Baha ad-Din ibn Shaddad

Bahā' ad-Dīn Yusuf ibn Rafi ibn Shaddād (Arabic: بهاء الدين ابن شداد; the honorific title "Bahā' ad-Dīn" means "splendor of the faith"; sometimes known as Bohadin or Boha-Eddyn[1]) (7 March 1145 8 November 1234) was a 12th-century Muslim jurist and scholar, a Kurdish[2] historian of great note, notable for writing a biography of Saladin whom he knew well.[3]


Ibn Shaddād was born in Mosul on 10 Ramadan 539 AH (7 March 1145 CE), where he studied the Qur'an, hadith, and Muslim law before moving to the Nizamiyya madrasa in Baghdad where he rapidly became mu'id ("assistant professor").[3] About 1173, he returned to Mosul as mudarris ("professor").[3] In 1188, returning from Hajj, ibn Shaddād was summoned by Saladin who had read and been impressed by his writings.[3] He was "permanently enrolled" in the service of Saladin, who appointed him qadi al-'askar ("judge of the army").[3] In this capacity, he was an eye witness at the Siege of Acre and the Battle of Arsuf[4][5] and provided "a vivid chronicle of the Third Crusade".[6] Saladin and ibn Shaddād soon became close friends and the sultan appointed him to several high administrative and judicial offices.[3] Ibn Shaddād remained an intimate and trusted friend of Saladin, "seldom absent for any length of time", as well as one of his main advisers, for the rest of the sultan's life.[3] After Saladin's death, ibn Shaddād was appointed qadi ("judge") of Aleppo.[6] He died in Aleppo on 14 Safar 632 AH (8 November 1234), aged 89 years.[3]


Ibn Shaddād's best-known work is his biography of Saladin, which is "based for the most part on personal observation" and provides a complete portrait as "Muslims saw him".[6] Published in English as The Rare and Excellent History of Saladin, the Arab title (al-Nawādir al-Sultaniyya wa'l-Maḥāsin al-Yūsufiyya) translates as "Sultany Anecdotes and Josephly Virtues".[6] The text has survived intact and is still in print.[7] Ibn Shaddād also wrote several works on the practical application of Islamic law, The Refuge of Judges from the Ambiguity of Judgements, The Proofs of Judgments and The Epitome as well as a monograph entitled The Virtues of the Jihad.[3] Much of the information known about Ibn Shaddād derives from Ibn Khallikan's contemporary Biographical Dictionary (Wafāyāt al-a'yān, literally "Obituaries of Eminent Men").[3]

Ibn Shaddād was contemporary to the events he writes and it makes his history particularly valuable. Bohadin's account of "The Life of Saladin" was a well written, detailed, factual, and believable account of the period. The work "The Life of Saladin" was published by Schultens in 1732 in Leiden. It is still one of the most important sources for the Crusade of Richard I (1189–1192).


  1. Chalmers, Alexander, ed. (1812). The General Biographic Dictionary. London: J. Nichols. p. 519.
  2. R. Izady, Mehrdad (1991). The Kurds: a concise handbook.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ibn Shaddād 2002, pp. 2–4
  4. Lyons & Jackson 1982, pp. 305, 337
  5. Thatcher 1911.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Gabrieli 1984, p. xxix
  7. Lyons & Jackson 1982, p. 1


  • Behâ ed-Dîn (1897). C. R. Conder, ed. The Life of Saladin. London: Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund. 
  • ibn Shaddād, Bahā' ad-Dīn (2002) [1228]. The Rare and Excellent History of Saladin. Richards, D.S. (trans.). Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7546-3381-5. 
  • Gabrieli, Francesco (1984). Arab Historians of the Crusades. Costello, E.J. (trans.). Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 978-0-7102-0235-2. 
  • Lyons, M.C.; Jackson, D.E.P. (1982). Saladin: The Politics of the Holy War. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-31739-9. 
  •  Thatcher, Griffithes Wheeler (1911). "Behā ud-Dīn". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

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