Abdul Qadir Al-Jazairi: Algerian hero who fought against French troops
Today we will talk about Abdul Qadir Al-Jazairi. Who became an enemy of France but later gained international recognition as a hero. He led a 15-year resistance war against French aggression in Algeria. Abdul Qadir Al-Jazairi was born in 1808 in the western Algerian city of Guenta. He was educated in the Islamic school established by his father Muhieddine. He began to acquire knowledge at an early age and became a memorizer of the Quran before the age of 14.
Childhood of Abdul Qadir Al-Jazairi
In 1825, he traveled with his father to various cities in the Middle East. Including the holy city of Makkah and Madinah, to perform the Hajj. The experience of this trip, as well as his meeting with Imam Shamil, who led the Caucasian resistance against Russia, had a profound effect on Abdul Qadir.
Shortly after his return from Hajj, the French invaded Algeria. At this time he formed a resistance with his community. The West Algerian tribes were also encouraged by Muslim scholars to resist. So when the French army reached Oran, Muhieddine, Abdul Qadir’s father, led the operation against the occupied city.
Abdul Qadir and his father were among the forces that carried out the first attack under the city walls. A year later, Abdul Qadir was elected the Amir of the Muslim army. It marked the beginning of his long 15-year resistance war against the French.
Achievements of Abdul Qadir
Abdul Qadir was able to unite the tribes of western Algeria. With a combination of efficient guerrilla attacks and tactical discipline, his forces were able to inflict several humiliating defeats on one of Europe’s most advanced armies in a span of 10 years.
From the very beginning of this resistance, the Islamic principles adopted by Abdul Qadir have been praised not only in Algeria but also by his European enemies, starting from the Europeans.
In terms of food, treatment, care, and respectful treatment, Abdul Qadir treated French prisoners of war like members of his own army. At one point he released all the prisoners simply because there was not enough food for them!
His resistance against France
A British Army officer, Charles Henry Churchill, described him as “the kind of generous, gentle and sympathetic treatment he showed to his prisoners of war is unprecedented in the history of war.”
However, this generous policy and mercy of Abdul Qadir were never shown by his enemies to the prisoners of his army.
After a long 10-year resistance, France began to adopt a different strategy against Abdul Qadir’s guerrilla warfare. French troops began brutally killing rural tribes in western Algeria. There was no heinous act, including genocide and rape, that they did not do there.
In order to weaken the rule of Abdul Qadir, they destroyed even the agricultural lands of the countryside. When his defensive fortress was destroyed, he continued to fight in eastern Algeria. However, after a long resistance of 15 years, Abdul Qadir was forced to surrender on 21 December 1847.
However, the heroism of Abdul Qadir did not end here.
After serving more than four years in prison in France, Napoleon III, the third French president, was forced to release all prisoners, including Abdul Qadir, at the request and pressure of the British politician Lord Laundry. Abdul Qadir, exiled from his homeland, eventually moved to Damascus. And there he was given international recognition for his tireless struggle to establish justice.
In July 1860, Druze attacked the Christian quarters in Damascus. After the attack began, Abdul Qadir sheltered a large number of Christians in his home. Throughout his life, Abdul Qadir stood up for freedom and justice, and through it, he raised his name.
Although France considers him as an unprecedented opponent, many around the world see him as a patriotic freedom fighter. As well as leading the resistance war, Abdul Qadir earned respect from various Muslim and non-Muslim leaders around the world, including Imam Shamil, the Ottoman Sultan, Abraham Lincoln, and the Pope.
From protecting the weak to fighting the tyranny of the brutal occupiers, Abdul Qadir’s story continues to inspire many around the world.