Infobox Monarch
name =Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb
title =Sultan of Egypt and Syria

caption =Artistic representation of Saladin
reign =1174–1193
coronation =1174
full name =Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb
predecessor =Nur ad-Din
successor =Al-ˤAzīz ˤUthmān
dynasty =Ayyubid
father =Najm ad-Dīn Ayyūb
date of birth =c. 1137–1138
place of birth =Tikrit, Iraq
date of death =March 4 1193 CE
place of death =Damascus, Syria
place of burial =Umayyad Mosque, Damascus, Syria|

Salahadin Ayyubi (Arabic:صلاح الدين يوسف بن أيوب; Kurdish: سه‌لاحه‌دین ئه‌یوبی "Selah'edînê Eyubî"; c. 1138 - March 4, 1193), better known as Saladin in medieval Europe, was a Sultan of Egypt and Syria. He was a Kurdish Muslim and led the Islamic opposition to the Third Crusade. At the height of his power, the Ayyubid dynasty he founded, ruled over Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Hejaz, and Yemen. He led Muslim resistance to the European Crusaders and eventually recaptured Palestine from the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. As such, he is a notable figure in Arab, Kurdish, and Muslim culture. Saladin was a strict practitioner of Sunni Islam. He did not maim, kill or retaliate against those whom he defeated,cite news|url=|title=Islam: Empire of Faith|publisher=IMDB|accessdate=2008-08-20] with the notable exception of certain events following the Battle of Hattin. His generally chivalrous behaviour was noted by Christian chroniclers, especially in the accounts of the siege of Krak in Moab.

Early life

Saladin was born "Yūsuf Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn ibn Ayyūb" from a predominantly Kurdish background and ancestry.cite web|url=|title=Encyclopedia of World Biography on Saladin|language=English|accessdate=2008-08-20] His family lived in Tikrit, in what is now Iraq, where he was born during the Islamic world's Golden Age.cite web|url=|title=Who2 Biography: Saladin, Sultan / Military Leader ||language=English|accessdate=2008-08-20] [Bahā' al-Dīn (2002), p 17.] ["The medieval historian Ibn Athir relates a passage from another commander: "...both you and Saladin are Kurds and you will not let power pass into the hands of..." Minorsky (1957).] His father, Najm ad-Dīn Ayyūb, was banned from Tikrit and moved to Mosul where he met Imād ad-Din Zengi, the Turkish atabeg or regent of Mosul at the time who was also the founder of the Zengid dynasty, who was leading Muslim forces against the Crusaders in Edessa.Fact|date=August 2008 Imād ad-Din Zengi appointed Najm ad-Din as the commander of his fortress in Baalbek. After the death of Imād ad-Din Zengi in 1146, his son, Nūr ad-Dīn, became the regent of Mosul. Saladin received his name from Nūr ad-Dīn and was sent to Damascus to continue his education and this was where he also completed his educational studies.Reston (2001), pp 3–8.] cite web|url=|title=Saladins short biography from|language=English|accessdate=2008-08-20] Several sources claim that during his studies he was more interested in religion than joining the military. Another factor which may have affected his interest in religion was that during the First Crusade Jerusalem was taken by force from the Christians by surprise when the Islamic world had done nothing to start the offensive. The Muslim culture and the city was pillaged and much of their culture lay in ruins for at least one hundred and four years. Saladin later rebelled against the Christian-held Jerusalem and won back the city.



