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`ABD AL-QADIR (18o8-1883), Algerian independence leader, Sufi mystic, and poet. Born Muhy-i al-Din al-Hasani at Wadi al-Hammam, some 2o kilometers west of Mascara in Algeria, into a family of northern Moroccan origin who claimed descent from the prophet Muhammad, Amir `Abd al-Qadir entered history after the French occupation of Algierson 5 July 1830. This invasion led `Abd al-Qadir’s father SἲdἲMuhyἲ’ al-Din to proclaim a jihad against European colonization in the region of Oran. Ill health forced him in November 1832 to hand over control of the anticolonial resistance to his son, who was proclaimed “Sultan of the Arabs” by the tribes of Hashim, Banfi `Amir, and Gharabah. Despite mixed results on the battlefield, this tactic prevented the “pacification” of Algeriaand led the French to enter into negotiations with `Abd al-Qadir on 26 February 1834. Now officially recognized as “commander of the faithful” (amir al-mu’minin), `Abd al-Qadir was able to extend his authority to the gates of Algiersitself by the middle of 1835.

The amir’s continued agitation for Algerian autonomy led to a resumption of hostilities. After an Algerian victory at Macta (28 June 1835), the French generals Clauzel and Bugeaud counterattacked, burning Mascara, occupying Tlemcen, and scoring a victory against `Abd al-Qadir’s army at Wadi Sikkak (6 July 1836). Although abandoned by his troops three times, the amir successfully regrouped his tribal forces and continued to inflict heavy losses on the French. The desire to protect their western flank while pursuing the conquest of Constantineled the government of King Louis-Philippe to negotiate once again. The resulting Treaty of Tafna (30 May 1837) divided western Algeria into two spheres of influence; the urban areas remained in French hands, while the interior portions of the province of Oran, the beylik of Titteri, and part of the province of Algiers were given over to `Abd al-Qadir. Disputes over secret codicils to the treaty-as well as the “Iron Gates” expedition in which the Duke of Orleans opened a corridor between Constantineand Algiers-led to the resumption of hostilities and the amir’s invasion of the Mitidja in November 1839.

In the face of `Abd al-Qadir’s threat, Bugeaud was appointed governor-general of Algeria on 29 December 184o. By sending mobile columns into the Algerian hinterland, he succeeded in occupying the major towns of Orania and Tlemcen (1841-1843). The capture of the Amir’s “traveling capital” (smdlah) on 16 May 1843 caused the Arab tribes to surrender to the French and forced `Abd al-Qadir to flee toMorocco. Although French attacks on the Moroccan cities of Tangier and Mogador (1844) compelled the Moroccan sultan, Mawlay `Abd al-Rahman, to declare the amir an outlaw, he appeared again inAlgeriain 1846 at the head of numerous clandestinely organized uprisings. Despite a major victory at Sidi Brahim (23 September 1846), the French counterattack crushed this revolt and forced him back across the Moroccan border. `Abd al-Qadir surrendered to the French on 23 December 1847.

After pledging not to resist the French inAlgeria, he was released from prison in 1852 and given a pension by Napoleon III. Choosing exile in the Muslim-ruled Ottoman Empire, he settled first in Brusa (1853), and finally inDamascus(1855). His final beau geste came in July 1860, when he personally protected the French consul inDamascusand several thousand Christians from massacre by Druze rebels. After his death on the night of 25-26 May 1883, his body was interred next to the tomb of the great Andalusian mystic Ibn `Arabi (d. 1240).

Although initiated into the Qadiriyah Sufi order by his father, Amir `Abd al-Qadir joined the Nagshbandiyah in Damascus. He also remained associated with the unofficial Akbariyah tradition throughout his life, a link which led to the amir’s burial next to his father’s intellectual eponym, Muhyi al-Din Ibn ‘Arabi. His penultimate “opening” (fath) into Sufism was at the hands of a master of the Akbariyah, Muhammad al-Fasi al-Shadhili, whom he met in Mecca in 1863. `Abd alQadir’s major Sufi works are Kitdb al-mawaqif (Book of Stages), an extended discourse on the doctrines of Ibn `Arabi, and a Diwan or collection of mystical poems.


`Abd al-Qadir ibn Muhyi al-Din. Ecrits spirituels. Translated by Michel Chodkiewicz.Paris, 1982. Translation of `Abd al-Qadir’s Kitab al-Mawagif. Chodkiewicz’s introduction is the best discussion of the amir’s Sufism available in a European language.

Blunt, Wilfrid. Desert Hawk: Abd el Kader and the French Conquest of Algeria.London, 1947. Biography of the amir, based primarily on French sources.

Danziger, Raphael. Abd al-Qadir and the Algerians: Resistance to the French and Internal Consolidation, 1832-1839.LondonandNew York, 1977. Detailed account of the first phase of the Algerian resistance.

Jaza’iri, Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Qadir al-. Tuhfat al-zd’ir ft ma’athir al-Amir `Abd al-Qadir wa-akhbar al-jaza’ir.Damascus, 1964. Biography of `Abd al-Qadir and the Algerian resistance, written by the amir’s son. This is the primary source for the “Algerian side” of the issue.

Rouina, Karim. Bibliographie raisonnee sur l’emir Abdelkader.Oran, 1985. Indispensable bibliography for anyone attempting a serious study of `Abd al-Qadir and the Algerian resistance against colonialism in the nineteenth century.


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/abd-al-qadir/

  • writerPosted On: October 5, 2012
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