Salahuddin Ayyubi at Oxford University
Hell Revealed: Part 20 – Terrors of Judgement Day
Saladin was born in Tikrit in present-day Iraq. His personal name was “Yusuf”; “Salah ad-Din” is a laqab, an honorific epithet, meaning “Righteousness of the Faith”. His family was most likely of Kurdish ancestry, and had originated from the village of Ajdanakan near the city of Dvin in central Armenia. The Rawadiya tribe he hailed from had been partially assimilated into the Arabic-speaking world by this time. In Saladin’s era, no scholar had more influence than Sheikh Abdul Qadir Gilani, and Saladin was strongly influenced and aided by him and his pupils. In 1132, the defeated army of Zengi, Atabeg of Mosul, found their retreat blocked by the Tigris River opposite the fortress of Tikrit, where Saladin’s father, Najm ad-Din Ayyub served as the warden. Ayyub provided ferries for the army and gave them refuge in Tikrit. Mujahid al-Din Bihruz, a former Greek slave who had been appointed as the military governor of northern Mesopotamia for his service to the Seljuks, reprimanded Ayyub for giving Zengi refuge and in 1137 banished Ayyub from Tikrit after his brother Asad al-Din Shirkuh killed a friend of Bihruz. According to Baha ad-Din ibn Shaddad, Saladin was born on the same night that his family left Tikrit. In 1139, Ayyub and his family moved to Mosul, where Imad ad-Din Zengi acknowledged his debt and appointed Ayyub commander of his fortress in Baalbek. After the death of Zengi in 1146, his son, Nur ad-Din, became the regent of Aleppo and the leader of the Zengids.