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Born Salah-ud-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub and later known as Saladin in the Western World, this great Muslim sultan is widely revered as the ideal of a warrior who is fierce in battle and generous to his enemies.Saladin was born in AH 532 (1137–1138 CE) to a Kurdish family in Tikrit (now part of northern Iraq).

Saladin used to perform the five obligatory prayers on time, along with the supererogatory prayers. He never prayed except in congregation, and he never delayed a prayer. He used to always have an imam with him, but if the imam was not present, he would pray behind any pious scholar who might be sitting with him. He never quit a prayer except when he slipped into a come for three days before his death.

He would spend most of his money on sadaqah (optional charity), and he never possessed enough wealth that would have required him to pay Zakah (obligatory alms). Although he always wanted to perform Hajj, he was occupied in jihad, so he did not have enough money to perform Hajj, and he died without performing it.

To be a great Sultan, one should be courageous, strict, and strong-willed, yet merciful, fair, and kind. On Mondays and Thursdays, Saladin used to sit and listen to his people’s petitions in a general assembly attended by jurisprudents, judges, and scholars. He would then spend an hour during the day or the night writing his comments and opinions concerning every petition. He never let down anyone who called on him for help.

He never spoke badly about anyone and never allowed anyone to do so in his presence. He never uttered a rude word and never used his pen to humiliate a Muslim.

He was a loyal and kind-hearted man. Whenever orphans knocked on his door, he would treat them kindly, console them, and give them their fathers’ shares of food and money. If some orphan had a trusted legal guardian, he would give this guardian the share or else he would appoint an honest person that would look after the orphan.

Ibn Shaddad relates,

Once we were walking together near the lines of the enemy. A Muslim soldier brought a woman Crusader who was weeping and beating her chest. When Saladin asked about her problem, he learned that she had lost her young daughter. Upon that, he showed compassion and shed tears. He ordered the soldiers to search for the girl and bring her back. In less than an hour, the soldiers brought the young girl, and her mother ran to her. The mother covered her face with dust and people were looking at her and crying. She looked at the sky but she did not know what to say. She carried her daughter, and the soldiers helped her back to her camp.

Ibn Shaddad also relates,

When English King Richard the Lionheart, Saladin’s archenemy, fell ill, Saladin asked about his health and sent fruits and ice to him. The Crusaders, who were hungry and poverty-stricken, were astonished at that noble chivalry and mercy from their enemy.

Saladin died at the age of 57. His estate was only 47 dirhems and one dinar. He left no real estate or any other hereditaments. May Allah honor him in the hereafter, lighten his grave, and raise his rank in Paradise. Amen.