Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) Magazine 'Voice Of Khurasan' Celebrates 13th-Century Muslim Commander Rukn Al-Din Baybars For His Siege Of Acre, Capital Of Kingdom Of Jerusalem, Capture Of Safed Fortress, Massacre Of Knights Templar, Defeat Of Crusade Of Louis IX

December 5, 2023

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A major article in the latest issue of the "Voice of Khurasan," an English-language monthly magazine published by Al-Azaim Media Foundation, a media outlet linked to the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), which defines itself as a supporting entity for the Islamic State (ISIS), celebrates the life of 13th-century sultan of Egypt and Syria Al-Malik Al-Zahir Rukn Al-Din Baybars Al-Bunduqdari for his role in fighting Christians, defeating the Seventh Crusade of King Louis IX of France, stopping the Mongol advance, and killing the Knights Templar who had surrendered after being trapped.

The article, titled "Heroes Of Islam: Rukn Al-Din Baybars," notes that Malik al-Zahir Rukn Al-Din Baybars Al-Bunduqdari "was one of the commanders of the Egyptian forces that inflicted a defeat on the Seventh Crusade of King Louis IX of France. He also led the vanguards of the Egyptian army at the Battle of Ain Jalut [in southeastern Galilee] in 1260, which marked the first substantial defeat of the Mongol army and is considered a turning point in the history."

The article observes: "The reign of Baybars marked the start of an age of Mamluk dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean and solidified the durability of their military system. He managed to pave the way for the end of the Crusader presence in Syria and reinforced the union of Egypt and Syria as the region's pre-eminent Islamic state, able to fend off threats from both Crusaders and Mongol savages, and even managed to subdue the kingdom of Makaria [northern Sudan], which was famous for being unconquerable by previous Muslim empires' invasion attempts."

The article appears in Issue 30 of Voice of Khurasan, the magazine's current edition dated Rabi-ul-Awwal 1445, in the Hijri calendar, which corresponds with the lunar month beginning September16, 2023.[1]

"As Sultan, Baybars Engaged In A Lifelong Struggle Against The Crusader Kingdoms In Syria, In Part Because The Christians Had Aided The Mongols"

The article mentions two battles that were key to the defeat of the Seventh Crusade and killings of the Knights Templar, who had emerged as the major financial and military support line for the Crusaders. It states: "In 1250, [Baybars] supported the defeat of the Seventh Crusade of Louis IX of France in two major battles. The first was the Battle of Al-Mansurah [lower Egypt, 1250 CE], where he employed an ingenious strategy in ordering the opening of a gate to let the Crusader knights enter the town; the Crusaders rushed into the town that they thought was deserted to find themselves trapped inside.

"They were besieged from all directions by the Egyptian forces and the town population, and they had to suffer heavy losses. Robert of Artois, who took refuge in a house, and William of Salisbury were both killed, along with most of the Knights Templar. Only five Templar Knights escaped alive. The second was the Battle of Fariskur [Egypt, 1250 CE] which essentially ended the Seventh Crusade and led to the capture of Louis IX."

This is a comprehensive article on the military-political role of Baybars, including the re-establishment of the Abbasid caliphate in Cairo after the Mongols overran Baghdad.

It says: "After the Abbasid Khilafah [caliph] in Iraq was overthrown by the Mongols in 1258 when they conquered and sacked Baghdad, the Muslim world lacked a Khalifah, a supreme leader who had sometimes used his office to endow distant Muslim rulers with legitimacy by sending them writs of investiture. Thus, when the Abbasid refugee Abu al-Qasim Ahmad, the uncle of the last Abbasid Khalifah al-Musta'sim, arrived in Cairo in 1261, Baybars had him proclaimed Khalifah as al-Mustansir II and duly received investiture as Sultan from him.

"Unfortunately, al-Mustansir II was killed by the Mongols during an ill-advised expedition to recapture Baghdad from the Mongols later in the same year. In 1262, another Abbasid, allegedly the great- great-great-grandson of the Khalifah al-Mustarshid, Abu al-Abbas Ahmad, who had survived from the defeated expedition, was proclaimed Khalifah as al-Hakim I, inaugurating the line of Abbasid Khulafa [caliphs] of Cairo that continued as long as the Mamluk Sultanate, until 1517.

"Like his predecessor, al-Hakim I also received the formal oath of allegiance of Baybars and provided him with legitimation. As Sultan, Baybars engaged in a lifelong struggle against the Crusader kingdoms in Syria, in part because the Christians had aided the Mongols. He started with the Principality of Antioch [a Crusader state comprising parts of Turkey and Syria], which had become a vassal state of the Mongols and had participated in attacks against Islamic targets in Damascus and other parts of Syria."

In 1263, Baybars Laid Siege To Acre, The Capital Of The Remnant Of The Kingdom Of Jerusalem; In 1263, Baybars Laid Siege To The Fortress Of Safed, Held By The Templar Knights – "Upon Surrender, Baybars Massacred The Templar Kuffar [Unbelievers]"

The article further observes: "In 1263, Baybars laid siege to Acre, the capital of the remnant of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, although the siege was abandoned when he sacked Nazareth instead. He used siege engines to defeat the Crusaders in battles such as the Fall of Arsuf [i.e., Apollonia on the Mediterranean coast of Israel] from 21 March to 30 April.

