Ain Jalut..a battle that revived the Mamluk state and broke the Mongolian power

The Battle of Ain Jalut, one of the most important battles that marked a decisive turning point in Islamic history, took place on the 25th of Ramadan in 658 AH, corresponding to the third of September 1260 AD, in which the Muslims, led by the Mamluk Sultan Saif al-Din Qutuz, defeated the Tatar-Mongol army led by Hulagu in Ain Jalut area in Palestine.

This battle was the first in which the Mongols were defeated since the era of Genghis Khan, and one of its results was the receding of the Mongol tide that brought down the Abbasid Caliphate before that in Iraq.

The reasons for the battle of Ain Jalut

During the seventh century AH (13 AD), the Islamic world experienced difficult times due to the state of weakness and humiliation experienced by most Islamic countries following the invasion campaigns of the Mongol armies led by Genghir Khan.

These campaigns led to the fall of many countries, the destruction of the features of Islamic civilization in them, and the shedding of Muslim blood and abuse, at a time when no military force could stop the Mongol invasion extending from east to west.

The state of weakness encouraged the Mongols to continue their invasions westward to overthrow the Abbasid caliphate in Iraq, after they invaded Iranian lands, where Hulagu – the grandson of Genghis Khan – came out at the head of a huge army estimated at 120 thousand soldiers, equipped with equipment and heading to Baghdad.

The Mongols besieged Baghdad until it surrendered and violated it and killed a huge number of its inhabitants and abused them, including the Caliph of the Muslims, Al-Musta’sim Allah, and set fire to its neighborhoods and demolished its Islamic landmarks and vandalized its libraries, and destroyed its ancient human heritage, and they were close to extending their control over the entire Middle East region. After they took control of the country beyond the two rivers.

The conditions of the Levant were under the rule of the Ayyubids, the descendants of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi, and they were also not better than the countries of the Islamic Caliphate in Iraq, due to the state of dissension and rivalry between the Ayyubid brothers despite their affiliation to one family and one house.

Instead of uniting against the Mongol enemy, one of them showed his submissiveness to the latter, as Al-Nasir Yusuf Al-Ayyubi, the ruler of Damascus and Aleppo, announced his submission to the Mongols and asked for their help in seizing Egypt and overthrowing the rule of the emerging Mamluk state, knowing that he was then the most capable and powerful Ayyubid prince to confront Hulagu if he wanted. that.

In parallel, however, the Mamluk state in Egypt was living at the rhythm of strong internal conflicts and a dispute over who had the right to ascend the throne.

The first spark of those conflicts erupted when al-Muizz killed Izz al-Din Aybak Faris al-Din Aqtay, and then seized the throne, but he was killed in 1257 by his second wife, Shajarat al-Durr, after she learned of his marriage to the daughter of the ruler of Mosul.

A few years later, Sultan Izz al-Din Aybak was killed and his son al-Mansur Nur al-Din, who was still a young child, succeeded him in the Sultanate’s chair, but he did not have sufficient skills, due to his young age, to manage state affairs, in light of the growing threats of the Mongols who were lurking in the Mamluk state from order to invade it.

Because of the threats of the Mongols, Qutuz decided to depose the child Nur al-Din Ali ibn al-Muizz Aybak, the young sultan, and ascend to the throne of the Mamluk sultanate with the aim of planning to fight the Mongols, who were violating the countries of the Islamic world, especially in the regions of Western Asia and the Middle East, which he achieved in the battle of Ain Goliath that stopped the relentless tide of the Mongol army.

Qutuz did not find any opposition on the part of the princes, military leaders and scholars in Egypt, because the country was in need of a omnipotent sultan capable of stopping the incursion of the Mongol expansion and preventing it from entering Egypt.

During this period, Hulagu appointed the commander Kitbugha Noyan as his deputy, and he returned to Mongolia after the death of his brother, the Great Khan Mongke Khan, with the aim of continuing the Mongol expansion towards North Africa and reaching Egypt, and Kitbugha was able to extend the control of the Mongols over all Palestinian cities except for those that were belonging to the Crusaders.

Commander of the Battle of Ain Jalut

The battle of Ain Jalut was led by the Mamluk Sultan Saif al-Din Qutuz , and his full name was Mahmoud bin Mamdoud bin Khwarizmshah. He was born on November 2, 1221 in the country beyond the two rivers, and died on October 24, 1260 in the Salihiya region in Egypt.

