Abdelkader El Djezairi
عـبـد الـقـادر الـجـزائـري
Emir of Mascara
|Native name||Abdelkader ibn Muhiy ad-Din ibn Mustafa al-Hasani al-Jaza'iri|
|Birth name||Abdelkader ibn Muhieddine|
September 6, 1808|
Guetna, near Mascara, Algiers Eyalet, Ottoman Empire
|Died||May 26, 1883
Damascus, Damascus Vilayet, Ottoman Empire
|Battles/wars||Battle of Macta
Battle of Sidi-Brahim
Abdelkader ibn Muhieddine (6 September 1808 – 26 May 1883), (Arabic: عبد القادر ابن محيي الدين ʿAbd al-Qādir ibn Muḥyiddīn), known as Emīr ʿAbd al-Qādir or ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jazāʾirī), was an Algerian Islamic scholar, Sufi, political and military leader who led a struggle against the French colonial invasion in the mid-19th century, for which he is seen by some Algerians as the "modern Jugurtha" and a national hero.
Abdelkader is often referred to only as El Emir Abdelkader, since al-Jazā'iri simply means "the Algerian". His name can be variously transliterated from its Arabic spelling as Abd al-Kadir, Abdel Kader, Abdelkader, and other variant spellings. He is also often given the titles emir, prince, and shaykh or sheik.
Abdelkader was born near the town of Mascara near Oran, in 1808. to a family originally from the RifHis father, Muhyi al-Din al-Hasani, was a shaykh in the Qadiri sufi order of Islam. Rozet, and claimed descendance from Muhammad. He was a handsome young man with an athletic build and refined appearance. He was well-respected long before his military exploits.
In his childhood he memorized the Qur'an and was trained in horsemanship, theology and linguistics, and received an education far better than that of his peers. He was a good orator and could excite his peers with poetry and religious diatribes. In 1825, he set out for the Muslim pilgrimage, hajj, with his father. While in Mecca, he encountered Imam Shamil; the two spoke at length on different topics. He also traveled to Damascus and Baghdad, and visited the graves of noted Muslims, such as Shaykh Ibn Arabi and Sidi Abd-el-Kader El Jilani named also El-Jilali in Algeria. This experience cemented his religious enthusiasm. On his way back to Algeria, he was impressed by the reforms carried out by Muhammad Ali in Egypt. He returned to his homeland a few months before the arrival of the French.
French invasion and resistance
In 1830, Algeria was invaded by France; French colonial domination over Algeria supplanted domination by the Ottoman Empire, and the Koulouglis. There was a lot of pent-up resentment against the Ottomans when the French arrived, and due to numerous rebellions in the early 19th century, the Algerians could not oppose the French at all initially. His father, director of a zawiya in Mascara, was asked to lead a harassment campaign against the French. Within two years, Abdelkader was made an Emir and with the loyalty of a number of tribes began a rebellion against the French. In 1834, he and the French signed the Desmichels Treaty giving near-total control of portions of Oran. Using this treaty as a start, he imposed his rule on the tribes of the Chelif, Miliana, and Médéa. He was then successful at defeating General Trezel at the Battle of Macta and forced the French General Thomas Robert Bugeaud into signing the Treaty of Tafna. This treaty gave even more control of interior portions of Algeria to Abdelkader, with the recognition of France's right to imperial sovereignty. He was able to get control of all of Oran and Titteri.
Abdelkader El Djezairi created a new functional state, with a capital either in Mascara or Tiaret. He was a strong leader that suppressed the privileges of the Makhzen, and by imposing equal taxes on all subjects.
He first military action was to move south into the Sahara and at-Tijini. Next, he moved east to the valley of the Chelif and Titteri, but was resisted by the Bey of Constantine (département), Hajj Ahmed. In other actions, he demanded punishment of the Koulouglis of Zouatna for supporting the French. By the end of 1838, his rule extended east to Kaybylie, and south to Biskra, and to the Moroccan border. He continued to fight at-Tijini and besieged his capital at Aïn Madhi for six months, eventually destroying it.