"After breaking into the town, he offered free passage to the defending Knights Hospitallers [Catholic military order] if they surrendered their formidable citadel. The Knights accepted Baybars' offer but were enslaved anyway. Baybars razed the castle to the ground. He next attacked Atlit and Haifa, where he captured both towns after destroying the Crusaders' resistance and razed the citadels.

"In the same year [1263 CE], Baybars laid siege to the fortress of Safed, held by the Templar Knights, which had been conquered by Saladin in 1188 but returned to the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1240. Baybars promised the Knights safe passage to the Christian town of Acre if they surrendered their fortress. Badly outnumbered, the Knights agreed. Upon surrender, Baybars massacred the Templar kuffar. On capturing Safed, Baybars did not raze the fortress to the ground but fortified and repaired it instead, as it was strategically situated and well-constructed. He installed a new governor in Safed, with the rank of Wali [governor].

"Later, in 1266, Baybars invaded the Christian country of Cilician Armenia which, under King Hethum I, had submitted to the Mongol Empire. After defeating the forces of Hethum I in the Battle of Mari, Baybars managed to ravage the three great cities of Mamistra, Adana, and Tarsus, so that when Hetoum arrived with Mongol troops, the country was already devastated. Hetoum had to negotiate the return of his son Leo by giving control of Armenia's border fortresses to the Mamluks.

"In 1269, Hetoum abdicated in favour of his son and became a monk, but he died a year later. Leo was left in the awkward situation of keeping Cilicia as a subject of the Mongol Empire, while at the same time paying tribute to the Mamluks. Mongols were able to escape and took up positions on the hills. Once they became surrounded, they once again dismounted, and fought to the death. During the celebration of victory, Baybars said: 'How can I be happy? Before I had thought that I and my followers would defeat the Mongols, but my left wing was beaten by them. Only Allah helped us.'"

"The Battle [Of Ain Jalut]... Marked The First Of Two Defeats The Mongols Would Face In Their Attempts To Invade Egypt And The Levant, The Other Being The Battle Of Marj Al-Saffar In 1303"

Baybars, who also sent a force to raid the Armenian town of ar-Rummana, whose inhabitants had hidden the Mongols earlier, died in Damascus on July 1, 1277, age 53. The article notes: "His demise has been the subject of some academic speculation. Many sources agree that he died from drinking poisoned kumis[2] that was intended for someone else. Other accounts suggest that he may have died from a wound while campaigning, or from illness. He was buried in the Az-Zahiriyah Library in Damascus."

It quotes "A Templar knight who fought in the Seventh Crusade" as saying: "Rage and sorrow are seated in my heart so firmly that I scarce dare to stay alive. It seems that God wishes to support the Turks (i.e. Muslims) to our loss...ah, lord God...alas, the realm of the East has lost so much that it will never be able to rise up again. They will make a Mosque of Holy Mary's convent, and since the theft pleases her son, who should weep at this, we are forced to comply as well. Anyone who wishes to fight the Turks (i.e. Muslim) is mad, for Jesus Christ does not fight them anymore. They have conquered, they will conquer. For every day, they drive us down, knowing that God, who was awake, sleeps now, and Muhammad waxes powerful."

"Baybars also played an important role in bringing the Mongols to Islam. He developed strong ties with the Mongols of the Golden Horde and took steps for the Golden Horde Mongols to travel to Egypt. The arrival of the Mongol's Golden Horde to Egypt resulted in a significant number of Mongols accepting Islam," the article states.

The magazine's table of contents

It details what it calls "The Epic Battle Of Ain Jalut," which was fought between the Mamluks of Egypt and the Mongols on September 3, 1260, near the spring of Ain Jalut in southeast Galilee. It notes how the Islamic forces from Egypt, having learned that Hulagu Khan, whose army had sacked Baghdad in 1258, had returned to Mongolia for a ritual, quickly advanced to retake some towns.

"Mongol army was forced to retreat toward Bisan, after which the Mamluks led a final counterattack, which resulted in the deaths of many Mongols, including Kitbuqa [a lieutenant of Hulagu] himself. The Battle [of Ain Jalut] has been cited as the first time the Mongols were permanently prevented from expanding their influence; It also marked the first of two defeats the Mongols would face in their attempts to invade Egypt and the Levant, the other being the Battle of Marj Al-Saffar [aka Battle of Shaqhab] in 1303..."

Toward the end, addresses young Muslims at length, preaching Taqwa ("piety"), the belief in the Hereafter, the need to shun desires and have patience, the observance of prayer and fasting during Ramadan, and so on.

"So, my brothers, You are now in the prime of your lives! This is the period of exertion, and this is the period of worship, and this is the period of Da'wa [preaching, invitation to Islam], and this is the period of movement and activity! So, it is upon you to turn toward Islam, learn it, implement it, and call [others] to it," the article states, urging Muslim youths to "follow in the footsteps of those righteous slaves of Allah who supported His Deen [religion] in every age of Islamic history."


[1] Telegram, November 21, 2023. The original English of the article has been lightly edited for clarity and standardization.

[2] Kumis is a fermented dairy product traditionally made from mare milk or donkey milk.

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