Harvard Pluralism Project

A lively historical narrative of Muslims in Iowa, entitled “Portrait of Cedar Rapids and America’s Mother Mosque.” This is paired with three case studies. The first is on Abdelkader, plus two contemporary stories that serve as companion pieces.


With AEP, The Pluralism Project’s case study program produced a lively historical portrait of Muslims in Iowa, and paired it with three case-studies. The first case features Emir Abdelkader as the protagonist. Serving as companion pieces, the other two cases are contemporary stories situated in Iowa. These are powerful materials that can be used in the classroom in 45-minute periods.

Why teach the life and times of Emir Abdelkader?

  • Uncovers little-known facts about America's heartland
  • Adds historical lens of the conquered, highlighting story of resistance
  • Challenges stereotypes
  • Broadens notions of American cultural, ethnic, and religious identities
  • Offers international perspective beyond eurocentric history
  • Counters extremism
  • Provides role model of ethical leadership
  • Encourages critical thinking and social/emotional learning


Khan, Daisy. Wiseup: Knowledge Ends Extremism. Women's Islamic Initiative in Spirituality & Equality, 2017. 

Kiser, John W. Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd El-Kader. Monkfish Book Publishing, 2008. 

Marston, Elsa. The Compassionate Warrior: Abd El-Kader of Algeria. Wisdom Tales, 2013.

Other Selected Readings

Bouyerdene, Ahmed. Emir Abdelkader: Hero and Saint of Islam. World Wisdom, 2012.

Churchill, Charles-Henry. The Life of Abd el Kader, ex Sultan of the Arabs of Algeria. Chapman Hall, 1867.

Danziger, Raphael. Abd al-Qadir and the Algerians. Holmes and Meier, 1977.

DeTocqueville, Alexis. Writings on Empire and Slavery (translated by Jennifer Pitts) Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.

Kiser, John W. The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love and Terror in Algeria. St. Martins Press, 2003

Kiser, John W. Lessons From An Arab Warrior

Hourani, Albert. Islam in European Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Johnston, Douglas, Religion Terror and Error: American Foreign Policy and the Challenge of Spiritual Engagement. Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2011.

Nasr, Hossein. Man and Nature, The Spiritual Crisis of Modern Man. Chicago: ABC International Group Inc, 1997.