?Abd Al-Qadir, Amir (1807–1883)

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˓ABD AL-QADIR, AMIR (1807–1883)

During the early nineteenth century, ˓Abd al-Qadir governed a state in Algeria. His family, claiming descent from Muhammad, led a Qadiriyya brotherhood center (zawiya) in western Algeria. In 1831 the French conquered the port of Oran from the Ottomans. Fighting broke out in the Oranais among those tribes formerly subjected to Turkish taxes and those privileged to collect them. The Moroccan sultan, failing to pacify the tribes on his border, designated ˓Abd al-Qadir's influential but aging father as his deputy. He, in turn, had tribal leaders proclaim his son commander of the faithful (amir al-mu˒minin) in 1832.

The highly educated and well-traveled new amir negotiated two treaties with France (1834–1837). Happy to cede the job of tribal pacification to an indigenous leader, the French acknowledged him as the sovereign of western Algeria. Abd al-Qadir received French money and arms with which he organized an administration, diplomatic service, and supply services, including storage facilities, a foundry, and textile workshops, for a standing army of six thousand men. Unfortunately, frequent disputes, and even occasional battles, punctured the treaties. The final rupture came when ˓Abd al-Qadir began expanding into eastern Algeria. In response, the French decided on a complete conquest of Algeria and destroyed ˓Abd al-Qadir's state (1839–1847), exiling him to Damascus. During his exile, the amir immersed himself in religious studies. He reemerged briefly into the public eye when riots shook Damascus in July 1860. It was then that Muslim resentment against perceived advantages enjoyed by Christians under the Ottoman reform edict of 1839 exploded into widespread killings and lootings. Virtually alone among the notables of Damascus, ˓Abd al-Qadir shielded Christians from Muslim attackers.

See alsoTasawwuf .


Aouli, Smaï; Redjala, Ramdane; and Zoummeroff, Philippe. Abd el-Kader. Paris: Fayard, 1994.

Danziger, Raphael. Abd al-Qadir and the Algerians: Resistance to the French and Internal Consolidation New York: Homes & Meier, 1977.

Peter von Sivers