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|“||I am not those men. I am Salah ad-Din. Salah ad-Din.||„|
|~ Saladin to Balian of Ibelin|
Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb, more commonly and simply called Saladin, is one of the main antagonists of the action-drama film Kingdom of Heaven, though he really is not all that evil, especially in comparison to the film's other two antagonists, Guy of Lusignan and Raynald of Châtillon. He is portrayed by Ghassan Massoud.
Saladin is the ruler of the Saracens, and is well known for his large army and military brilliance. He is first mentioned by Raymond, count of Tiberias when the latter reveals his knowledge that Balian of Ibelin (the film's protagonist) killed one of Saladin's servants: Saladin decides not to seek retribution, believing that Balian acted in self-defense. Tiberias also reveals that an uneasy armistice exists between Muslims and the Christians, but factions on both sides desire open conflict.
When several Muslim caravans are assaulted by the fanatical Knights Templar—led by Guy and Raynald—without provocation, Saladin musters a mighty army to punish Raynald and his co-conspirators. He besieges the castle of Kerak, Raynald's stronghold, but Baldwin IV, the king of Jerusalem and a man Saladin shares a mutual respect for, arrives at the head of a massive Christian army and manages to negotiate a halt to the siege, promising to punish Raynald—whom Saladin detests—for his crimes. Saladin, noticing Baldwin's failing health due to leprosy, offers to send Baldwin some of his physicians, which Baldwin politely and graciously accepts, and Saladin leaves with his army. Baldwin keeps his promise and publicly humiliates Raynald before having him arrested and condemned, but becomes weakened from the effort and is confined to his bed, with the physicians Saladin promised being unable to do anything except to make him comfortable.
After Baldwin dies (and his nephew and heir is euthanized by the latter's mother, also Baldwin's sister and Guy's wife), Guy soon becomes king of Jerusalem. He has Raynald (who has been released before Baldwin could execute him) provoke Saladin by attacking another Muslim caravan and raping and killing Saladin's sister. Enraged, Saladin sends a messenger to Jerusalem to demand the return his sister's corpse and the heads of her killers, but the messenger is killed, and the arrogant Guy musters a Crusader army to fight Saladin's, leaving the safety of Jerusalem and marching through the desert with little food or water for several days. In the subsequent battle at Hattin, the exhausted Crusaders are easily overwhelmed and annihilated. Guy and Raynald are captured. Saladin gives the thirsty and disillusioned Guy a goblet of iced water, but Guy gives it to Raynald, who drinks it without hesitation and mocks Saladin when the latter points out he did not give the cup to Raynald. Saladin slits Raynald's throat with a dagger, then decapitates him with a sword. He spares Guy because "a king does not kill a king", but berates Guy for being a weak king, comparing him unfavorably to Baldwin.
Saladin continues his march on Jerusalem, which is stubbornly defended by its remaining citizens and knights, led by Balian. After a three-day siege, Saladin decides to offer terms. He meets Balian, who swears that all religious icons in Jerusalem will be destroyed before its defenders will give it up, and that each defender will kill at least 10 Saracens before dying, permanently wrecking Saladin's chances of any further military campaigns. An impressed Saladin offers to spare the citizens of Jerusalem and release Guy if Balian surrenders the city. Balian agrees, and Saladin triumphantly enters Jerusalem at the head of his army. He ultimately honors his promise and allows the Christian citizens to leave the city unharmed.
- In real life, Saladin only agreed to spare the citizens of Jerusalem when they offered to pay a ransom.
- Despite being arguably the film's main antagonist, Saladin is less evil than the film's other two antagonists; it is difficult to call him evil at all.
- The film's depiction of Saladin's execution of Raynald fits with the historical description of the event.