Ibn Warraq: Walter Scott, The Talisman, the Crusades, Richard I of England and Saladin: Myths, Legends and History (Part 39)
Walter Scott, The Talisman, the Crusades, Richard I of England and Saladin: Myths, Legends and History
by Ibn Warraq
Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7 / Part 8 / Part 9 / Part 10 / Part 11 / Part 12 / Part 13 / Part 14 / Part 15 / Part 16 / Part 17 / Part 18 / Part 19 / Part 20 / Part 21 / Part 22 / Part 23 / Part 24 / Part 25 / Part 26 / Part 27 / Part 28 / Part 29 / Part 30 / Part 31 / Part 32 / Part 33 / Part 34 / Part 35 / Part 36 / Part 37 / Part 38
“Outside the Zuwayla Gate, the smoldering ruins of the Sudanese barracks poignantly illustrated the kind of retaliation Saladin would mete out to those who dared to challenge his authority, Indeed to erase all vestiges of the long predominance of the Sudanese guards in Cairo, the barrack area of al-Mansura was ploughed over and later turned into a garden.” The property of the Sudanese was seized all over the country, thus, “Not only was Saladin”s authority decisively affirmed, but the task of financing his new army was made easier by this quick if bloody elimination of some 50,000 Fatimid soldiers”. Not bad for a shy retiring scholar who preferred the discourse of pious men.
To show that Ehrenkreutz is not exaggerating, I shall quote from Ibn Al-Athir”s account in his celebrated history, al-Kamil fi”l-Ta”rikh:
“The black slaves in old Cairo were angry at the killing of Mu”tamin al-KhilÄfa out of loyalty and because he had been strong in their support. They assembled their forces, which numbered more than 50,000, with every intention of making war on Saladin”s troops. His force gathered together and met the blacks in Bayn al-Qaá¹£rayn. On both sides many were killed. Saladin sent to their quarter, known as al-Maná¹£Å«ra, and burned it down about their possessions, children and womenfolk [Ibn Warraq"s emphasis]. When they received intelligence of this, they turned their backs in flight and were harried by the sword. The mouths of the alleys were blocked against them, so they asked for terms after great slaughter had been done on them. Terms were granted and they were sent out of Old Cairo to Giza. Then Shams al-Dawla á¹¬Å«ranshÄh, Saladin”s brother, crossed over to them with a detachment of the army and annihilated them by the sword. Only the rare fugitive escaped. God Almighty dealt with their wickedness — God knows best.” 
Saladin took control, suppressed the Shiite (Fatimid) caliphate, and became the new master of Egypt. But as Ehrenkreutz concludes, “As a result of his suppressing the Shiite caliphate, Saladin becale known as an idealistic leader dedicated to the cause of Islamic unity- a reputation which has influenced some of his modern admirers. In reality, Saladin was a pragmatist pursuing power-oriented self-serving ambitions. This motivation guided his policy towards Nur al-Din, which pushed the Muslim forces of Egypt and Syria to the brink of bloody confrontation”
When in March 1174, Saladin heard of a pro-Fatimid, i.e,Shiite, conspiracy, he took careful steps to put it down with characteristic ruthlessness. In April, mass arrests began, and one after another the chief conspirators were sought out, brought before Saladin. A special panel of Sunni jurists was set up, and it sentenced the principal culprits to death by crucifixion, and their followers to banishment. “For several days beginning 6 April, Cairo residents witnessed a gruesome spectacle, where much of Egypt”s former elite were crucified one after another. The first to go was the brilliant poet, Umarah. “¦Also executed in Cairo were Abd al-Samad, Shubruma and his accomplices, a number of Saladin”s commanders and regular soldiers, and some slaves and followers of the conspirators”¦.By this well-planned, bloody operation, Saladin destroyed the last remaining nerve center of Fatimid opposition and averted the outbreak of new fighting and internal disorder in Egypt and her capital.” [114-115] Again, these events are vividly chronicled in Ibn al-Athir. 
 Ibn al-Athir, The Chronicle of Ibn al-Athir for the Crusading Period from al-Kamil fi”l-Ta”rikh, Part 2, trans. D.S.Richards, Surrey [U.K.] : Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2007, p.180.
To be continued.