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The Book of Saladin

Posted on: April 30, 2014

saladinName: The Book of Saladin

Author:  Tariq Ali

Genre : Fiction/Historical Fiction

Series: Islam Quintet #2

Pages :  367 pages

Publication Year: November 17th 1999 

Is Review Spoiler: No

Rating: 1 stars (out of 5)

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When I picked up this book for reading , I was thinking about reading the biography of one of the greatest hero of Islam  – Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb better known in the Western world as Saladin but biography of greatest hero in fictional form by Tariq Ali is shallow, test less and base. Even Wikipedia gives better biography of Saladin than this book. Why, you ask? here is why.

I am really, really disgusted by the numerous allusions to homosexuality, sodomy, prostitution described in this novel. This not the disgusting part, the disgusting part is suggestion that those closest to Saladin including imams and advisers were involved in these heinous acts.

Agreed that these things occur in this world, but when you are writing a biography of great military leader and liberator of Jerusalem and using such a shameful language and behavior is really disgusting, shallow, test less and base.

The way Tariq Ali describes the love life of Saladin is really shameful, as I was reading I started to feel the Tariq Ali really doesn’t know much about who Saladin was and even if he knew, I think he hates him so much that he thought of writing a book to just show his hatred towards him. Don’t know what exactly was going through his mind while writing this book.

Most of the book is filled with sub plots or sub stories and these stories doesn’t add much to Saladin’s biography apart from filling the pages and making book more dense.

I honestly won’t recommend this book to any one. I won’t be reading any other books by Tariq Ali.

I honestly believe that this Wikipedia entry on Saladin is better than this book.

Excerpt from book:

The Book of Saladin” is the fictional memoir of Saladin, the Kurdish liberator of Jerusalem, as dictated to a Jewish scribe, Ibn Yakub. Saladin grants Ibn Yakub permission to talk to his wife and retainers so that he might present a full portrait in the Sultan’s memoirs. A series of interconnected stories follows, tales brimming over with warmth, earthy humor and passions in which ideals clash with realities and dreams are confounded by desires. 


At the heart of the novel is an affecting love affair between the Sultan’s favored wife, Jamila, and the beautiful Halina, a later addition to the harem. The novel charts the rise of Saladin as Sultan of Egypt and Syria and follows him as he prepares, in alliance with his Jewish and Christian subjects, to take Jerusalem back from the Crusaders. This is a medieval story, but much of it will be uncannily familiar to those who follow events in contemporary Cairo, Damascus, and Baghdad. Betrayed hopes, disillusioned soldiers and unrealistic alliances form the backdrop to “The Book of Saladin

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