Abd-el-KaderAbd-el-kader (c. 1807-1883), Emir of Mascara, opponent of the conquest of Algeria by France, was born near Mascara in 1807 or 1808. His family were sherifs or descendants of Mohammed, and his father, Mahi-ed-Din, was celebrated throughout North Africa for his piety and charity. Abd-el Kader received the best education attainable by a Mussulman of princely rank, especially in theology and philosophy, in horsemanship and in other manly exercises. While still a youth he was taken by his father on the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina and to the tomb of Sidi Abd-el-Kader El Jalili at Baghdad --events which stimulated his natural tendency to religious enthusiasm.
While in Egypt in 1827, Abd-el-Kader is said to have been impressed by the reforms then being carried out by Mehemet Ali with the value of European civilization, and the knowledge he then gained affected his career. Mahi-ed-Din and his son returned to Mascara shortly before the French occupation of Algiers (July 1830) destroyed the government of the Dey. Coming forward as the champion of Islam against the infidels, Abd-el-Kader was proclaimed emir at Mascara in 1832. He prosecuted the war against France vigorously and in a short time had rallied to his standard all the tribes of western Algeria. The beginning of 1842 the contest went in favour of the emir; thereafter he found in Marshal Bugeaud an opponent who proved, in the end, his master.
Throughout this period Abd-el-Kader showed himself a born leader of men, a great soldier, a capable administrator, a persuasive orator, a chivalrous opponent. His fervent faith in the doctrines of Islam was unquestioned, and his ultimate failure was due in considerable measure to the refusal of the Kabyles, Berber mountain tribes whose Mohammedanism is somewhat loosely held, to make common cause with the Arabs against the French. On December 21 1847, the emir gave himself up to General Lamoricière at Sidi Brahim. On the 23rd, his submission was formally made to the Duc d'Aumale, then governor of Algeria.
In violation of the promise that he would be allowed to go to Alexandria or St Jean d'Acre, on the faith of which he surrendered, Abd-el-Kader and his family were detained in France, first at Toulon, then at Pau, being in November 1848 transferred to the chateau of Amboise. There Abd-el-Kader remained until October 1852, when he was released by Napoleon III. on taking an oath never again to disturb Algeria. The emir then took up his residence in Brusa, removing in 1855 to Damascus. In July 1860, when the Moslems of that city, taking advantage of disturbances among the Druses of Lebanon, attacked the Christian quarter and killed over 3000 persons, Abd-el-Kader helped to repress the outbreak and saved large numbers of Christians. For this action the French government, which granted the emir a pension of L. 4000, bestowed on him the grand cross of the Legion of Honour.
In 1865, he visited Paris and London, and was again in Paris at the exposition of 1867. In 1871, when the Algerians again rose in revolt, Abd-el-Kader wrote to them counselling submission to France. After his surrender in 1847 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 a l'intelligent. Avis a l'indifferent. He also wrote a book on the Arab horse. He died at Damascus on the 26th of May 1883.
From an old 1911 Encyclopedia