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[FOUNTAIN]Battles then, battles now

Mar 30,2003
Baghdad, a name that originally meant “land inherited by God,” was once a quiet village located near the west side of the Tigris River.
In A.D. 762, during the Abbasid Dynasty, the second caliph, or emperor, Abu Jafar Al-Mansur, chose the village as the capital city, and a new era began. Baghdad flourished as the cultural center of Islam while other European cities were still in the Dark Ages.
But the 37th caliph, Mustasim, who reigned from 1242 to 1258, had to surrender to the Mongolian empire, which, at that time, was the world’s most powerful nation. Mongolian forces, led by Ghengis Khan’s grandson, attacked the city in 1258 and before the intrusion Khan’s grandson wrote a warning letter to the caliph.
“Surely you know the fate of those who fought against the Mongolian forces since Ghengis Khan’s rule. You should not pick up arms to resist Mongolian forces.” Mustasim wrote back: “You are a young man. All who worship Allah are my subjects, from the east to Maghreb in North Africa. I am entitled to summon any of these people whenever necessary.”
The result was terrible. Mustasim surrendered to Mongolian soldiers. He was rolled into a carpet and then crushed to death by horses.
The Mongolian emperor killed Mustasim the way he did because he did not want the Muslim king to bleed to death. The aristocrats of the Islam Dynasty, however, had their organs extracted. Their hollowed-out corpses were filled with jewels and gold and were brought to Mongolia.
By contrast, Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn-Ayub, or Saladin, who ruled the dynasty from 1169 to 1193, was the opposite of Musta-sim. The king’s name meant “the son of Job and righteous believer Joseph.”
Saladin created the Ayub Dynasty, a vast territory that covered Egypt, Syria and Mesopo-tamia. He had been praised as a hero by a lot of Muslims because he drove back crusaders to Europe and protected the Islamic world.
Iraq has been fighting back against the allied forces better and longer than expected. Some members of the Islamic media have called Saddam Hussein the second Saladin. It is strange that a dictator such as Hussein is praised as a hero even though the war he is fighting does not have a cause. Moreover, Saladin was a Kurdish king and the Kurdish people were gassed by Saddam Hussein.


by Noh Jae-hyun

The writer is a deputy international news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.


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