Palestine In The Islamic History Part 1: The Crusaders and the Tatars, Ayn Jalout Battle, Elimination Of The Crusaders

08 April 2011

By Dr. Hassan A. Khater

Palestine In The Islamic History Part 3: The Political Map Of The Region Before The Crusades

Palestine In The Islamic History Part 2: Imad El-Deen Zanki Carries Al-Jihad Banner

Europe was very happy with the Mongolian invasion of the Islamic State and tried to coordinate with them against their common enemy. They also tried to spread Christianity amongst the Tartarians themselves. They partially succeeded at first, for it was known that the Mongolian leader Holako had an inclination towards the Nastorian Christians, and his court was full of many of them. His wife was a Christian, too. She played a major role, of which the Church was very proud, in diverting the Mongolian march from Europe. Instead, the march was directed at the Islamic State. Moreover, the Mongolian leader of the Ayn Jalout battle, Katbaga, was a Christian. The Christian influence was so great on the Mongolians that one priest described the Tartarian invasion as "a Crusader campaign in the full sense of the word--a full Nastorian Christianity." The West even hoped that Holako and his leader Katbaga would eliminate the Muslims entirely. Hatoon the First, the king of Armenia, and Bohemond the Sixth, the prince of Tripoli, along with the Crusader princes in Sour, Akka and Cyprus, made an alliance with the Mongolians that stressed the elimination of Muslims in Asia and the return of Jerusalem to the Crusaders.

At that time, Egypt, under the Mamaleek dynasty, was ruled by the Sultan Al-Modhaffar Qutz in 657 H (1259 CE). He was a leader known for his piety and love of God and Islam. He was the student of the greatest scholar at the time, Al-Aziz Bin Abdul Salaam. Ibn Katheer said that Qutz was "a courageous hero who loved doing the good and following Islam; people loved him very much and kept making invocations for him."

After a few months of his ascension to power, he faced the problem of the Tartarian invasion and received a threatening letter from Holako, before he left Syria, telling him to surrender Egypt. The letter read, "Look what we have done with the others and take a lesson from them; surrender, because we show no mercy to begging or crying. Where do you think you could escape from us? Who can protect you from our swords? Neither your forts nor men nor invocation can save you from us."

But Qutz, the Muslim leader who only feared God, knew that victory comes from God, and if he prepared well for the battle and made everything connected to God, victory would be achieved. He decided to announce the holy Jihad and to confront the Crusader invasion. After reading the letter, he gave orders to kill the messengers and divide them into two halves, and their heads were to be hung over one of the gates of Cairo (The Gate of Zuweela), as a sign of an unflinching determination to fight and challenge the Tartarian invasion.

Furthermore, Qutz decided to seize the initiative and attack the Tartarian forces to boost the morale of the Muslims and to emphasize the spirit of Jihad that fosters the concept of martyrdom for the sake of God. Further, he would be defending the Muslim land of Egypt and would liberate the occupied Muslim land in Belad El-Sham, including Palestine and the holy Al Aqsa Mosque. This would send the Tartarians a message that he was a new kind of man they had never encountered before, because the best way to defend is to attack.

In the holy month of Ramadhan in the year 658 H (1260 CE), the Muslim army, under the leadership of Qutz, crossed the borders and liberated Gaza, where he stayed for one day. Then they headed north to meet the Tartarian forces. The two armies met at the Ayn Jalout area to the northeast of Palestine.

Ayn Jalout Battle

Ayn Jalout witnessed one of the most crucial battles in history on Friday, 25 Ramadhan 658 H (6 September 1260 CE). The Tartars had the logistic and scientific potential to win the fight against the Muslim army. Their advantages included: 

· Efficiency and experience gained from the great number of wars they witnessed.

· High morale because they were never defeated.

· They had a large number of fighters and more weaponry.

· The efficiency of their cavalry who knew many advanced fighting techniques such as the thunderbolt method, which was a distinctive feature of the Tartarians.

· They were able to manage well because they were close to the bases of their supplies and support.

· The strategic locations of their army were better than those of the Muslim army. 

Despite the overwhelming superiority of the Tartarian army, the Muslim army scored a momentous, exceptional victory. The Qutz army was characterized by the fact that it was an "Islamic" army aimed at consolidating Islam and protecting its Holy Land. The great scholars and religious men of Egypt joined this army making it was a sacred army constructed and built for the sof prioritizing the word of God and supporting its religion, Islam, in the land. Moreover, the army was further characterized by having a faithful leadership who cherished a true "will to fight", the crucial factor in winning any battle. 

Qutz told his army to wait until they finished the Friday prayers: "Do not fight them till it is sunset and the shadows appear and the winds stir, and the preachers and people start to implore God for us in their prayers", and thereafter the fighting began. 

Jullanar, the wife of Qutz, was killed during the battle. He rushed towards her saying, "Oh my beloved one". She told him while uttering her last breath, "Do not say that, and care more for Islam." Her soul ascended to God after telling her husband that the Jihad for the sake of God and Islam is more important than love and personal relations. Qutz stood up saying "Islamah…Islamah". The whole army repeated that word after him until they achieved their victory. 

