The Life and Time of Salahudeen Al-Ayyoobi
Yoosuf b. Ayyoob otherwise known as Salahudeen al-Ayyoobi was born in 532AH (1137CE) to a Kurd father who was the chief superintendent at a Tikrit fortress in Iraq.
He grew up in a family of warriors and was soon to be a great fighter. Thus in 1165CE he was sent alongside his uncle to go and restore a Fatimid Khalifah that was removed from power.
A power tussle later came up between the Khalifah that was restored and his uncle that they came together.
In the process, the parties died one after the other and there was a power vacuum of a sort. Salahudeen rose to power to avoid anarchy and normalcy was returned to Egypt, the seat of the Fatimid Caliphate. Though he himself was not a Shia. He was described as a Sufi-Ash'ari. He would later fight and crush the Shia and the Ghulaat Sufis.
Assuming power, and seeing that the locals were not given to the Shia thoughts (till date, Shi'ism does not have a good presence in Egypt), Salahudeen aligned himself with the Abassid Power (from which the Fatimids had broken away). He then suppressed the Shia Ideology in Egypt then processed Syria to take back the Muslim lands from the Crusaders who had firmly established themselves and had formidable military arsenal.
The first lesson in that is if the Muslims want to conquer their common enemies, they must first work on unity of thought and eschew all forms of schism. The unity here must be according to the dictates of the Qur'aan and the Sunnah.
Salahudeen saw the Shia as a stumbling block in his progress so he had to first remove them from the path.
That is another lesson, the Muslim cause must not be championed by those with ideological malady.
The Baatiniyyah Sect of the Ismaili Shia (called 'assassins' in the Western parlance) made several attempts at the life of Salahudeen. Allaah saved him all through.
So in 1187CE Sultan Salahudeen al-Ayyoobi defeated the Christian forces at the Battle of Hittin.
When he entered Jerusalem, unlike how the Christians did, he was full of mercy to its inhabitants. Also like Umar b. Khattab, he granted religious freedom to all with Islam as the ruling faith.
In Siyar A'laam an-Nubalaa of Adh-Dhahabi, Salahudeen was described as a brave and decisive warrior. He ruled for more than 20 years.
He stopped taking intoxicants after he became the ruler.
Anothet lesson, those championing an Islamic cause must try their best to shun sins and always return to Allaah in repentance.
He was a lover of knowledge. Al-Imaam Abu Taahir as-Silafee was one of his teachers. Other teachers of his were Alee Ibn Bint Abee Sa'd, Abu Taahir b. Auf, etc.
He liberated all the lands of Syria as far as Harran, Raqqah, Sarooj, etc.
At the Battle of Hittin (in 583AH), he crushed about 40,000 Crusaders. They all surrendered while their leaders were held as captives.
He was well loved by all. Even his enemies loved him in treaties. He had willing followers ready to carry out his lawful commands.
While at Jerusalem, he used to allow the people of knowledge in his court to discuss issues while he listened to their presentations. He would only allow hadeeth qouted with their chains in his sittings. He would not tolerate fanfare in his court. He hardly missed the congregational prayers. He rarely became angry. He would not turn away whoever sought assistance from him.
He was a simple ruler who forsook all pageantries of power.
He died of fever in the Damascus fortress in the year 587AH. That day sadness enveloped everywhere even his enemies were sad because they never knew how his successors would be.
After his death, there were no loads of gold in his safe save some silver coins. He died without leaving any land behind or possession.
He was always ready to forgive his enemies whenever he subjugated them. Whenever the enemy sought peace with him, he would grant them.
He was survived by a number of children: Uthman who became the ruler in Egypt, Alee who ruled over Damascus and adh-Dhaahir who ruled over Halab (Aleppo).
The sons kept on the Ayyoobi Dynasty until some other Muslim rulers took over.
In the coming part, we shall look at post-Ayyoobi period and the other attempts by the Crusaders to reclaim Jerusalem until the Ottomans came in.
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