu Akbar. Long live Moslem and Chinese

Amir Rashid Ma Qingren

This story was very interesting. Hopefully people will learn that Columbus possibly was not the one to discover America, besides the Indians were there before him. I hope this history is practiced in the American history.

Jazak Allah Khair !
Subhan Allah !! the article is very good.
But, now we have to look ahead,what is happening around the world and why ? so i would request all the brother's and sister's in ISLAM to pray for the UMMAH, so that we unite and live under one banner, banner of AL-ISLAM.

The first discoverer? I believe the native inhabitants were the first discoverers of the Americas.

There is also evidence from a grdaute thesis from the University of Washington that the Arab Muslims had arrived in this continent 200 years before Columbus.

Is the man who makes the claim also a Muslim ?

Of course, the Vikings landed in North America in the year 1000, and established a small and short-lived settlement.

Excellent report!

Thank you for making an effort to bring the truth to the foreground.

I had heard via a cable program that Chinese bones had been found, on the North American continent, that dated to the first Christian millenium. This recent "finding" seems to underscore the on-going struggle that is needed to unravel the carpet of disinformation that has been woven since Columbus' voyage.

Assalamu Alaikum,
Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!! Allah is the greatest. It actually came to me personally as a suprise that a Chinese Muslim discovered America. Could we imagine now and get to know how grate the contributions Islam have brought to the present or so-called civilisation.we should then appreciate Islam

Subhanallah.Why must we wait to be reminded that Islam contributed in no small measure to this new civilization.Muslims must go out and do the research ourselves.
Definitely a lot is not mentioned about the attitude of the Chinese on these voyages.They could`nt have been executed just for fun.
A lesson from this is that the great power China is she did not set out to colonize,brutalize and dehumanize other peoples.I see a great lesson on the respect for human rights and ideals by the Chinese even at that tmie.

yes,we are familiar with chengho in Indonesia,especially the people from east java island.chengho came to surabaya,east java capital city,and builded a mosque there.one year ago, the chinesse muslim in surabaya rebuilded new mosque and it is called Mohammad Chengho Mosque.The builoding very unique, many ornament chinesse style is there. Now very popular, because almost indonesian muslim when they visited surabaya, they try to make friday praying there.

Now we know, the greatness of Muslim in the past. All these, were due to Allah's will. Not only from the conquest of the great travellers, but also from the basic theory of Mathematics, Chemistry as well as Astronomy and many others WERE actually founded by the Muslim. The point I want to make here is--yes, we can feel great of our past achievements; but WHERE are we NOW as the superpower of the world???. Obsolutely no where. We are so weak. Full of poverty. We are not united. Arabs are fighting among one another. Troubles everywhere in Muslim countries. "Poor can make you kufur"--this is where Muslim of the world must help one another, so that, NO non-Muslim organisations need to offers help that we cannot refuse to survive, hence Muslim are at their mercy. From almost at one time, we control the world, now we are beggars. Where we did wrong?? How to recover?? What's our new strategy?? I strongly do not think that God simply treat the Muslim in this manner. Whatever are bad ; are of our own making!!. I beg all of us to think about all these and unite. No point looking back at our greatness(as a lesson o.k), but most importantly we must look forward to be at the height of Muslim civilisation again, Inshaallah!!.

Alhamdulillah, another great example of what Muslims can be proud of. One of the reasons of why Muslims nowadays cannot achieve excellence is lack of knowldege in the greatness of Muslims of the past. There should be more researches to look for exemplary Muslims in the past, apart from Rasullullah pbuh and his Companions, for various races in the world. Zheng He or we Malaysians refer to Laksamana Cheng Ho is one of them. From this article shows that Muslims can harmoniously co-exist with other religions (eg Buddha), as long as there are no threats against practising it. Muslims are also known to be peaceful people. Zheng He for example, did not try to colonize the 'Barbarians' when he certainly have the might to do so, compared to the later explorers who's main purpose was to bring back "Gold, Gospel and Glory" against the natives of the invaded land.

Masya Allah, double thumbs up for your great idea of presenting this article! Hopefully your President will think again of his accusations to moslem. Hopefully the people of your country will realize that they must treat moslem equally and just, even they suppose to be gratitude! Please continue to share brilliant information, to balance satanic verses in all other infidels' media. May Allah bless you all, give multiple reward, strengthen your power, give abundance of patience and persistent. Amin Ya Robbal 'alamin.

