During his reign, Saladin has been described as the de facto Caliph of Islam   and at the height of his power, his caliphate included Egypt, Syria, Upper Mesopotamia , the Hejaz , Yemen and other parts of North Africa. He was originally sent to Fatimid Egypt in alongside his uncle Shirkuh , a general of the Zengid army, on the orders of their lord Nur ad-Din to help restore Shawar as vizier of the teenage Fatimid caliph al-Adid. A power struggle ensued between Shirkuh and Shawar after the latter was reinstated. Saladin, meanwhile, climbed the ranks of the Fatimid government by virtue of his military successes against Crusader assaults against its territory and his personal closeness to al-Adid. After Shawar was assassinated and Shirkuh died in , al-Adid appointed Saladin vizier, a rare nomination of a Sunni Muslim to such an important position in the Isma'ili Shia caliphate.
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During his reign, Saladin has been described as the de facto Caliph of Islam   and at the height of his power, his caliphate included Egypt, Syria, Upper Mesopotamia , the Hejaz , Yemen and other parts of North Africa. He was originally sent to Fatimid Egypt in alongside his uncle Shirkuh , a general of the Zengid army, on the orders of their lord Nur ad-Din to help restore Shawar as vizier of the teenage Fatimid caliph al-Adid.
A power struggle ensued between Shirkuh and Shawar after the latter was reinstated. Saladin, meanwhile, climbed the ranks of the Fatimid government by virtue of his military successes against Crusader assaults against its territory and his personal closeness to al-Adid. After Shawar was assassinated and Shirkuh died in , al-Adid appointed Saladin vizier, a rare nomination of a Sunni Muslim to such an important position in the Isma'ili Shia caliphate.
During his tenure as vizier, Saladin began to undermine the Fatimid establishment and, following al-Adid's death in , he abolished the Fatimid Caliphate and realigned the country's allegiance with the Sunni, Baghdad -based Abbasid Caliphate. In the following years, he led forays against the Crusaders in Palestine , commissioned the successful conquest of Yemen, and staved off pro-Fatimid rebellions in Upper Egypt. Not long after Nur ad-Din's death in ,  Saladin launched his conquest of Syria, peacefully entering Damascus at the request of its governor.
By mid, Saladin had conquered Hama and Homs , inviting the animosity of other Zengid lords, the official rulers of Syria's various regions. Soon after, he defeated the Zengid army at the Battle of the Horns of Hama and was thereafter proclaimed the "Sultan of Egypt and Syria" by the Abbasid caliph al-Mustadi.
Saladin made further conquests in northern Syria and Jazira , escaping two attempts on his life by Assassins , before returning to Egypt in to address issues there. By , Saladin had completed the conquest of Muslim Syria after capturing Aleppo , but ultimately failed to take over the Zengid stronghold of Mosul. Under Saladin's command, the Ayyubid army defeated the Crusaders at the decisive Battle of Hattin in , and thereafter wrested control of Palestine—including the city of Jerusalem—from the Crusaders, who had conquered the area 88 years earlier.
Although the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem continued to exist until the late 13th century, its defeat at Hattin marked a turning point in its conflict with the Muslim powers of the region. Saladin died in Damascus in , having given away much of his personal wealth to his subjects. He is buried in a mausoleum adjacent to the Umayyad Mosque. Saladin has become a prominent figure in Muslim , Arab , Turkish and Kurdish culture ,  and he has often been described as being the most famous Kurd in history.
Saladin was born in Tikrit in modern-day Iraq. His personal name was " Yusuf "; " Salah ad-Din " is a laqab , an honorific epithet, meaning "Righteousness of the Faith". Ayyub provided ferries for the army and gave them refuge in Tikrit. Mujahed al-Din Bihruz , a former Greek slave who had been appointed as the military governor of northern Mesopotamia for his service to the Seljuks , reprimanded Ayyub for giving Zengi refuge and in banished Ayyub from Tikrit after his brother Asad al-Din Shirkuh killed a friend of Bihruz.
According to Baha ad-Din ibn Shaddad , Saladin was born on the same night that his family left Tikrit. In , Ayyub and his family moved to Mosul, where Imad ad-Din Zengi acknowledged his debt and appointed Ayyub commander of his fortress in Baalbek. After the death of Zengi in , his son, Nur ad-Din , became the regent of Aleppo and the leader of the Zengids. Saladin, who now lived in Damascus , was reported to have a particular fondness for the city, but information on his early childhood is scarce.
