What is the Abdelkader Education Project (AEP)?
AEP is a global network of individuals and organizations, developing educational resources and opportunities for engagement in the life story of Emir Abdelkader. As a warrior, scholar, statesman, and devout Muslim of the 19th century, Abdelkader is considered Algeria’s George Washington, seen as a moral leader on a par with Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela. To mitigate fear, bigotry, and bad behavior in these troubled times, from kindergartens to the military, AEP’s mission is to revive the courageous religious and moral legacy of Emir Abdelkader el Djezairi.
In the Missouri Territory of the United States, in 1846, Timothy Davis, a lawyer in Dubuque named a new settlement on the Turkey River, Elkader, in honor of the Emir. Thanks to accounts in the British press, we know that Davis admired the Abdelkader as a chivalrous "Arab Chieftain" who fought French colonial occupation for fourteen years. In 2008, it was in Elkader, Iowa that author, pig farmer, and historian John Kiser launched his book, Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abdelkader, a story of True Jihad, inspiring the founding of the Abdelkader Education Project (AEP).
Why is Emir Abdelkader Important?
Abdelkader’s practice of Islam was informed by deep study and devotion to religious law, as well as, by his broad education that included math, astronomy, geography, history and Greek philosophy. Abdelkader’s legacy as a reconciler offers an example of religious and moral courage, integrity, intellect, and compassion. During the French-Algerian War (1830-1847), his treatment of French prisoners is credited as the forerunner of the Geneva Convention on Human Rights. As a prisoner in France (1848-1852), he was so admired that his name was placed on the ballot for French president. In exile (1853-1883), Abdelkader saved thousands of Christian lives in Damascus. In 1883, The New York Times eulogized "… Abdelkader deserves to be ranked among the few great men of the century." In the words of Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan (2009), "Abdelkader’s jihad provides Muslims with a much needed antidote to the toxic false jihads of today dominated by anger, violence and politics."
Curricula, grants, essay & poster contests, as well as, a yearly gathering — the Abdelkader Forum — are some of the initiatives that our growing network of national and international social benefit organizations, schools, private, public, and government agencies enjoy. Abdelkader and his values-in-action, continues to serve as global icons of courageous religious, military, and ethical leadership.