From Jerusalem to Elkader

Middle School Curriculum

By Sue Protheroe

An exploration of three Abrahamic faiths coming together (and colliding), an examination of Islam in particular, and a spotlight on the Algerian hero Abd el-Kader.


A comprehensive unit for middle school students, grades 6-9, presented in three lessons: 1) an exploration of sacred sites in Jerusalem and a comparison of three religions, 2) a focus on Islam and what it means to be Muslim, and 3) a study of Abd el-Kader and his connection to Iowa. Although the lessons build upon one another, they may be used in isolation.

Lesson Three: Abd el-Kader to Elkader
(6 class 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 extremisms
  • 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, 2018.

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

Marston, Elsa. Compassionate Warrior – Abd El-Kader of Algeria. World Wisdom Books, 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.