The Grave of Saladin



They buried him that day in the garden house in the Citadel of Damascus, at the hour of the "asr العصر" prayer. The sword which he had helped through the Holy War was laid adjacent to him : " he brought it with him to Paradise." He had given away everything, and the cash for the internment must be acquired, even to the straw for the blocks that made the grave. The service was as basic as a poor person's burial service. A striped material secured the undistinguished coffin. No artist was permitted to sing a lament, no evangelist to make speech. At the point when the huge number, who thronged about the gate, saw the bier, a great wailing went up, and so distraught were the people that they could not form the words of prayer, but only cried and groaned. All eyes were wet, and there were few that did not weep aloud. Then every man went home and shut his door, and the empty silent streets bore witness to a great sorrow. Only the weeping secretary and those of the household went to pray over the grave and indulge their grief. The next day the people thronged to the tomb, praying, lamenting, reciting the Koran, and invoking the blessing of God upon him who slept beneath.

It was not till the close of a second year that the body of the Sultan was interred by a son's loving care in the oratory on the northern side of the Kellasa, beside the great Omayyad mosque, where it lies now. Over it the faithful chancellor, who was soon to follow his master, wrote the epitaph: “O God, accept this soul, and open to him the gates of heaven, that last victory for which he hoped.

“ I entered into this oratory,” says a later biographer, “ by the door which gives on the Kellasa, and after reciting a portion of the Koran over the grave, I invoked God’s mercy on its dweller. The warden showed me a packet containing Saladin's clothes, and I saw among them a short yellow vest with black cuffs, and I prayed that the sight might be blessed to me."

The savvy doctor Abd el Latif composed, to some degree pessimistically, that as far as anyone is concerned this was the main occurrence of a King's demise that was genuinely grieved by the general population. The mystery of Saladin's energy lay in the affection for his subjects. What others tried to accomplish by dread, by seriousness, by magnificence, he accom plished by generosity. In the paramount words which he talked, not well before his demise, to his best dearest child, ez Zahir, on rejecting him to his common government, he uncovered the wellspring of his own quality.

“My son,” he said, “ I commend thee to the most high God, the fountain of all goodness. Do His will, for that way lieth peace. Abstain from the shedding of blood; trust not to that; for blood that is spilt never slumbers. Seek I0 ruin I/ze luarts of tlzy people, and watch over their prosperity ; for it is to secure their happiness that thou art appointed by God and by me. Try to gain the hearts of thy emirs and ministers and nobles. I have become great as I am because I have won men's hearts by gentleness and kindness”.