The Hama MP and leader Abdul Qader al-Keilani, co-founder of the National Bloc

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Image Source: Dr Rabab Keilani Library

 Abdul Qader al-Hasani al-Keilani was born in 1874. In 1908, he was voted president of the Hama Municipality, where he worked on renewing the Grand Serail Bridge, and expanding schools and hospitals. That same year, a coup took place in Istanbul, forcing the Sultan Abdulhamid II to re-instate the Ottoman Parliament. Keilani was voted MP for Homs and Hama, where he met leading nationalists of his generation, like Emir Shakib Arslan, Ali Salam, and Emir Faisal Ibn al-Hussein, the Jeddah MP and son of Sharif Hussein, the Emir of Mecca.

When the Ottomans left Syria in 1918, Keilani was voted into the Syrian National Congress, the first parliament, and helped crown Faisal as the first king of Syria, on March 8, 1920.

In 1925, Keilani spearheaded a revolt in his native Hama, against the French Army that had occupied Syria in 1920.

On October 19, 1927, Keilani joined other nationalists at a meeting in Beirut, where they issued a petition to the League of Nations, demanding the complete and unconditional independence of Syria. They signed off as "The National Bloc," giving birth to the leading political movement in Syria that was to combat the French for the next twenty years.   

In 1928, Keilani represented Hama in the Constitutional Assembly, charged with drafting Syria's first republican charter. It was chaired by the National Bloc leader Hashem al-Atasi.

On February 15, 1928, Keilani was named Minister of Agriculture in the cabinet of Prime Minister Taj al-Din al-Hasani. He also held the portfolios of commerce and economy.

In 1931, Keilani went to Jerusalem, at the invitation of Sharif Hussein, the ex-king of the Hijaz. There, leading scholars from across the Arab and Islamic world discussed the future of their territories, and tried to coordinate efforts against European colonialism.

He died in 1984 and was buried in his native Hama.