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The Mujahid Sultan - Salahuddin Al-Ayyubiyy al-'Ash^ariy
(532-589H)
 

Praise be to Allah and may Allah increase the honor and raise the rank of our Master Muhammad sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam.

Dear Muslims, the history of the Muhamadiyy nation is full of many unique great people who were the lights of our history. Some of them defended Islam with their tongue and speech, while others defended it with the sword; and others with the money and the self for the sake of Allah; among those great ones; the Grand sultan al-Mujahid as-Sultan Salah-ud-Din al-Ayyubiyy.

He is the Grand Sultan and the distinguished hero, the supporter of justice and benevolence, the Amir of the Muslims, the savior of Bayt-ul-Maqdis (the Holy House in Jerusalem) from the aggressors; Abu al-Mudhafar Yusuf Ibn Ayyub may Allah raise his rank. He was born in 532 AH in the castle of Tikrit in Iraq; his father was its ruler. Then he moved with his father to Musil in Iraq then to Ba^labak (Present time in Lebanon) where he was raised.

He had signs of sincerity and nobility which led King Nur-ud-Din Mahmud Zinkiyy to take much care of him and to make him among his closest loyalists.

The biographers mentioned that as-Sultan Salah-ud-Din was on the creed of Imam Abu al-Hasan al-Ash^ariyy, and in fiqh (jurisprudence) he was following the school (madhhab) of Imam ash-Shafi^iyy. He had a special care in spreading the creed of Imam al-Ash^ariyy to the extent that he ordered his creed be broadcast from the minarets during Tasbih (to say Subhanallah) time. So, he hired some individuals to mention it every night and that process lasted for a long period after his death, this was mentioned by as-Suyutiyy in “al-Wasa’il”.

Imam Muhammad Ibn Hibata-al-Makiyy, the linguist, authored a treatise about al-Ash^ariyy creed which he called “Hada’iq-ul-Fusul wa Jawahir al-Usul”. The sultan ordered this treatise be taught even to the boys in the schools; it was later known as:
 “Al-^Aqidat-us-Salahiyyah”.


Among what he mentioned in it from Islamic beliefs was:
 
"The Creator of this world is not contained in a direction
Allah is above being likened to the creations

Allah existed eternally and there was no place
And the judgment about His existence now is that He is as
 He was, i.e., without a place

He is clear of any imperfection and clear of being in a place
And He is above being bound by changes of time"

As-Sultan took much care of it because it proves that Allah exists without a place, He is not like any of His creations and nothing is like Him whatsoever. Everything, which happens in this world, happens according to the Knowledge of Allah and according to His Will. He is not questioned about what He does, but they are questioned. It also proves that Allah is the creator of the deeds of the creations along with the belief in: Resurrection (Ba^th), Assembly (Hashr), Reward (Thawab), Punishment (^Adhab), torture in the grave and the enjoyment therein, and other important matters in the essentials of belief.

 
As-Sultan Salah-ud-Din, may Allah raise his rank, was a religious and God-fearing person who detached himself from the worldly interests. He built mosques, schools, he also built the Mountain Castle in Cairo and fenced it; He also built the dome of the grave of ash-Shafi^iyy. He used to perform many acts of worship, and was so keen in performing the five prayers in congregation (Jama^ah) at the mosque, even during his sickness as mentioned by Ibn Shaddad. Beside that, he used to perform the recommended (nafl) prayers as well as the late night prayer. He used to perform the prayers in their due time wherever he would be; nevertheless he would select his Imam in prayer based on how well he recites the Qur’an and memorizes it.

He would be deeply touched upon listening to the recitation of Qur’an. He would let the guard recite two, three, or four Juz’s of the Qur’an while he is listening. Once he met a boy, who was reciting Qur’an, he liked his recitation and made him one of his close associates. He also gave him a share of his own food, and took good care of him and his father by giving them two portions of a farm revenue.

He, may Allah have mercy upon him, had a God-fearing heart, he was clement, sympathetic, good preacher and adviser, and so keen in seeking the knowledge of the religion and listening to the Hadith. If he would hear about a Muhadith shaykh, who has a highly ranked narration, and who is among those who attend the sessions of the Sultans; he would then call upon him to come to his session; he would listen to him and make his kids and his owned slaves listen to that Muhadith shaykh. If that Muhadith shaykh would be among those who do not attend the sessions of the Sultans, he would then go personally to him.

