Emir Abd El-Kader: A Muslim Hero for Our Time

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INTRODUCTION

This curriculum was designed to supplement content standards in social studies and world history. The curriculum is composed of five individual lesson plans which accompany the digital presentation titled Emir Abd el-Kader: A Muslim Hero for our Time. Every lesson includes detailed notes that describe each slide in the presentation. In addition to the notes, each lesson features analysis, comprehension, response, discussion, and test questions. The curriculum also includes links to films on topics related to the presentation, with accompanying questions. Each lesson concludes with a list of additional resources and references, including both books and websites.

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LESSON ONE: A YOUNG ABD EL-KADER

This lesson introduces Abd el-Kader's homeland, background, and upbringing, including formative moments in his life that paved the way for his later actions. The lesson also provides the historical and cultural context to make his life understandable. Included in this lesson are some basic facts about and teachings of Islam, the religion that Abd el-Kader professed and that had enormous influence both on his role as a religious leader, as well as many of the life decisions he made. Additionally, the lesson highlights some of the critical moments in his youth that would presage his role as both a religious and national leader, and equip him to deal with the many different challenges ahead of him.

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LESSON TWO: COMMANDER OF THE FAITHFUL

This lesson begins with the impending threat of a French invasion in 1830 against the coastal city of Oran. A few years later, the French also threaten the inland region. When the local tribes decide to resist the French invasion, they call upon Abd el-Kader’s father to lead them. He agrees but immediately abdicates in favor of his son. Abd el-Kader reluctantly agrees and takes on the title “Commander of the Faithful.” He spends the next fifteen years of his life fighting against the French, a war which goes back and forth between the two sides. After a few major setbacks, he gives up hope of winning and surrenders to the French. But despite his defeat, it is his conduct and the understanding he shows even towards his enemies which demonstrate his true mettle and character.

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LESSON THREE: CAPTIVITY IN FRANCE

This lesson describes the five years during which Abd el-Kader and his followers were held captive in France, first in Toloun and then in Amboise. When Abd el-Kader had surrendered to the French, he was promised that he would be allowed to re-settle in the Middle East. While that promise was broken repeatedly over the next few years, he was able to make the best of his stay in France and used his time there to build bridges of understanding and mutual respect.

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LESSON FOUR: LIVING HIS FAITH

This lesson begins with Abd el-Kader’s life in exile in Damascus where he settled in 1855. He has already begun to see himself as a bridge builder, a role he writes about shortly before his departure from France. He finds himself called into that role when he risks his own life to save the lives of thousands of Christians during sectarian riots in Damascus in 1860. Abd el-Kader is honored in France and beyond for his actions as a great humanitarian and savior of Christians. This eventually leads to his involvement in the building of the Suez Canal. He continues to pursue his vision of a world where people of all faiths and cultures can live together in harmony. As he enters the last years of his life, eventually passing away in Damascus, his legacy becomes a source for recognition and praise that continues after his death.

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LESSON FIVE: ABD EL-KADER’S LEGACY

This lesson discusses some of the different ways in which Abd el-Kader has been recognized and honored, and the continuing legacy of his life for our world today. In addition to having an American town named after him, various monuments in Algeria honor him. Additionally, during his own lifetime he was recognized by a variety of world leaders, and after his death was eulogized by newspapers as far away from the Middle East as the New York Times. This lesson not only enumerates examples of the recognition he received, but invites students to consider the relevance of Abd el-Kader’s example for their lives today in reconciling differences, building bridges between faiths and cultures, and working to promote understanding and harmony for a better world. His example and legacy are as important today as they were during his lifetime.

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