We have seen many heroic female fighters in early Islamic history such as Nusayba and Khowla. It seems that this trend of brave and strong women leaders in battle continued into the nineteenth century with Lalla Fadhma N’Soumer[1] , who fought against the French colonization of Algeria.

Fadhma was born during the start of the French occupation of Algeria in 1830 in a village called Ain El Hammam in Kabylie. Fadhma’s father, Sheikh Ali ben Aissi, led a Quran school and she used to memorize the Quran just by listening to her father’s students recite it. She was extremely pious and well educated in religious studies and highly intelligent. When her father passed away, she ran the Quran school with her brother and focused extra care on children and the poor.

When she was 16 years old, the French occupation reached her village. She immediately joined the resistance fighters who had retreated to her village to fight against the French armies. After the death of the leader of the resistance fighters, the important figures in the tribes of Kabylie appointed Fadhma to command the fighters. Before the age of 24, she had led strong armies of men and women to victory in several battles against thousands of French soldiers, led by Jaques Louis Randon who was captured and then escaped. Randon later returned with 35,000 soldiers demanded that the Algerian troops surrender Fadhma to him or he will continue to hit her village with canons. They refused.

Fadhma continued to encourage her people to fight for “Islam, the land, and liberty.” Through her leadership, they continued to defeat the French troops until the French asked for a ceasefire. Three years later, the French broke the ceasefire and came with a stronger offensive, in a battle in which Fadhma’s armies suffered their first defeat and led to her capture. While she was in captivity, the French spent her fortune and destroyed her rich library of scientific and Islamic books. She passed away at the young age of 33 from the hardship of imprisonment and the frustration of not being able to fight and defend her country.

Fadhma played an important role in the resistance against the French colonization of Algeria—a war thought to be the most brutal in Africa and in which, between 1830 and 1872, Algeria lost a third of its population. Today a statue stands to honor her bravery and her service to the national cause; there was also movie made about her.

*I did not post any pictures of her, although there are many floating around the internet, because after research I found most pictures of her to be fake.

[1] Lalla is the female equivilant of sidi, a name given to those of high rank. N’Soumer was the name given to her because of the name of the specific village she lived in. Her birth name was Fadhma Nat si Hmed.



“Lalla Fatma N’Soumer.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <>.

“Lalla Fadhma N’Soumer, the Embodiment of Algerian Resistance against French Colonization.” African Heritage. N.p., 21 Nov. 2012. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <>.

“Lalla Fatma N’Soumer: A Symbol of Feminine Strength – English Blog | By Algeria Channel.” Lalla Fatma N’Soumer: A Symbol of Feminine Strength – English Blog | By Algeria Channel. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <>.

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