Book of Mormon/Plagiarism accusations/Comoros Islands and Moroni

From FairMormon
Jump to: navigation, search

    Did Joseph Smith obtain the names Cumorah and Moroni from a map of the Comoros Islands?


Comoros is a small nation made up of three islands off the southeast coast of Africa. Its capital city is Moroni.

Some critics have claimed that Joseph Smith created the Book of Mormon names Cumorah and Moroni by copying them from a map of the Comoros islands.

To see citations to the critical sources for these claims, click here


Advocacy of the Comoros/Moroni link seems an act of desperation. It has not been proved that Joseph saw the names, or that any source available to him linked them. Furthermore, latching on to two names in an obscure reference work does nothing to explain the incredible complexity and internal consistency of the Book of Mormon.


Benjamin L. McGuire,"Finding Parallels: Some Cautions and Criticisms, Part One", Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, (2013)

Additionally the capitol city Moroni has not yet been found on any early map showing the Comoro Islands. Grunder notes in his discussion of the first map that “the Encyclopædia Britannica records volcanic eruptions beginning in 1830 on the island of Great Comoro (Grande Comore) where Maroni, the capitol of this territory (not shown on the map discussed here or on other period maps which I have examined), is located (Encyclopædia Britannica eleventh [Page 58]ed., 6:794–95, ‘Comoro Islands’)” (2008, p. 63). More recently, Mike Reed located an eighteenth century map of Anjouan, one of the Comoro islands, with an indicated anchorage identified as Meroni. Although this is adjacent to an entirely different island than the one with the city Moroni, it does demonstrate that if all we are concerned with is identifying homonyms, eventually we will find what we are looking for.74

The interesting corollary is that while we find this rather small location indicated on this map, the present day capitol of Comoro, Moroni, has yet to be found on any maps contemporary with the publication of the Book of Mormon, and while this isn’t a guarantee that it won’t be found (it wouldn’t surprise me if it were), it does indicate that its importance was far less than it is today.
(Click here for full article)


This claim, like many efforts to explain away the Book of Mormon, commits the logical fallacy of the Appeal to probability. This fallacy argues that because something is even remotely possible, it must be true.

Pointing out a possible relationship like Comoros = Cumorah and Moroni = Moroni is not sufficient.

When the facts are examined, even the possibility of Joseph seeing Comoros and Moroni recedes; the idea becomes absurd. The following gazetteers from Joseph's era were consulted:

Title Relevant Contents
Mucullock's Universal Gazateer, 2 vols (1843-4)

2257 pages of double columned miniscule print, with no reference to Comoros Islands or Moroni.

Morris' Universal Gazateer (1821) 831 pages, no mention of Comoros or Moroni

Brookes Gazateer

  • 1794 edition

  • Comora on p. 400, no mention of Moroni
  • 1819 edition
  • Comora, no mention of Moroni
  • 1835 edition
  • Comoro on p. 214, no mention of Moroni
  • 1843 edition
  • Comoro, no mention of Moroni
Modern map of the Comoros Islands

There is no evidence that Joseph saw these maps, or any other, but if he had they would have provided little help.

Furthermore, it is unlikely that any source would have contained the name of "Moroni." That settlement did not become the capital city until 1876 (32 years after Joseph's death and 47 years after the publication of the Book of Mormon), when Sultan Sa'id Ali settled there. At that time it was only a small settlement. Even a century later, in 1958, its population was only 6500.


In an episode of the TV game show Jeopardy, host Alex Trebek gave the answer, "Pronounced one way, it is the capitol of the Comoros Islands; pronounced another way, it is the name of the angel that appeared to Joseph Smith." (The question, of course, was "What is Moroni?")


  • Wikipedia entry on Comoros off-site
  • Wikipedia entry on Moroni, Comoros off-site
  • Entry on "Comoros" in the CIA World Factbook off-site
  • Barbara Dubins, "Nineteenth-century Travel Literature on the Comoro Islands: A Bibliographical Essay", African Studies Bulletin 12. 2 (September 1969): 138-46. It can be found on JSTOR

About FairMormon        Join FairMormon        Contact        Donate

Copyright © 2014 by FairMormon. All Rights Reserved.
No portion of this site may be reproduced without the express written consent of FairMormon.