Muslims lived in America before Protestantism even existed
The first words to pass between Europeans and Americans (one-sided and confusing as they must have been) were in the sacred language of Islam. Christopher Columbus had hoped to sail to Asia and had prepared to communicate at its great courts in one of the major languages of Eurasian commerce. So when Columbus’s interpreter, a Spanish Jew, spoke to the Taíno of Hispaniola, he did so in Arabic. Not just the language of Islam, but the religion itself likely arrived in America in 1492, more than 20 years before Martin Luther nailed his theses to the door, igniting the Protestant reformation. Moors – African and Arab Muslims – had conquered much of the Iberian peninsula in 711, establishing a Muslim culture that lasted nearly eight centuries. By 1491, the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella completed the Reconquista, defeating the last of the Muslim kingdoms, Granada. Islam served as a kind of blueprint or algorithm for the Spanish in the New World. Updates on everything new at Aeon.
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