More significantly, he knew the Hamasah of Abu Tammam by heart. Saladin's military career began under the tutelage of his uncle Asad al-Din Shirkuh , a prominent military commander under Nur ad-Din, the Zengid emir of Damascus and Aleppo and the most influential teacher of Saladin.
In , the vizier to the Fatimid caliph al-Adid , Shawar , had been driven out of Egypt by his rival Dirgham , a member of the powerful Banu Ruzzaik tribe. He asked for military backing from Nur ad-Din, who complied and, in , sent Shirkuh to aid Shawar in his expedition against Dirgham. Saladin, at age 26, went along with them. Saladin's role in this expedition was minor, and it is known that he was ordered by Shirkuh to collect stores from Bilbais prior to its siege by a combined force of Crusaders and Shawar's troops.
After the sacking of Bilbais, the Crusader-Egyptian force and Shirkuh's army were to engage in the Battle of al-Babein on the desert border of the Nile , just west of Giza. Saladin played a major role, commanding the right wing of the Zengid army, while a force of Kurds commanded the left, and Shirkuh was stationed in the center. Muslim sources at the time, however, put Saladin in the "baggage of the centre" with orders to lure the enemy into a trap by staging a feigned retreat.
The Crusader force enjoyed early success against Shirkuh's troops, but the terrain was too steep and sandy for their horses, and commander Hugh of Caesarea was captured while attacking Saladin's unit. After scattered fighting in little valleys to the south of the main position, the Zengid central force returned to the offensive; Saladin joined in from the rear.
The battle ended in a Zengid victory, and Saladin is credited with having helped Shirkuh in one of the "most remarkable victories in recorded history", according to Ibn al-Athir , although more of Shirkuh's men were killed and the battle is considered by most sources as not a total victory. Saladin and Shirkuh moved towards Alexandria where they were welcomed, given money, arms and provided a base. He and the bulk of his force withdrew from Alexandria, while Saladin was left with the task of guarding the city.
In , Shawar was reportedly assassinated by Saladin, and Shirkuh died later that year. The reasoning behind the Shia caliph al-Adid's selection of Saladin, a Sunni, varies. Ibn al-Athir claims that the caliph chose him after being told by his advisers that "there is no one weaker or younger" than Saladin, and "not one of the emirs [commanders] obeyed him or served him".
However, according to this version, after some bargaining, he was eventually accepted by the majority of the emirs. Al-Adid's advisers were also suspected of promoting Saladin in an attempt to split the Syria-based Zengids.
Al-Wahrani wrote that Saladin was selected because of the reputation of his family in their "generosity and military prowess". Imad ad-Din wrote that after the brief mourning period for Shirkuh, during which "opinions differed", the Zengid emirs decided upon Saladin and forced the caliph to "invest him as vizier". Although positions were complicated by rival Muslim leaders, the bulk of the Syrian commanders supported Saladin because of his role in the Egyptian expedition, in which he gained a record of military qualifications.
Inaugurated as vizier on 26 March, Saladin repented "wine-drinking and turned from frivolity to assume the dress of religion", according to Arabic sources of the time.
Later in the year, a group of Egyptian soldiers and emirs attempted to assassinate Saladin, but having already known of their intentions thanks to his intelligence chief Ali ibn Safyan, he had the chief conspirator, Naji, Mu'tamin al-Khilafa—the civilian controller of the Fatimid Palace—arrested and killed.
The day after, 50, Black African soldiers from the regiments of the Fatimid army opposed to Saladin's rule, along with a number of Egyptian emirs and commoners, staged a revolt.
By 23 August, Saladin had decisively quelled the uprising, and never again had to face a military challenge from Cairo. Towards the end of , Saladin, with reinforcements from Nur ad-Din, defeated a massive Crusader- Byzantine force near Damietta. Afterward, in the spring of , Nur ad-Din sent Saladin's father to Egypt in compliance with Saladin's request, as well as encouragement from the Baghdad -based Abbasid caliph, al-Mustanjid , who aimed to pressure Saladin in deposing his rival caliph, al-Adid.
He began granting his family members high-ranking positions in the region; he ordered the construction of a college for the Maliki branch of Sunni Islam in the city, as well as one for the Shafi'i denomination to which he belonged in al-Fustat. After establishing himself in Egypt, Saladin launched a campaign against the Crusaders, besieging Darum in It did not pose a threat to the passage of the Muslim navy, but could harass smaller parties of Muslim ships and Saladin decided to clear it from his path.
