A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I Almost Missed an 825th Anniversary

Before October 2 ends, I should note that I only belatedly picked up on the fact that this is the 825th anniversary of October 2, 1187, when Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi (Saladin) captured Jerusalem from the Crusaders. I'll talk about the Crusades someday, but it's worth noting that not only is Saladin remembered as a noble here in Muslim tradition, but that the Crusaders themselves remembered him as an honorable and noble opponent, who spared prisoners unless he had been particularly provoked by them.

I almost missed this important anniversary because I was taking my family to dinner to celebrate our wedding anniversary, thus almost overlooking Saladin, who got there first by a bit.

It's often forgotten that Saladin was a Kurd by ethnic origin. He was born in Tikrit, Iraq, which that other well-known Tikriti Saddam Hussein often used to encourage comparisons with his 12th century hometown compatriot. Saddam generally didn't mention the Kurdish part.

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