Richard the Lionheart vs Saladin

Topics: Crusades, Richard I of England, Islam Pages: 10 (3426 words) Published: March 17, 2012

Chapman University
26 November 2003

HIST 306


Reston, James. Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade. New York: Doubleday, 2001.

Ballou, Robert O. The Portable World Bible. New York: Penguin Books, 1944.

Tierney, Brian. Western Europe in the Middle Ages: 300-1475, Sixth Edition. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 1999.


And fight for the cause of God against those who fight against you: but commit not the injustice of attacking them first: verily God loveth not the unjust: And kill them wherever ye shall find them, and eject them from whatever place they have ejected you; for seduction from the truth is worse than slaughter: yet attack them not at the sacred Mosque until they attack you therein; but if they attack you, then slay them—Such the recompense of the infidels! ..And do battle against them until there be no more seduction from the truth and the only worship be that of God… ..War is prescribed to you…

..they who believe, and who fly their country, and fight in the cause of God, may hope for God’s mercy: and God is gracious and merciful.

These passages are taken from the Qur’an. They are at the heart of every Muslim that takes up arms against an oppressor. They are the justification for their wars. They are the very reason that today many Muslims believe the Crusades never ended, and why the leaders of the past are so prominent today.

One cannot travel to the Holy Land of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims and not see or hear the name Saladin. The name Saladin brings hope and faith to the Children of Islam, and is despised by those who are counted as infidels. Saladin has been invoked by many Islamic leaders in recent history in an attempt to unite the Children of Islam against, what they believe to still be, the oppressive Christian church. But who is Saladin and why is he so important to the Muslims of today?

In the Muslim year 532 (1137 c.e.) a baby boy was born in Kurdistan, Takreet (the birth place of Saddam Hussein). He was named Yusuf, which was a common name amoung Muslim children at birth during this period. As a young boy he grew up in Baalbek and Damascus. His intelligence, mannerliness, generosity, and modesty were so profound that it was noticed in the palaces of Damascus. He had a somewhat normal adolescence for the time, enjoying wine and women, but eventually the seriousness of the situation brewing in the Holy Land had caught his attention and he denounced all things not of Allah. He dedicated himself to pillars of Islam, learned to walk the path of righteousness and the importance of waging war against the infidels. He lived by the invocations in the Qur’an and his statute in Islam would earn him the name Salah ad-Din, eventually shortened to Saladin.

At this time, the successful Christians of the First Crusade were currently occupying Jerusalem. In 1144, the leader of the Arab nations, Zengy, lead a force that captured Edessa in Northern Mesopotamia, the first Crusader provinces to fall. The news shocked Europe into sending a second Crusade to fortify the remaining provinces currently occupied by the Crusaders. In 1146, Zengy had died and the new leader, Nur ad-Din, proved even more powerful than Zengy by thwarting the Second Crusade, stopping the Christians at Damascus and in doing so demonstrated to the Muslim people that they were nearly ready for an attempt to reconquer Palestine.

In 1163, Nur ad-Din realized the only way to defeat the Europeans was the unification of the Arab world. Egypt was in great need of unification, so Saladin and his uncle were sent in to conquer Cairo. They succeeded, but the victory was short lived because Crusader forces assisted the Egyptians. Three years later a second invasion was attempted, but thwarted as...
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