He is the nephew of Sultan Jalal al-Din Khwarizm, the last sultan of the Khwarezmian state that ruled Central Asia and western Iran. He was kidnapped after the collapse of the Khwarezmian state in 1231 at the hands of the Mongols, and he was taken, like other children, to the Levant to be sold in the slave market, and he ended up with Izz al-Din. Aybak, one of the Mamluk princes in Egypt.

Aybak ordered to teach him the Arabic language, the Holy Qur’an, and the principles of Islamic jurisprudence. He also trained in the arts of war, the use of sword and spear, horsemanship, and many other combat skills. Then he was promoted to commander of the soldiers of Aybak, and then to the commander of the armies, after Izz al-Din Aybak ascended the throne of the Sultanate of the Mamluk state, and thus became his right hand.

Prepare for battle

As soon as Qutuz took over the reins of power in the Mamluk state, he set about preparing the army and military equipment to confront the Mongol Empire, as he knew that its confrontation would inevitably come.

The first step he took was to strengthen the internal ranks and establish security, so he gathered the princes of Egypt, its dignitaries, and military leaders, and explained to them that the reasons and motives for assuming the position of the Mamluk state’s authority are the preparation for the invasion of the Mongols, with his promise to them of their right to appoint whoever they see fit to rule in his place, as soon as they finish. From fighting the Mongols, this behavior contributed greatly to restoring calm to Egypt.

In another step, Saif al-Din Qutuz worked to issue a general amnesty for all members of the Mamluk marine forces who fled to the Levant after the killing of Faris al-Din Aqtay. This step was the reason for the return of a huge army with great experience in wars to the Mamluk state, led by al-Zahir Baybars, one of the senior leaders of the Mamluks and the fourth sultan of the Mamluk state, who led the military forces that defeated the Mongols in the Battle of Ain Jalut.

And at a time when Qutuz was watching over preparing his army to confront the Mongols, Hulagu sent him a threatening and intimidating message with 4 messengers from the Tatars, asking him to submit and surrender. Whoever rebels against us and disobeys our command, he will be destroyed along with his wives, children, relatives, those connected with him, his country and his subjects, as it has reached the ears of everyone. Otherwise, be prepared to fight."

Hulagu's message was an explicit indication of the declaration of war, which prompted Qutuz to hold an emergency meeting with the leaders of the Mamluk state, to respond to Hulagu's message. Muslims, you have a time when you devour the money of the treasury, and you are averse to conquest. I am heading to meet the Mongols myself, so whoever chooses jihad should accompany me, and whoever does not choose that should return to his house, for God is aware of it, and the sin of the Muslim harem is on the necks of the latecomers.

Qutuz's saying greatly affected the hearts of the leaders, who immediately cut off their hesitation and supported the war decision, and among them was the apparent leader Rukn al-Din Baybars, who at that time demanded that the heads of the four ambassadors of Hulagu be cut off and hung on Bab Zuweila in Cairo, announcing the opening of the door of war and confronting the Tatars.

Fatwa equipping the army

The Mamluk state was going through a severe economic crisis, and the necessary expenses for equipping the army and preparing the necessary equipment and supplies posed a major challenge for Qutuz, who summoned to his advisory council princes, leaders, scholars and jurists, headed by Sheikh Al-Ulama Al-Ezz bin Abd Al-Salam, and they began to think of a way to equip the army.

Saif al-Din Qutuz proposed imposing a tax on the people to support the army, but Sheikh al-Ezz bin Abd al-Salam did not support the proposal, saying that the princes and ministers should be equal to the common people in property before that, and that the army should be equipped with the money of princes and ministers, and in the event that these funds are not sufficient to equip the army then it is permissible Tax the populace to the extent sufficient to equip the army.

Sultan Saif al-Din Qutuz accepted the fatwa of Sheikh al-Ezz bin Abd al-Salam and started by himself and sold everything he owned and ordered the ministers and princes to follow his example, so everyone complied and brought all their money in addition to their women's jewelry.

The previous money was not enough to equip the army, which made Qutuz decide to impose a dinar on every head of the people of Egypt, and he also took from its rich and merchants the zakat of their money in advance and other taxes.

The amount of money collected by Saif al-Din Qutuz was about 600 thousand dinars. This rational behavior in collecting money was one of the reasons for victory in the Battle of Ain Jalut.

