Salah ad-Deen al-Ayubi (Part-33)

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The Crusader invasion of Syria from as-Sulami's point of view did not come out of nowhere; he realized that the Muslims were weak because they were not adhering to the religion of Allah. Hence he strove to advise them to turn back to Allah and purify their souls, to come back to the Book of Allah (the Qur'an), to give up the sins that they had been committing and to take steps towards Jihad:
Let your aim in your Jihad be to please your Lord and to defend yourselves and your brothers, so that Allah may grant you reward for your Jihad. But that cannot be achieved while we watch the progress of the Crusader invasion, in which they have captured many cities, unless we hasten to confront them and protect the cities that have not fallen into their hands. Mobilizing and heading towards the cities that they have captured from us is nothing less than a war in which we are defending ourselves, our children, our wives and our wealth, and guarding the land that is still in our hands.139

As-Sulami's call to the Muslims was a general call to unite the Muslim forces: Syrian, Mesopotamian and Egyptian. He advised them to follow a methodology of purifying their souls, forgiving one another and embarking on Jihad so that they could achieve their goal of defeating the invaders, as he thought that if the Muslim rulers could not forget their grudges and differences then they were still following a path of jdhiliyah 140 and were not following the wise saying which stemmed from their (Islamic) heritage: "At times of hardship, grudges disappear."141

In many places in his book Al-Jihdd, as-Sulami urged, incited, exhorted and warned, and he addressed the rulers in particular regar ding the necessity of Jihad in the speeches and lessons that he delivered in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus and in the cities of Syria and Palestine.142 He did not omit any minute detail that had to do with Jihad, but he discussed it. We may note that in his book as-Sulami discussed and highlighted the divisions and splits in the Muslim East, especially in Syria, which had weakened and fragmented the Muslim forces and had weakened the belief in the obligatory nature of Jihad, which is something that the invaders took advantage of. He dealt with this problem by discussing the importance of purifying the soul, returning to adherence to the religion of Allah, setting things straight with one another and embarking on Jihad to confront the invasion; he pointed out that this could not be achieved unless the Muslim forces were united. Hence his book Al-Jihad spoke in general terms: it was not addressed only to specific political leaders or certain groups in Syria, for example; rather it was in accordance with a clear Islamic vision that was based on strong and authentic references in the Qur'an and the Sunnah, and in books of biography and military campaigns of early Islam, connecting its subject matter with the Crusader threat to Syria. The way in which he compiled information and quoted it in the right context is indicative of the extent of his far-sightedness and deep insight.143

Our research has shown that the first call to Jihad was not issued by the rulers; instead it came from the Muslim scholars of Islamic ju risprudence and the ulema,144 from teachers, scholars, jurists and writers. As-Sulami is regarded as one of the first to urge a Jihad; he was part of the current of popular Islamic resistance which was supported by Islamic scholars and judges.145 As-Sulami wrote his book at an early stage in this war, which is indicative of his intelligence and acumen in understanding the complex problems faced by Syria. Even though general circumstances were not conducive to the success of his call to Jihad at that early stage in particular, his book was a contribution to paving the way for the Zangid and Ayubid phases. Professor Ramadan Husayn ash-Shawish undertook a study and commentary on as-Sulami's book Al-Jihad, which he presented as a Master's thesis at Al-Fatih University in Tripoli (Libya) in 1992 CE.146

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