In 1852 Louis Napoleon, the president of the Second Republic who would soon establish the Second Empire as Napoleon III, freed Abd al Qadir and gave him a pension of 150,000 francs. In 1855 Abd al Qadir moved from the Byrsa, the citadel area of Carthage, to Damascus. There in 1860 Abd al Qadir intervened to save the lives of an estimated 12,000 Christians, including the French consul and staff, during a massacre instigated by local Ottoman officials. The French government, in appreciation, conferred on him the Grand Cordon of the Legion of Honor, and additional honors followed from a number of other European governments. Declining all invitations to return to public life, he devoted himself to scholarly pursuits and charity until his death in Damascus in 1883.
Abd al Qadir is recognized and venerated as the first hero of Algerian independence. Not without cause, his green and white standard was adopted by the Algerian liberation movement during the War of Independence and became the national flag of independent Algeria. The Algerian government brought his remains back to Algeria to be interred with much ceremony on July 5, 1966, the fourth anniversary of independence and the 136th anniversary of the French conquest. A mosque bearing his name has been constructed as a national shrine in Constantine.