Cherokee names of Arabic origin?

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by suzzzenn, Jun 27, 2005.

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  1. suzzzenn Senior Member

    New York
    USA English
    Hi Ayed,

    Perhaps I've misunderstood, but are you claiming that there is a relationship between Cherokee and Arabic?????? or are you simply pointing out that learning classical Arabic is roughly similar to a North American learning a Native American language.

  2. ayed

    ayed Senior Member

    I meant that Cherokee's original is Arab .That is, they imigrated from Arabs to USA.
  3. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Is that true??!! Where? How? I would be very interested in this!
  4. ayed

    ayed Senior Member

  5. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual seems to me that there were some Cherokees who were Muslim, but not necessarily Arab. The articles talk about influences from the Arabic language, which is logical considering that Arabic is and was the language of the Qur'an. Are we sure these people were ethnically Arab?
  6. ayed

    ayed Senior Member

  7. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    There are many non-Arab Muslims with Arabic names. And again, that article seems to focus more on the Arabic language than on the people as Arabs.

    I'm not saying they definitely weren't Arab; I'm just being skeptical. :)
  8. djara

    djara Senior Member

    Sousse, Tunisia
    Tunisia Arabic
    If they were ethnic Arabs, how come their names are the only thing they have retained from the Arabic language? As far as I know, the Cherokee language doesn't sound like Arabic.
  9. clevermizo Senior Member

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    I just wanted to add that a Muslim influence on Native Americans is a popular claim I've seen around the internet and is thoroughly bogus and unfounded. For example, there is the evidence that place names, such as Islamorada in Florida are Islamic or Arabic in origin. Islamorada means "Purple Island" in Spanish and was named so by Spanish conquistadores I imagine. It doesn't have the word "Islam" in it. Furthermore, "Tallahassee" does not have "Allah" in it and "California" doesn't have "Caliph" in it. Mahomet, IL was renamed from Middletown,IL as to not cause confusion with another Middletown, and the name derives from a group of Freemasons whose Lodge was named the Mahomet Lodge - as to why they chose a name which is an older English rendition of Muhammad, I cannot say, but it has nothing to do with Native Americans. Mecca and Medina are real place names in America and they were named as such by settlers who were non-Muslims. Don't ask me why they chose those names. Probably just because they sounded exotic. There's also a Peru, IL and a Cairo, IL and I doubt either was founded by Incas or Egyptians.

    Anyway, Native Americans/First Nations peoples are most decidedly not of Arab ethnicity. I have no doubt that some Native Americans have converted to Islam in modern times, such as many other people. Their languages can only be shown to have Arabic influence by wild stretches of interpretation and imagination.

    Just thought I'd weigh in. I've never seen this thread before, but it seems like it needed a cap on it. The claim that Native American peoples are Arab in origin is of the same ilk of claims including the claim they are the Lost Tribes of Israel. Anyone is free to believe these claims, but they are historically unverifiable.

    I've also seen the claim that the Cherokee Syllabary (the writing system devised by Sequoyah in the 19th century to write the Cherokee language) resembles Arabic. Indeed. :rolleyes:Anyway, he was a smart guy; I'm sure he studied all sorts of world alphabets to get ideas for creating a writing system for Cherokee.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2009
  10. outo_otus Senior Member

    English - British
    Also remember that comparative linguistics can tell us a good deal of people's origin and movements - Cherokee is in a totally different language group to Arabic and shares almost no similarities, so I think we can safely say their origins are not from Arab immigrants.
  11. TheArabicStudent

    TheArabicStudent Senior Member

    Some people think that Honolulu is Arabic: هنا لؤلؤ
  12. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    Did you know that Shakespeare's name was originally الشيخ زبير? :D Or that Avogrado's Number is actually Abu Gadir's number? (I made this last one up myself as a kid)

    It can be surprisingly hard to dispel an idea like American Indians being originally Muslims or Arabs once someone has made up their mind to believe it. I don't see the issue as worthy of a thread on WordReference, though, except perhaps in the Cultural Discussions section.
  13. Abu Rashid

    Abu Rashid Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Australian English

    Whilst I think you're right on all the other ones, I think you might be wrong on this one. I have read etymologies which trace this name back to the Arabic word خليفة through Spanish though, not through any supposed arrival of Arabs before Europeans.

    outo otus,

    I think the claim is that Muslims arrived in the new world prior to Europeans, although not in any great numbers, and had a small impact on the indigenous people there. I have seen documentaries about this, which offer some very interesting food for thought.