His career in the military began when his uncle Asad al-Dīn Shīrkūh, or simply named Shirkuh, started training him. Shirkuh was an important military commander under the emir Nūr al-Dīn, who was the son and successor of Zangī. During three military expeditions led by Shīrkūh into Egypt to prevent its falling to the Latin Christian Crusaders who already ruled Jerusalem. Amalric I, the king of Jerusalem; Shāwar, the powerful vizier of the Egyptian Fāṭimid caliph; and Shīrkūh formed a struggle. After Shīrkūh's death and after ordering Shāwar's assassination, Saladin, in 1169 was appointed both commander of the Syrian troops in Egypt and vizier of the Fāṭimid caliph there. Saladin was only 31 when he received the position in the military and tried to finish much of his uncle's work. His relatively quick rise to power was due to the fact he had come from Kurdish cultural background and is cited as having many talents including being an effective and efficient military leader. He became from then onwards a Sultan of Egypt and his clear demonstration of being an efficient leader quickly built up his reputation of a great leader, although he had received the title of king, many had referred to him as the Sultan of Egypt. The founding of the Ayyubid dynasty and restoring Sunni Islam in Egypt is all credited to Saladin. He expanded his territory westwards in the Maghreb and when his uncle was sent up the Nile to pacify some resistance of the former Fatimid supporters, he continued on down the Red Sea to conquer Yemen. Saladin's position was further enhanced when, in 1171, he abolished the ineffective Shīʿite Fāṭimid caliphate, and lead a return to Sunni Islam in Egypt. When the caliph died in 1171, Saladin had the ˤulamā' pronounce the name of al-Mustadi, the Sunni - and, more importantly, Abbassid - caliph in Baghdad at sermon before Friday prayers; by their authority, they simply deposed the old line. Saladin ruled Egypt, but officially as the representative of the Turkish Seljuk ruler Nūr ad-Dīn, who himself conventionally recognized the Abbassid caliph. Although he remained for a time a vassal of Nūr al-Dīn, the relationship he had had ended with the Syrian's death in 1174. Saladin quickly used the emir's rich agricultural possessions in Egypt as a financial base, Saladin soon moved into Syria bringing with him a strictly disciplined army to claim the regency on behalf of the young son of his former suzerain, however the army he brought was small. Soon, however, he abandoned this claim, and from 1174 until 1186 he rigorously pursued a goal of uniting all the Muslim territories of Syria, northern Iraq, Palestine, and Egypt. Saladin is credited to have revitalized the economy of Egypt, reorganized the military forces and, following his father's advice, stayed away from any conflicts with Nur ad-Din, his formal lord, after he had become the real ruler of Egypt. He waited until Nūr ad-Dīn's death before starting serious military actions, at first against smaller Muslim states, then directing them against the Crusaders. Sources such as "Encyclopaedia Britannica" are quoted as explaining Saladins techniques in warfare and his attitudes to the conquered:

This he accomplished by skillful diplomacy backed when necessary by the swift and resolute use of military force. Gradually his reputation grew as a generous and virtuous but firm ruler, devoid of pretense, licentiousness, and cruelty. In contrast to the bitter dissension and intense rivalry that had up to then hampered the Muslims in their resistance to the Crusaders, Saladin's singleness of purpose induced them to re-arm both physically and spiritually.cite book|first=Encyclopaedia Britannica 2008 PC Edition|title=Encyclopaedia Britannica|language=English]


On two occasions, in 1170 and 1172, Saladin retreated from an invasion of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. These had been launched by Nūr ad-Dīn and Saladin hoped that the Crusader kingdom would remain intact, as a buffer state between Egypt and Syria, until Saladin could gain control of Syria as well. Nūr ad-Dīn and Saladin were headed towards open war on these counts when Nūr ad-Dīn died in 1174. Nūr ad-Dīn's heir, as-Salih Ismail al-Malik, was a mere boy in the hands of court eunuchs, and died in 1181.

Immediately after Nūr ad-Dīn's death, Saladin marched on Damascus and was welcomed into the city. He reinforced his legitimacy there in the time-honored way, by marrying Nūr ad-Dīn's widow Ismat ad-Din Khatun. Aleppo and Mosul, on the other hand, the two other largest cities that Nūr ad-Dīn had ruled, were never taken but Saladin managed to impose his influence and authority on them in 1176 and 1186 respectively. While he was occupied in besieging Aleppo, on May 22, 1176, the shadowy Ismaili assassin group, the Hashshashin, attempted to murder him. They made two attempts on his life, the second time coming close enough to inflict wounds.

While Saladin was consolidating his power in Syria, he usually left the Crusader kingdom alone, although he was generally victorious whenever he did meet the Crusaders in battle. One exception was the Battle of Montgisard on November 25, 1177. He was defeated by the combined forces of Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, Raynald of Chatillon and the Knights Templar. Only one tenth of his army made it back to Egypt.