His sessions would include the scholars, the virtuous persons, the poor, and his companions as if they were on the heart of one man.

As-Sultan Salah-ud-Din was a just leader who supported the poor, the weak and the wronged ones. He prohibited briberies and used to discipline those who engage in its acts. He used to have sessions to solve the disputes every Monday and Thursday, which used to be attended by the fuqaha’(Jurisprudents) and the judges. The door would be opened to the adversaries until whoever wants to see him would able to reach him, whether it was an elderly, mature, or young man. He would listen to any one who is seeking his help and would give him his right back if he was a wronged one. Ibn Shaddad said: “A man from Damascus called Ibn Zuhayr once asked him for help against his nephew Taqiyyud-Din, he insisted that Taqiyyud-Din attends to hear his judgment. Although Taqiyyud-Din was so close and beloved to him, yet he did not exclude him from that, he called upon him to attend that session and insisted on making justice prevail.”

As-Sultan Salah-ud-Din may Allah have mercy upon him had an outstanding bravery and patience, he was among the great brave men, in addition to his good conduct, strong personality and great steadfastness.

He did not use to have fear of the enemy; he would go himself around enemy positions once or twice a day gathering news about them; if they happen to be close to him. This would enable him to quietly prepare his plan without any rush.

When the battle intensifies, he would infiltrate between the two lines, sorts his troops, and orders them to advance and to be steadfast. He would attack the enemy lines himself and initiate the fight by hitting and stabbing making himself the closest one to the enemy. When the war ends, he would be like a lion with the beasts fleeing in front of him.

Ibn Shaddad said about him: I saw him, may Allah have mercy upon him, on the outskirts of Acre (^Akka) while he was extremely ill due to the many pimples, which appeared between his mid-body and his knees. This had made him unable to sit; however, he was able to lie on his side when he would be inside the tent. He refrained from having food put in between his hands because of his inability to sit down; he used to order that his food be distributed amongst people. Nevertheless, he stayed in a tent which was closer to the enemy; he sorted people in left and right wings as well as the core in preparation for the fight.

He used to ride his horse from the beginning of the day till sunset checking on the army, I saw him one night when he was laying siege to Safad (Present time Palestine), he said to his soldiers: “We will not sleep tonight until we erect five catapults.” He stayed up the whole night, which was one of the longest and coldest nights, until the catapults were erected.

So, look at this patience and endurance and to what level did this person reach in his love to perform the good deeds for the sake of Allah.
 

As-Sultan Salah-ud-Din al-Ayyubiyy was a skilled politician and a distinguished leader; he was appointed the police chief of Damascus during the rule of his cousin Nur-ud-Din. After the death of the Atabik Nur-ud-Din the son of ^Imad-ud-Din Zinkiyy he became the ruler of Egypt and ash-Sham (Present time: Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan). Then he drew his plans to unify the Muslim countries. He prepared the armies to reclaim and recapture the parts of ash-Sham, which were still under the Europeans’ control.

He also prepared an army under the command of his brother Turan Shah Ibn Ayyub to reclaim and recapture Yemen. The Grand Sultan viewed that adding Yemen to his rule would make Muslims control the outlets of the Red Sea, which would provide a good protection for the holy lands in Hijaz especially after recapturing al-^Aqabah area which was located on the Red Sea.
 
Also, Aden had become an important center for Islamic trade; so it was required to protect it from the attacks of the Europeans, who might be thinking of connecting with their supporters in the land of Abyssinia (al-Habashah). So, it was important to fortify the south outlet of the Red Sea.

Thus, after Salah-ud-Din mobilized the army, his brother crossed with the Muslim armies to Jeddah, he headed from there to Makkah where he performed ^Umrah. Then he conquered Zabid and captured the ruler of Aden.

The army continued its advance and controlled the castle in Ta^iz which was among the most fortified castles. He treated its people with benevolence and put an end to the disunity which was taking place in it and put an end to the remaining influence of the Fatimiyyids. The Ayyubiyys ruled Yemen for over half a century.

As-Sultan Salah-ud-Din sent another army to Western Egypt under the command of “Qaraqush” which controlled Barqah and Tarablus al-Gharb (Present time Libya) and Tunisia. Thus, the Muslim countries were unified in one front which extended from Barqah and Tunisia in the West to Euphrates in the East, and from Musil and Aleppo in the North to Nawbah and Yemen in the South. A major concern remained for Salah-ud-Din; it was liberating the Aqsa Mosque from the dwelling enemy in Palestine.

