I have chosen this hero for the first of my blog’s new series “Great Muslims” not because he was a warrior – because as you will notice in the next posts that most Great Muslims were actually not warriors but scholars in the different fields of science – but because he had liberated Jerusalem from the Crusaders. And today, as 60 years have passed since the Israelis occupied Palestine, I think of him a lot. I ask myself if there will come a day when a great hero like Saladin will rise in the horizon and return Palestine back to its people? Or will we just wait and wait, hoping for the new hero to come, watching thousands of families losing their homes and lands and thousands of children who lost their past and their future because some other people claim that they never existed and work hard to remove even the signs of their existence?
I have chosen Salahuddin Al-Ayyubi because he was a compassionate, gentle-hearted, but strong man, respected but feared by his enemies. I have also chosen him, because he once ruled Egypt, my home country, and built the great citadel in Cairo to protect it from the Crusaders.
But what do we actually know about this great man other than what we see in the movies and cartoons ?
Salahuddin as a child
He loved peace and never enjoyed fighting battles but he and his uncle were ordered to travel and fight in three expeditions. And when the young boy who didn’t like fighting in battles fought, he fought with great bravery and strength.
Salahuddin: a good Muslim
He was a devout Muslim to whom Islam meant everything, he would never miss his daily five times prayers even when he was ill, and had a dislike for people who tried to instill free-thinking, unnecessary debate and controversy into the doctrines of Islam. He truly loved the Quran and wept upon hearing it read. In spite of being a king, he journeyed in search of knowledge, travelling to a scholar to learn the Muwatta of Imam Malik (rahmatullahi alaihi).
This had its later influence on his behaviour as a leader and warrior:
He treated all of his Prisoners with Respect and dignity, no torture, massacre, mass killing, took place during his time. And unlike all other Sultan’s he did not build a single Palace or any building for himself yet he erected mosques, palaces, hospitals, and universities in for his Muslim brothers in Cairo.
Salahuddin’s aim as a leader
” If God blesses us by enabling us to drive His enemies out of Jerusalem, how fortunate and happy we would be! For Jerusalem has been controlled by the enemy for ninety-one years, during which time God has received nothing from us here in the way of adoration. At the same time, the zeal of the Muslim rulers to deliver it languished. Time passed, and so did many [in different] generations, while the Franks succeeded in rooting themselves strongly there. Now God has reserved the merit of its recovery for one house, the house of the sons of Ayyub, in order to unite all hearts in appreciation of its members.” Salah al-Din
This was Salahuddin’s aim, simply to liberate Jerusalem and return back the mosque of Al-Aqsa to the Muslims.
Liberation of Jerusalem
On July 4, 1187, aided by his own military good sense and by a phenomenal lack of it on the part of his enemy, Saladin trapped and destroyed in one blow an exhausted and thirst-crazed army of crusaders at Hattin, near Tiberias in northern Palestine.
In 1187, when Jerusalem, the Holy Land, surrendered to his army after 88 years in the hands of the Franks.
Whereas the Christian conquest had been marked by slaughter, Saladin’s troops demonstrated courteous and civilized behaviour.
Thousands of Crusaders were arrested. However, when their mothers, sisters, and wives appealed to Saladin, he released them. Many crusaders were ransomed. However, he paid for many of them. In addition, he provided them transport, etc. He allowed neither massacre nor looting. He gave free pardon to all citizens. He even arranged for their traveling. He granted freedom to Christians to leave the city if they paid a small tribute. Saladin paid it, himself, for about ten thousand poor people. His brother paid it for seven thousand people. Saladin also allocated one of the gates of the city for people who were too poor to pay anything that they leave from there.
On Friday 27th Rajab 583 AH, Saladin entered Jerusalem. After entering the city they went straight to the Mosque and cleaned it. Then for the first time in more then 80 years, the people of Jerusalem heard the Azan (call of prayer) from Al Aqsa MosqueIn 1189 the nations of western Europe launched the Third Crusade to win back the holy city. But they failed. On March 4, 1193, Saladin died in Damascus. He died with no possession of Gold coins, Palaces, Slaves, but The Holy Land Of Jerusalem.
What people said about Saladin:
According to the French writer René Grousset,
“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”
When German Kaiser Wilhelm the Second went to Syria he laid a wreath at the tomb of Saladin in Damascus with the inscription,
“A Knight without fear or blame who often had to teach his opponents the right way to practice chivalry”.
Baha-uddin, his faithful secretary stated:
“I never knew him to show any anxiety about the numbers and strength of the enemy. He would listen to plans of all kinds and discuss their consequences without any excitement or loss of composure.”
Saladin in Movies
- in 1963 an Egyptian movie about Saladin was released, titled Al Nasser Salah Ad-Din.
- was played in the 1965 serial The Crusade .
- 2005’s Kingdom of Heaven
- 2007 Swedish film Arn – The Knight Templar
And here is the trailer of a recent Malaysian Animation Series about Salahuddin:
Originally Posted By Laila Hussein to Thoughts & Tips at 6/13/2008 06:21:00 PM