Saladin spent the subsequent year recovering from his defeat and rebuilding his army, renewing his attacks in 1179 when he defeated the Crusaders at the Battle of Jacob's Ford. [also "Baytu l-Ahazon"] after which a truce was declared between Saladin and the Crusader States in 1180.Fact|date=June 2008 However, Crusader counter-attacks provoked further responses by Saladin. Raynald of Chatillon, in particular, harassed Muslim trading and pilgrimage routes with a fleet on the Red Sea, a water route that Saladin needed to keep open. In response, Saladin built a fleet of 30 galleys to attack Beirut in 1182. Raynald threatened to attack the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. In retaliation, Saladin twice besieged Kerak, Raynald's fortress in Oultrejordain, in 1183 and 1184. Raynald responded by looting a caravan of pilgrims on the Hajj in 1185. According to the later thirteenth century "Old French Continuation of William of Tyre", Raynald captured Saladin's sister in a raid on a caravan, although this claim is not attested in contemporary sources, Muslim or Frankish, rather stating that Raynald had attacked a preceding caravan, and Saladin set guards to ensure the safety of his sister and her son, who came to no harm.

Following the failure of his Kerak sieges, Saladin temporarily turned his attention back to another long-term project and resumed attacks on the territory of ˤIzz ad-Dīn (Masˤūd ibn Mawdūd ibn Zangi), around Mosul, which he had begun with some success in 1182. However, since then, Masˤūd had allied himself with the powerful governor of Azerbaijan and Jibal, who in 1185 began moving his troops across the Zagros Mountains, causing Saladin to hesitate in his attacks. The defenders of Mosul, when they became aware that help was on the way, increased their efforts, and Saladin subsequently fell ill, so in March 1186 a peace treaty was signed. [C. Bosworth et al. [ Encyclopaedia of Islam, page 781] Brill (1989) ISBN 9004092390, via Google Books accessed 2008-05-18]

In July 1187 Saladin captured most of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. On July 4, 1187, he faced at the Battle of Hattin the combined forces of Guy of Lusignan, King Consort of Jerusalem and Raymond III of Tripoli. In this battle alone the Crusader army was largely annihilated by the motivated army of Saladin in what was a major disaster for the Crusaders and a turning point in the history of the Crusades. Saladin captured Raynald de Chatillon and was personally responsible for his execution in retaliation for previously attacking Muslim pilgrim caravans. [Runciman, Volume 2, Book 10, Chapter II ] Guy of Lusignan was also captured but his life was spared.

That night, "with uncharacteristic coldbloodedness", Saladin ordered the execution of the "hundred or so" Templar and Hospitaller knights among the prisoners.Hindley (2007), p. 132.] Because of their religious "devotion and rigorous training", they were the "most feared" of the Christian soldiers. Seated on a dais before his army, Saladin watched as "the band of scholars, sufis and ascetics... carried out the ceremonial killing".

Capture of Jerusalem

Saladin had almost captured every Crusader city. Jerusalem capitulated to his forces on October 2, 1187 after a siege. Before the siege, Saladin had offered generous terms of surrender, which were rejected. After the siege had started, he was unwilling to promise terms of quarter to the European occupants of Jerusalem until Balian of Ibelin threatened to kill every Muslim hostage, estimated at 5000, and to destroy Islam’s holy shrines of the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque if quarter was not given. Saladin consulted his council and these terms were accepted. Ransom was to be paid for each Frank in the city whether man, woman or child. Saladin allowed many to leave without having the required amount for ransom for others. [Runciman ] [ [ E. J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936] ]

Tyre, on the coast of modern-day Lebanon was the last major Crusader city that was not captured by Muslim forces (strategically, it would have made more sense for Saladin to capture Tyre before Jerusalem--however, Saladin chose to pursue Jerusalem first because of the importance of the city to Islam). The city was now commanded by Conrad of Montferrat, who strengthened Tyre's defences and withstood two sieges by Saladin. In 1188, at Tortosa, Saladin released Guy of Lusignan and returned him to his wife, Queen Sibylla of Jerusalem. They went first to Tripoli, then to Antioch. In 1189, they sought to reclaim Tyre for their kingdom, but were refused admission by Conrad, who did not recognize Guy as king. Guy then set about besieging Acre.

