In this groundbreaking biography, Abdel Rahman Azzam narrates the life of Saladin, placing him in historical context against the backdrop of the 10th and 11th-century Sunni revival, a powerful sweeping intellectual renaissance that transformed every field of Islamic thought. Azzam contends that Saladin was not just the brilliant military commander of popular imagination but that his true greatness lay in his political and spiritual vision. He was an outsider whose life was filled with paradoxes. Famous for driving the Crusaders out of Jerusalem, and for his bitter war of attrition with Richard the Lionheart, and fabled for his chivalry and generosity, he became the most powerful man in the Islamic empire, but died penniless, without enough money to line his coffin. This book tells his fascinating and complex story. The author covers Saladin's political rise, his consolidation of power in Egypt with the support of the advisers and military men that he relied on. Indeed one of the main aims of the biography is to introduce to the reader the men around Saladin and the vital religious, military, and administrative roles they played, thereby offering a three-dimensional quality to the man himself. In the early chapters of the biography, Azzam's aim is to peel away the myths surrounding Saladin and to set aside the legend so that the reader may gain a better understanding of the historical figure by placing him in his historical context. Subsequently, the first two chapters focus more on the context of the Islamic world than on Saladin himself, setting it apart from other works on Saladin. The remaining chapters of the book deal with Saladin's victory at Hattin and the ensuing Third Crusade and ending with his death in Damascus. In the final chapter, the author gives an insightful assessment of Saladin, bringing the book full circle to the opening Prologue.
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