"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Saladin to the Rescue!

Notes and reflections on Peace Be Upon You: The Story of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Coexistence by Zachary Karabell

Chapter 5 dealt mostly with Saladin and his jihad which wasn't hatred against something - like Christianity - rather it was fighting for something, namely the orthodoxy of Islam.   The author points out the legend of Saladin and many honorable characteristics which have made him admired even in the West.  Ironic in a way since Saladin often spoke in terms of jihad...which the West doesn't like.  However, as I stated his jihad was not hatred against people so much. The author spoke of only one person Saladin "obsessively hated" and that was Reynald who attacked caravans of pilgrims. Saladin wasn't able to be a good leader if those seeking to make the pilgrimage to Mecca were being attacked.  Finally though he got his revenge over Reynald and personally killed him.  Many others he treated with mercy. 

Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb

"When Saladin spoke of jihad, he meant the remaking of Muslim society (this could be political reform or changing economic policies) in the Near East, both because that was the right thing to do and because only then could Muslims once against rule Jerusalem.  Not once was he accused of hypocritically using the language of jihad to advance selfish ambitions, in large measure because he first tended to his own spiritual house. In short, he seems to have embraced the greater jihad before he embarked on the lesser.  And there lies the explanation why Saladin, the holy warrior par excellence, is nonetheless admired in the West and remains an icon in the Near East and in many parts of the Muslim world."  (pg. 126)

The author spoke how sometimes the Muslim and Christians armies would put down their arms and take time for conversation and storytelling and eating dinner together.  Contests were sometimes held to see who had the most "prowess in the arts of war, and then all would celebrate the winners."

"Rather than generating rage and hatred, Saladin's faith often produced compassion. He respected the Christian willingness to fight and die for Jerusalem, and simultaneously deployed armies to kill as many of them as possible.  And with the exception of Reynald, he could do all of this without hate. His faith, if we are to believe that it was as genuine as the chroniclers claim, was grounded in humility.  His Islam was the Islam of submission, based on the recognition that all humans are fallible and all are sinners.  God is the path, and only God is the judge. Saladin waged a jihad for the glory of God and for Islam, not a jihad against his enemies. They were obstacles, but they were not the object."  (pg. 131)

I visited Saladin's shrine and statue in Damascus early last year.  See my post on Saladin complete with pictures of me in Syria HERE if you want. 


Lat said...

Thank you for this post,Susanne! I've known about Saladin but I've not read on him before.These notes help me to understand him a little.

Susanne said...

Lat, always glad to help! :) Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

Amber said...

I read a little bit about Saladin in the Holy War book by Armstrong a while back. She went over his rise to power and his interaction with the Crusaders, especially Richard the Lionheart. It was interesting to read how they could call truces basically and sit down and eat with each other and almost be friends. The back and forth of both sides and how they both did honorable and dishonorable things from different points of view. But I actually came away from the section thinking that Saladin was clearly the better man. :) I've even been thinking of trying to find a biography on him and I'm not a biography type of person most of the time.

Susanne said...

Amber, glad you added that. Interesting! From all I've heard or read, he's a good un. :)

Suroor said...

Didn't know much about him but now I do :) Thank you!