A Muslim general who conquered Fātimid Egypt for Nûr al- Din ibn Zangi, the ruler of Muslim Syria.
The two Ayyûbid brothers Asad al-Din Shirkûh and Najm al-Din Ayyûb were Kurds from Dvin in the Caucasus (in mod. Armenia), who migrated to Iraq, where from 1138 they served ‘Imād al-Din Zangi, ruler of Mosul. Shirkûh was a capable soldier, and he rose to high military responsibilities in the service of Zangi’s son, Nûr al-Din.
In 1164, when Nûr al-Din decided to intervene in the internal affairs of the Fātimid state, Shirkûh led the expedition to Egypt. Between 1164 and 1169, he campaigned three times in Egypt, fighting both Fātimids and Franks. His death paved the way for the rise to power of his nephew Saladin, son of Najm al-Din Ayyûb, who overthrew the Fātimids in 1171 and brought about the rupture in relations between the Ayyûbids in Egypt and Nûr al-Din in Damascus.