2018 AEP Forum
Emir AbdelKader: Role Model for the World
“Role models are important, and Abdelkader has many attributes that Muslims and non-Muslims alike could do well to emulate. He was, above all, a knowledge seeker. He had the ability to empathize and forgive. Abdelkader’s story can reduce islamophobia which only polarizes our society and makes us less secure.”
Major General Douglas Stone, USMC (ret.)
WASHINGTON DC. (September 12, 2018) Wesley Theological Seminary (WTS) and the Embassy of of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria hosted a day-long public forum, marking the 10th anniversary of the Abdelkader Education Project (AEP). The event celebrated the life of Emir Abd el-Kader, a 19th century Muslim hero (1808-83) whom many Algerians regard as their George Washington. Daisy Khan, Founder of Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE) served as Emcee.
A diverse audience of over 150 persons from the military, religious, business, civic and educational worlds came to honor and to learn about the forgotten story of this Bedouin scholar, warrior, Sufi mystic, humanitarian, and the impact he is having today on Muslims and non-Muslims alike. WTS President Reverend Dr. David McAllister-Wilson stated, “…understanding from both sides, is badly needed…mutual ignorance is massive. The emir’s real value for interfaith dialogue is that he is devoutly Muslim.”
Laying down arms after fifteen years of struggle on the battlefield following the French sack of Algiers in 1830, and seeing only useless suffering ahead, the emir was ultimately victorious in the hearts and minds of people around the world. Two towns (Elkader, IA and Elkader, KS) in the US and England’s world famous Grand National winner (little Ab: 1850-51) were named in Abd el-Kader’s honor. His bust can be seen today in the foyer of the International Red Cross in Geneva. Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross told his Washington audience, “The emir’s humane treatment of French prisoners, in accordance with Islamic rules of warfare, made Abd el-Kader an inspirational figure for ICRC founder, Swiss businessman Henry Dunant. Abd el-Kader was ahead of his time.”
While imprisoned in France (1848-52) despite a negotiated armistice, Abd el-Kader attracted a diverse group of sympathizers who lobbied for his liberation. They included bankers, British nobility, bishops, poets, local school teachers and soldiers of all ranks, including former prisoners, citizens of Bordeaux… they became collectively known as the Kaderians. A Kaderian movement has the potential to heal divisions within Islam and within the human community. “The Kaderian tradition abhors sectarian and human divisions. It views all creation as God’s work and all religion as founded on two pillars: Praise of God and compassion toward His creatures. Abd el-Kader practiced spiritual humility. He understood that God was greater than any one religion” John Kiser, author, Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader.
Years later, living exiled in Damascus under French surveillance, he astonished the world by protecting thousands of Christians in Damascus who were attacked by Druze rioters. President Lincoln, Queen Victoria, Pope Pius IX, American and French Masonic Lodges honored his spirit of universal brotherhood. The New York Times eulogized the Emir upon his death in 1883, “The nobility of his character won him the admiration of the world…He was one of the few great men of the century.”
One of the highlights of the Forum was the celebration of student winners of the annual Abdelkader Global Leadership Essay Prize, who hailed from universities and high schools across the country. The contest, now in its 10th year, was established in Elkader, Iowa by AEP Executive Director Kathy Garms and co-founder John Kiser, who in 2008, launched his book in Elkader (Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader).
“Kiser has written a wonderful book” noted Sayyid Sayeed, (President, Islamic Society of North America), “that should be in the hands of every Muslim…The Emir represents the values and attributes that we want to inculcate in our American Muslim sons and daughters. We want his life to be celebrated in our mosques, in our Sunday schools and in our Friday sermons. We see in him a bridge of compassion and humanity connecting us with our brothers and sisters of other faiths and faith communities.”
Abdelkader Education Project, Elkader, Iowa
VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS – AEP Forum in Washington, DC – September 12, 2018
To view overview, please click here: https://youtu.be/tJSztnN79c0
To view Major General Douglas Stone, USMC (ret.) talk: https://youtu.be/HakyXQ3M0yc
PHOTO CREDIT: Jane Pennewell
PHOTO Front row (L-R): John Kiser & Kathy Garms; Back row (L-R): William Virgili, Daud Shad, Ben Bernatz & Michelle Perez
PHOTO (L-R): Mercheri Gouni, Madame Zohour Boutaleb (Secretary General, Abdelkader Foundation/Algeria & Abdelkader descendent), Kathy Garms & John Kiser
PHOTO (L-R): HE Madjid Bouguerra, Algerian Ambassador, John Kiser, Rev Dr. David McAllister-Wilson & Algerian Minister Lakhdar Brahimi
FRONT ROW (L-R): John Kiser, David McAllister Wilson, Minister Lakhdar Brahimi, Sayyid Syeed, Robert Crane, Daisy Khan
BACK ROW (L-R): Daud Shad, James Patton, Mark Danner, Azhar Hussain, Matt Peterson, Tamar Miller, Tamara Shehada, Kathy Garms, Michaela Hill, Ben Bernatz, Michelle Perez, Doug Johnston, Andrea Bartoli