The Fall of Jerusalem and the Rise of Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi, the Hero of the East and West

History Contributor
salahuddin ayyubi

While trying to rest my restless head on the couch and turning the pages of history, a vivid flashback from the 12th century strikes my mind when Balian of Ilbelin the defense commander surrenders Jerusalem to the great Sultan.

Sultan Salahuddin Ayubi defeats, The Kingdom of Jerusalem at the crucial Battle of Hattin on July 4, 1187. He arrests the King Guy of Lusignan, captures Raynald de Châtillon lord of Oultrejordain, and then executes him because he used to attack the pilgrims. The unstoppable Sultan moves on to Jerusalem after conquering almost each crusader city including Nablus, Jaffa, Ascalon, Beruit, Acre, Toron, and Sidon. Finally, Jerusalem falls to him on Friday 2nd October 1187.

Who was Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi ?

Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi, born in Tikrit to Kurdish parents in 1137, is the most admired Muslim leader in the Middle East and idealized as a fearless and honorable commander in the West. His real name was Yusuf ibn Ayyub and received the title of Salahuddin (The righteousness of the faith), best known as Saladin in Europe. He came to power in Egypt in 1171, after the fall of the Fatimid caliphate, and expanded his regime in Syria.

The fall of Jerusalem to Muslims ended the 88-year rule of crusaders. Crusades were religious wars in a sequence, originated and supported by the Latin church between 1095 and 1271 to recover the Holy land (The present-day State of Israel, Palestinian territories, parts of Jorden, Lebanon, and Syria) from the Islamic Control.

Muslims taking over of Jerusalem under the leadership of Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi, in 1187 was nonviolent, in comparison to the siege of the city by crusaders in 1099, in which Muslims and Jews were slaughtered mercilessly. Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi, knowing the limits of violence, wanted to take the city without any bloodshed. After negotiating with Balian of Ilbelin, the city was handed over peacefully, freeing seven thousand men for 30,000 dinars as a ransom, letting the old, the poor, and women without any payment.

Man of Highest Honour

The ransomed inhabitants were asked to march away from the city, in an orderly manner, followed by Balian of Ilbelin and Patriarch to avoid violence. Sultan’s treatment of the inhabitants was different, he called the Jews and allowed them to resettle in the city, and permitted the Christians to live peacefully and keep their properties. later on, in 1188 he also freed Guy of Lusignan and sent him to his wife, Queen Sibylla of Jerusalem.

Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi, remains the most honored figure in the history of middle East. His emergence to eminence as a strong military commander and skilled statesman in the turbulent era of twelfth-century politics was very quick and rewarding for his people.

His military development in his youth leads him to achieve triumph over Egypt and Syria, waging wars against crusaders, his battles with Richard the Lionheart and the fall of Jerusalem.

Unmatched Humility and Humanity

Hameed-Ullah coordinator Voice of America Deewa KP from Pakistan looks at the towering personality of the Sultan differently,” As a student of history, I am not merely fascinated by the military and political achievements of Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi but what attracts me deeply to his personality, is the unmatched humility and humanity, in the wake of such memorable conquests” Hameed shared with a firmed conviction.

The great Sultan died in Damascus in 1193 and was buried next to Umayyad Mosque there. He had given all his wealth in the name of Allah during his life and he left not even enough money to pay for his funeral.


(Written by Ijaz Ali, a development professional from Pakistan. He has a Master Degree in European Studies from Germany and can be reached at [email protected])

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