Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|The magnanimity of Salah ad-Deen|
|10/28/01 at 19:18:10|
|In Bosnia and other parts of the world we saw the treatment the Muslims received at the hands of the Christians. In Jerusalem and the occupied territories we see almost daily how the Jews treat the Muslims. Even amongst themselves the Ashkenazi Jews look down and treat disdainfully the Sephardic Jews. |
I thought it would be interesting to compare the behaviour of these victor nations to that of Salah ad-Deen al-Ayyubi [Saladin] when he proceeded to retake Jerusalem from the Franj (the Crusaders).
The Magnanimity of Saladin
When Salah ad-Deen and his armies encamped around the venerated city he sent a message to its inhabitants inviting them to hold talks on the future of the city. A delegation of notables came to meet him in Ascalon. The victor's proposal was reasonable: the city would be handed over to him without combat; those inhabitants who desired to leave could do so, taking their property with them; the Christian places of worship would be respected; in the future, those who wished to visit the city as pilgrims would not be molested. But to the Sultan's great surprise, the Franj responded as arrogantly as they had during the time of their ascendancy. Deliver Jerusalem, the town where Jesus had died? Out of the question! The city was theirs and they would defend it come what may.
Swearing that he would now take Jerusalem only by the sword, Salah ad-Deen ordered his troop, dispersed in the four corners of Syria to assemble around the holy city.
Inside the besieged city, the defence was under the command of Balian of Ibelin, the ruler of Ramlah, a lord, according to Ibn al-Athir, who held a rank among the Franj more or less equal to that of king.
He had managed to escape from Hittin shortly before the defeat of his troops and had taken refuge in Tyre. During the summer he had asked Salah ad-Deen for permission to go and fetch his wife from Jerusalem, promising that he would not bear arms and that he would spend only a single night in the holy city. Once there, however, they begged him to stay, for no one else had sufficient authority to direct the resistance. Balian, who was a man of honour, felt that he could not agree to defend Jerusalem and its people without betraying his agreement with the Sultan. He therefore, turned to Salah ad-Deen himself to ask what he should do. The magnanimous sultan released him from his commitment. If duty required that he remain in the holy city and bear arms, so be it! And since Balian was now too busy organising the defence of Jerusalem to look after his wife, the sultan supplied an escort to lead her back to Tyre!
Saladin would never refuse a request from a man of honour, even the fiercest of his enemies. Despite his bravery, Balian could not seriously resist the Muslim army. Though the ramparts were solid and the Frankish population deeply attached to their capital, the defenders were limited to a handful of knights and a few hundred townsmen with no military experience. Moreover, the Orthodox & Jacobite Oriental Christians of Jerusalem were favourable to Salah ad-Deen - especially the clergy, for they had been treated with unrelenting disdain b the Latin prelates.
As it happened, the resistance was courageous but short-lived, and conducted with few illusions. The encirclement of Jerusalem began on 20 September. Six days later Saladin, who had had established his camp on the Mount of Olives, asked his troops to intensify their pressure in preparation for the final assault. On 29 September sappers managed to open a breach in the northern part of the wall, very close to the place where the Occidentals had achieved their own breach back in 1099. When he saw that there was no longer any point in continuing the fight, Balian asked for safe conduct and presented himself before the Sultan.
Salah ad-deen was intractable. Had he not offered the inhabitants the best possible terms on which to capitulate well before the battle? Now was not the time for negotiations, for he had sworn to take the city by sword, just as the Franj had done. He could be released from his oath only if Jerusalem threw open its gates and surrendered to him completely and unconditionally.
Balian insisted on obtaining a promise from Saladin to spare his life, Ibn al-Athir reports, but Salah ad-Deen would promise nothing. Balian tried to soften his heart, but in vain. He then addressed him in these terms: 'O Sultan, be aware that this city holds a mass of people so great that God alone knows their number. They now hesitate to continue the fight, because they hope that you will spare their lives as you have spared so many others, because they love life and hate death. But if we see that death is inevitable, then, by God, we will kill our own women and children and burn all that we possess. We will not leave you a single dinar of booty, not a single dirham, not a single man or woman to lead into captivity. Then we shall destroy the sacred rock, al-Aqsa mosque, and many other sites; we will kill the five thousand Muslim prisoners we now hold and will exterminate the mounts and all the beasts. In the end, we will come outside the city and we will fight against you as one fights for one's life. Not one of us will die without having killed several of you!'