Another aspect of Abdelkader that helped him lead his fledgling nation was his ability to find and use good talent regardless of its nationality. He would employ Jews and Christians on his way to building his nation. One of these was Léon Roches. His approach to the military was to have a standing army of 2,000 men supported by volunteers from the local tribes. He placed, in the interior towns, arsenals, warehouses, and workshops, where he stored items to be sold for arms purchases from England. Through his frugal living (he lived in a tent), he taught his people the need for austerity and through education he taught them nationalistic pride.
End of the Nation
The peace with the French ended when the French entered the Iron Gates with the Duc d'Orléans and the Emir took it as a violation of the Treaty of Tafna. On October 15, 1839, he attacked the French as they were colonizing the Plains of Mitidja and destroyed the invaders. The fighting bogged down until General Thomas Robert Bugeaud was named governor-general. He strengthened his forces with the conquest of Algeria as the endgame.
He was effective at using guerrilla warfare and for a decade, up until 1842, scored many victories. He often signed tactical truces with the French, but these did not last. His power base was in the western part of Algeria, where he was successful in uniting the tribes against the French. He was noted for his chivalry; on one occasion he released his French captives simply because he had insufficient food to feed them. Throughout this period Abdelkader demonstrated political and military leadership, and acted as a capable administrator and a persuasive orator. His fervent faith in the doctrines of Islam was unquestioned.
Until the beginning of 1842 the struggle went in his favor; however, the resistance was put down by Marshal Bugeaud, due to Bugeaud's adaptation to the guerilla tactics employed by Abdelkader. Abdelkader would strike fast and disappear into the terrain with light infantry; however the French increased their mobility. The French armies brutally suppressed the native population and practiced a scorched-earth policy in the countryside to force the residents to starve so as to desert their leader. By 1841, his fortifications had all but been destroyed and he was forced to wander the interior of the Oran. In 1842, he had lost control of Tlemcen and his lines of communications with Morocco were not effective. He was able to cross the border into Morocco for a respite, but the French defeated the Moroccans at the Battle of Isly. He left Morocco, and was able to keep up the fight to the French by taking the Sidi Brahim at the Battle of Sidi-Brahim.
Abdelkader was ultimately forced to surrender. His failure to get support from eastern tribes, apart from the Berbers of western Kabylie, also contributed to the quelling of the rebellion. On December 21, 1847, after being denied refuge back in Morocco because of French diplomatic and military pressure on its leaders, Abdelkader surrendered to General Louis de Lamoricière in exchange for the promise that he would be allowed to go to Alexandria or Acre. Two days later, his surrender was made official to the French Governor-General of Algeria, Henri d'Orléans, duc d'Aumale. The French government refused to honour Lamoricière's promise and Abdelkader was exiled to France.
Life in exile
Abdelkader and his family were detained in France, first at Toulon, then at Pau, and in November 1848 they were transferred to the château of Amboise. There he remained until October 16, 1852, when he was released by then-President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (later the Emperor Napoléon III) and given an annual pension of 100 000 francs on taking an oath never again to disturb Algeria. He then took up residence in Bursa, today's Turkey, moving in 1855 to Amara District in Damascus. He devoted himself anew to theology and philosophy, and composed a philosophical treatise, of which a French translation was published in 1858 under the title of Rappel à l'intelligent. Avis à l'indifférent. He also wrote a book on the Arabian horse.
While in Damascus he befriended Jane Digby and Richard and Isabel Burton. In July 1860, conflict between the Druze and Maronites of Mount Lebanon spread to Damascus, and local Druze attacked the Christian quarter, killing over 3,000 persons. Abdelkader and his personal guard saved large numbers of Christians, bringing them to safety in his house and in the citadel. For this action the French government increased his pension to 150,000 francs and bestowed on him the Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur. He was also honoured by Abraham Lincoln for this gesture towards Christians with several guns that are now on display in the Algiers museum. After having been considered as an enemy of France during the first half of the 19th century, he became considered as a "friend of France" after having intervened in favor of persecuted Christians.
In June 1864, Abdelkader became a Freemason. In 1865 he visited Paris on the invitation of Napoléon III and was greeted with both official and popular respect. In 1871, during an insurrection in Algeria, he disowned one of his sons who was arousing the tribes around Constantine.
