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Sidi Abdel Rahman Mosque: Algeria before 1830

The Sidi Abdel Rahman Thaalbi Mosque is located in the Casbah (the old city) of Algiers. The construction of this mosque dates back to the seventeenth century AD, specifically in the year 1621 AD. This edifice consists of a mosque and a small mausoleum topped by two white domes. The two domes are built in the Moroccan style, as they are surrounded by windows to let in light. The large dome brings light into the mosque, while the small one is located above the tomb of the saint, Sidi Abdel Rahman al-Tha’alibi.

Sidi Abdel Rahman Mosque: Algeria before 1830
Sidi Abdel Rahman Mosque: Algeria before 1830

Abd al-Rahman al-Tha’alibi is a Maliki commentator and jurist, a mystic, a jurist, and a speaker in the way of the Sunnis from among the Ash’ari Islamic school. It was known that he was a scholar of his time in north Africa in the science of Quran interpretation, so his reputation spread and his students increased until he became a symbol of the city of Algiers, in which he learned and was buried.

Birth and upbringing

Sheikh Abd al-Rahman al-Tha’alibi was born in the year 786 AH (1384 AD) in the Boumerdes region, the home of his fathers and forefathers. He grew up there and received his first education at the hands of the scholars of the Kabyle region. Later, he moved with his father to the Casbah of Algiers and then to Morocco, where he received his education in the fundamentals of religion and Maliki jurisprudence. Then he returned to settle in the city of Bejaia, where he learned at the hands of many of its sheikhs. After that, he set out on a long journey to seek knowledge, during which he moved to Tunisia, Cairo, Anatolia, and the Hijaz. At every station, he attended the lectures of the most important scholars of his time and learned from them.

إطلالة من المسجد على البحر الأبيض المتوسط
View from the mosque on the Mediterranean Sea

After this long learning journey, he returned to the Casbah of Algiers. He devoted himself to teaching and writing and began to teach his lessons in the largest mosque in Algeria at that time, the Grand Mosque, where he also took up the Friday sermon.

He took over the judiciary in the city of Algiers for a short period, before leaving it to devote himself to writing and worship. He was prolific, as he left more than ninety books on interpretation, hadith, mysticism, jurisprudence, language, history, translations, and others.

His death

Imam al-Tha’alibi died in the middle of March 1471 AD (corresponding to Ramadan 875 AH) and was buried in the cemetery adjacent to the mosque that bears his name in the Casbah of Algiers. After his death, his school (Zaouia in arabic) continued to teach, upbringing, and confirmation of students, relying on the Qadiri method. Likewise, visitors and devotees continued to flock to the Zaouia until Sheikh Abd al-Rahman al-Tha’alibi became a symbol of the city of Algeria, which became known as the city of Sidi Abdel Rahman.

This stamp was issued in 1984 as part of a series of stamps on the landmarks of Algeria before the French occupation in 1830 AD.

Catalogue reference: Yvert & Tellier 802


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