In a town like Elkader, a small predominantly white community, it would seem unlikely that someone would grow up learning about cultures and religions from the opposite end of the globe. However, thanks to Timothy Davis, that statement can be, and in my case, is true. In John Kiser's book, The Commander of the Faithful, Kiser shows us how Davis’ choice to name Elkader after an Arab gave his settlement a deep connection to a completely different civilization. This link acts as a conduit through which we can learn about and better understand their culture and religion, though geographically we are completely separated. This connection needs to be expanded and learned from because people nowadays have a strong stereotype of Muslims, though they know very little about them. By learning about Abd el-Kader and his cultural tolerance, humanitarian nature, and spiritual strength we can understand more about his people as a whole, rather than assuming that they are all like the terrorists that get the publicity.
Abd el-Kader grew up treasuring knowledge and spirituality. By age 8 he had memorized the Koran and was considered more intelligent than most of his tribesmen. In 1825, when he was only 17, he and his father set out on their pilgrimage to Mecca. It was during this journey that Abd el-Kader began to show signs of his humanitarian spirit. In return to a question about his lineage he answered, "Don't ask about a man's genealogy, but about his character, his life and his deeds. Drink the water. If it's pure, so is the source," yet he was known to be a descendant of Abraham. This shows that even at a young age he was a very wise individual.
It was obvious early on that Abd el-Kader had the character of a leader and the morals of a saint. The strong moral guidance of his parents, especially his father, had taught him to be culturally tolerant very early in life. With this open-minded nature he quickly grew morally and spiritually. This boundless acceptance was one of Abd el-Kader's most valued attributes and is the main reason he is remembered today. His character, especially strong humanitarian morals, has had the most effect on my life. Reading about his life has helped me come to see his people in a whole new light, and I only wish that I could show others my new perspective as well.
Throughout his life, Abd el-Kader gained and deepened many more upstanding characteristics and did many great things. At the age of 25, he was given leadership over Algeria as their sultan. Unfortunately this was during a time of war with France, so he was forced to put his power to use. Early on as leader, the emir's sense of justice had to be tested when his former master, Ben Tahar, had been trading with the infidels from France. This defied the law held dearest to the emir's heart—the word of God. The decision to have his old friend killed was taken from him by his father who knew that his son would have difficulty making the judgment. Thereafter, Abd el-Kader's...