Abdul Kader ibn Moheiddin al-Hosseini

Abdul Kader ibn Moheiddin al-Hosseini
Abdul Kader ibn Moheiddin al-Hosseini

Abdul Kader (Abd al-Qadir) was born into a religious family. His father was the sheikh of one of the major Sufi orders in Algeria, and he had a religious education. Abdul Kader led the armed resistance to the French occupation of the country from 1832 to 1847.

The leading sheikhs pledged allegiance to Abdul Kader, who was known as Amir al-Monenin (Prince of the Faithful). Abdul Kader was able to unify the Algerian tribes based on the rule of Islam. He levied taxes, minted coins, and supported education with the advice of a council of notables.

Abdul Kader successfully employed guerrilla warfare tactics to defeat the better armed French forces. He defeated General Camille Trézel, who was subsequently replaced by General Bertrand Clauzel. Although Clauzel managed to extend French control over Algerian cities, he was defeated by Kader’s forces and removed from command in 1837.

The French and Abdul Kader then signed the Treaty of Tafna, whereby the Algerians controlled the territory in the hinterland and the Kabylia in the east, and the French retained control over Algiers, Oran, and Constantine.

In 1839 the French renewed the war. From 1841 to 1847 the new commander, General Thomas Bugeaud, used surprise hit-and-run tactics with superior armaments to put the Algerians on the defensive. Abdul Kader attempted to carry on the struggle from neighboring Morocco, but the French retaliated by attacking Moroccan ports and land forces.

The Moroccan ruler then pledged to limit Abdul Kader’s movements. In 1847 Abdul Kader surrendered to the French. The French had developed a grudging respect for Abdul Kader, who was released after several years in prison and given a French pension.

He traveled to Istanbul, where he was well received by the Ottomans, before moving to Damascus, Syria. There, he notably saved many Christian lives by granting them safe haven in his own home during the 1860 confessional riots. Abdul Kader died in Damascus in 1882.