Post-classical history

§ In Praise of Saladin

I used to take such relief at isolation in lands abroad, and sweet separation from the native sward, hoping that through mere wanderlust, I could settle my homeland’s bitter dust. I persevered with the patience of a prisoner whose chains he’d see burst, the control of a man held back from water, dying of thirst.287

Called me to him,288 the message did, an invitation from our lord the Victorious King, Salah al-Dunya wa’l-Din, Sultan of Islam and the Muslimin! Unifier of the creed of faith by his light, subjugator of the worshippers of the Cross by his might, raiser of the banner of justice and right. The reviver of the dynasty of the Commander of the Faithful, Abu al-Muzaffar Yusuf ibn Ayyub. May God embellish Islam and the Muslims with his continued fruition, and grant them victory by the sharpness of his sword and his vision. May He enclose them all in his shadow’s protective embrace, just as He has purified of filth the sources of his grace, and extend across the globe his every commanding and forbidding, lodging his swords in the necks of his foes to do his bidding.

In his mercy [165] he sought me out across the land – a place beyond mountains, beyond plains I was in, a forsaken corner of the world, having no kith, no kin. By his good-will, from misfortune’s fangs was I snatched, bearing me up to his exalted gateway in his grace overflowing, unmatched. The parts of me Time had broken, he put them in splints to hold, and in his generosity he found a market for that which others had deemed unsaleable, too old. He surrounded me with the most wondrous favour, sending me, in his beneficence, gifts of the sweetest flavour, so much that he recompensed me with his generosity’s flow for such services as I gave even to others ages ago. Yet still these he considers and takes into account, as if he had seen and enjoyed them in equal amount. His gifts, as I sleep, bang on my door, making their way to me though I am retired, in service no more. Every day I gain something more from the kindness he gave; he treats me like family though I am his lowliest slave. His good-will has allowed me from all calamities to survive, and his munificence has paid back to me what the disasters of Time did deprive. After granting me all that his duty and example deem fair, his additional trifles are more than my back can bear. His ampleness left me with no desire to sate, so in prayer for him do I spend my days, from early to late.

As the mercy by which God brought relief to His servants he stands; as the one who revived by its blessings our lands. The sultan who restored the example of the Rightly-Guided (as the first caliphs were called); a new pillar of religion and state he installed. A source whose waters never dry from all the drinkers, he is a lake; a bountiful giver who never stops giving, no matter how much they take. In an impregnable defence are the faithful, thanks to the safety his swords always bring; by his liberality we flourish as in the green season of spring. The light of his justice dispels the darkness of the oppressor, and holds back the grasping arm of the warring transgressor. Through his triumphant governance may we rest in his protective shade, in a state of continuing joy that follows the path of a joy already laid – as long as night follows upon day, and the heavenly spheres spin as they may!

[166] I prayed and the two angels said ‘Amen’,

For the Enthroned One sits close to His caller.

For He has said, may He be exalted, to His servants:

‘Invoke me, for I listen as I do answer.’289

Praise be to God, Lord of Worlds, and may His blessing be upon our lord Muhammad and all the members of his family. God is enough for us, He is the best protector.290

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