As a frequenter of conferences and forums, I can confidently say that not many possess the breadth of knowledge and inspiration of Abdelkader Education Project’s (AEP) 2017 Forum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Centered on Emir Abdelkader, a brave 19th century Algerian war hero, this forum united people from across the country and all walks of life to discuss reviving Abdelkader’s legacies of compassion, morality and intellect, all of which have earned him honor across the world--from the recognition of Abraham Lincoln to the support of nations like France.
I was invited to speak at the Forum as a follow-up to an AtlantaMuslim article I wrote in December of 2015 titled "Why the Iowa City Named After a Muslim Hero Matters Today". The piece highlights inspirational Algerians who have impacted the United States, focusing on Emir Abdelkader.
Kathy Grams, the co-founder of AEP, came across my article and reached out to me about getting involved with the Project. After looking into the organization and what it stands for, I was sold: AEP is on a mission to revive lost history and promote education. Their annual Abdelkader Global Leadership Essay Contest encourages high school and college students across the nation to learn about this important historical figure.
From his willingness to free French prisoners when he couldn’t feed them, to saving 10,000 Christians from an impending massacre, to forbidding his men from destroying books, Abdelkader’s legacy is not well known, yet it is crucial to study. Now more than ever, we need a new generation of Muslims and non-Muslims alike willing to learn from the example of Emir Abdelkader.
My greatest takeaway from the forum was from AEP’s co-founder John Kiser. He addressed how the worst of the 7 deadly sins is sloth, especially intellectual sloth. Intellectual sloth is defined as being too lazy to think--perhaps the worst form of ignorance.
If you’re reading this and have ever fallen victim to intellectual sloth, this is your opportunity to do something about it. Pick up Kiser’s book, Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abdelkader, and share your knowledge with others.
The work Abdelkader Education Project does is important. They provide and promote valuable, yet little known historical information about one of the greatest men of the 19th century.
Emir Abdelkader is a hero of today. By learning about his legacy, we can become the champions of tomorrow. Learn more and submit your essay at http://www.abdelkaderproject.org/essay-contest/.
A proud Algerian-American, Nouha Zaabab is a third-year at Georgia Tech and is passionate about meeting new people and collecting their stories. If you have any questions or would like to reach out further, email Nouha at firstname.lastname@example.org