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Abd al-Qadir

Source:
The Islamic World: Past and Present What is This? Accessible coverage of Islam from the seventh century to the twenty-first century

    Abd al-Qadir

    1808 – 1883

    Military leader,

    scholar,

    poet

    Abd al-Qadir led Algerian resistance to French colonization for nearly two decades. Born in Algeria to a family of Moroccan origin, Abd al-Qadir's ancestors claimed to have descended from the Prophet Muhammad.

    Abd al-Qadir was 22 years old when the French invaded Algeria. His father, Sidi Muhyi al-Din , led the resistance and called for a jihad against the Europeans. Muhyi al-Din became ill, however, and turned over leadership of the resistance to his son in 1832 . Three major tribes in Algeria declared Abd al-Qadir “Sultan of the Arabs.” His forces overpowered the French, leading them to call for a truce in 1834 . Abd al-Qadir's power and prestige increased rapidly.

    Fighting resumed again in 1835 . After both sides had inflicted heavy losses on each other, the French again sought peace. The Treaty of Tafna divided Algeria between the two sides. France retained the urban areas. Abd al-Qadir controlled the interior areas and the province of Algiers. The treaty brought an uneasy peace that only lasted two years. The French launched an offensive that eventually defeated the Arab tribes. Abd al-Qadir fled to Morocco in 1843 , but soon returned to fight for his homeland. By that time, French military power was too great. Abd al-Qadir finally surrendered in 1847 and was imprisoned.

    The French released Abd al-Qadir after he had served five years in prison and promised to cease resisting them. He then moved to the Ottoman Empire and settled in Damascus, Syria. There, he prevented Druze rebels from killing the French consul and thousands of Christians.

    A follower of Sufism , Abd al-Qadir was a leader in the Qadiri order before joining the Naqshbandiyah, a Sufi order characterized by strict adherence to Islamic law. He wrote several major works, which include discussions of Sufi doctrine and collections of mystical poetry. See also Algeria; Colonialism; Qadiriyah; Sufism.

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