    The same happened with Australia, although this has been well documented now, that Muslims arrived here at least several centuries prior to Europeans, and had a small impact on the local Aboriginal culture, through trade and inter-marriage.
  14. Muwahid

    Muwahid Senior Member

    U.S. English
    The Islamic Empire from al-Andulus, and Africa sent expeditions to the Americas much before the Spanish, which is quite documented in history.

    You say not in large numbers but much larger numbers than the Europeans, perhaps thousands, one African empire after the Arab/Islamic conquest sent an entire fleet to the Americas, but they never returned, now historians are finding traces of their language in artifacts they find. Natives where I live in the USA trace their origins back to Arabs as well.

    You realize, professors of the most notable universities support these claims, and have written books on the subject, just because something isn't popular culture.. i.e. Columbus, doesn't mean it's "bogus", there were even Andalusian Moriscos on the ship with Columbus!
  15. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    This is very interesting indeed... Muwahid, could you share some references on this topic, please!
  16. Ghabi

    Ghabi AL/OL/Ar/Zh mod

    Hong Kong
    I believe this topic has gone beyond the scope of this forum. And these theories are, after all, not really something new, for those who are interested, wiki has this and this.
  17. hiba Senior Member

    English- US
    Taken from Al' America: Travels Through America's Arab and Islamic Roots by Jonathan Curiel...

    "More than 100 years ago, especially among American Christians, the Arab world was seen as a place of biblical importance. ..Americans looked to the deserts and cities of Arabia, Iraq, and Egypt for names they thought signified hope, strength, perseverance, and history. Memphis, Tennessee, took its name from a historically important city along the Nile River. ...Mecca, Indiana, took its name from the birthplace of Islam. ...In 1800's America, Mahomet was the standard name for the prophet Muhammad. And so it was that the town of Mahomet, Illinois, took its name from the prophet of Islam. The Illinois town was bestowed with the name Mahomet in 1871, after it was first called Middletown." (77-8)

    "The names Calafia and California were rooted in the Arabic word khalifa, which enters English as 'caliph,'....The use of the word is clearly meant to call to mind the reconquista (in De Montalvo's novel Las sergas de Esplandian.).. De Montalvo's novel, according to many accounts, inspired Spanish explorers to name the land they discovered on America's West Coast "California"..." (79)

    There is also an entire chapter dedicated to the connection between Freemasons and Arabic/Islam.

    Check it out. It's an interesting book.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2009
  18. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    Yes, I second Cilquiestsuens' post -- could you provide some references to your claims and the names of said professors, Muwahid, so we can check this ourselves?

    I'll even help by providing links to some of the sources that proponents of this theory use.

    One such source is from "مروج الذهب ومعادن الجوهر" by المسعودي translated into English as "Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems" by Aloys Sprenger. You can read the English translation of part one here. I have not looked through it yet to find the relevant passage.

    Another source is from "نزهة المشتاق في اختراق الآفاق" by الإدريسي. You can read it in Arabic here (I know it says Swahili, but that is an error. I can confirm it is in Arabic, since I have downloaded it and read portions of it). I do not know if this has been translated into English.

    I have looked through this text, and compared it with the translated portions (comparison below) that appear on the page that Ghabi linked to, and I must say that I agree with the analysis that this is a questionable translation.

    The translator, Hamidullah, translates "فرأوا فيها رجالا شقرا زعرا شعور رؤوسهم سبطة وهم طوال القدود" as "The navigators saw there people with red skin; there was not much hair on their body," which is clearly incorrect. A more correct translation would be, "They saw (in it: the town) men, tall of stature, with thin, blonde hair" (my translation)." So translating that as "red skinned with little hair" is a complete misrepresentation.

    Also it is worthy to note the next sentence in the Arabic text:

    "فاعتقلوا منها في بيت ثلاثة أيام ثم دخل عليهم في اليوم الرابع رجل يتكلم باللسان العربي"

    (They were detained (in it: the town) in a house for three days. Then on the fourth day a man who spoke Arabic came to them. -- my translation)

    And later on it says:

    فعمر بهم زورق وعصبت أعينهم وجرى بهم في البحر برهة من الدهر قال القوم قدرنا أنه جرى بنا ثلاثة أيام بلياليها حتى جيء بنا إلى البحر فأخرجنا وكتفنا إلى خلف وتركنا بالساحل إلى أن تضاحى النهار وطلعت الشمس ونحن في ضنك وسوء حال من شدة الكتاف حتى سمعنا ضوضاء وأصوات ناس فصحنا بجملتنا فأقبل القوم إلينا فوجدونا بتلك الحال السيئة فحلونا من وثاقنا وسألونا فأخبرناهم بخبرنا وكانوا برابر فقال لنا أحدهم أتعلمون كم بينكم وبين بلدكم فقلنا لا فقال إن بينكم وبين بلدكم مسيرة شهرين فقال زعيم القوم وا أسفي فسمي المكان إلى اليوم آسفي وهو المرسى الذي في أقصى المغرب...

