Last Coin-------------------Next Coin

Dynasty: Ayyubid
Ruler: al-Nasir Salah al-Din Yusuf I (Saladin)
Reigned: 1169-1193 AD (564-589 AH)
Denomination: AR Dirhem
Mint: Damascus
Date of Issue: 1187 AD (583 AH)
Obverse: 'Square in circle" type. Kalima around square. Caliph's name (al-Nasir) and titles.
Reverse: Bismillah around square including mint and date. Inside square: "The defending king, Honour of the world and of the faith". (second part is Saladin's laqab)
Reference: Album 787.2
Weight: 3.0 gms
Diameter: 22.8 mm
Comment: NB Saladin and the Caliph are both "al-Nasir"


Saladin was the first ruler of the Ayyubid dynasty. He is best known in the West for his battles with Richard I, the Lionheart. He was born into a prominent Kurdish family, and shortly after he was born, his father, Najm ad-Din Ayyub, took his family to Aleppo. There, his father entering the service of 'Imad ad-Din Zangi ibn Aq Sonqur, the powerful Turkish governor in northern Syria. Saladin's career began when he joined the staff of his uncle Asad ad-Din Shirkuh, an important military commander under Nur al-Din. During three military expeditions led by Shirkuh into Egypt to prevent its falling to the Latin-Christian (Frankish) rulers of the states established by the First Crusade, a three-way struggle developed between Amalric I, the Latin king of Jerusalem, Shawar, the powerful vizier of the Egyptian Fatimid caliph, and Shirkuh. In the last of these military expeditions Saladin, together with his uncle, approached the walls of Cairo on January 2nd, 1169, causing the Franks, who had the city under siege, to retreat. Saladin then lured the untrustworthy Shawar into an ambush on January 18th, killing him. His uncle, Shirkuh then became vizier. However, he also died unexpectedly on the 23rd of March. Subsequently, Saladin became vizier to the last Fatimid caliph (who died in 1171), earning him the title al-Malik al-Nasir ('the prince defender'), and therefore his relations and successors were all given this title. It took Saladin, or more properly, Salah al-Din Yusuf Ibn Ayyub (meaning Righteousness of Faith, Joseph, Son of Job), only a few more years to became the sole master of Cairo and the first Ayyubid sultan of Egypt in 1174. Saladin soon moved out of Egypt and occupied Damascus and other Syrian towns, though Egypt continued to be a base of his operations.

  • 1138: Saladin born in Tikrit in Iraq as the son of the Kurdish chief Najm ad-Din Ayyub.
  • 1152: Starts to work in the service of the Syrian ruler, Nur al-Din.
  • 1164: He starts to show his military abilities in three campaigns against the Crusaders who were established in Palestine.
  • 1169: He serves as second to the commander in chief of the Syrian army, his uncle Shirkuh.
  • 1171: Saladin suppresses the Fatimid rulers of Egypt in 1171, whereupon he unites Egypt with the Abbasid Caliphate.
  • 1174: Nur al-Din. dies, and Saladin uses the opportunity to extend his power base, conquering Damascus.
  • 1175: The Syrian Assassin leader Rashideddin's men make two attempts on the life of Saladin. The second time, the Assassin came so close that wounds were inflicted upon Saladin.
  • 1176: Saladin besieges the fortress of Masyaf, the stronghold of Rashideddin. After some weeks, Saladin suddenly withdraws, and leaves the Assassins in peace for the rest of his life. It is believed that he was exposed to a threat of having his entire family murdered.
  • 1183: Saladin conquers the important north-Syrian city of Aleppo.
  • 1186: He conquers Mosul in northern Iraq.
  • 1187: With his new strength he attacks the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, and after three months of fighting he gains control over the city.
  • 1189: A third Crusade manages to enlarge the coastal area of Palestine, while Jerusalem remains under Saladin's control.
  • 1192: With The Peace of Ramla armistice agreement with King Richard I of England, the whole coast was defined as Christian land, while the city of Jerusalem remained under Muslim control.
  • 1193 March 4: Saladin dies in Damascus after a short illness.

Back to main page