Saladin, was a Kurdish Muslim, who became the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty. He led Muslim opposition to the Franks and other European Crusaders in the Levant. At the height of his power, his sultanate included Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, Hejaz, Yemen, and parts of North Africa.
Under his personal leadership, his forces defeated the Crusaders at the Battle of Hattin, leading the way to his re-capture of Palestine, which had been seized from the Fatimid Egyptians by the Crusaders 88 years earlier. Though the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalemwould continue to exist for a period, its defeat at Hattin marked a turning point in its conflict with the Muslims and Arabs. As such, Saladin is a prominent figure in Kurdish, Arab, and Muslim culture. Saladin was a strict adherent of Sunni Islam. His noble andchivalrous behavior was noted by Christian chroniclers, especially in the accounts of the Siege of Kerak, and despite being the nemesisof the Crusaders, he won the respect of many of them, including Richard the Lionheart; rather than becoming a hated figure in Europe, he became a celebrated example of the principles of chivalry.