He wrote Rappel à l′intelligent, avis à l′indifférent (Call to the Intelligent, Warning to the Indifferent). Abdelkader died in Damascus on 26 May 1883 and was buried near the great Sufi Ibn Arabi in Damascus.
Currently he is respected as one of the greatest of his people.
- "Abdelkader". Encyclopedia Britannica. I: A-Ak - Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. 2010. pp. 18–19. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8.
- Ernest Mercier, L'Algérie en 1880, éd. Challamel, Paris, 1880, p.36,p.40
- Chambers Biographical Dictionary, ISBN 0-550-18022-2, page 2
- L’univers ou histoire et description de tous les peuples, p. 193
- Par Société languedocienne de géographie, Université de Montpellier. Institut de géographie, Centre national de la recherche scientifique (France) Publié par Secrétariat de la Société languedocienne de géographie, 1881. Notes sur l'article: v. 4, page 517
- Alexandre Bellemare, Abd-el-Kader sa vie politique et militaire', Hachette, 1863, p.4
- J. Ruedy, Modern Algiera: The Origins and Development of a Nation, (Bloomington, 2005), p. 65; Chateaux of the Loire (Casa Editrice Bonechi, 2007) p10.
- "[Les nationalistes] refusent de reconnaitre le rôle d'ami de la France joué par l'émir à Damas sous le Second Empire. En 1860, en effet, Abd-el-Kader intervint pour protéger les chrétiens lors des massacres de Syrie, ce qui lui valut d'être fait grand-croix de la Légion d'honneur par Napoléon III", Jean-Charles Jauffret,La Guerre d'Algérie par les documents, Volume 2, Service historique de l'Armée de terre, 1998, p.174 (ISBN 2863231138)
- "Notre ancien adversaire en Algérie était devenu un loyal ami de la France, et personne n'ignore que son concours nous a été précieux dans les circonstances difficiles" in Archives diplomatiques: recueil mensuel de diplomatie, d'histoire et de droit international, Numéros 3 à 4, Amyot, 1877, p.384
- Mouloud Haddad, « Sur les pas d’Abd el-Kader : la hijra des Algériens en Syrie au XIXe siècle », in Ahmed Bouyerdene, Éric Geoffroy et Setty G. Simon-Khedis (dir.), Abd el-Kader, un spirituel dans la modernité, Damas, Presses de l'Ifpo (« Études médiévales, modernes et arabes », no PIFD 237), 2012, [En ligne], mis en ligne le 04 mai 2012, Consulté le 26 juin 2012. URL : http://ifpo.revues.org/1832
- John W. Kiser, Commander of the Faithful, the Life and Times of Emir Abd El-Kader: A Story of True Jihad, Monkfish Book Publishing Company, 2008 
- N. Achrati, Following the Leader: A History and Evolution of the Amir ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jazairi as Symbol,The Journal of North African Studies Volume 12, Issue 2, 2007 : "The French continued to pay his pension and monitor his activities, and 'Abd al-Qadir remained a self-declared 'friend of France' until his death in 1883."
- Louis Lataillade, Abd el-Kader, adversaire et ami de la France, Pygmalion, 1984, ISBN 2857041705
- Herbert Ingram Priestley, France Overseas: A Study of Modern Imperialism (1938), American Historical Association Publications, Routledge, 1967 (ISBN 0714610240), p.40 : "[Abdelkader was] transferred to Damascus by Napoleon III. There he became a friend of France, saving twelve thousand Christians from the Turks at the time of the massacres in Damascus, and refused to ally himself with the insurgents in Algeria in 1870."
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
- Abd Al-Kadir's Struggle For Truth[dead link]
- Famous Quotes by Abd al-Qadir
- Abdelkader El Djezairi collected news and commentary at The New York Times
- Texts on Wikisource:
- "Abd-el-Kadir". The Nuttall Encyclopædia. 1907.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Abd-el-Kader". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Beach, Chandler B., ed. (1914). "Abd-el-Kader". The New Student's Reference Work. Chicago: F. E. Compton and Co.
- "Abd-el-Kader". Collier's New Encyclopedia. 1921.