The fort of Karak, which is located in Southern Jordan, was built by “Bajan as-Saqiyy”; who was a European. It was built big enough to accommodate a large number of soldiers with their families. It was heavily fortified, built on a high steep rocky hill to make it extremely difficult to be reached. In order to have access to the fort, they constructed a bridge which could be easily defended from inside the fort.

The location of this fort was so strategic in controlling the transportation routes between Egypt and ash-Sham. Ronald Shanyon, who was known to Arabs by “Arnat”, was the ruler of that area.

“Arnat” was a gambler, who used to breach many treaties with the Muslims, and to attack and loot their caravans.

As-Sultan Salah-ud-Din made a plan to seize that fort, he laid siege to it for one year, those inside it were forced to eat their animals. They sent to him seeking safety from him in return of surrendering the fort, he agreed. So he took control of the castle in return of granting them safety.

Hittin is located to the West of “Tabarayyah”, it is rich with water and it has lots of pastures in some parts. The battle took place in the area between “Tabarayyah” to the East and “Safuriyyah” to the West, that part is rugged, dry with little water except what comes out from the local wells and springs.

Although reclaiming and recapturing Baytul-Maqdis and freeing al-Aqsa from the Europeans was the Sultan’s major goal and priority, he did not want to start the war himself out of prudence. He waited for “Arnat”, who was famous for dishonesty and deceit, to make his first move. It was the spark which ignited the fire of war. That time came when “Arnat” attacked a caravan, which was traveling from Egypt to ash-Sham. He looted that caravan, killing and imprisoning those who were in the caravan. He said to the prisoners while he was torturing them: “Let your Muhammad come and rescue you.” Salah-ud-Din got angry and vowed to kill him with his own hand if Allah would enable him to capture him.

Salah-ud-Din called for general mobilization for Jihad (to fight for the sake of Allah) after that incident. He left Damascus heading for Busra after the preparations were completed and the volunteer armies arrived from the Islamic states. He started with attacking al-Karak then he seized “Tabarayyah”. However, he was not able though to capture its castle, so he left it for later and started solidifying his positions.

The military skills of the Grand Sultan were demonstrated here, for he did not go to the enemy, but rather he forced them to come to him in order to exhaust their armies and horses.

The enemy leaders were at conflict with one another. Raymond, the ruler of Tripoli wanted the armies to stay in “Safuriyyah” near their strongholds on the coast. He wanted the Muslims to cross the desert between “Tabarayyah” and “Safuriyyah” so that they will be exhausted and it will be easier to defeat them then. On the other hand, “Arnat” and out of his thirst to the blood of Muslims, wanted the crusaders to proceed towards “Tabarayyah” to surprise Salah-ud-Din and finish him off; his plan prevailed in the end.

So the crusaders set forth while they were at conflict, with Salah-ud-Din’s army well rested and at full strength, when Salah-ud-Din got the news about the advance of the armies of the enemies he said what means: “We perfectly got what we wanted.” The crusaders advanced with their weapons, helmets, and iron shields. The sunrays were reflecting on the desert sand, which was boiling under their feet, and their bodies were just about to fall due to the heavy weight of their shields and hot clothing and that was on Saturday, five days before the end of Rabi^-ul-Akhir in 583 AH.

When the battle started the Muslims encircled the enemy as the ring encircles the finger, and started hitting them, killing them, and capturing them. Raymond, the ruler of Tripoli, wanted to break through the siege, Taqiyyud-ud-Din ( Salah-ud-Din’s nephew) tricked him by pretending that he was defeated, he let him out of the circle. Then he re-joined the army, the Muslims tightened the circle again. This had made Raymond and his army outside the circle of the besieged Europeans armies. So he elected to run for his life, he fled eventually to Tripoli where he died after a short while out of grief and sorrow after they accused him of treason.

 
Also Salah-ud-Din burnt the dry grass around the enemy positions which made them collapse, many of them were killed and the rest were captured.

Ibn al-Athir, the historian who was alive at that time said: “All of those who would see the dead would think that there were no prisoners.” Another one said: “One single horseman would pull 30 or 40 prisoners in one rope, Every 200 European prisoners used to be guarded by one horseman. The prisoners were 30,000. This had made their prices drop drastically when they were displayed for sale; it even reached a stage where one prisoner would be sold for one sole.”

