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Ibn 'Asakir of Damascus

Champion of Sunni Islam in the Time of the Crusades


Ibn ‘Asakir (1105–1176) was one of the most renowned experts on Hadith and Islamic history in medieval Damascus, and author of a multi-volume history of that city. His was a tumultuous time: centuries of Shi‘i rule had not long ended, rival warlords sought control of Damascus, and Crusaders had invaded, capturing Jerusalem in 1099.

Seeking the unification of Syria and Egypt, and the revival of Sunnism in both, Ibn ‘Asakir placed himself in the service of Sultan Nur al-Din Zengi, advocating and designing propaganda against Shi‘is and the Crusaders. Through this and his writings that would influence Sunni scholars who followed him, he helped to lay the foundations for the eventual Sunni domination of the Levant, which lasts until this day.

More books in this series: Makers of the Muslim World