According to Imad ad-Din, Nur ad-Din wrote to Saladin in June , telling him to reestablish the Abbasid caliphate in Egypt, which Saladin coordinated two months later after additional encouragement by Najm ad-Din al-Khabushani, the Shafi'i faqih , who vehemently opposed Shia rule in the country. Several Egyptian emirs were thus killed, but al-Adid was told that they were killed for rebelling against him. He then fell ill, or was poisoned according to one account. While ill, he asked Saladin to pay him a visit to request that he take care of his young children, but Saladin refused, fearing treachery against the Abbasids, and is said to have regretted his action after realizing what al-Adid had wanted.
Prior to arriving at Montreal, Saladin however withdrew back to Cairo as he received the reports that in his absence the Crusader leaders had increased their support to the traitors inside Egypt to attack Saladin from within and lessen his power especially the Fatimid who started plotting to restore their past glory. Because of this, Nur ad-Din went on alone. During the summer of , a Nubian army along with a contingent of Armenian refugees were reported on the Egyptian border, preparing for a siege against Aswan.
The emir of the city had requested Saladin's assistance and was given reinforcements under Turan-Shah , Saladin's brother. Consequently, the Nubians departed; but returned in and were again driven off. This time, Egyptian forces advanced from Aswan and captured the Nubian town of Ibrim.
Saladin sent a gift to Nur ad-Din, who had been his friend and teacher, 60, dinars, "wonderful manufactured goods", some jewels, and an elephant. While transporting these goods to Damascus, Saladin took the opportunity to ravage the Crusader countryside.
He did not press an attack against the desert castles, but attempted to drive out the Muslim Bedouins who lived in Crusader territory with the aim of depriving the Franks of guides. On 31 July , Saladin's father Ayyub was wounded in a horse-riding accident, ultimately causing his death on 9 August.
In the early summer of , Nur ad-Din was mustering an army, sending summons to Mosul, Diyar Bakr , and the Jazira in an apparent preparation of attack against Saladin's Egypt.
The Ayyubids held a council upon the revelation of these preparations to discuss the possible threat and Saladin collected his own troops outside Cairo. On 15 May, Nur ad-Din died after falling ill the previous week and his power was handed to his eleven-year-old son as-Salih Ismail al-Malik. His death left Saladin with political independence and in a letter to as-Salih, he promised to "act as a sword" against his enemies and referred to the death of his father as an "earthquake shock".
In the wake of Nur ad-Din's death, Saladin faced a difficult decision; he could move his army against the Crusaders from Egypt or wait until invited by as-Salih in Syria to come to his aid and launch a war from there. He could also take it upon himself to annex Syria before it could possibly fall into the hands of a rival, but he feared that attacking a land that formerly belonged to his master—forbidden in the Islamic principles in which he believed—could portray him as hypocritical, thus making him unsuitable for leading the war against the Crusaders.
Saladin saw that in order to acquire Syria, he either needed an invitation from as-Salih, or to warn him that potential anarchy could give rise to danger from the Crusaders. When as-Salih was removed to Aleppo in August, Gumushtigin, the emir of the city and a captain of Nur ad-Din's veterans, assumed the guardianship over him.
The emir prepared to unseat all his rivals in Syria and the Jazira, beginning with Damascus. In this emergency, the emir of Damascus appealed to Saif al-Din of Mosul a cousin of Gumushtigin for assistance against Aleppo, but he refused, forcing the Syrians to request the aid of Saladin, who complied. According to his own account, was joined by "emirs, soldiers, and Bedouins—the emotions of their hearts to be seen on their faces. Leaving his brother Tughtakin ibn Ayyub as Governor of Damascus, Saladin proceeded to reduce other cities that had belonged to Nur al-Din, but were now practically independent.
His army conquered Hama with relative ease, but avoided attacking Homs because of the strength of its citadel. One of Saladin's chroniclers claimed "the people came under his spell". Gumushtigin requested Rashid ad-Din Sinan , chief da'i of the Assassins of Syria, who were already at odds with Saladin since he replaced the Fatimids of Egypt, to assassinate Saladin in his camp. One was killed by one of Saladin's generals and the others were slain while trying to escape.
Saladin later moved toward Homs instead, but retreated after being told a relief force was being sent to the city by Saif al-Din. Meanwhile, Saladin's rivals in Syria and Jazira waged a propaganda war against him, claiming he had "forgotten his own condition [servant of Nur ad-Din]" and showed no gratitude for his old master by besieging his son, rising "in rebellion against his Lord".
