Friday, 16 October 2009
Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub
Better known in the West as Saladin,the Muslim leader of Islamic forces who ultimately recaptured the Kingdom of Jerusalem from the Franks.
Born around 1137 in Tikrit,in what is now modern day Iraq,to Kurdish parents,Saladin was to create a vast,but short lived Empire,stretching from the shores of the Mediterranean to Yemen in the south of the Arabian peninsula.
Much of his life was spent in subduing and consolidating Arab territories and only clashing with Crusaders when they were allied with his enemies.
It is clear however that his ultimate ambition was to remove Christian power from the Outremer (The Knight's Templar name for Palestine).
An educated man who could converse on subjects including, Euclid,Arithmetic,Law and the Qur'an,he was also well versed in the military tactics of the day.
He was a pragmatist who would often avoid conflict if the odds were not favourable,occasionally brutal,which was not uncommon in this age of man.
On one occasion he endeared himself to the citizens of a recently conquered town by abolishing taxes imposed by the defeated Emir,saying,' The most miserable rulers are those,whose purses are fat and their people thin'.
He recovered Jerusalem after a long siege on 2nd October 1187,allowing safe passage to Christian Knights and their families. Sadly the poor old foot soldiers were sold into slavery.
His reputation in Europe mainly stems from the short lived Third Crusade, led by Richard the Lionheart, King of England.
Whilst foes in battle they both admired each other.
It is recorded that when Saladin heard that Richard was sick with a fever,he sent his personal physician with medication to cure him.
On another occasion Richard lost his horse under him during battle and Saladin sent him two replacements as a gift.
The legacy of Saladin lived on in Europe,where he was seen as an example of Chivalry and indeed an epic poem was written about him in the Fourteenth Century.
He lies entombed in a simple wooden sarcophagus,for all to see,in Damascus.
Irrespective of your faith, God is Great.