    Literal Translation:
    A boat was prepared for them, their eyes were blindfolded, and they sailed for a period of time, which they estimated to be about three days, until they reached the coast. They removed us, tied our hands behind our backs and left us on the coast. We were there until day came, and the sun rose. We were in a bad state from being tied up. We heard noises and voices of people. All of us yelled out and the group came and found us in that bad situation. They untied us and asked us (about what happened). We told them (what happened). They were Berbers. One of them asked us, "do you how far you are from your home (literally: between you and your home)?" We said, "no." So he said, "(between you and your home is) a two month journey. The leader of the group said "wa asafi!" And so the place, from that day, was named "Asafi." It is a port in the farthest (part of) Morocco.

    So considering that they met blonde haired people, some of whom could speak Arabic, and that when they were taken to the mainland, which was Morocco, they only traveled about three days, it is highly unlikely that they were in the Americas.

    There is a little bit more analysis on this here, which says that the most probable interpretation is that they may have reached the Sargasso Sea, but that the aforementioned episode probably took place in an island near Morocco, which would explain why they knew Arabic.

    Here is the English translation (from the page Ghabi linked to):

    "The Commander of the Muslims Ali ibn Yusuf ibn Tashfin sent his admiral Ahmad ibn Umar, better known under the name of Raqsh al-Auzz to attack a certain island in the Atlantic, but he died before doing that. [...] Beyond this ocean of fogs it is not known what exists there. Nobody has the sure knowledge of it, because it is very difficult to traverse it. Its atmosphere is foggy, its waves are very strong, its dangers are perilous, its beasts are terrible, and its winds are full of tempests. There are many islands, some of which are inhabited, others are submerged. No navigator traverses them but bypasses them remaining near their coast. [...] And it was from the town of Lisbon that the adventurers set out known under the name of Mugharrarin [seduced ones], penetrated the ocean of fogs and wanted to know what it contained and where it ended. [...] After sailing for twelve more days they perceived an island that seemed to be inhabited, and there were cultivated fields. They sailed that way to see what it contained. But soon barques encircled them and made them prisoners, and transported them to a miserable hamlet situated on the coast. There they landed. The navigators saw there people with red skin; there was not much hair on their body, the hair of their head was straight, and they were of high stature. Their women were of an extraordinary beauty.

    And here is what I found in the Arabic text:
    (Colored text corresponds to colored text above.)

    ...وفي هذا البحر جزيرة قلهان فيها أمة مثل خلق الناس إلا أن رؤوسهم مثل رؤوس الدواب يغوصون في البحر ويخرجون ما قدروا عليه من دوابه فيأكلونها وفي هذا البحر ايضا جزيرة الأخوين الساحرين اللذين يسمى أحدهما شرهام والثاني شرام ويقال إنهما كانا بهذه الجزيرة يقطعان على المراكب التي تمر بها ويهلكان جميع أهلها ويأخذان أموالهم فمسخ الله بهما لظلمهما وبقيا حجرين على ضفة البحر قائمين ثم عمرت هذه الجزيرة بالناس وهي تقابل مرسى آسفى ويقال إن الصفاء إذا عم البحر ظهر دخانها من البر وكان أخبر بذلك أحمد بن عمر المعروف بدقم الإوز وكان واليا لأمير المسلمين على بن يوسف بن تاشفين على جملة من أسطوله فعزم على الدخول عليها بما معه من المراكب فأدركه قبل الدخول إليها الموت ولم يبلغ أمله في ذلك ولهذه الجزيرة قصة غريبة أخبر عنها المغررون من أهل مدينة لشبونة بالأندلس حين أسقطوا إليها بمراكبهم وكيف سميت آسفى بهم وهي مرسى وحديثها طويل وسنأتي به في موضعه عند ذكرنا لمدينة لشبونة إن شاء الله
    وفي هذا البحر جزيرة الغنم وهي جزيرة كبيرة والظلمات بها وفيها من الغنم ما لا يحصى عددها وهي صغار ولا يقدر أحد أن يأكل لحومها لمرارتها وقد أخبر بذلك أيضا المغررون منها وتليها جزيرة راقا وهي جزيرة الطيور ويقال إن فيها جنسا من الطير في خلق العقبان حمراء ذوات مخالب تصيد دواب البحر وتأكلها ولا تبرح من هذه الجزيرة...

