Saladin, ( Arabic: Salah al-Din ) (1137?–1193), a sultan of Egypt and Syria. He united the Saracens (Muslims) against the Crusaders and restored Jerusalem to Muslim rule. Though ruthless in battle, Saladin was gallant and honorable in his dealings with the Crusaders, who admired and respected him.
Saladin was the son and nephew of Kurdish generals in the service of Nureddin, the Turkish Muslim sultan of Syria. Sent to Egypt with his uncle to establish Nureddin's authority there, Saladin became vizier (governor) of Egypt in 1169 and deposed the hereditary ruler in 1171. After the death of Nureddin in 1174, the caliph of Baghdad permitted Saladin to proclaim himself monarch of Egypt and Syria.
Meanwhile, Saladin had joined the holy war begun by Nureddin to drive the Crusaders out of the Holy Land. After many smaller victories, in 1187 Saladin inflicted a crushing defeat on the Christians at the Battle of Hattin; a few months later he took Jerusalem. The Third Crusade was organized to rescue the Holy City. Richard the Lion-Hearted, one of the leaders, defeated Saladin in several engagements. In a peace treaty, 1192, Saladin granted Christians the right to visit Jerusalem.
Saladin's empire was ruled by his family, the Ayyubids, until 1250.