The Pluralism Project – rewriting history at Harvard
… that Muslims actually discovered America.
The Pluralism Project of Harvard University was started in 1991,with the stated mission, “… to help Americans engage with the realities of religious diversity through research, outreach, and the active dissemination of resources.” It tends to focus on interfaith and non-Christian religions, featuring a sizeable amount of research and information pertaining to Islam. A section titled, “The First American Muslims” includes:
The historical roots of Islam in America are complex and contested. Some historians argue that Muslim explorers may have come to this continent long before Christopher Columbus, with the earliest estimates dating to the 12th century. Many contend that Muslims played a vital part in numerous European expeditions to the Americas, both as mapmakers and as guides: Estevancio of Azamor, a Moroccan guide who landed in Florida in 1539, is often cited as the first documented Muslim in America. By the late 1700s, historical records indicate the presence of “Moors” living in South Carolina, many of whom were expelled from their homeland under edict of the Spanish Crown.
It appears the Pluralism Project did not find it very contested. Its Islam in America timeline shows:
1178 CE Muslims Sail to America
A Chinese source known as the Sung Document records that Muslim sailors journeyed to a land known as Mu-Lan-Pi, which some Muslims identify as the American continent. This document is mentioned in the publication The Khotan Amirs, 1933.
1300s CE African Muslims to the New World
According to some scholars, Abu Bakari, a king of the Muslim state of Mali in West Africa, initiated a series of sea voyages to North America beginning in the early 1300s. About the same time, Mandingo Muslims from Mali and other parts of West Africa are said to have arrived in the Gulf of Mexico and traveled up the Mississippi River to explore the interior of the North American continent.
The listed sources are vague and the authenticity of the Sung Document is in question. While these claims are repeatedly listed on a number of Islamist websites as “proof” that Muslims actually discovered America, it is rather odd to have them included in a publication from a mainstream academic research group associated with Harvard.
So why claim Muslim’s discovered America? It could simply be a pride issue or an attempt to bolster Muslim history. Research author Frederick William Dame believes the motive is a bit more complex and states in The Muslim Discovery of America:
… this assertion is important for Muslims because in conjunction with the relevant verses from the Koran and quotes from Mohammed it establishes the claim of Muslims that Allah intended America to be Islamic.
Dame’s claim may certainly apply to the material posted by the Pluralism Project. At the end of the posted timeline is a thank you to Fareed Numan and the American Muslim Council for assistance in compiling it. The list in it’s original format, was written by Numan in 1992 while he was working as a research analyst for the American Muslim Council.
The American Muslim Council was founded in 1990 by Abdurahman Alamoudi – a leader of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. From the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch:
The Hudson report goes on to explain how Alamoudi played a role in important U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organizations such as the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) before going on to form the American Muslim Council (AMC) which would play a leading role in U.S. Brotherhood affairs:
ISNA announced in November 1987 that it had formed is own PAC (ISNA-PAC), with Abdurahman Alamoudi as the “leading force” of the ISNA-PAC. Alamoudi had been the ISNA regional representative for the Washington, DC, metropolitan area (and was previously president of MSA and executive assistant to the president of SAAR). He would later go on to form the American Muslim Council (AMC) with Elkadi’s father-in-law Abu-Saud in July 1990. The AMC was designed to encourage Muslims to become involved in politics and other civic activities. Alamoudi immediately began serving as the group’s director.
The AMC largely disappeared after Alamoudi’s conviction.
Pushing the notion that “Allah intended America to be Islamic” certainly fits within the ideology of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and having a Muslim Brotherhood organization assist in compiling the timeline should raise some questions. Whether those questions fell on deaf ears, or were even voiced, is another matter. Harvard University, home to the Pluralism Project, is also home to The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program (AISP). The program was established after Harvard received $20 million from the Prince Talal in 2005. We referred to Prince Talal’s interest in Universities and associations with the Muslim Brotherhood in this report about a new Islamic Studies Center at the University of Florida.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Alamoudi’s conviction was for illegal finance transactions with Libya and implicated in a plot to kill a Saudi prince. In 2012, Alamoudi provided sworn testimony that the Muslim American Society (MAS) was created as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in America and had also stated, “”Everyone knows that MAS is the Muslim Brotherhood”
Another page of the Pluralism Project site that drew our attention was Islam in America Post 9/11. The theme is heavy on Muslim victimhood and almost seems to have been written through the offices of CAIR or MPAC. One section the sacrifices historical fact in favor of promoting a positive Muslim image reads:
Muslim organizations and individuals suddenly came under scrutiny. Several prominent and trusted American Muslim charities such as the Holy Land Foundation and the Global Relief Foundation were shut down by the American government, charged with having ties to terrorists. Muslim Student Associations on college campuses across the country came under secret surveillance by American police. Muslims continue to be singled out by federal security. The FBI continues to closely monitor Muslim communities at mosques.
There was nothing “sudden” about the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) and Global Relief Foundation. HLF was being investigated by the FBI since 1994 concerning it’s ties to Hamas. Global Relief was being investigated over a year prior to 9/11. From a January 6, 2000 FBI memo:
Although the majority of GRF funding goes toward legitimate relief operations, a significant percentage is diverted to fund extremist causes. Among the terrorist groups known to have links to GRF are the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Gama’at Al Islamyia, and the Kashmiri Harakat Al Jihad El Islam, as well as the Al Qaeda organization of Usama Bin Laden. . . . In the past, GRF support to terrorists and other transnational mujahideen fighters has taken the form of purchase and shipment of large quantities of sophisticated communications equipment, provision of humanitarian cover documentation to suspected terrorists and fund-raising for terrorist groups under the cover of humanitarian relief.