Book Club Channel
Praise for "Commander of the Faithful"
"John Kiser has outdone himself. Before the applause has died for his seminal work on The Monks of Tibhirine , he now brings us a masterful rendition of Abd el-Kader, a bigger than life historical figure who honored his faith through a life of integrity and chivalrous behavior. Kiser reminds of one who stands as a giant for the ages, one we could do well to study and emulate.
—Douglas Johnston, author of Religion-The Missing Dimension in Statecraft
"Abd el-Kader is a special gift that comes from the sands of Algeria. John Kiser is right to explore the riches of this man who led an exemplary life and was friends with Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike. We need to learn more about the complexities of the political, military and cultural interactions that built the world as it is today. Kiser's book is an invitation to discover and pause, appreciating the life of an unexpected hero."
—Andrea Bartoli, Combie Chair for Conflict Resolution, George Mason University
"With this new work, John Kiser continues the fascinating and valuable exploration of religious coexistence that he began with The Monks of Tibhirine (2002). The Commander of the Faithful is a passionate portrait of the remarkable man whose struggle to unite his people and break the colonial yoke won him worldwide recognition, and whose courageous action in saving Christians in Syria from slaughter brought him worldwide admiration. Kiser gives us an exhilarating ride through Abd el-Kader's life in Algeria, exile in France and Turkey, and his final years in Damascus.
It is indeed the stuff of legend, a story beautifully told, aching to be made into a big budget movie. But what is more important is the message for the modern reader that is embodied in the book's third part, which offers vivid images of Abd el-Kader's religious faith in action. In an era when Islam is feared and widely misunderstood in the West, when we are often told that Islamic values are threatening to our way of life, here is the story of a Muslim hero whose tolerance, humanity and forbearance offer a persuasive rebuttal... In a moving chapter called "The Emir's Letter" Kiser's discourse on Abd el-Kader's belief system illuminates an Islam that can comfortably coexist with the faiths of other children of Abraham. Indeed, an Islam that demands it. This excellent book is both highly entertaining history and a powerful argument for respect and tolerance across religions."
—Kenton W. Keith, Former US Ambassador to Qatar and Vice President, Meridian International Center Washington, DC
"John Kiser has given us an absorbing and beautifully written story of a great hero who is a model warrior for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The reader is bound to be moved by the life of this remarkable man who was the very opposite of a fanatic, and when (the reader) closes the book, it will be with a vastly enhanced understanding of the ethical and spiritual commonalities between Christianity and Islam."
—Jane Geniesse, author of The Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark
"John Kiser's Commander of the Faithful is an extremely important book for both Muslim and non-Muslim audiences. With remarkable detail, Kiser describes the 19th century Abd el-Kader's struggle against French colonialism in Algeria, a rebellion he waged with courage, dignity, and chivalry, earning him the respect of the very people he was fighting. Muslims remain profoundly lacking in modern heroic exemplars, and in Abd el-Kader, we can look to a leader - a scholar, spiritual master, and warrior - who struggled for justice in his own society without transgressing the limits of just war. Kiser does a fantastic job of introducing us to this hero, and I can't wait for others to read the book!"
—Daisy Khan, Executive Director, American Society for Muslim Advancement
"Skillful, fascinating, and relevant..."
—Robert Earle, Commander of the Faithful by John Kiser—A Review
"I thank John Kiser for his writing the book. It is a must read for anyone wanting to understand the true Arab hero, one hundred and fifty years ago and today. I was intrigued with the Emir and his absolute commitment to his God, his family and his fellow man (including his enemies)."
—Gordon Meriweather, Captain, US Navy (Ret.); columnist for Culpeper Star-Exponent
"Your work is most excellent and timely. I hope it gets a widespread distribution and reading."
—Hamza Yusuf, Founder, Zaytuna Institute
"I'm a huge fan of John Kiser's work. I have used his previous book Monks of Tibhirine many times in courses and in my own research....I have read Commander of the Faithful, which is another brilliant book that I will use in my Algeria and France class again this fall."
—James D. Le Sueur, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Visit the Patheos Book Club for more conversation on Commander of the Faithful and an interview with author John W. Kiser.