Although he was not impressed by the threats, Saladin was moved by the man's fervour. In order not to appear to soften too easily, he turned to his advisers and asked them if he could not be released from his pledge to take the city by the sword - simply in order to avoid the destruction of the holy places of Islam. Their response was affirmative, but since they were aware of their master's incorrigible generosity, they insisted he obtain financial compensation from the Franj before he allowed them to leave, for the campaign had emptied the state treasury. The inhabitants, the advisers explained were virtual prisoners. To purchase their freedom, each should pay a ransom: ten dinars for each man, five for a woman, and one for a child. Balian accepted the principle, but he pleaded for the poor, who, he said, would be unable to pay such a sum. Could not even seven thousand of them be released in exchange for thirty thousand dinars? Once again the request was granted, despite furious protests from the treasurers. Satisfied, Balian ordered his men to lay down their arms.
So it was that on Friday 2 October 1187, or 27 Rajab 583 by the Muslim Calendar, the very day on which Muslims celebrate the Prophet's night journey to Jerusalem, Salah ad-Deen solemnly entered the holy city. His emirs and soldiers had strict orders: no Christian, whether Frankish or Oriental, was to be touched. And indeed, there was neither massacre nor plunder. Some fanatics demanded that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre be destroyed in retaliation for the excesses committed by the Franj, but Saladin silenced them. On the contrary, he strengthened the guard at the Christian places of worship and announced that the Franj themselves would be allowed to come on pilgrimage whenever they liked. The Frankish Cross attached to the Dome of the Rock mosque was removed, of course. And al-Aqsa mosque, which had been turned into a church, became a place of worship again, after its walls had been sprinkled with rose water.
|Re: The magnanimity of Salah ad-Deen|
|10/28/01 at 19:21:28|
|Most of the Franj remained in the city as Salah ad-Deen, surrounded by a mass of companions, went from sanctuary to sanctuary weeping, praying and prostrating himself. The rich made sure to sell their houses or businesses or furniture before going into exile, the buyers generally being Orthodox or Jacobite Christians who planned to stay on. Other property as later sold to Jewish families settled in the holy city by Saladin. |
As for Balian, he sought to raise the money needed to buy back the freedom of the poorest citizens. In itself, the ransom was not excessive, although for a prince it regularly ran to several thousands of dinars, sometimes even a hundred thousand or more. But for ordinary people, something like twenty dinars per family represented a year or two's income. Thousands of unfortunates had gathered at the gates of the city to beg for coins. Al-Adil, who was as sensitive as his brother, asked Salah ad-Deen's permission to free a thousand prisoners without payment of any ransom. When he heard this, the Frankish patriarch asked the same for seven thousand others, and Balian for another five hundred. They were all freed. Then, on his own initiative, the Sultan announced that all old people would be allowed to leave without paying anything and that imprisoned men with young children would also be released. When it came to Frankish widows and orphans, he not only exempted then from any payment, but also offered them gifts before allowing them to leave.
Salah ad-Deen's treasurers despaired. If the least fortunate were to be set free for nothing, they argued, at least the ransom for the rich should be raised. The anger of these worthy servants of the state knew no bounds when the Patriarch of Jerusalem drove out of the city accompanied by numerous chariots filled with gold, carpets and all sorts of the most precious goods. Imad ad-Deen al-Asfahani was scandalised:
"I said to the Sultan: 'This Patriarch is carrying off riches worth at least two hundred thousand dinars. We gave them permission to take their personal property with them, but not the treasures of the churches and convents. You must not let them do it!' But Salah ad-Deen answered: 'We must apply the letter of the accords we have signed, so that no one will be able to accuse the believers of having violated their treaties. On the contrary, Christians everywhere will remember the kindness we have bestowed upon them.'"
The Patriarch paid his ten dinars just like everyone else, and was even provided with an escort to make sure that he reached Tyre without incident.
Salah ad-Deen had conquered Jerusalem not to amass gold, and still less to seek vengeance. His prime objective, as he himself explained, was to do his duty before his God and his faith. His victory was to have liberated the holy city from the yoke of the invaders - without a bloodbath, destruction or hatred. His reward was to be able to bow down and pray in places where no Muslim would have been able to pray had it not been for him.
