Praise for Commander of the Faithful

“Your work is most excellent and timely. I hope it gets a widespread distribution and reading.”

Hamza Yusuf, Founder, Zaytuna Institute

“Kiser’s book is highly relevant to what is going on in the Islamic world. Abd el-Kader is the embodiment of the true moral, theological and rational ideas taught by Islam. I strongly recommend this book be translated into Arabic, Persian and Urdu.”

Muhammad Ammar Khan Nasir, Editor Monthly Al-Sharia , Pakistan.

“John Kiser weaves the intricate tale of Abd el-Kader’s heroic life and spirit as deftly as the emir maneuvered his armies on the battlefield. With engaging history and stylistic flare, Kiser brings to life the inspiring story of a great world leader that many Western readers will not have heard of before. Importantly, Kiser’s work skillfully reveals that Abd el-Kader’s legacy transcends the bounds of both time and age , discovering the 19th Century scholar-priest-warrior as the perfect elixir for the contemporary West’s chronic difficulties understanding the East.”

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Author of What is Right about Islam


“In Abd el-Kader, Kiser gives us a lens to understand the highest traditions of the Arab Muslim culture…Explaining the importance of Abd el-Kader’s voluntary surrender, a French general tells his parliament: “Abd el-Kader is the embodiment of a principle—that of great religious affection…this man has become the living symbol of an idea that moves the masses deeply.’ The emir’s real value for interfaith dialogue is that he is a devoutly conservative Muslim. In a way, this is who we should be negotiating with.”

David Mc Allister-Wilson, President, John Wesley Seminary

“The life and times of Emir Abd-el-Kader is one of those dazzling biographies that informs our modern life. A fascinating figure, Abd-el-Kader was a man of God, who put his Muslim religion into practice and who served as a bridge between the European and Islamic worlds. We have much to learn from his life and from this book, which offers us a vivid glimpse of some of the most important events of the 19th century."

Susan Eisenhower, Chairman of the Eisenhower Group, author of Mrs. Ike .


“Abd el-Kader lived by a chivalric code steeped in the Arab concept of honor. When, in our own day al-Qaeda terrorists claim the title of “knight,” it’s worth recalling a time when Arab warriors embodied the noblest attributes of knighthood: courage, compassion and restraint. John Kiser brings both the man and his world brilliantly to life.”

Steve Simon, Sabbagh Senior Fellow in Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

"Mr. Kiser insists on the religious dimension of what might otherwise be read as a story of military and political maneuvering. But “Commander of the Faithful” is hardly a theological study. It is a dramatic story of quarreling tribes, of Sufi sects and brotherhoods, of treacherous Ottoman officials, rival French generals, secret negotiations, broken truces, terrible atrocities and new forms of insurgency and counterinsurgency warfare."

Peter Steinfels, New York Times, November 22, 2008


This is an important book on an important subject. I hope it will reach a wide audience. I will introduce it to my fellow scholars and students."

Seyyed Hossein Nasr, University Professor of Islamic Studies,
George Washington University.

“Kiser writes with much affection and as a humanitarian observer of human strengths and weaknesses. It is truly a relevant book.”

A. A. Sachedina, Professor of Religious Studies University of VA


“Abd el-Kader teaches the French and the world that to achieve success, moral authority is necessary, not simply military might…This fascinating revival of a 19th century world hero’s story holds valuable lessons for today’s Middle East Warrior. It would be a worthwhile addition to any reading list.”

Col. Jon Smythe, USMC ( ret.)


“I hope and pray we can make Abd el-Kader’s life and message more accessible to people in this time when it is so sorely needed. Kiser does a beautiful job of mixing a dramatic narrative with solid scholarship.”

Reza Shah-Kazemi, editor of Islamic World Report , author and research associate of the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London; Board of Directors, Matheson Trust UK

“The Emir is a complex combination of warrior, spiritual leader, diplomat and humanitarian rarely found found in today’s society. This meticulously researched book provides us with an understanding of the multi-cultural differences that existed then and their resolution. Commander of the Faithful should be used as a guidebook for understanding current and future conflicts and interventions."

Col. John Bourgeois USMC (ret)


“John Kiser’s engagingly written and intelligently crafted Commander of the Faithful examines the life of a genuine hero of the Arab world in the nineteenth century… Kiser artfully shows how and why Abd el-Kader emerged as a world icon, and whose example is badly needed today. I highly recommend this book.”

Philip Khoury, past president of the Middle Eastern Studies Association and Ford Professor of History, MIT.

“This engrossing and uplifting story of emir Abd el-Kader who led the resistance to French colonial rule could only have been written by someone with a profound knowledge of the French and Arab worlds and a keen sense of the eternal struggle between morality and Realpolitik…It is not surprising that the author has published in both the Marine Corps Gazette and the Journal of Cistercian Studies.

Fredrick Starr, Chairman Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies


“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

“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