Saladin aimed to counter this propaganda by ending the siege, claiming that he was defending Islam from the Crusaders; his army returned to Hama to engage a Crusader force there. The Crusaders withdrew beforehand and Saladin proclaimed it "a victory opening the gates of men's hearts". Saladin's successes alarmed Saif al-Din. As head of the Zengids , including Gumushtigin, he regarded Syria and Mesopotamia as his family estate and was angered when Saladin attempted to usurp his dynasty's holdings.
Saif al-Din mustered a large army and dispatched it to Aleppo, whose defenders anxiously had awaited them. The combined forces of Mosul and Aleppo marched against Saladin in Hama. Heavily outnumbered, Saladin initially attempted to make terms with the Zengids by abandoning all conquests north of the Damascus province , but they refused, insisting he return to Egypt.
Seeing that confrontation was unavoidable, Saladin prepared for battle, taking up a superior position at the Horns of Hama , hills by the gorge of the Orontes River. On 13 April , the Zengid troops marched to attack his forces, but soon found themselves surrounded by Saladin's Ayyubid veterans, who crushed them.
The battle ended in a decisive victory for Saladin, who pursued the Zengid fugitives to the gates of Aleppo, forcing as-Salih's advisers to recognize Saladin's control of the provinces of Damascus, Homs and Hama, as well as a number of towns outside Aleppo such as Ma'arat al-Numan.
After his victory against the Zengids, Saladin proclaimed himself king and suppressed the name of as-Salih in Friday prayers and Islamic coinage.
Sultan Salahuddin Ayubi — the great warrior of Islam
The green tomb on the right houses the grave of Salahuddin Ayyubi, the great general who repelled the Crusaders at the Horns of Hattin in northern Palestine and recaptured Jerusalem for the Muslims on 2nd October CE. On the left is an empty marble sarcophagus donated by Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany to the mausoleum. Note that this entry has been shown for information purposes only. Please note that some of the places featured on this site cannot be verified for certain. The knowledge of these places has been passed down through the ages and in some cases more than one location make claim to hosting the same historical place. In such instances IslamicLandmarks.
PROFILE - Salahuddin: Iconic Muslim ruler, commander
Salahudin Ayyubi was a fighter who freed Jerusalem of the Crusaders, he was a living example of the tolerant, progressive, and inclusive faith which was so dear to his heart. By showing restraint and peaceful treatment, Salahuddin was upholding the central tenets of Islam such as freedom of religion and protection of non-Muslims. As a soldier, a ruler, and a human being, Sultan Salahuddin Ayubi was a person of phenomenal attributes. The hero of hundreds of battles was the person who for 20 years braved the storm of the Crusaders and ultimately pushed them back. The world has hardly witnessed a more chivalrous and humane conqueror. His unmatchable battle tactics and gallantry as a soldier, heroic statesmanship and his strength of character won him the respect of even his foes. His chivalrous behavior was noted by Christian chroniclers, especially in the accounts of the siege of Kerak in Moab, and despite being the nemesis of the Crusaders he won the respect of many of them, including Richard the Lionheart; rather than becoming a hated figure in Europe, he became a celebrated example of the principles of chivalry.
Tomb of Salahuddin Ayyubi
Salahuddin al-Ayyubi, popularly known in the West as Saladin, is a revered figure in Islam best known for recapturing Jerusalem from the Crusaders in Jerusalem was first conquered in by the second Muslim caliph, Umar bin al-Khattab. Over the next four centuries, it was ruled by Muslims until the holy city fell during the European crusades in In his youth, he studied the holy Quran and theology along with astronomy, mathematics and law and received military training. He later entered the service of Imad ad-Din Zangi ibn Aq Sonqur, a powerful Turkish governor in northern Syria who made him commander of his fortress in Baalbek city in eastern Lebanon near the Syrian border. Salahuddin joined the staff of his uncle, an important military commander under ruler and military leader Nur al-Din, who was the son and successor of Sultan Imad ad-Din Zengi of Mosul. In , Salahuddin, at the age of 31, became the commander of the Syrian troops in Egypt and vizier of the Fatimid caliphate there.
Salahuddin Ayyubi, the great warrior of Islam
In wars against the Christian Crusaders , he achieved great success with the capture of Jerusalem October 2, , ending its nearly nine decades of occupation by the Franks. Saladin then embarked on a journey to unite under him all the Muslim territories in Syria, northern Mesopotamia, Palestine, and Egypt. Saladin was a devout Sunni Muslim. He was committed to jihad , a term that in this context refers to a struggle to promote what is right and prevent what is wrong.