Manuscript Al-Nawadar al-Sultaniya wa al-Mahasin al-Yusufiya[Sovereign Rarities and Yusufi Merits]
The Biography of Salah al-Din
Islamic Museum, al-Aqsa Mosque / al-Haram al-Sharif
Hegira 626 / AD 1228
Black ink on paper.
Length 23.5 cm, width 16 cm, depth 4.5 cm
A manuscript written in naskhi (cursive)script which, due to the physical condition of the paper, is not entirely legible. It consists of 412 pages, each of which contains 15 lines. The pages are yellowing due to their extremely old age, and the effects of airborne moisture in the paper.
The author of the manuscript (Ibn Shaddad) joined the service of Salah al-Din Ayyubi (known as Saladin, r. AH 564–89 / AD 1169–93) who appointed him as an officer of his troops in Jerusalem. He remained a lieutenant to Saladin until his death, after which Ibn Shaddad headed to Aleppo where he built a madrasa. Next door to it he constructed a dar al-hadith (Hadith School). He settled in Aleppo until his death.
Ibn Shaddad divided his manuscript into three parts: the first section covers the birth of Saladin, his creativity, characteristics, attributes, morals and nature; the second focuses on the changes in his circumstances, his wars and conquests to the end of his life; and the third revolves around the names of the cities and citadels that Saladin conquered between AH 583–86 / AD 1187–90.
The author mentions that his contact with Saladin began in AH 584 / AD 1189 and he accompanied him until his death in AH 589 / AD 1193. Ibn Shaddad mentions that with regard to the history of events, some of which he was not eyewitness to, he depended on trusted sources. As for those events he did witness, he could describe what he saw himself. This biography is considered to be one of the most reliable references about him, thus historians rely on it for an accurate account of Saladin's life, especially in the final period of his life (AH 584–89 / AD 1189–93).
The author gives detailed descriptions of historical events and battles as well as details of the weapons that were used by the Islamic and Crusader armies. Furthermore, the author gives many descriptions of the social and administrative situations in Islamic and Crusader societies, showing that there was communication between the Ayyubid and Crusader states.
This is a biography of Sultan Salah al-Din Ayyubi (Saladin) written by his contemporary, Ibn Shaddad and examines his life, attributes, personality, wars and communication. This manuscript at al-Aqsa Mosque library is one of the best preserved and is accepted as the original copy scripted by the author himself.
Baha’ Yusuf bin Rafi’, al-Shahir bi (known as Ibn Shaddad; d. AH 632 / AD 1234)
The manuscript has a date recorded on it.
Jerusalem was narrowed down as the place of production based on what the manuscript says: that it was copied in Jerusalem and accepted as an authentic copy by the author.
Conder, C. R., The Life of Saladin by Beha ad-Din, compared with the Original Arabic and Annotated, London, 1773.
Ibn Shaddad, Biha' al-Din, Y., (d. 632 / 1234), Nawadar al-Sultaniya wa al-Mahasin al-Yusufiya [Sovereign Rarities and Yusufi Merits], Cairo, 1964.
Maalouf, A., Crusades Through Arab Eyes, New York, 1985.
Salameh, K., Fahras Makhtutat Maktabat al-Masjid al-Aqsa [Catalogue of Manuscripts at the Library of al-Aqsa Mosque], Jerusalem, 1983.
Khader Salameh "Manuscript Al-Nawadar al-Sultaniya wa al-Mahasin al-Yusufiya[Sovereign Rarities and Yusufi Merits]" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;pa;Mus01;4;en
Prepared by: Khader SalamehKhader Salameh
Khader Salameh has been the Director of the Islamic Museum and Al-Aqsa Library in Jerusalem for more than two decades. He was previously employed in the Hebrew University Library and worked as a librarian in Saudi Arabia and as a teacher in Libya. He is a Ph.D. Candidate in Ottoman History. He received a Certificate of Librarianship in 1986 from the Hebrew University. He obtained his BA degree from Beirut University in 1980. He catalogued the Manuscripts Collections of the Haram al-Sharif, which was published in six parts in several countries. His publications include many articles on different subjects and a recent publication in English and Arabic on the Qur'an manuscripts in the Islamic Museum.
Copyedited by: Majd Musa
Translation by: Amal Sachedina (from the Arabic).
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: PA 04
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)Al-Franj: the Crusaders in the Levant | Saladin in the Holy Land
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