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Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader (1808-1883) Hardcover – November 1, 2008
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John Kiser showed his understanding of both Islam and Christianity in his successful earlier book, "The Monks of Tibherine." It too was a gripping read so it is no surprise that his life of Abd el Kader shows the same command of a complex and fascinating subject. I recommend this book to all who are looking for a better understanding of our relationship with the peoples of the Middle East.
The piquancy of this book is the contrast between Abd el-Kader's religious-based nobility and French exploitation and duplicity...those years of jihad and the years of jihad we are living today...and the seemingly endless effort that must be devoted to understanding differences between "Western" worldviews and Islamic perspectives.
Through the figure of Abd el-Kader, John Kiser has excavated many of the same misunderstandings, or complete lack of understanding, that divided Europe from the Muslim world 150 years ago and continue to do so today. The fundamental crunch point, of course, is the role of religion in the rule of man--the inability of religiously inspired rulers to yield or compromise, the inability of secular rulers to understand the benefits of religious rule, and the lack of intellectual effort that underpins the communication gap between the two sides.
Abd el-Kader was a prodigy of scholarship, so his biography betrays no lack of intellectual effort, either as a leader of his people, or in dialogue with his French adversaries. His problem, however, was the spotty contact he was able to make with French soldiers and politicians able to comprehend, translate, and deal with his socio-religious requirements.Read more ›
- Douglas Johnston, co-editor and principal author of "Religion, The Missing Dimension of Statecraft" and "Faith-based Diplomacy: Trumping Realpolitik"
John Kiser has written a superb and riveting account of the life of a true but lesser known hero of the 19th Century. This book is very much in keeping with both the ecumenical message and finely crafted writing Kiser gave us in his earlier book The Monks of Tibhirine, the heart-rending story of the French Trappist monks killed by Islamist extremists in Algeria in 1996. Abd el-Kader is must reading for those interested in the history of Algeria, Islam, and French colonialism. It will also be a source of inspiration for those in our troubled times - especially regarding the ongoing human tragedies in the Middle East - who hunger to know more about historic figures worthy of emulation.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Kiser aptly summarizes the great philosopher-warriors life. He offers readers a window onto the life of one of Islam's great luminaries and defenders, Emir Abdelkader, who famously... Read morePublished 5 months ago by W. Dickson
A moving story told in lucid prose. It's one weakness was in not capturing more of the Emir's spiritual life as a Sufi. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Bookworm
This traces the outward actions of this man but shies away from integrating his spiritual beliefs into his person; a move that does not help the reader fully understand the... Read morePublished on April 14, 2014 by Yasmine Motawy
Although the book was sometimes difficult to read, particularly with Islamic terms used throughout, the story of Adb el-Kader was fascinating. Read morePublished on March 8, 2014 by K. Jensen
This book is well-researched and tells of the life and thoughts of Abd El-Kader. who strove mightily against the French when in 1830 and the years theresfter they set out to... Read morePublished on August 12, 2011 by Schmerguls
This is a very well researched book about the strange destiny of an extraordinary man.
If someone in Hollywood is looking for an interesting, gripping and timely subject... Read more
Bought this on advice of NY Times reviewer and got it within a few days for a great "used" price and in almost new condition. Read morePublished on March 29, 2011 by Ann