Really interesting blog here from a Kurdish perspective on Saladin – the great opponent of Richard the Lionheart. The ruler of Syria and Egypt who unified the Islamic realms and dealt a death blow to crusader ambitions to hold on to Jerusalem forever. But what many don’t know is that Saladin was ethnically….Kurdish. Yet in spite of that he has been heroised by Arab nationalists including Saddam Hussein (who came from Tikrit where Saladin’s family were located). Kurds have often felt ambivalent about Saladin while Arabs have idolised him. It’s one of those many ironies in history.

Kurdish Musings

Saladin is a peculiar figure in Kurdish nationalist dialogue. On the one hand, he is arguably the best known Kurdish person to the world, even if they are not aware he is Kurdish. On the other hand, he did not do anything to advance Kurdish nationalism, but rather a fighter for the Islamic world. Those interested in Kurdish culture generally take two positions towards Saladin- one that he did not care for Kurdish people at all, as he showed with his relocation from Kurdish regions to Egypt and Syria. Another a recognition that nationalism did not factor in during those days, but a common Islamic identity and the advancement of family and tribal interests did. They point out that despite this, Saladin is an important historical figure Kurdish culture should acknowledge and embrace. Ironically, it is within Arab Nationalist circles that Saladin finds the most warm reception, with leaders from…

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2 thoughts on “Saladin

  1. Reblogged this on pondering the universe and commented:
    Eloquently written and informative, I had zero prior knowledge pertaining to the history of Saladin, and sadly little knowledge of arab history (perhaps ill research some and write a post!). I reccomend this article highly, a facinating insight in arab and islamic history, the mention of saddam will strike an interesting chord with readers as well and perhaps will provide some valuable insight.

    1. Thanks for the reblog and hope you saw my other post on ‘Saladin the merciful – think again’. He was a fascinating leader whose name has been invoked by Arab leaders in our own time from Nasser in Egypt to Saddam in Iraq.

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