Qouting Dr. Aisha Khan author of Islam and the Americas (New World Diasporas):

“The Spanish conquistador Hernon Cortez arrived in Mexico in 1519 and referred to the Aztecs he encountered as Moors, and one priest in Cortez part said that the indigenous peoples of northern Mexico reminded him of al Arabes or Arabs, Spaniards called Aztec and Inca temples mosques and drew parallels between some Indian and Islamic rituals that involved animal sacrifice.” 

As late as 1572, a Jesuit explorer informed his ruler that the natives were ‘for the most part like the Moors of Granada’. Source: Moors in Mesoamerica: The Impact of AlAndalus in the New World by Simon Shaw

Spoken proverbially of Pedro Carbonero, who penetrated into the land of the Moors, but failed to return, and perished there with all his followers.”

Source: The True History of the Conquest of New Spain

“Eight centuries of Muslim rule left a deep cultural legacy on Spain, one evident in clear and sometimes surprising ways during the Spanish conquest of the Americas. Bernal Díaz del Castillo, the chronicler of Hernán Cortés’s conquest of Meso-America, admired the costumes of native women dancers by writing ‘muy bien vestidas a su manera y que parecían moriscas’, or ‘very well-dressed in their own way, and seemed like Moorish women’. The Spanish routinely used ‘mezquita’ (Spanish for mosque) to refer to Native American religious sites. Travelling through Anahuac (today’s Texas and Mexico), Cortés reported that he saw more than 400 mosques.”

Source: Muslims of early America

Retreat of Hernando Cortes form Tenochtitlan, Mexico, 1520. Hernando Cortes (1485-1547) Spanish conquistador, led an expedition to Mexico, landing in 1519. Although the conquistadors numbered only some 500 men, an Aztec prophecy regarding the return of the god Quetzlcoatl, whom the natives believed Cortes resembled, enabled them to reach the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, which they then captured, imprisoning the Emperor Montezuma II. The city later revolted, forcing Cortes and his men to retreat. The following year, however, Cortes returned, recapturing Tenochtitlan and overthrowing the Aztec empire. From the British Embassy Collection, Mexico City. (Photo by Ann Ronan Pictures/Print Collector/Getty Images)

During the time of war, those Indians who were made prisoners were considered slaves, and were called Indios de guerra, just the same as when the Spaniards made war upon the Moors of Barbary, the slaves, in that case, being called Berberiscos. Then there were the ransomed slaves, Indios de rescate, as they were called, who, being originally slaves in their own tribe, were delivered by cacique of that tribe, or by other Indians, in lieu of tribute. Upon this it must be remarked that the word slave meant a very different thing in Indian language from what it did in Spanish language, and certainly did not exceed in signification the word vassal. A slave in an Indian tribe, as LAS CASA remarks, possessed his house, his hearth, his private property, his farm, his wife, his children, and his liberty, except when at certain states times his lord had need of him to build his house, or labor upon a field, or at other similar things which occurred at stated intervals. This statement is borne out by a letter addressed to the Emperor from the auditors of Mexico, in which they say that, “granted that among the Indians there were slaves, the one servitude is very different from the other. The Indians, treated their slaves as relations and vassals, the Christians as dogs.”

Source: The Spanish Conquest in America: And Its Relation to the History of Slavery and to the Government of the Colonies Volume 3 By Sir Arthur Helps

“In 1878, his attention as directed to its former presence at the Belvidere Museum by a notice in Baron von Sacken’s descriptive catalog of the Imperial Ambras collection printed in Vienna in 1855, wherein, among rare objects from various parts of the world, it is mentioned as follows: “No. 3—A Mexican head-dress about 3 ft. in height composed of magnificent green feathers studded with small plates of gold. This specimen was termed in the inventory of 1596 ‘a Moorish hat.”

“Guided by this note, Herr von Hochstetter with the assistance of Dr. Ilg, the custodian of the Ambras collection, found the precious relic and rescued it from an obscure corner of a show-case where it hung, folded together, next to a medieval bishop’s mitre and surrounded by sundry curiosities from North America, China and Sunda Islands.”

“On folio 472 of the ancient document, it is cataloged with other objects in feather-work contained in a chest (No. 9) and is described as a Moorish hat of beautiful, long, lustrous green and gold-hued feathers, bedecked above with white, red and blue feathers and gold rosettes and ornaments. In front, on the forehead, it has a beak of pure gold. The term Moorish, as here applied can scarcely be regarded as a deceptive one inasmuch as “Montezuma, the king of Temistitan and Mexico,” is subsequently designated as “a Moorish king” in this same inventory of 1596. (See p.9)”

“It is interesting to note the gradual changes that occur in the wording of the subsequent periodical official registrations of this “Moorish hat. In 1613 its description was faithfully reproduced. In 1621 the word “Indian” was substituted for “Moorish:” with this single alteration, the original text was transcribed in 1730.”

“In 1788, however, a remarkable transformation was effected, the hat became “an apron” and the official record reads An Indian apron of long green feathers. It is garnished above with a narrow band of white feathers, followed by a broad one of green, then there is a narrow stripe of red and broad one of blue. The bands are studded with crescents or horseshoes, small circular plates and other than gold pieces. The old inventory designates this object as an Indian hat.
“The Inventory of 1596 affords the corroborative proof of a previously existing method of labeling the articles in the Arch-ducal Museum by the reference (after its brief entry) to ” a slip of paper attached to it,” for further details concerning the history of an Indian axe ” that had belonged to a Moorish king. This weapon belonged to Montezuma II, king of Temistitan and Mexico.” It was sent by the Spanish Captain Ferdinand Cortes to the Pope whence it came as a present to Archduke Ferdinand.”
Northeast exposure of Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, in the Old City of Jerusalem. Considered to be the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina.

“The blurring of Indian and Moor was not limited to architectural expression but also arose in dramaturgy.  A play entitled ‘The Conquest of Jerusalem’, organized by the mendicant orders in Tlaxcala in 1539, saw a re-enactment of an epic battle between Christian and Muslim in which Fray Motolinía informs us ‘troops from Castilla y León made up the vanguard, with real weapons and standards’ alongside Indians. In also casting the natives as Moors, the Spanish reveal much of how Islam continued to affect them in the New World.

Source: Simon Shaw Moors in Mesoamerica: The Impact of AlAndalus in the New World

                  Capilla Real, Cholula
“This popular genre of play has been analyzed by historians as mere cultural hangovers from Spain’s Islamic past; however it can also provide further insights into the preoccupations of the Franciscans through their casting of actors and plot, as well as emphasizing the need to assess Spanish behavior in the context of their experiences with Muslims. The continuing tendency for Christians to evoke their Moorish rivals in a range of mediums in the New World reveals the importance of Al-Andalus in the struggle to interpret the nature of the Indians as well as their primary goal of liberating Jerusalem. Clearly, the ‘discourse of similitude’, favoured by both missionary and soldier alike, is a theme that is not confined to the writings of the Spanish but to a wider range of cultural products than historians have so far admitted. Thus, dramaturgy and architecture can be used to highlight the way in which the Spanish treated Moors and Indians as the same race.” 

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