Emir Abdelkader El Djezairi
Commander of the Faithful
Here's a time line of Emir Abdelkader's life:
- 1808 - Abdelkader was born near the town of Mascara to a family of religious belief.
- 1822 - Abdelkader succeeded in reciting the Qur'an by heart at the age of 14.
- 1823 - He went to Oran for further education. He was a good orator and could excite his peers with poetry and religious diatribes.
- 1825 - He set out on the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, with his father.
- 1830 - Algeria was invaded by France, French colonial domination over Algeria eventually supplanted domination by the Ottoman Empire and the Kouloughlis.
- 1831 - When the French Africa Army reached Oran in January 1831, Abdelkader's father was asked to lead a resistance campaign against them. Muhieddine called for jihad and he and his son were among those involved in early attacks below the walls of the city.
- 1832 - In the autumn of 1832, he was elected Amir al-Mu'minin (typically abbreviated to "Emir"). Within a year Abdelkader had succeeded in uniting the tribes in the region and in reestablishing security – his area of influence now covered the entire Province of Oran.
- 1834 - The local French commander-in-chief, General Louis Alexis Desmichels, saw Abdelkader as the principal representative of the area during peace negotiations, and in 1834 they signed the Desmichels Treaty, which ceded near-total control of Oran Province to Abdelkader.
- 1837 - Treaty of Tafna, signed on 30 May 1837. This treaty gave even more control of interior portions of Algeria to Abdelkader but with the recognition of France's right to imperial sovereignty. Abdelkader thus won control of all of Oran Province and extended his reach to the neighbouring province of Titteri and beyond.
- 1838 - By the end of 1838, his rule extended east to Kabylie, and south to Biskra, and to the Moroccan border. He continued to fight al-Tijani and besieged his capital at Aïn Madhi for six months, eventually destroying it.
- 1839 - Abdelkader attacked the French as they were colonizing the Plains of Mitidja and routed the invaders. In response the French officially declared war on 18 November 1839.
- 1841 - Abdelkader was originally encouraged to hear that Bugeaud, the promoter of the Treaty of Tafna, was returning, but this time Bugeaud's tactics would be radically different. This time, his approach was one of annihilation, with the conquest of Algeria as the endgame.
- 1842 - 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. 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.
- 1847 - Abdelkader surrendered to General Louis Juchault de Lamoricière in exchange for the promise that he would be allowed to go to Alexandria or Acre. He supposedly commented on his own surrender with the words, "And God undoes what my hand has done", although this is probably apocryphal. His request was granted, and two days later his surrender was made official to the French Governor-General of Algeria, Henri d'Orléans, Duke of Aumale, to whom Abdelkader symbolically handed his war-horse. Ultimately, however, the French government refused to honour Lamoricière's promise: Abdelkader was shipped to France and, instead of being allowed to carry on to the East, ended up being kept in captivity.
- 1848 - Abdelkader and his family and followers were detained in France, first at Fort Lamalgue in Toulon, then at Pau, and in November 1848 they were transferred to the château of Amboise. Damp conditions in the castle led to deteriorating health as well as morale in the Emir and his followers.
- 1852 - Abdelkader was released by the President 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.
- 1855 - He moved 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", and again in 1977 under the title of "Lettre aux Français". He also wrote a book on the Arabian horse.
- 1860 - Conflict between the Druze and Maronites of Mount Lebanon spread to Damascus, and local Druze attacked the Christian quarter, killing over 3,000 people. He sheltered large numbers of Christians in the safety of his house. His eldest sons were sent into the streets to offer any Christians under threat shelter under his protection, and Abdelkader himself was said by many survivors to have played an instrumental part in saving them.
- 1865 - He visited Paris on the invitation of Napoleon III and was greeted with both official and popular respect.
- 1883 - Abdelkader died in Damascus and was buried near the great Sufi ibn Arabi in Damascus.
- 1965 - His body was recovered and is now in the El Alia Cemetery in Algiers. This transfer of his remains was controversial as Abd el-Kader had clearly wanted to be buried in Damascus with his master, ibn Arabi.
He dresses purely in white…enveloped in the usual snowy burnous…if
you see him on horseback without knowing him to be Abd el Kadir,
you would single him out…he has the seat of a gentleman and a
soldier. His mind is as beautiful as his face; he is every inch a
-- Isabel Burton, Inner Life of Syria, Palestine and the Holy Land.
We were in consternation, all of us quite convinced that our
last hour had arrived. In that expectation of death, in those
indescribable moments of anguish, heaven, however, sent us a
savior! Abd el-Kader appeared, surrounded by his Algerians,
around forty of them. He was on horseback and without arms: his
handsome figure calm and imposing made a strange contrast with
the noise and disorder that reigned everywhere.
-- Le Siècle newspaper, 2 August 1869
Read more about this incredible human being on his Wikipedia entry.