Saladin: Story of a Hero

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I am quite the history fanatic and an avid collector of books, and I have quite a few texts on Arabic/Middle Eastern history. While they range from ancient to modern, one of the most interesting people I have read about was Saladin, a Muslim leader (both military and political) who lived during the 12th century (born in 1137 CE, died in 1193 CE). Saladin was best known for both his efforts to unite the Muslim world at the time, and his involvement with the Crusades, vehemently fighting against the European Crusader armies over the years.

Saladin (whose full name was actually al-Malik al-Nasir Salah al-Dunya wa’l-Din Abu’l Muzaffar Yusuf Ibn Ayyub Ibn Shadi al-Kurdi) was born in what is present day Iraq, into a Kurdish family that were Sunni Islam. He was involved in various military campaigns over the years, many in Egypt and Syria, serving under Nur ad-Din (Turkish military leader) for a period, and during this time gained vast experience as a leader and military commander.

The highlight, one could say of Saladin’s military career (and life possibly) was his retaking of Jerusalem in 1187 after the Battle of Hattin, where he defeated a combing Crusader army. Even though Saladin was an enemy to King Richard, the leader of the Crusader armies who he fought to a stalemate during the Third Crusade, he was seen as honorable by him and the two even exchanged gifts with one another over the years, even though they never actually met. He had a reputation even amongst Christians in the West, for being generous and an adherent to justice. Saladin founded the Ayyubid dynasty and was also the first Sultan of both Egypt and Syria. Even today, Saladin is revered as a hero in the Muslim world, with some examples being his symbol (the eagle) represented on various coats of arms, having a university named after him in Iraq, and having a statue commemorating his victory at the Battle of Hattin in Damascus, Syria.

Here is a list of some good books about Saladin (or that are partly about him from various angles) if anyone is interested in learning more:

  • Saladin: The Sultan Who Vanquished The Crusaders And Built An Islamic Empire – by John Man
  • Saladin – by Anne-Marie Edde
  • Saladin: Hero Of Islam – by Geoffrey Hindley
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