Third Crusade

Hattin and the fall of Jerusalem prompted the Third Crusade, financed in England by a special "Saladin tithe". Richard I of England led Guy's siege of Acre, conquered the city and executed 3000 Muslim prisoners including women and children. Saladin retaliated by killing all Franks captured from August 28 - September 10. Bahā' ad-Dīn writes, "Whilst we were there they brought two Franks to the Sultan (Saladin) who had been made prisoners by the advance guard. He had them beheaded on the spot." [Bahā' al-Dīn (2002) pp 169-170]

The armies of Saladin engaged in combat with the army of King Richard I of England at the Battle of Arsuf on September 7, 1191, at which Saladin was defeated. All attempts made by Richard the Lionheart to re-take Jerusalem failed. However, Saladin's relationship with Richard was one of chivalrous mutual respect as well as military rivalry. When Richard became ill with fever, Saladin offered the services of his personal physician. Saladin also sent him fresh fruit with snow, to chill the drink, as treatment. At Arsuf, when Richard lost his horse, Saladin sent him two replacements. Richard suggested to Saladin that Palestine, Christian and Muslim, could be united through the marriage of his sister Joan of England, Queen of Sicily to Saladin's brother, and that Jerusalem could be their wedding gift.fact|date=September 2008 However, the two men never met face to face and communication was either written or by messenger.

As leaders of their respective factions, the two men came to an agreement in the Treaty of Ramla in 1192, whereby Jerusalem would remain in Muslim hands but would be open to Christian pilgrimages. The treaty reduced the Latin Kingdom to a strip along the coast from Tyre to Jaffa. This treaty was supposed to last three years.


Saladin died of a fever on March 4, 1193, at Damascus, not long after Richard's departure. Since Saladin had given most of his money away for charity when they opened his treasury they found there was not enough money to pay for his funeral. [Bahā' al-Dīn (2002) pp 25 & 244.] And so Saladin was buried in a magnificent mausoleum in the garden outside the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria. Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany donated a new marble sarcophagus to the mausoleum. Saladin was, however, not placed in it. Instead the mausoleum, which is open to visitors, now has two sarcophagi: one empty in marble and the original in which Saladin is placed, made of wood. The reason why he was placed in the tomb would most likely to have been as a result of respect, and not to disturb Saladin.

Recognition and legacy

Quote box
quote = It is equally true that his generosity, his piety, devoid of fanaticism, that flower of liberality and courtesy which had been the model of our old chroniclers, won him no less popularity in Frankish Syria than in the lands of Islam.
source = "René Grousset (writer)"Grousset (1970).]
width = 25em
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Despite his fierce struggle against the crusades, Saladin achieved a great reputation in Europe as a chivalrous knight, so much so that there existed by the fourteenth century an epic poem about his exploits, and Dante included him among the virtuous pagan souls in Limbo. Saladin appears in a sympathetic light in Sir Walter Scott's "The Talisman" (1825). Despite the Crusaders' slaughter when they originally conquered Jerusalem in 1099, Saladin granted amnesty and free passage to all common Catholics and even to the defeated Christian army, as long as they were able to pay the aforementioned ransom (the Greek Orthodox Christians were treated even better, because they often opposed the western Crusaders). An interesting view of Saladin and the world in which he lived is provided by Tariq Ali's novel "The Book of Saladin". [(London: Verso, 1998)]

Notwithstanding the differences in beliefs, the Muslim Saladin was respected by Christian lords, Richard especially. Richard once praised Saladin as a great prince, saying that he was without doubt the greatest and most powerful leader in the Islamic world. [Lyons & Jackson (1982), pg 357.] Saladin in turn stated that there was not a more honorable Christian lord than Richard. After the treaty, Saladin and Richard sent each other many gifts as tokens of respect, but never met face to face again.