On Friday 9 October, a week after the victory, an official ceremony was organised in al-Aqsa mosque. The Qadi of Damascus, Muhi al-Deen Ibn al-Zaki, was designated by the Sultan to mount the pulpit garbed in a superb black robe. Although his voice was clear and powerful, a slight tremor betrayed his emotion as he spoke: "Glory to God who has bestowed this victory upon Islam and who has returned this city to the fold after a century of perdition! Honour to this army, which He has chosen to complete the reconquest! And may salvation be upon you Salah ad-Deen Yusuf, son of Ayyub, you who have restored the spurned dignity of this nation."
With the Help of Allah we will hear a khutbah like this soon! May Allah reward Salah ad-Deen abundantly, Ameen! wa sallallahu 'alaa nabiyyina Muhammad.
|Re: The magnanimity of Salah ad-Deen|
|10/29/01 at 10:12:41|
Some years back someone was mentioning that Salahuddin took a vow to kill one of the leaders of the crusader for he had uttered words of disrespect or hurled insult of Rasoolullah SAW. And probably that person was caught and put to death thus fulfilling his vow. Could you shed light on this.
|Re: The magnanimity of Salah ad-Deen|
|10/30/01 at 00:29:40|
The only incident that comes to mind is that of Reynald of Chatillon.
Prince Reynald (also called Arnat) was by all historical accounts, both Christian and Muslim, a rather unpleasant individual. His transgressions and abhorrent acts are too numerous to recount, and he was consistent in doing them for several years.
To give a brief idea of the man, he was from the old school Crusader mentality (remember this is over almost a century after the First Crusade) and was concerned, like many, as much about conquest and acquisition of wealth as his "religious" objective.
For example, after becoming lord of Antioch, he set out to plan for a raid of nearby Cyprus, which was Byzantine and hence Christian. The patriarch of Antioch did not approve of his plan; and Reynald proceeded to imprison him, torture him, smear his wounds with honey and chain him outside the city walls in the sun for a day where insects swarmed him as a result. This action was very persuasive and the patriarch allowed for use of the treasury to finance the raid.
On arriving in Cyprus, Reynald completely plundered and looted the place, slaughtering livestock, women, men and children, destroying churches and committing other atrocious acts. It is said that before he left he had all the priests and monks assembled and had all their noses cut off.
In time he also committed atrocities towards Muslim peoples and was often at odds with his fellow Crusaders in doing so. He raided caravan routes persistently for years and in his fanatacism embarked on a campaign to raid Mecca. He attacked both the port servicing Madina at the time and then proceeded to attack the ports near modern-day Jeddah, including sinking ships with pilgrims on it.
His acts were in constant violation of a treaty between Salah-adeen and the leader of the Crusader kingdom, but he persisted. Several years after his campaign against Mecca, with the truce still in effect, he continued to raid caravans, including another caravan with Muslims on their way for Hajj; he proceeded in a massacre of most of them and when he was reminded of the truce he is reported to have said "Let your Muhammad come and deliver you!". It was after this incident and after hearing these words that it is said Salah-adeen vowed to kill Reynald.
One thing about Reynald, as seen in the above incident, is that he combined his brutality with an ignorant bravado of religious fanatacism. He repeatedly made insults of the Prophet and the Muslims; and it is said that he openly declared that he would go to Madina and raze Rasulallah's [saw] grave.
Not too long after raiding the Hajji caravan, Reynald attacked another caravan which included Salah-adeen's sister and some accounts suggest that Reynald may have even raped her, though this is not verified.
All the above events are documented in both Christian and Muslim historical literature. Reynald's long, consistent history of injustice and atrocities only served to galvanize Muslim opposition towards him in the long run. Indeed, his attack on the Hajji caravan broke the truce between Salah-adeen and the Crusader kingdom and united Muslim opposition against them. This inevitably led to the Battle of Hattin a year later and in that defeat, Reynald was captured.
There is a famous story, documented by one of Salah-adeen's advisers present at the time, of when Reynald was brought forth with King Guy (the Crusader king at the time) before Salah-adeen. It suffices to say that Reynald showed no remorse after being reminded by Salah-adeen about his long list of treacherous acts and injustices. King Guy was spared and Reynald was executed personally by Salah-adeen.
|Re: The magnanimity of Salah ad-Deen|
|10/30/01 at 11:26:44|
Jazakallah for the information.
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