    ...ومن مدينة لشبونة كان خروج المغررين في ركوب بحر الظلمات ليعرفوا ما فيه وإلى أين انتهاؤه كما تقدم ذكرهم ولهم بمدينة لشبونة بموضع بمقربة الحمة درب منسوب إليهم يعرف بدرب المغررين إلى آخر الأبد وذلك أنهم اجتمعوا ثمانية رجال كلهم أبناء عم فأنشؤوا مركبا حمالا وأدخلوا فيه من الماء والزاد ما يكفيهم لأشهر ثم دخلوا البحر في أول طاروس الريح الشرقية فجروا بها نحوا من أحد عشر يوما فوصلوا إلى بحر غليظ الموج كدر الروائح كثير التروش قليل الضوء فأيقنوا بالتلف فردوا قلاعهم في اليد الأخرىوجروا مع البحر في ناحية الجنوب اثني عشر يوما فخرجوا إلى جزيرة الغنم وفيها من الغنم ما لا يأخذه عد ولا تحصيل وهي سارحة لا راعي لها ولا ناظر إليها فقصدوا الجزيرة فنزلوا بها فوجدوا بها عين ماء جارية وشجرة تين برى عليها فأخذوا من تلك الغنم فذبحوها فوجدوا لحومها مرة لا يقدر أحد على أكلها فأخذوا من جلودها وساروا مع الجنوب اثني عشر يوما إلى أن لاحت لهم جزيرة فنظروا فيها إلى عمارة وحرث فقصدوا إليها ليروا ما فيها فما كان غير بعيد حتى أحيط بهم في زوارق هناك فأخذوا وحملوا في مركبهم إلى مدينة على ضفة البحر فأنزلوا بها فرأوا فيها رجالا شقرا زعرا شعور رؤوسهم سبطة وهم طوال القدود ولنسائهم جمال عجيب فاعتقلوا منها في بيت ثلاثة أيام ثم دخل عليهم في اليوم الرابع رجل يتكلم باللسان العربي فسألهم عن حالهم وفيما جاؤوا وأين بلدهم فأخبروه بكل خبرهم فوعدهم خيرا وأعلمهم أنه ترجمان الملك فلما كان في اليوم الثاني من ذلك اليوم أحضروا بين يدي الملك فسألهم عما سألهم الترجمان عنه فأخبروا بما أخبروا به الترجمان بالأمس من أنهم اقتحموا البحر ليروا ما به من الأخبار والعجائب ويقفوا على نهايته فلما علم الملك ذلك ضحك وقال للترجمان خبر القوم أن أبي أمر قوما من عبيده بركوب هذا البحر وأنهم جروا في عرضه شهرا إلى أن انقطع عنهم الضوء وانصرفوا من غير حاجة ولا فائدة تجدي ثم أمر الملك الترجمان أن يعد القوم خيرا وأن يحسن ظنهم بالملك ففعل ثم انصرفوا إلى موضع حبسهم إلى أن بدأ جري الريح الغربية فعمر بهم زورق وعصبت أعينهم وجرى بهم في البحر برهة من الدهر قال القوم قدرنا أنه جرى بنا ثلاثة أيام بلياليها حتى جيء بنا إلى البحر فأخرجنا وكتفنا إلى خلف وتركنا بالساحل إلى أن تضاحى النهار وطلعت الشمس ونحن في ضنك وسوء حال من شدة الكتاف حتى سمعنا ضوضاء وأصوات ناس فصحنا بجملتنا فأقبل القوم إلينا فوجدونا بتلك الحال السيئة فحلونا من وثاقنا وسألونا فأخبرناهم بخبرنا وكانوا برابر فقال لنا أحدهم أتعلمون كم بينكم وبين بلدكم فقلنا لا فقال إن بينكم وبين بلدكم مسيرة شهرين فقال زعيم القوم وا أسفي فسمي المكان إلى اليوم آسفي وهو المرسى الذي في أقصى المغرب...


    I could not find the portions in pink, but the first lines of the text are:

    إن هذا الإقليم الأول مبدؤه من جهة المغرب من البحر الغربي المسمى ببحر الظلمات وهو البحر الذي لا يعلم ما خلفه وفيه هناك جزيرتان تسميان بالخالدات ومن هذه الجزائر بدأ بطلميوس يأخذ الطول والعرض

    The portion in pink looks like it could correspond to:

    ..."Beyond this ocean of fogs it is not known what exists there..."

