Salah ad-Deen al-Ayubi (Part-37)



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In these lines, the poet depicts the ferocity of the battles which took place between the Muslims and their Frankish enemies, in which the blood of many Muslims was spilled and women's seclusion was transgressed upon, but they could not find anything with which to protect their chaste bodies except their arms, which they held up out of shyness and fear. These battles grew intense, with a great deal of killing, until the edges of the swords and spears appeared to glow red hot, and children's hair would turn grey because of the horrific scenes of stabbing and striking that they saw. Then he again alerts those who stay behind, and warns them that they will regret not participating in these battles, warning again of their dangers and mocking the enemy by saying that the sharp swords that they have unsheathed will come back to them, buried in their own chests and skulls. In the final lines, he reaffirms how terrifying these wars are by saying that the (Messenger (SM), from his tomb in Madinah, is summoning the Arabs and Muslims, not only the clan of Hisham, to help in the fight against the enemy.157

Seljuk leaders of Jihad prior to 'Imad ad-Deen Zangi
It is a well known fact in the history of the Crusades that the Islamic Jihad against the Crusaders in the Muslim East first emerged in Mesopotamia, which is the region between the Tigris and the Euphrates, close to Syria, including Diyar Mudar and Diyarbakr (in Turkish, Diyarbakr). It is called al-Jazeerah158 in Arabic because it is located between the two rivers of the Tigris and the Euphrates. The Mesopotamian region is noted for its fresh air, suitability for agriculture and abundant crops. In it there are many great cities, strong fortresses and citadels. 159 Among the reasons why the resistance movement first emerged in the Mesopotamian region are the following:

a) Mesopotamia was the first region in the Muslim East to be touched by the fire of the Crusader menace, when the Crusaders seized Edessa and established the first of the Crusader kingdoms there in 490 AH/1097 CE. The inhabitants realized the danger posed by the Crusader penetration into their country, which led the Muslims to think seriously about attacking the Crusaders

b) The character of the Mesopotamian region had been shaped in the early days of Islam, because it was located on the edges of the Byzantine state, which posed a great danger to the Muslims during the days of the Umayyad and Abbasid periods. Hence it became the first line of defence on the Muslim borders against the Byzantines. After the Crusader invasion, Mesopotamia faced the Crusader Kingdom of Edessa, which posed the greatest danger to the Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad.

c) In the second half of the fifth century AH (eleventh century CE), Mesopotamia witnessed the appearance of the Seljuk Turks who were famous for their love of raising horses and their adventurous spirit, as well as their great zeal for Islam; they were new converts to the faith, and adhered to the Sunni school of thought. The Seljuk Turks in Mesopotamia supplied new blood and were very eager to engage in Jihad for the sake of Allah, unlike the other Muslim forces in the Muslim East whose religious enthusiasm had grown weak and whose fighting spirit had diminished.160

The Mesopotamian region was rich in resources because of its abundant supply of water and fertile land, including vast areas of arable land and grazing which was essential for horses and livestock. This made it possible to provide the mujahideen with a practically limitless supply of food and weapons. Another great advantage was the natural fortifications enjoyed by the major cities and citadels of Mesopotamia, such as Mosul, Amid, Mardin, Hasankeyf and so on, in which the Islamic Jihad movement against the Crusaders started. These cities, which were distinguished by their uniqu e geographical fortifications, made invading the region by force a very difficult task; therefore it became safe from Crusader counter attack. It is not farfetched to suggest that the leaders of the Islamic Jihad movement must have fully understood what great danger the presence of the Crusader kingdom of Edessa in Mesopotamia represented to their positions, and that they had a well-founded fear of a possible Crusader advance to the south, which would be aimed at destroying the Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad.161 Hence it comes as no surprise that the idea of Islamic Jihad first emerged in the region of Mesopotamia, with the aim of wresting Edessa from the hands of the Crusaders.162

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