Was Algerian Emir Abdul Kadir Naqshbandi?


I am researching a curriculum about the Algerian mujahid Abdul Kadir and found mention of him on your site. Was he Naqshbandi?


Yes, but in considering the Emir beyond his role as an Algerian mujahid, three affiliations must be accounted for.

To begin with, in his position of namesake, Emir Abd el-Kader was Qadiri; after all, his father Sidi Muhyiddin was the muqaddam of the Qadiri zawiya in their homeland at Oued al-Hammam. The Emir’s elder brother succeeded their father to that role, but the role of the Emir extended far beyond such responsibilities.

As a young man, with his brother responsible for the zawiya, Abd el-Kader accompanied Sidi Muhyiddin on pilgrimage, and while in Damascus, the travelers received initiation from the great Naqshbandi Master of the Golden Chain, Shaykh Khalid al-Baghdadi, may Allah sanctify their secrets. Apparently, Shaykh Khalid then appointed the father of Muhammad al-Khani to oversee the guidance of Sidi Muhyiddin. Much later, following his struggles on the battlefield, the Emir would return to Damascus, where his associations were attended especially by followers of the Naqshbandi way; for example, one of his closest companions was the Shaykh Muhammad al-Tantawi. Likewise revealing is the declaration made by the Emir to the Imam Shamil – whose affiliation was obviously Khalidi-Naqshbandi – that they “followed the same path.”

Beyond his attachment to his father, the Emir’s devotion to the Shaykh Muhyiddin Ibn `Arabi – may Allah sanctify his secret – was most profound; surely his official designation as the “son of Muhyiddin” suggests more than genealogy. His attachment to the Shaykh al-Akbar was nothing less than Uwaysi –  itself a characteristic of the Naqshbandi Order – and he would in fact be interred alongside his master (although his repose was ultimately disturbed when his body was reinterred in Algeria, by those for whom, it would seem, the Emir was only an “Algerian mujahid”). Now, since the Akbarian tradition was safeguarded notably within two orders – the Naqshbandi and Shadhili – the Emir’s inheritance was moreover strengthened by his initiatic relationship with both, the second through Shaykh Muhammad al-Fasi.

Incidentally, this Akbarian heritage should be considered in relation to the role of Shaykh `Abdur-Rahman `Illaysh, another of the Emir’s closest companions. It was none other than Shaykh `Illaysh who authorized the Swedish `Abd al-Hadi `Aqili in Islamic esoterism, and it was `Abd al-Hadi who initiated `Abd al-Wahid Yahya in France – may Allah sanctify all their secrets. Above all, it is this chain, proceeding through the Romanian Mustafa `Abd al-`Aziz to the Belgian `Abd ar-Razzaq Yahya, that safeguards the Akbarian tradition in the West. Concerning the importance both of this chain and of the role of the chivalrous Emir Abd el-Kader, it is no doubt worth considering the Emir’s own words from his message to the West that is very significantly titled “Reminder to the Intelligent, Warning to the Indifferent:”

If the Muslims and the Christians had wished to pay attention to me, I would have made them cease their quarrels; inwardly and outwardly they would have become brothers. But they did not pay attention to my words: God’s wisdom decided that they would not be reunited…He will not make them cease their divergences until the Messiah comes.

Mahmoud Shelton

About Ustadh Mahmoud Shelton

Mahmoud Shelton studied at the University of Edinburgh before taking a degree in Medieval Studies at Stanford University. Shelton is the author of Alchemy in Middle Earth: The Significance of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, The Balance of George Lucas' Star Wars, and numerous articles. He is also a contributor to The Royal Book of Spiritual Chivalry and The Sufi Science of Self-Realization. Contributions by Mahmoud Shelton * Chivalry of the Night and Day * Alchemy in Middle Earth * contributor, The Royal Book of Spiritual Chivalry
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