Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jihad and Amir Abd al-Qader

"If I have accepted leadership, this is to have the right to be the first to march in the battles, and I am ready to step behind any other chief whom you judge more worthy and more capable than me to lead you, provided that he pledges to take in hand the cause of our faith."
- Amir Abd al-Qader

If one were to look for a perfect model of chivalry and the spirit of jihad one would be hard pressed to find a better example then Amir Abd al-Qader. He rallied the people of Algeria against the French occupation under the banner of Islamic Jihad. He was a man of strength and honor but also of compassion who was respected even by his enemies. One of the French leaders in Algeria even went so far as to liken him to Jesus.

Abd al-Qader was empowered in a Spiritual manner to wage Holy Jihad in a vision that came to him on his way back from the tomb of the great Sufi Shaykh Sayid Abd-el-Qader al-Jilani. In this vision Sayid Abd-el Qader al-Jilani handed him a black robe and a sword saying, "Now I entrust to you the secrets of jihad fi sabeelillah. Your trust from me is to take this knowledge, and to lead your people against the non-believers who are preventing Islam from being followed and are preventing implementing Shariah and Tariqah. Go my son, and with this sword repel those with enmity to God, and enmity to the Sunnah of the Prophet."

Wikipedia notes the following on this period of his life:

"In 1830, Algeria was invaded by France; French colonial domination over Algeria supplanted what had been domination in name only by the Ottoman Empire. Within two years, `Abd al-Qâdir was made an amir and with the loyalty of a number of tribes began a rebellion against the French. He was effective at using guerrilla warfare and for a decade, up until 1842, scored many victories. He often signed tactical truces with the French, but these did not last. His power base was in the western part of Algeria, where he was successful in uniting the tribes against the French. He was noted for his chivalry; at one occasion released his French captives simply because he had insufficient food to feed them." *

Eventually he was overpowered by the French and exiled to Damascus. When Abd al-Qader was in exile he risked his life to defend Christians from persecution and attacks by the Druze. For this effort he was given a life long pension as a reward from the French! He was also gifted with several exquisitely crafted guns by President Abraham Lincoln in honor of his actions.

Wikipedia notes the following about this event:

"While in Damascus he befriended Jane Digby and Richard and Isabel Burton. In July 1860, conflict between the Druze and Maronites of Mount Lebanon spread to Damascus, and local Druze attacked the Christian quarter, killing over 3,000 persons. `Abd al-Qâdir and his personal guard saved large numbers of Christians, bringing them to safety in his house and in the citadel. For this action the French government, which granted the amir a pension of 4000 Louis, bestowed on him the Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur. He was also honoured by Abraham Lincoln for this gesture towards Christians with several guns that are now on display in the Algiers museum."*

Not only did al-Qader posses great martial and moral qualities he was also a Sufi of some note. He was an initiate of the Qadiri Sufi order and a leading authority on the thought of Ibn Arabi. His writings provide an excellent introduction to the thought of the Shaykh al-Akbar.

Last week I came across a web page dedicated to Abd al-Qader that contains a short but informative video.

As Muslim we must give thanks to Allah (swt) that He has blessed us with such examples!

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