Salahudeen al Ayyubi’s formula for victory

Salahudeen al Ayyubi’s formula for victoryHe is renowned worldwide as one of the greatest and most chivalrous warriors in Islamic history: the liberator of Al Quds and a number of Muslim lands, a unifier and an upright ruler adored by friend and foe alike.

He is renowned worldwide as one of the greatest and most chivalrous warriors in Islamic history: the liberator of Al Quds and a number of Muslim lands, a unifier and an upright ruler adored by friend and foe alike.

Despite a lapse of more than 8 centuries since his sorrowful passing, the name Salahudeen al Ayyubi today still manages to evoke passionate longings of a glorious Islamic legacy and, more significantly, rekindles hopes of a Muslim world revival.

And as more and more Muslim lands fall under the yoke of occupation and oppression, almost daily, a commonly heart lament is “Where is Salahudeen?” or “Who will be our new Salahudeen?”

As can be grasped from the Ummah’s fixation with predicting events such as the arrival of the Mahdi or the re-emergence of Isa AS, the longing for a savior or liberator evidently looms large in our besieged psyches.

However, as argues Shaykh Zahir Mahmud in his presentation on the life of this august warrior, the legacy of Salahudeen RA is often just being recalled to whip Muslims into a frenzy to disguise our own cowardice. Instead of grooming our own heirs for the pedestal of victory, he suggests Muslims zealously cling on to the achievements of our predecessors, absurdly believing that they somehow would intervene to assuage our challenges today.

Casting aside any such unrealistically romantic notions of a hasty redemption, the story of Sultan Salahudeen, however,does in itself present a treasury of indicators, whose fulfillment could be considered prerequisites for victory.
Summarized below are some salient features from this great conqueror’s life, which do illustrate quite well the depth of Salahudeen’s character, beyond his most obvious legacies.

*An ordinary man: Salahudeen was no great scholar, warrior or nobleman by birth. He grew up in “safe zones,” with no real penchant for war. What he achieved was nurtured through hard work, sincerity and piety throughout his life.

*Product of the Madressa System: Salahudeen had attended the Madaaris instituted by his predecessors Imadudeen and Nuruddin across Shaam, which nurtured within their students a love for Al Quds and rekindled their spirit of Jihad.

*Aspiring scholar: Salahudeen’s greatest aspiration in his youthful days was to become an Islamic scholar. At an early stage he memorised Kitabut Tambeeh of the Shafi school of Fiqh.

*Lover of Ulama: Throughout his life, the men that Salahudeen respected the most were the Ulama. Many of his closest confidants were Ulama too.

*Upholding the correct Aqeedah: Salahudeen established Sunni Madaaris all across Egypt. By the time the Fatimid Shia leader of Egypt was about to pass away, Salahudeen had issued a proclamation that Egypt had once again become Sunni, wrestling power away from a decadent Shia ideology that had hampered progress for more than 2 centuries in one of the key powerhouses of the Muslim world.

*Generous: Ibn Murrah RA once mentioned that if Salahudeen had been given the entire Dunya to spend in the path of Allah, that too would not have been sufficient for him. Treasurers would not reveal to him the true extent of their revenues, fearing that Salahudeen would spent it all. Historians add that the Sultan never turned a beggar away in his life. To him there was no real difference between the way he viewed dust and wealth.

*Dedicated to the liberation of the Holy Lands: Salahudeen took a pledge to make it his life’s mission to return Masjid al Aqsa to Muslim sovereignty, thereby modifying his lifestyle in many ways. He very seldom smiled due to this overarching concern for Masjid al Aqsa and famously said that he deemed it unethical that he enjoyed good food and drink whilst al Quds was still in the hands of the Crusaders. His movements for Al Quds were described as  those of mother bereaved at the lost of her child, forever longing for its return.

*Always upheld the Muslim identity: Moulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi RA describing Salahudeen RA once said: He was a Mu’min, a Muslim, a Muhammady who recognized no language but the language of the Quraan. He was a firm opponent of nationalism and factionalism.

*Espoused great love for Nabi SAW: Salahudeen personally pledged to defend the honour of Nabi SAW as Crusaders had attempted to blemish it. Historians note that he never listened to a Hadith standing up. He used to often cry when Ahadeeth were narrated. On one occasion he summoned the Muhaditheen to the battlefield to narrate Ahadeeth so as for the Jihad to draw Barakah from this enlightened recital.

*A thankful servant: After the fateful battle of Hittin in Palestine when the Muslims had scored a decisive victory, Salahudeen did not engage in any pompous celebrations. Instead he immediately bowed his head submissively in Sujood to Almighty Allah

*Salaah with Jamaat: Bahauddin ibn Shaddad, a confidant and biographer of Salahuddin RA reveals that Salahuddin RA never ever missed Salaah in congregation. Even on his deathbed when he was overcome with illness and could hardly walk, Salahuddin made arrangements for a Imam to come and lead him in Salaah so that he could still reap the rewards of Jamaah. On one occasion he reprimanded his troops for sleeping at the time of Tahajjud, warning them that their negligence of this Nafl practice could cost the Muslim army victory.

*Lived an austere life: Salahuddin refused offers to live in palatial homes. Instead he spent years on the frontlines living only in a tent. When he passed away, he left behind only 1 dinar and 40 dirhams. A loan had to be taken to cover his funeral expenses.

*Love for children:  Salahudeen would be very comfortable around children and spend much of his free time with them. He had 16 children of his own

*Forgiving and Compassionate: Despite the horrendous atrocities meted out by the Crusaders against the Muslims, on his victorious capture of Al Quds Salahudeen showed his enemies utmost compassion, in a manner similar to the conquest of Makkah by Muhammed SAW. Only the die-hard Christian crusaders who were avowed enemies of Islam were killed. The ransom fee requested was also very reasonable.

COMPILED from presentations on the life of Saluhudeen al Ayyubi by Shaykh Zahir Mahmood and Shaykh Uthmaan Lateef

By: Ebrahim Moosa


Virtue of Making Salaam First: Hadhrat Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (Radhiallahu Anhu) relates that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has said: “The one who makes salaam first is free from pride.” (Baihaqi – Shu’abul Imaan 6/433)