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  • Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb, better known in the Western world as Saladin, was the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria and the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. A Muslim of Kurdish origin, Saladin led the Muslim opposition to the European Crusaders in the Levant. At the height of his power, his sultanate included Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, Hejaz, Yemen and other parts of North Africa. Originally sent to Fatimid Egypt by his Zengid lord Nur ad-Din in 1163, Saladin climbed the ranks of the Fatimid government by virtue of his military successes against Crusader assaults on its territory and his personal closeness to the caliph al-Adid. When Saladin's uncle Shirkuh died in 1169, al-Adid appointed Saladin vizier, a rare nomination of a Sunni Muslim to such an important position in the Shia Muslim-led caliphate. During his term as vizier Saladin began to undermine the Fatimid establishment, and following al-Adid's death in 1171 he took over the government and realigned the country's allegiance with the Baghdad-based Abbasid Caliphate.

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