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Saladin: Hero of Islam!

(the Arabic film with English subtitles)

"Saladin" Part 1
"Saladin" Part 2

Salah Ad-din Yusuf Ibn Ayyub (westernized to "Saladin"), also known as Al-malik An-nasir Salah Ad-din Yusuf I, was sultan of Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Yemen, founded the Ayyubid dynasty, and captured Jerusalem from the Christians. He was the most famous Muslim hero and a consummate military tactician.

Salah Ad-din Yusuf Ibn Ayyub (westernized to "Saladin"), also known as Al-malik An-nasir Salah Ad-din Yusuf I, was sultan of Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Yemen, founded the Ayyubid dynasty, and captured Jerusalem from the Christians. He was the most famous Muslim hero and a consummate military tactician.

Saladin was born to a well-off Kurdish family in Tikrit and grew up in Ba'lbek and Damascus. He began his military career by joining the staff of his uncle Asad ad-Din Shirkuh, an important commander. By 1169, at the age of 31, he had been appointed vizier of the Fatimid caliphate in Egypt as well as commander of the Syrian troops there.

In 1171, Saladin abolished the Shi'ite caliphate and proclaimed a return to Sunni Islam in Egypt, whereupon he became that country's sole ruler. In 1187 he took on the Latin Crusader Kingdoms, and on July 4 of that year he scored a resounding victory at the battle of Hattin. On October 2, Jerusalem surrendered. In retaking the city, Saladin and his troops behaved with great civility that contrasted sharply with the bloody actions of the western conquerors eight decades earlier.

However, though Saladin managed to reduce the number of cities held by the Crusaders to three, he failed to capture the coastal fortress of Tyre. Many Christian survivors of the recent battles took refuge there, and it would serve as a rallying point for future Crusader attacks. The recapture of Jerusalem had stunned Christendom, and the result was the launch of a third Crusade.

Over the course of the Third Crusade, Saladin managed to keep the greatest fighters of the West from making any significant advances (including the notable Crusader, Richard the Lionheart). By the time fighting was finished in 1192, the Crusaders held relatively little territory in the Levantine.

But the years of fighting had taken their toll, and Saladin died in 1193. Throughout his life he had displayed a total lack of pretension and was generous with his personal wealth; upon his death his friends discovered he'd left no funds to pay for his burial. Saladin's family would rule as the Ayyubid dynasty until it succumbed to the Mamluks in 1250.

The Savagery of the Crusaders


Crusaders plundered Jerusalem and killed all its non-Christian inhabitants.

While members of all three religions were living in peace and harmony in Palestine, the Christians in Europe decided to organize the 'Crusades.' Following a call by Pope Urban II on 25 November 1095 at the Council of Clermont, more than 100,000 people from all over Europe set out for Palestine to 'Free the Holy land from the Muslims' and find the fabled wealth of the East. After a long and wearying journey, and much plundering and slaughter of Muslims, they reached Jerusalem in 1099. The city fell after a siege of nearly five weeks, and the Crusaders moved in. And they carried out a savagery the like of which the world has seldom seen. All Muslims and Jews in the city were put to the sword. In the words of one historian, 'They killed all the Saracens and the Turks they found... whether male of female." [2] One of the Crusaders, Raymond of Aguiles, boasted of this violence:

Wonderful sights were to be seen. Some of our men (and this was more merciful) cut off the heads of their enemies; others shoot them with arrows, so that they fell from the towers; others tortured them longer by casting them into flames. Piles of heads, hands and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one's way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the Temple of Solomon, a place where religious services are normally chanted ... in the temple and the porch of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins. [3]

In two days, the Crusader army killed some 40,000 Muslims in the barbaric ways just described. [4] The peace and harmony in Palestine, which had lasted since Omar, ended in terrible slaughter. The Crusaders violated all the ethical laws of Christianity, a religion of love and compassion, and spread terror, allegedly in the name of Christianity.


The Justice of Saladin

The barbaric Crusader army made Jerusalem their capital, and established a Latin Kingdom whose borders stretched from Palestine to Antioch. However, the Crusaders who brought savagery to Palestine did not last long. Saladin gathered all the Muslim kingdoms under his banner in a holy war, and defeated the Crusaders at the battle of Hattin in 1187. After the battle, the two leaders of the crusader army, Reynauld of Chatillon and King Guy, were brought in Saladin's presence. Saladin executed Reynauld of Chatillon, who had won fame with the terrible savagery he had committed against Muslims, but he let King Guy go, as he had not committed the same crimes. Palestine once again saw the true meaning of justice.

Immediately after Hattin, and on the very same day that Prophet Mohammed had been taken from Mecca to Jerusalem in one night, the day of the ascent, Saladin entered Jerusalem and freed it from 88 years of Crusader occupation. When the Crusaders had taken the city 88 years earlier, they had killed all the Muslims inside it, and for that reason they were afraid that Saladin would do the same thing to them. Whereas he did not touch even one Christian in the city. Furthermore, he merely ordered the Latin (Catholic) Christians to leave it. The Orthodox Christians, who were not Crusaders, were allowed to live in the city and live and worship as they chose. The British historian Karen Armstrong describes the second Islamic capture of Jerusalem in these words:

On 2 October 1187 Saladin and his army entered Jerusalem as conquerors and for the next 800 years Jerusalem would remain a Muslim city... Saladin kept his word, and conquered the city according to the highest Islamic ideals. He did not take revenge for the 1099 massacre, as the Koran advised (16:127), and now that hostilities had ceased he ended the killing (2:193-194). Not a single Christian was killed and there was no plunder. The ransoms were deliberately very low...

Saladin was moved to tears by the plight of families who were rent asunder and he released many of them freely, as the Koran urged, though to the despair of his long-suffering treasurers. His brother al-Adil was so distressed by the plight of the prisoners that he asked Saladin for a thousand of them for his own use and then released them on the spot...

When Imad ad-Din saw the Patriarch Heraclius leaving the city with chariots crammed with treasure, he urged Saladin to confiscate it. But Saladin refused. The Koran said that oaths and treaties must be kept to the letter and it was essential that the Muslims should observe the legalities... Heraclius paid his ten-dinar ransom like everybody else and was even provided with a special escort to keep his treasure safe during the journey to Tyre. [5]

In short, Saladin and the Muslims in his command treated the Christians with great mercy and justice, and even showed them more compassion than their own leaders had.

Richard the Lionheart, was not very "noble" at all.

After Jerusalem, the Crusaders continued their barbarity and the Muslims their justice in other cities in Palestine. In 1194, Richard the Lionheart, who is portrayed as a great hero in British history, had 3,000 Muslims, among whom were many women and children, basely executed in Acre Castle. Although the Muslims witnessed this savagery, they never resorted to the same methods. They abided by God's command "Do not let hatred for a people... incite you into going beyond the limits" (Surat al-Ma'ida) and never used violence against innocent civilians. They never employed unnecessary violence, not even against the Crusader armies they defeated.

The savagery of the crusaders and the justice of the Muslims once more revealed a historic truth: Only an administration built on the principles of Islam could allow people of different faiths to live together in Palestine. This fact continued to be demonstrated for 700 years after Saladin, particularly during the Ottoman period.






Way to Allah 08/2007