In April 1191, a Frankish woman's three month old baby had been stolen from her camp and had been sold on the market. The Franks urged her to approach Saladin herself with her grievance. After Saladin used his own money to buy the child, "he gave it to the mother and she took it; with tears streaming down her face, and hugged it to her breast. The people were watching her and weeping and I (Ibn Shaddad) was standing amongst them. She suckled it for some time and then Saladin ordered a horse to be fetched for her and she went back to camp." [Bahā' al-Dīn (2002), pp 147–148; Lyons & Jackson (1982), pp 325-326.] Quote box
quote = A Knight without fear or blame who often had to teach his opponents the right way to practice chivalry.
source = "An inscription written by Kaiser Wilhelm II on a wreath he lay on Saladins Tomb".
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The name "Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn" means "Righteousness of Faith," and through the ages Saladin has been an inspiration for Muslims in many respects. Modern Muslim rulers have sought to commemorate Saladin through various measures. A governorate centered around Tikrit and Samarra in modern-day Iraq, Salah ad Din Governorate, is named after him, as is Salahaddin University in Arbil. A suburb community of Arbil, Masif Salahaddin, is also named after him.

Few structures associated with Saladin survive within modern cities. Saladin first fortified the Citadel of Cairo (1175 - 1183), which had been a domed pleasure pavilion with a fine view in more peaceful times. In Syria, even the smallest city is centred on a defensible citadel, and Saladin introduced this essential feature to Egypt.Among the forts he built was Qalaat al-Gindi, a mountaintop fortress and caravanserai in the Sinai. The fortress overlooks a large wadi which was the convergence of several caravan routes that linked Egypt and the Middle East. Inside the structure are a number of large vaulted rooms hewn out of rock, including the remains of shops and a water cistern. A notable archaeological site, it was investigated in 1909 by a French team under Jules Barthoux.cite web | url = | title = Saladin | accessdate = 2007-03-17 | last = Schreurs | first = J. | year = 2001 | month = February]

The Ayyubid dynasty he founded continued fifty-seven years after his death. The legacy of Saladin within the Arab World continues to this day. With the rise of Arab nationalism in the Twentieth Century, particularly with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Saladin's heroism and leadership gained a new significance. The glory and comparative unity of the Arab World under Saladin was seen as the perfect symbol for the new unity sought by Arab nationalists, such as Gamal Abdel Nasser. For this reason, the Eagle of Saladin became the symbol of revolutionary Egypt, and was subsequently adopted by several other Arab states (Iraq, Palestine, and Yemen).

In 1963 an Egyptian film about Saladin was directed by Youssef Chahine and was released, titled "Al Nasser Salah Ad-Din". In the 1965 "Doctor Who" serial "The Crusade" he was played by Bernard Kay. 2005's "Kingdom of Heaven", directed by Ridley Scott, has Saladin portrayed by Syrian actor Ghassan Massoud. In the 2007 Swedish film "Arn – The Knight Templar" ("Arn – Tempelriddaren"), Saladin is portrayed by the British Asian actor and supermodel Milind Soman.


ee also

* History of Arab Egypt
* Alvis Saladin, a British armoured car named after Saladin used by the British Army and others
*Nathan the Wise



* (trans. Richards, D.S.) (2002). "The Rare and Excellent History of Saladin". Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-3381-6
* (1986). "Egypt After the Pharaohs".
* (trans. Costello, E.J.) (1984). "Arab Historians of the Crusades". Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 978-0-710-20235-2
* (1973). "The Life of Saladin: From the Works of Imad ad-Din and Baha ad-Din". Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0-86356-928-9
* (1999). "Richard I", "Yale English Monarchs", Yale University Press.
* (1970). "The Epic of the Crusades". New York: Orion Press.
* (2007). "Saladin: Hero of Islam". Pen & Sword. ISBN 1-84415-499-8
* (ed. Landberg, C.). (1888). "Conquête de la Syrie et de la Palestine par Salâh ed-dîn". Brill.
* (1898). "Saladin and the Fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem", Putnam.
* (1982) "Saladin: the Politics of the Holy War". Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-31739-9
* (1957). "Studies in Caucasian history", Cambridge University Press.
* (2001). "Warriors of God: Richard the Lionhearted and Saladin in the Third Crusade". New York: Anchor Books. ISBN 0-385-49562-5
* "A History of the Crusades: Volume 2, The Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Frankish East". Cambridge University Press.
* (1998) "Muslim heroes of the Crusades" ISBN 1-8979-4071-8

External links

* [ Richard and Saladin: Warriors of the Third Crusade]
* [ De expugnatione terrae sanctae per Saladinum] A European account of Saladin's conquests of the Crusader states. la icon

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