An Example of the Islamic Dealing with Non-Muslims, Mercy, Generosity and Humbleness

By Elmira Akhmetova

Salahuddin Al-Ayyubi (1137-1193) was one of the most powerful and dedicated Muslim rulers who united the entire Muslim world under his leadership, and the greatest military commander in Islamic history, who was able to liberate Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187.

Salahuddin’s dealing with his enemies could be considered as a perfect example of the central Islamic tenets towards non-Muslims. When his army liberated Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187, he ordered not to touch even a single person, but to treat them with honor and dignity, allowing those who wished to leave to do so in peace, and for those who wished to stay to do so in harmony.

Just to remember, when the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099, they slaughtered the entire population of the city (about 70,000) and created a real bloodbath. Therefore, when the army of Salahuddin was about to enter to Jerusalem, the Christian population of the city was in horror from possible same action from the Muslim side as what was done to Muslims by the Christians 88 years ago. Mothers cut the hairs of young girls hoping to save them from being raped. Monks were busy with hiding treasures and literature of the churches to keep them from being destroyed.

But when Salahuddin entered Jerusalem, he ordered to clean the city with … rose water and he himself began washing the floor of the Masjid al-Aqsa with rose water. His soldiers followed him. For a week, Muslim soldiers were washing buildings in Jerusalem and the smell of rose was everywhere…

When the Richard Lionheart (King of England), a legendary mighty Christian commander who led the Third Wave of Crusaders after the loss of Jerusalem to Muslims, invaded the city of Acre from Salahuddin, he fell ill. By hearing that the commander of his enemy fell sick, Salahuddin sent his physician to him. Not only that, he sent ice to fight the fever and some healing fruits to Richard. Very soon, Richard became healthy again and continued his fighting against Salahuddin.

During the battle time, Richard’s horse was killed. Salahuddin ordered his army not to touch the commander and sent him a horse to make him able to continue his fighting…

When Salahuddin died, he was a ruler of the vast united kingdom consisting of Jerusalem, Syria and Egypt. But he did not leave anything more than 47 silver pieces and one gold coin and one horse.


Writer is a Faculty Member of International Islamic University Malaysia