    Last edited: Nov 24, 2009
  19. Muwahid

    Muwahid Senior Member

    U.S. English
    Sure thing, sorry for not referencing my post, one notable man, Dr. Jerald Dirks PhD, wrote some very interesting books on the subject, for example Muslims In American History: A Forgotten Legacy where he describes what I've said.

    Here is in an interview speaking about it as well, Here [Moderator's note: link to video deleted, see rules]. I had a friend tell me about some of this stuff, and I too wrote it off as bogus until I heard Dr. Jerald talk about it, which he talks about some very intriguing things, the scope of his talk was more geared towards the Andalusians, and moved towards Columbus, Jamestown colony which had many Muslims, and the slave trade which took many Muslims, so it's more a of a Muslim relation with the America's not so much as Arab interaction, but for the most part they go hand in hand since the "Islamification" of Spain and North Africa were done by the Arabs, and brought Arabic to the regions.

    With regards to what _Josh is saying, I would agree some sources would be sketchy at best, but one thing all of this does prove it there were numerous expeditions to the west; some may have reached it, some may not have, but an educated guess would be a large portion had in fact reached the Americas which corresponds to the artifacts of native American tribes, certain aspects of their languages, and so on. Also as I said, I heard from my father who told me he spoke to some local Natives whom traced their origins back to Arabs, originally I thought this was just an inflated story, but upon research of the Islamic Empire and their numerous expeditions to the west, it seems quite likely there's a correlation between the two.

    I've actually heard this one too, but could never find any valid sources to back up the claim. A lot of Arabs like to take credit for most of the esteemed literature and sciences albeit many things do come from Arabs it would be hard to decipher truth from prideful talk, Haha.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2009
  20. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    الشيخ زبير started out as a joke, but I guess some people with a not-so-great sense of humor thought it was a serious theory and began advancing it as such.

    Actually, Arabs jokingly make up these things all the time. Here's another one Catherine Zeta-Jones is originally صيتة الدامر (l صيتة of course being a popular name among Syrian beduoins).
  21. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)

    In this kind of discussions on pseudo-history, it's always fun when Doctors and PhD's are quoted...
    Especially when those titles are only used to impress people who don't look a bit further: Mister Dirks is a Doctor, PhD, yes, but in Divinity and psychology.
    Which makes him as much qualified to talk about the history of America as professor Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is qualified to (academically) write about the mating behaviour of the Gentoo Penguins: not.


    Last edited: Nov 23, 2009
  22. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    I had come across this “theory” several years back and dropped it pretty quickly due to lack of any solid evidence. The only “evidence” I found was over interpretations and mistranslations of certain ancient texts. Josh and I have recently be discussing this very issue privately.

    Talking of “space-cadets” writing history, just read Gavin Menzies’ books. If what he claims were true then the North American Indians ought to be fluent in Chinese and not Arabic!

    On a slightly different note, the North American Indians are actually Africans! Like the rest of humanity. We all came out of Africa. Modern molecular genetics is a powerful tool.
  23. suma Senior Member

    English, USA
    o that's a good one, never heard that one.
    I've heard that Hawaii is Arabic meaning windy هوائي
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2009
  24. clevermizo Senior Member

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    Here, here!:D
  25. Muwahid

    Muwahid Senior Member

    U.S. English
    The fact of the matter is he knowledgeable and cited PhD's in history as well; if you bothered to actually look at the evidence. But I like that term "Pseudo-History", haha! If you have proof against it then say so, don't nit-pick at words because that will come to no logical conclusions whatsoever.

    Refutation my friend.
  26. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)

    Which "evidence" exactly are you talking about?

    I am not nitpicking (apart maybe from pointing out the difference between psychology, divinity and history).
    I don't have to/cannot prove a negative. But so far, you didn't excell at giving positive evidence (apart from a few references to a fringe author and an interview in a talk show which doesn't strike me as particularly academic).

    Substantiation, my friend. And exactly that is lacking from your posts (or from the sources refered to in this thread).


  27. kifaru Senior Member

    You haven't presented any evidence to refute.

    Moderators, close the thread please.
  28. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Hello guys,

    this thread probably would have been best served if it wasn't revived - as there's not really anything to add which hasn't been said already.

    Actually this would be an EHL topic (thus, moved) if it were a serious linguistic theory (which, as I think already has been agreed upon, is not the case) - thus, closed.

    Sorry for that, guys, but it seems this thread is past its use-by date already.
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