One of two Muslim writers known as Ibn Shaddād (the other being ‘Izz al-Dīn, the biographer of Baybars), Bahā’ al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Shaddād was born and educated in Mosul. He taught for four years in Baghdad, then in 1173-1174 he returned to Mosul, where he continued to teach, also serving the Zangid rulers as an ambassador. After completing the pilgrimage to Mecca in 1188, he passed into the service of Saladin, who made him qādī (judge) of the army. He was a close companion of the sultan until the latter’s death in 1193.
In 1195 Ibn Shaddād moved to Aleppo, where he served the Ayyūbid rulers as an ambassador and peacemaker until 1232. Although he wrote several works, Ibn Shaddād is best known for his biography of Saladin, al-Nawādir al- Sultānīyya wa‘l-Mahāsin al-Yüsufiyya ( The Rare Qualities of the Sultan and the Merits of Yüsuf ), which is a vital source for the life of the sultan.