A Kurdish sultan of Syria and Egypt in the twelfth century, Saladin is remembered both in the Islamic world and in the west as a gentle and merciful warrior and leader of men. Even his adversary from the Third Crusade, Richard the Lionheart of England, came to admire Saladin. The sultan famously sent out search teams to find the three-month old baby of a distraught Christian woman after the sack of Acre, for example, and reunited the mother with her child.
Today, as rebels in Syria desperately fight to bring down the regime of the ruthless Bashar al-Assad, many look back to Saladin as a model ruler. Sadly, even a soap opera celebrating Saladin's life has become a casualty of the on-going unrest, so Syrian viewers have to content themselves with other programs from neighboring Turkey.
Sketch of Saladin from Hulton Archives / Getty Images.