Among the prisoners were most of their leaders and kings and “Arnat” too. Salah-ud-Din spoke roughly to him about his ugly act regarding that caravan of the Muslims and for mocking Prophet Muhammad sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam, he called him to embrace Islam. “Arnat” refused, then Salah-ud-Din drew his sword and said: “I am hereby avenging for Muhammad sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam.” He hit him to fulfill his oath.

So the state named “Urshalym” or Jerusalem collapsed, Salah-ud-Din managed to reclaim and recapture all of its cities and castles.
 
Thus as-Sultan Salah-ud-Din liberated Bayt-ul-Maqdis and opened Jerusalem. He advanced towards it on the 15th of Rajab in 583 AH and was handed its control on Friday on the 27th of Rajab, which was the occasion of Isra’ and Mi^raj. They prayed the Friday Prayer and people said loudly: “Allahu akbar” (Allah is the greatest in status) and “La ilaha illallah” (There is no God except Allah). Surely, it was a great day of triumph and victory.

After that he advanced and captured “^Asqalan” or Askelon, “^Aka” or Acre, Java, Haifa, Tyre, Saidon, Beirut, Byblos, Jablah, al-Ladhikiyah, Safad, and other countries.

It was said that once he preached one of his sons saying:

“I advise you to be God-fearing, for it is the head of every goodness, and I order you with what Allah ordered us to do, for it is your savior. Beware of engaging bloodshed acts, for avenging blood does not sleep, and I advise you too to look after the people and never have enmity in your heart for anybody, for death will not leave anybody.”

Whenever he used to hear that the enemy had invaded the Muslims, he would prostrate making this supplication: “My God, I ran out of means on this earth to support Your Religion, what is left for me is asking You and relying on You and on Your Generosity. Your support suffices me.”

Judge Ibn Shaddad said: “I saw him prostrating while tears were falling on his beard and then on the carpet, I was not able to hear what he was saying, before the day was over he got the news of victory over the enemy.”

He, may Allah raise his rank, used to initiate his attacks during the Friday Prayer (Jumu^ah) time seeking blessings by the speakers’ supplication to Allah to grant him victory.

As-Sultan Salah-ud-Din al-Ayyubiyy settled in Damascus in 589 AH. Once he rode his horse and met the Pilgrims, who have just come back from performing the Pilgrimage (Hajj); at seeing that, tears came out of his eyes because he missed going with them. He went back to the castle and it was the last time he rode his horse. On Saturday night, the 16th day of Safar, he got extremely tired and was hit with a severe fever at midnight. Doctors came to him and met at his place to look into his case. His fever intensified and he fainted, the whole city was in deep shock and grieve; people were crying.

On the tenth day of his sickness he was sweating severely, sweat penetrated from his mattress and his sickness intensified on the 12th night of his sickness period. Shaykh Abu Ja^far, who was the Imam of Kallasah, came to him to spend the night with him in the castle and to remind him of uttering the Two Testifications (ashshahhadatyn) as he was dying. As-Sultan died on that night, the night of the 27th day of Safar.

His body was taken out for burial in a coffin on Wednesday; people performed the Funeral Prayer for him and he was buried after Mid-afternoon Prayer (Asr) on the same day in the castle of Damascus were his residence was.

He died in 589 AH at the age of 57 may Allah have mercy on him and was survived by 17 boys and one girl.

They found in his personal closet one Dinar and 40 Dirhams. He was a Sultan for twenty four years. There is a maqam for him, which Muslims visit seeking blessing by his aromatized traits and straight methodology.
 

This mujahid Sultan possessed three factors, which made him successful by the Will of Allah, and made him a unique ruler and leader: The gifted nature, the acquired knowledge, and the practical experience; all of which were embellished with

God-fearingness, piety, religious knowledge and military prudence. Within few years he extended his rule from Egypt to ash-Sham uniting the people and the countries. This had enabled him to return the land back to its owners, and to restore to the nation its strength and glory after the weakness and feebleness it had suffered.
 

We ask Allah to have mercy on this mujahid Sultan the hero of the Battle of Hittin and the liberator of Bayt-ul-Maqdis. He was a man of a creed and piety, who detached himself from the worldly interests. He achieved glory to the Muslim Nation, subdued its enemies. He made what was revealed by Allah prevail and lowered the speech of the blasphemers.