Allah-o-Akbar. This is due to His Mercy that a Chines Muslim accomplished such a feat. It needs to be distributed to all educational institutions for their research and satisfaction that Zheng He truly was the discoverer of Americas. Distribution of this article to Muslim friends will also educate them about Zheng He and his greatest discovery, Inshallah.

as salaamu alaykum
Its very good to hear this information about a Muslim from China, Zheng He, being among the first to "discover America" although there were native peoples here for over 20,000 years before anyone from other lands came here. I've read the book written by Ivan Van Sertima, " They came before Christopher Columbus". And it states, from research, that a number of peoples came here before the time of Columbus and that many were from Africa and that a number of them were Muslims who used to trade with the native Americans of that time.
Its my hope that these historical events made by Zheng He reaches the mainstream media and
opens the eyes of the worlds peoples to the fact that many of the worlds great travelers and adventurers were Muslims from a number of the Muslim lands of the old world. Al-Hamdu-lillah.


Only recently did I learn about the existence of Zheng He. The most amazing aspect (and sadly too)is not the possible discovery of America (not mentioned in a recent magazine article of 'The Fountain') but the fact that further discoveries were forbidden by the next emperor. I wonder why. Just because they were expensive? Or is there a cultural or political reason? Finding out how this fateful decision was made might explain the general erosion of Muslim civilisation from the 8th century AH onwards.
Best greetings.

All Praise and Glory be to Allah who has created Earth, Universe and teached people to navigate and discover unlimited hidden secrets in/on earth. What i found more astonishing, how astrophysicions can get the positions of stars dated back to 400 yeARS. Indeed Allah has given minds to think.

Bismillah Al Rahman Al Raheem
I found this article very interesting and i would think it to be very helpful to the non-believers to realise that not everything that is said to be "American history" [and statements made in the media]can be belived to be correct.
Salaam Alaykom brothers and sisters.

Asalaam ALeiukum,
THis article is very interesting because all my life I have been taught the COlumbus discovered America, yet another person has researched that it was a muslim that discovered it 70 years before. MashaAllah, if this fact is backed up with evidence it should be shown to the world. These non-muslims are doing their utmost to conceal these facts to us, we should show this to the whole world. Things like these make me feel strong, Muslims have not only contributed to scince but has made science, it has excelled in astronomy, in medicine. Subhanallah, yet even our own peole do not know this. May i make one suggestion please. Every month could you please insert facts via e-mail about what muslims have done in the past concerning fileds such as scince, this way inshallah we can build up our knowledge too!!
Wasssalaam ALeikum
Umar Nazir


It was very good that you publish this article, as a Muslim & ex-navigator, this is another shocking truth ....... It is very true that Muslims are the pioneers in Navigation and until today, the STARS are still named in ARABIC.



Excellent article. Wow! I love it when we can rewrite history! This is the quality types of articles I hope continue in the Islamic bulletin.

Find no words in the vocubalary to thank you people. May Allah Bless you all.
Ameerali Dhanji

Assallam aleikum,

I was amazed. For too long achievements of muslims have been ignored.

just amazing, Maas sallam Khalid

allahu akbar!!!!

i am very impressed and moved by the fact. your work is inspiring for the muslim comunity. keep us posted with the facts of the muslims. may allah bless u all for your effort and for most may allah choose what is best for Gavin Menzies for his work, let allah reward him with "hidaya".
keep up dear brothers and sisters. Aselamu alaikum

Our Faith is based on Humanitarian equality, if so, why then are we entering a futile discussion about who discovered America? It is a well known fact the the Native American Indians were here before both Columbus or anybody else. Are we so insecure in our Faith that we have to use one upmanship to discredit the Christian Columbus? History is always great to know and the dissemination of truth is of primary importance, however, caution must be exercised when stating certain facts. I would much rather have read that a Chinese Muslim explorer predated Columbus` arrival in America rather than the misleading " discovered America". Remember to be a Religion of Truth, we must speak the Truth and honour the Truth.

Mashallah, Subhanallah this is wonderful news.

Excellent article and very informative.