Ayyubid Sultanate

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The Ayyubid Sultanate (Arabic: الأيوبيون al-Ayyūbīyūn; Kurdish: ئەیووبیەکان, Eyûbiyan) wss dynasty of Kurdish origin that ruled Egypt, Syria, the Jazira and the Yemen in the 12th and 13th centuries. The name of the dynasty is attributed to Ayyub b. Shadhi, the father of Saladin. The Ayyūbids played a significant role in the history of the region, notably ending Fatimid, uniting Syria and Egypt, and defeating the Crusaders.[1]

Ayyubid Sultanate
Flag of Ayyubids
Left: Banner of the Ayyubid Dynasty
Right: Reconstruction of Saladin's personal standard
Ayyubids (in pink) at the death of Saladin in 1193
Ayyubids (in pink) at the death of Saladin in 1193
StatusSovereign state
  • Cairo (1171–1174; 1218–1250)
  • Damascus (1174–1218)
  • Aleppo (1250–1260)
  • Hama (until 1341)
Common languagesArabic, Kurdish, Turkish[Note 1]
Sunni Islam (Shafi)
GovernmentSultanate (princely confederation) under Abbasid Caliphate
• 1174–1193
Saladin (first)
• 1193–1198
• 1198–1200
• 1200–1218
Al-Adil I
• 1218–1238
• 1238–1240
Al-Adil II
• 1240–1249
As-Salih Ayyub
• 1249–1250
Al-Muazzam Turanshah
• 1250–1260
An-Nasir Yusuf
• Established
• Disestablished
1190 est.2,000,000 km2 (770,000 sq mi)
1200 est.1,700,000 km2 (660,000 sq mi)
• 12th century
7,200,000 (estimate)b
CurrencyDinar, Dirham
aA branch of the Ayyubid dynasty ruled Hisn Kayfa until the 1524.
bThe total population of the Ayyubid territories is unknown. This population figure only includes Egypt, Syria, Upper Mesopotamia, Palestine and Transjordan. Other Ayyubid territories, including coastal areas of Yemen, the Hejaz, Nubia and Cyrenaica are not included.

Saladin, founder of the dynasty, was Kurdish[3][4][5][6] and the former vizier of Fatimid Caliphate.

Speculations[change | change source]

Bosworth states that the Ayyubids belonged to the Hadhbani tribe of the Kurds, but argues that the Ayyubids were considerably Arabized.[7] Humphreys also identifies Saladin as a Kurd[5] and the Ayyubids as a Kurdish family, but argues that the Ayyubids were not specifically a Kurdish state, and that at the level of political structure, the governing attitudes of the Ayyubid confederation were not significantly different from those of previous Arab states such as the Abbasids and Fatimids, which can certainly be attributed to the political institutions of their original homeland, Humphreys as well as taking into account Minorsky's speculations on the "Arab origins" of the Ayyubids.[8] Tabaa, on the other hand, argues that over time the Ayyubids drastically moved away from their Kurdish origins and became decidedly Arabised.[9]

Medieval historiography[change | change source]

Various medieval historians spoke of Saladin's Kurdishness:

Minhaj-i Siraj Juzjani (1193–1266) at Tabaqāt-i Nâṣiri:[10]

He distinguished Sulṭān Mu'izz-ud-Dîn, Muḥammad-i-Sām, Shansabî [Shansābanî], Ghūrî, by great victories in the country of Hindūstān, as far as the boundaries of Chîn; in the territories of the West, and in the country of Shām, He made Sultan Salāḥ-ud-Dîn, Yūsuf, the Kurd, exalted by the conquests of the territories of Maghrab, and of the Afranj, so that great victories were achieved by him.

The Chronography of Bar Habraeus (1225–1286):[11]

In this year, which is the year five hundred and fifty-nine of the Arabs (A.D. 1163), Nûr ad-Dîn sent 'Asâd Ad-Dîn Shîrkûh, the brother of Najam Ad-Dîn 'Ayûb, the father of Ṣalâḥ Ad-Dîn, to Egypt. For these two brothers, Shîrkûh and 'Ayûb, the sons of Shâdî, were from the district of Dâwîn, a city of Armenia, and were Kûrds by race.

Ibn Khallikan (1211–1282) at Wafayat al-Ayan:[12]

They (Salâh ad-Din's family) were Kurds and belonged to the tribe of Rawdâdiya, which is a branch of the great tribe called al-Hadâniya.

References[change | change source]

  1. Mazaheri & Gholami 2008.
  2. Magill 1998, p. 809.
  3. Riley-Smith 2008, p. 64.
  4. Laine 2015, p. 133.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Humphreys 1977, p. 29.
  6. Lewis 2002, p. 166.
  7. Bosworth 1996, p. 73.
  8. Humphreys 1987, p. 164–167.
  9. Tabbaa 1997, p. 31.
  10. TTN, p. 214.
  11. TCBH, p. 288.
  12. WA, p. 490.

Sources[change | change source]

  • Mazaheri, Mas‘ud Habibi; Gholami, Rahim (2008). "Ayyūbids". In Madelung, Wilferd; Daftary, Farhad (ed.). Encyclopedia Islamica. Brill. ISSN 1875-9831.{{cite encyclopedia}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: editors list (link)
  • Humphreys, R. S. (1987). "AYYUBIDS". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol. III, Fasc. 2. pp. 164–167.
  • Bosworth, C. E. (1996). New Islamic Dynasties: A Chronological and Genealogical Manual. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 978-1-4744-6462-8.
  • Tabbaa, Yasser (1997). Constructions of Power and Piety in Medieval Aleppo. Penn State Press. ISBN 978-0-271-01562-0.
  • Humphreys, R. Stephen (1977). From Saladin to the Mongols: The Ayyubids of Damascus, 1193–1260. State University of New York Press. p. 29. ISBN 0-87395-263-4. Among the free-born amirs the Kurds would seem the most dependent on Saladin's success for the progress of their own fortunes. He too was a Kurd, after all, and under his aegis they might hope for broader opportunities in rank, estates, and political influence than they could otherwise expect in the predominantly Turkish dynasties of the age.
  • Riley-Smith, Jonathan (2008). The Crusades, Christianity, and Islam. Columbia Universty Press. pp. 64. ISBN 978-0-231-14625-8. Saladin's relative obscurity in Muslim history was understandable. He was a Kurd.
  • Laine, James W. (2015). Meta-Religion: Religion and Power in World History. p. 133. ISBN 978-0-520-95999-6. A Kurd, Saladin was born in Iraq (in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown), and became famous in medieval legend for his chivalrous exchanges with Richard the Lionheart, commander of the Third Crusade.
  • Lewis, Bernard (2002). Arabs in History. Oxford University Press. p. 166. ISBN 978-0-19-158766-5. A Kurdish officer called Salāh al-Dīn, better known in the West as Saladin, went to Egypt, where he served as Wazir to the Fațimids while representing the interests of Nūr al-Din. In 1171 Saladin declared the Fațimid Caliphate at an end.
  • Magill, Frank Northen (1998). Dictionary of World Biography: The Middle Ages. Vol. 2. Routledge. ISBN 978-1579580414.

Medieval[change | change source]

Notes[change | change source]

  1. Saladin spoke both Arabic and Kurdish, and likely Turkish as well.[2]