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AYYUBIDS, dynasty of sultans in Egypt and Syria (1171–1250). The founder of the Kurdish family of Ayyūb was one of the commanders of Zangī, a freed Turkish slave and one of the greatest emirs in the court of Malik Shāh the Seljuk (1072–92). His son *Saladin Yusuf, who was educated in Syria in the Turkish-Seljuk military tradition, succeeded in founding the Ayyubid dynasty in 1171, in conquering Jerusalem in 1187, and expanding his country from Egypt to East Asia in the east and Yemen to the south. Even before his death Saladin divided his country between his sons and his brothers. One of his sons, al-Malik al-Afḍal, received Damascus in 1186 and Ereẓ Israel, but his uncle ʿAdil took Damascus from him in 1196. The second son, al-Malik al-Ẓāhir (1186–1216), received Aleppo. But ʿAdil, the brother of Saladin, succeeded in the early 13th century in uniting most of the areas under him. After his death in 1218, the Ayyubid rulers were compelled to fight harsh wars with the Crusaders, losing Safed, Tiberias, and Ashkelon. In 1229 ʿAdil's son, the sultan Kamil (1218–38), who ruled in Egypt and in Ereẓ Israel, gave Emperor Frederick II Jerusalem and Bethlehem, as well as a corridor of free passage to them from Jaffa. In 1244 with the aid of the Khwārizmis Jerusalem was returned to Ṣāliḥ the Ayyubid (1240–49), the ruler of Egypt and Syria. An energetic sultan, Ṣāliḥ succeeded in uniting almost all the kingdom of Saladin under him. His death and the murder of his son al-Muʿazzam Tūrān Shāh put an end to the Ayyubid dynasty, and after ten years of changes of succession, the Mamluks established their reign in Egypt (Baybars, 1260). Ayyubid rule only lasted about 80 years and was accompanied by many wars. Despite this, the Ayyubid reign was a period of cultural development. Their devotion to orthodox sunna Islam, their war against the sects of the shiʿa, and their concern for the spread of learning did not affect their tolerance toward Jews and Christians. Saladin opened Jerusalem to the Jews in 1190, and the number of Jews in Ereẓ Israel increased under the Ayyubids. *Egyptian Jewry also benefited from the stable regime and Jewish scholars from Christian countries settled in Egypt.


Mann, Egypt, 1 (1920), 255–8; Mann, Texts, 1 (1931), 412–34; Ashtor, Toledot, 1 (1944), 46f., 117–24; EIS; EIS3. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: N.A. Stillman, "The Non-Muslim Communities: The Jewish Community" and M. Chamberlain, "The Crusader Era and the Ayyubid Dynasty," in: The Cambridge History of Egypt, vol. 1; Petry, C.F. (ed.), Islamic Egypt, 640–1517 (1998), 198–211, 211–42.

[Haïm Z'ew Hirschberg]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.