During the battle, the horse of Qutz was also killed, and he stepped down and started to fight on the ground till they brought him another horse. He refused taking the horse of the other princes who volunteered their horses to him saying that he did not want to impede them from their holy duty, rescuing himself instead. He was asked why he did not ride on a horse and why he jeopardized himself and Islam. He answered, "If I was killed, I would have gone to Heaven, and as to Islam, Almighty God is well capable of protecting it." After the battle was over and the victory was achieved for the Muslims, Qutz stepped down from his horse and smeared his face with the dust of the battleground and kneeled to God in thankfulness and gratitude. 

The Muslims immediately started to chase the Mongolians, and Qutz entered Damascus five days after Ayn Jalout battle. The chase continued to Halab, and when the Mongolians felt the approach of the Muslims, they left behind the Muslim prisoners, and suffered a great deal. In one month's time, the Muslims were able to restore Belad El-Sham entirely from the hands of the Tartars and the Mongolians. 

This battle is considered to be one of the greatest battles in history in which the Mongolian invasion was put to an end. It was the beginning of the end of the Mongolians, who were forced to retreat. This liberated Belad El-Sham from their occupation. As for the Mongolians who stayed in the Muslim State, they embraced Islam in great numbers and that was another victory for the religion of God. 

Al-Mamaleek And Their Elimination Of The Crusaders 

Although the Tartarian Mongolians were expelled from Palestine and the Muslims crushed them at Ayn Jalout, the kingdom of the Crusaders in Akka kept its control over the coastal area that stretched from Jaffa to Akka. The Sultans of the Mamaleek dynasty took the responsibility of liberating the rest of Palestine till they managed to expel the last Crusader from the Holy Land 30 years after the Ayn Jalout battle. 

Al-Dhaher Bebars succeeded the Sultan Qutz, whose reign lasted for about one year. Bebars played a major role in fighting the Crusaders in Belad El-Sham, for he was constantly assaulting their bases there. Sometimes he resorted to making treaties with them if he felt there was a need. The custom was that the treaty should last for 10 years and 10 months and 10 days and 10 hours. After finishing with the internal problems in his State, he turned to fight the Crusaders. In the year 662 H (1263 CE), he went to Palestine. When he arrived at Akka, the Crusaders came to ask him for renewing the treaty saying that they would release the Muslim prisoners and keep the promises they made. But Bebars did not consider their demands and went on to attack their various bases, especially Akka, so that he would know their level of strength and exhaust their resources and strike them at the right time and place. 

He once again headed to Palestine in the year 664 H (1265 CE) and took control over Qaysarryat El-Mahsana and destroyed its walls. A part of his army attacked Akka and Haifa. He conquered Arsouf in the same year. 

The next year, he went to Palestine again and besieged the city of Safad and conquered it. He then came back to Palestine in the year 666 H (1267 CE), and the Crusaders asked him for a treaty. He used to follow the policy of divide-and-rule with the Crusaders so that their forces would not be united against him all at once. This policy helped him conquer the city of Antakya in the year 667 H (1268 CE). This is considered the greatest victory the Muslims ever achieved over the Crusaders since Salah El-Deen liberated Jerusalem in the year 583 H (1187 CE). Bebars agreed, after conquering Antakya, to make a treaty with Akka that lasted for 10 years on the condition that he should rule half of Akka, and he should control the heights surrounding Sayda. 

The Sultan Al-Mansour Sayf El-Deen Qalawoun continued liberating Belad El-Sham from the Crusaders after Al-Dhaher Bebars died. At his time an alliance against the Muslims was formed among the Crusaders, the Tartarians and Sanqur Al-Ashqar, the deputy of Damascus, who turned on the Moslems. But their alliance failed and Qalawoun started to tighten his grip on the Crusaders and occupied Al-Marqab Fort in the year 684 H (1285 CE). He conquered Al-Ladeqyya in the year 686 H (1287 CE) and Tripoli in the year 688 H (1289 CE). Qalawoun took advantage of the unstable state of the Crusaders in Akka in particular and in Belad El-Sham in general because of the ongoing struggle over power. He was very strong and powerful and could eliminate the presence of the Crusaders in the eastern Arabic region. On the Shami coast, the Crusaders were in control of only Akka, Sour, Sayda and Etleet. 

Qalawoun found that it was time for the total elimination of the Crusaders in Palestine. He used the incidence of the Crusaders attacking and killing some Muslim pilgrims as an excuse to announce Jihad against the Crusaders. He summoned his forces from Egypt and Sham. He stayed out of Cairo waiting for the arrival of the assistance forces, but he suddenly fell ill and died in the year 689 H (1290 CE). His son Ashraf Salah El-Deen Khaleel succeeded him. The Crusaders wanted to take advantage of the situation and offered Ashraf another treaty, but he refused and took his forces and besieged Akka and liberated it in the year 1291 CE. The king of Akka, Henry the Second, escaped to Cyprus. After conquering Akka, Ashraf took Sayda , Sour, Haifa and Etleet. He gave orders to destroy all the fortifications in those cities. Thus, the last base of the Crusaders was destroyed at the hands of Al-Mamaleek dynasty, and the existence of the Crusaders in Palestine and Sham was finally terminated after two centuries (492 - 690 H [1099-1291 ]). With this accomplishment, Palestine was back under Islamic rule again till the British forces occupied it.


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