Salah Eddin al-Ayyubi, the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty, began his career as a lieutenant in the army of Noor Eddin, the Sultan of Mosul. During the campaign against the Fatimids of Egypt, Salah Eddin rose prominently as a warrior of great dexterity and tactical awareness, and accordingly was promoted to commander and later minister. In 1171 CE, he removed the last of the Fatimid caliphs, and from Egypt, he began the conquest of Syria and attacked the Crusaders. This period of warfare against the Crusaders earned him considerable respect and some notoriety in the West. Indeed, he was seen as the arch enemy of Richard the Lionhearted.
In 1187, Salah Eddin (known as "Saladin" in western literature) crossed the Jordanian highlands near ‘Ajloun. He inflicted a decisive defeat on the Crusaders at the Battle of Hittin, opening the way for the liberation of al-Quds (Jerusalem) while placing Jordan and Egypt under his rule. The Ayyubid dynasty would rule much of these lands for the next eighty years.
Salah Eddin was also famous for his sense of justice and generosity to the poor and the weak. After he conquered Jerusalem, he guaranteed the 100,000 Christian inhabitants security of life and property. Furthermore, Salah Eddin did not confiscate the amassed wealth of the Christian patriarch, but instead provided guards for the patriarch’s safe transit to other Christian habitations. This benevolent treatment of the Christians was exemplified yet another time, when Richard the Lionhearted became ill and Salah Eddin sent his personal physician to treat the general.
Following the death of Salah Eddin in 1193, the Ayyubid dynasty divided. In 1200 CE his brother Sultan al-Adel Saif Eddin Abu Bakr appointed Sharif Qatada ibn Idris of Yanbu to be the new emir of Mecca. The Emirate of Mecca remained within Sharif Qatada’s ancestry for over 700 years, the last emir of Mecca being Sharif Hussein bin Ali, King of the Arabs and great grandfather of His Majesty King Hussein I.