SALAHUDDIN AL-AYUBI (The Liberator Of Jerusalem) -II
"O believers, be your securers of justice, witness for Allaah. Let not detestation for a people move you not to be equitable , be equitable that is nearer to Taqwa(abstention)..." (Al Quran; 5:8)
The liberation of Jerusalem from the hands of the ruthless Crusaders was only one of the great achievements of Salahuddin. For, in order to achieve the goal of his life, our hero had to overcome many difficulties from inside and outside. We have already seen that in Salahuddin's time the Islamic world was politically in its worst condition, with scores or even hundreds of states fighting with each other. In fact, even the larger states such as that of Egypt ruled by the Fatimides suffered from internal strife, with treacherous ministers or commanders seeking military camp against their own people and country, while the Fatimide Caliphs were busy with their personal pleasures.
Major change came in his life when he was appointed to the position of minister to the Fatimide Caliph in 564 A.H. (1169 C.E.) at the age of 32. He was given the title "The Supporting King." This appointment seemed to have changed our hero's temperament and attitude to life in a manner reminiscent of another earlier hero of Islam, Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz. For to both, authority was a responsibility rather than an honour and they felt that they had to shun the life of ease and comfort in order to carry out the responsibility put on their shoulders.
Salahuddin started by correcting the corrupt conditions in Egypt. His first target was to clean the government from corrupt elements and the heads of treachery, some of whom he caught red-handed. The second major step taken by our hero was to abolish the whole ailing Fatimide Dynasty, (upon the death of the Caliph) sending parts of the unjustly earned and heaped properties of the Dynasty to the Abbaside Caliph in Baghdad and to his commander-in-chief in Damascus to be used in his war efforts. The rest of the properties of the Dynasty our hero sold and deposited the money in the public treasury.
As an honest and sincere leader, our hero stayed at his residence rather than move to the luxurious palaces of the Caliphate, until he built the castle at Al-Muqattam mount in Cairo.
Then he launched a long campaign in an attempt to unify the Muslim world; thus bringing into fold a great part of North Africa(Lybia and Tunisia), the West of Arabia(where the holy cities of Makkah and Medina are situated), down to Yemen. Upon the death of Nooruddin Zungi our hero became the indisputable master and Sultan of Egypt, Yemen and Syria region, which were subjugated by our hero after some battles in which some rulers of the areas allied themselves with the invading foreign forces.
Despite the fact that our hero had by then a very strong army, we believe that he had something far greater on his side in those battles; that is his charitable nature. For that won him the hearts of the residents of the fortified towns even before he entered them. We find an illustration of this charitable and chivalrous nature of our hero in the following incident:
While Salahuddin was besieging Halab (Aleppo) and attacking it, the young daughter of his former leader Nooruddin Mahmood came out of the city to meet him. He gave her a very warm welcome and asked her about her request. She told him that people wanted IZAZ. He obliged and even accompanied her to the gates of the city. Then he set free all the soldiers captured in that battle, soldiers whose hearts our hero had already won, due to his kindness, taught by Islam.
Our hero returned to Egypt after unifying the newly founded state under his command. He sent his soldiers to families and he directed his attention to civil projects, such as building hospitals, schools, bridges and public parks. He also ordered the fortification of Cairo.
But the Franks will not leave our hero in peace. For they attacked Baalback and Damascus. So he hurried to Ghaza and Asqalaan where (at the latter) he recieved an almost fatal blow. This incident convinced Salahuddin that there was no alternative to fighting the invaders and sending the Crusaders back to their own countries. For they would not respect treaties and honor promises given to the Muslim rulers. A typical example was Renot de Chartillon the ruler of Kark who violated the treaties made with Salahuddin and attacked the Muslim pilgrims (imposing taxes on them and ransacking their caravans). He even attempted to invade and attack the holy places of Islam, Makkah and Medina. Yet even the treacherous antagonist enjoyed the benevolence of our hero who ordered his men to stop the attack on Kark at the request of de Chartillon's wife who wanted to celebrate the wedding of her son. This benevolence was met by more treachery from Reno (Renigald) who used the tail in attacking a Muslim caravan, ransacking it and imprisoning its people in his fort of Kark.
All these and similar incidents increased our hero's conviction of the necessity of a major offensive. The battlefield was HITTEEN at which Salahuddin met with a huge army of the Crusaders for which the conflicting Crusader rulers came into form with each other. The battle was very fierce but our hero finally won the day and the invaders were beaten. Thus the wat to Jerusalem was half paved for our hero who captured (or rather liberated) it after ninety years in Rajab 583 A.H. (July 1187) thus opening the doors of the Holy City again for the pious followers of all religions.