Peace treaty with the Crusaders

In the midst of preparing for war, Qutuz decided that the best way to confront the Mongols was to fight them outside Egypt, and exactly in Palestine, and to implement this plan, they had to pass through the lands of the Crusaders in the Levant.

A leader met with the Crusaders, and announced a temporary peace treaty that would allow the Muslim army to pass through some areas under the rule of the Crusaders, and to neutralize their army from participating with either party, whether the Mongols or the Mamluks.

The Crusaders welcomed the idea and signed the interim treaty, which ends with the end of the Muslim war with the Mongols, and the treaty stipulated that any betrayal that the Crusaders might make would make the Mamluks abandon their war with the Tatars and head to conquer Acre.

But if the Crusaders respected the treaty and the Mamluks managed to defeat the Mongols, the Crusaders would benefit from the spoils that the Muslims would get, especially horses at low prices. For their part, the Crusaders committed themselves to supplying the Muslims with supplies and food throughout their stay in Palestine.

The beginning of the battle

After the news of the beheading of the four ambassadors reached Hulagu, he ordered his deputy in the Levant, Katbugha Noyan, to prepare his army to respond to the Mamluks and avenge the four messengers.

Kitbugha executed the order and led a huge army estimated at approximately 20,000 soldiers, setting out from the Bekaa Valley, heading towards Palestine on the third of September 1260.

The Mongol armies reached the plain of Ain Jalut, between the cities of Nablus and Bisan in Palestine, and there were also the armies of the Mamluk state led by Saif al-Din Qutuz, and their number was also estimated at about 20 thousand.

In order to defeat the Mongols, Sultan Qutuz put in place a plan that requires the main forces of the Muslim army to be hidden behind the hills and forests in Ain Jalut, and to show only the front of the army that was led by Prince Baybars, in order to camouflage the Mongols that this front is the entire Muslim army.

On the morning of Ramadan 25 in the year 658 AH, corresponding to the third of September / September 1260, the battle broke out between the Mongol army and the front of the Muslim army, and the Mongols inflicted a lightning defeat on them and they thought that they had settled the battle in their favor, but the leader Qutuz did not discourage him from continuing to fulfill his dream of defeating them.

Qutuz remained steadfast and confident of a near victory, and it was only moments until he shouted at the top of his voice: "And his conversion to Islam and his conversion to Islam."

Qutuz threw himself in the midst of the armies, and the Muslim soldiers were surprised by the presence of Sultan Saif al-Din Qutuz among them on the battlefield, fighting alongside them, which inflamed their enthusiasm, raised their morale, and strengthened their resolve.

The fighting intensified, and the voices of the Muslims rose loudly, and the Mongols did not understand what was happening on the battlefield, so their forces collapsed and their resolve collapsed, and they began fleeing to the nearby hills after they saw their leader Katbugha fall dead on the battlefield at the hands of one of the Muslim leaders named Jamal al-Din Aqoush al-Shamsi.

Thus, the battle ended with a historic victory for the Muslim Mamluk army, thanks to the skill of Saif al-Din Qutuz, who was holding the reins of the battle from the hills, and the cunning of al-Zahir Baybars, who excelled in leading the Mamluk army in the heart of the battle.

A mural embodying the battle of Ain Jalut, which took place on the land of Palestine, in which the Muslims won and defeated the Tatar army - Raed Musa - Al Jazeera Net
A mural sculpted by a Palestinian artist embodying the battle of Ain Jalut (Al-Jazeera Net)

Results of the Battle of Ain Jalut

The battle was one of the most prominent decisive battles in Islamic history, as it saved Muslims from the danger of the Mongols invading and ending Islam in the Levant and West Asia, and this battle was the first time that the Mongols suffered such a heavy loss.

The battle promised the beginning of the unification of the Islamic world under the banner of the Mamluk state for more than 270 years, and saved its civilization from loss and collapse.

It was also an indication of the liberation of the Levant from the grip of the Mongols and the curtailment of their power in the region, so Hulagu was no longer able to think of re-occupying the Levant, and he was the one who was stable in Tabriz, and the most he did in response to the defeat of his armies in this battle was to send a retaliatory campaign that raided Aleppo .

He responded to the attack of the Mamluk Sultan Saif al-Din Qutuz, who entered Damascus on the 27th of Ramadan 658 AH at the head of his victorious armies, and proceeded to restore security in all the cities and regions of the Levant, arranging its internal fronts, and appointing governors for it.

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