Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub
Saladin, seen here looking hard as fuck.
Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub was born in the small town of Tikrit to Kurdish Muslim parents in the year 1137 CE. He would become one of the most influential and admired military leaders in medieval history; loved by his people and respected by his enemies for years to come.
Salah al-Din (known in the Western world as Saladin) grew up as a warrior and a strategist. He served as an officer in the armies of the Abbasid Caliphate of Syria, and would cut his teeth battling the Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt in the 1160s. In 1169 Salah al-Din succeded his father as the Vizier of the Abbasid Caliphate, taking over as regent for the child Caliph and essentially holding all the power for his wealthy and powerful Empire like Jafar does in Aladdin.
At this time, Crusader States had formed in the Middle East and the holy city of Jerusalem was firmly in Christian hands. For the past several years, the Crusaders and the Arabs had been battling each other and Salah al-Din was not about to step in. He followed a policy of consolidating his power from within the Caliphate and when his forces would be harassed by crusaders or rival Arabs, he would wisely retreat. Over the next few years, he watched as the Christian knights and the Fatimid Caliphate whittled away at each other's power. After the child Abbasid Caliph's death, Salah al-Din seized power and declared himself the Caliph of the new Ayyubid Dynasty. He then went out and whipped the asses of the Fatimid Caliphate and by 1181 he had taken control of Egypt and Syria.
Now Salah al-Din was renowned throughout the world for his ability to not be a dick to people. So when he took over the vast Arab territories, the Christian knight commander Raynald of Chatillon decided it would be cool to fuck with him and try to provoke him into a fight. He resorted to the professional wrestling method of starting a battle; he would come out and say crazy shit like he was going to burn the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina to the ground, he raided Muslim shipping routes and attacked unarmed pilgrims while they were making the Hajj after Ramadan.
Finally, Salah al-Din was like, "OK seriously, fuck this guy." and he set out to kick the ass of Raynald of Chatillon. Raynald got all pumped up and sent out his knights to try and fight the Muslim infidels, but Salah al-Din was patient and cautious with his forces. He waited out the crusader knights until they had become tired, thirsty and exhausted, and when they went to go get some water from the river, Salah al-Din's forces jumped them at the Battle of Hattin in July of 1187 and beat the holy living hell out of the Christian knights. Raynald of Chatillon was captured at the battle, as were the Grand Masters of the Knights Templar and the Hospitallers. Salah al-Din sold all the captured knights back to their families for hefty ransoms except for Raynald, who was executed because he had been both a total bitch and a pain in the ass.
Salah al-Din then decided to show the Christians what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass, and proceeded to conquer Jerusalem in October of 1187. This sparked the Third Crusade, when Richard I of England came down to try and recapture the holy city. Did it work? Hell no! Salah al-Din not only held Jerusalem - he also conquered every crusader state except for Tyre, which he spared so that the Christians would have somewhere to run to after he was done making them his bitches. Basically, he whipped the asses of the Christian knights like they were a pack of Finishing School girls.
Despite the fact that he was a heathen infidel godless Muslim, Salah al-Din was well-liked and respected by the Christian knights and especially by Richard I. It was because Salah al-Din was totally cool to everyone that wasn't damn fool enough to fuck with him. For instance, when the crusaders took Jerusalem in the First Crusade, they slaughtered the entire city - men, women, Christians, Jews, Muslims - everyone was butchered. The streets ran red with blood. When Salah al-Din took the town, not only did he spare the Christian population from death, but he actually granted safe passage for defeated crusaders who wanted to visit the city for religious purposes, which is pretty tolerant and cool of him. Also, he wasn't even a jerk when he was kicking the crap out of Richard; when Richard was wounded in battle, Salah al-Din sent over his personal physician. When Richard's horse was taken out from under him, Salah al-Din presented him with a new one. Basically, he was hard as hell but also totally cool. He like totally represented the ultimate duality of man.
Salah al-Din's legacy as a chivalrous and righteous man carried on throughout Western culture, which is pretty much unheard of for a non-Christian warrior. He's mentioned in Dante's Inferno as being among the virtuous pagan souls in Purgatory. He is shown in medieval art as being a great king and a heroic figure. He is written about favorably not only by Richard but by many of the notable authors of the medieval era and later. He was respected for his badassitude and admired for his awesomeness, which in the end is something we should all aspire to.
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