The Emir’s Legacy in Algeria
August 4, 2019
Written by Reem Esseghir
I am currently sitting on a balcony overlooking the city of Dellys, Algeria. Some of my most cherished memories have happened in this country, one whose culture and heritage I’ve grown incredibly proud of. The pride I have towards my heritage is the central reason I became involved in the Abdelkader Education Project. It allows me to learn more about where I came from and contribute to a cause highlighting one of the greatest figures in world history.
Every year, when my family and I visit Algeria, we make an effort to travel to different parts of the country to experience its rich history. One of my favorite visits was to Constantine, Algeria, to the Emir Abdelkader Mosque. This mosque was opened in 1994 and is one of the largest in the world, with a capacity of 15,000 people. It was initially designed as a mosque to commemorate a great figure in Algeria’s history, but soon strove to higher ambitions. During its construction, it changed to also be built as a university, Algeria’s first modern Islamic university. Both the mosque and university are feats of architecture, featuring traditional Islamic architecture in the form of arches, marble carvings, columns, and central courtyards and gardens. The university is on the side of the mosque, with 3 levels, featuring a court, amphitheatre, and conference rooms.
This magnificent piece of architecture highlights two fundamental aspects of Emir Abdelkader’s character, his focus on gaining spirituality through worship and his eagerness to gain higher education and knowledge. From a young age, Emir Abdelkader’s father sent him to scholars and teachers across Algeria and the world. His breadth of both Islamic and academic knowledge allowed him to work with others from various backgrounds during times of conflict and misunderstanding. It also gave him the skills to become a strong leader for his people in the fight for Algeria’s independence from the French, allowing him to defend their rights and protect them.
It is such monuments and dedicated structures that aid in keeping the memory and cause of historical figures alive for centuries. Whenever someone visits the Emir Abdelkader Mosque and University they are reminded of the work and ambitions of Emir Abdelkader, and his legacy lives on with them and the millions of other visitors. Have you ever had such an experience while visiting a certain site or monument? Comment below to join the conversation!
Reem Esseghir is a 2017 Abdelkader Global Leadership Prize winner and active member of the AEP Youth Initiative.
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