Qadi Al Fadil, first minister of Saladin

Yasin Aziz

By Yasin Aziz:

Abu Ali Jamil Abd al Rahim Leqmy Ascallani, from the tribe of Laqm and the town of Ascallon, became known as Qadi al Fadil. He was known as Qadi, ‘the head judge of Egypt.’  He lived there, worked under the Fatimid dynasty and then became the first minister of Sultan Saladin Aiyubi.  He had no equal in his abilities in creative writing, poetry, prose and essays.

Ibn Khalikan* met someone close to him who said, “Qadi Al Fadil has written so much beautiful prose, essays and poems; one could fill nearly 50 books with his writing.”

Emad al Din Esfahani, Sultan Saladin’s advisor and minister, wrote this about Qadi al Fadil:

“He was the master of writing and pens, with artistic expression and eloquence, his ability in precision and beauty in the Arabic language was so high, no one else in the history of writing can be found to equal his competence, or be able to go near his beautiful style of writing.”

Qadi al Fadil was born in the town of Ascalon in 1135 AD. His father was the head judge of Baysan and therefore was called Baisani.  He worked with his father for a while and later went to Alexandria with Sultan Saladin. Aumara, a Yamani poet, wrote about him in his book, ‘Nukat Alasaryia’ the ancient words, when he wrote about one of the Fatimid first minister Adil Ibn Salih Ibn Ruzaiq.

At that time, the mode of writing was so strict like religious doctrines; no one’s writing could be compared to his.  Methods of creative writing were like a science that had special rules and a particular style, like arranging the decoration of a bouquet of flowers. Qadi al Fadil managed the duty of correspondence for the Aiyubid Empire with wisdom and cleverness, as if the style of his writing was designed with pearls, diamonds and jewels engraved in his phrases. When he was in the right mood, he would construct his essays, not in a day but in an hour.

In one poem he paints this picture

A Castle

Oh, my mighty God, a castle on a lonely height, like a hawk

 Perched on the mountain cliff.

It was like a lonely star in the sky, a wet turban in the misty cloud,

a colourful finger beautified by the evening sun.

The fingernail was just like the new moon, and has created a mesmerising scene.

Of one of his travels in Mesopotamia with Sultan Saladin, he wrote:

 To the Nile

Take it from me a message to the river Nile:

Let her know, I can never quench my thirst from Euphrates

You can question my heart whether I am telling the truth.

Even if my tears will not show, or would not become my witness

Oh, my love, how many Botanists you left behind

However, God would not let you kneel down, Jamil is so sad for your patience.

(Botanists – the name of the Pharaoh’s women)


Qadi Fadil often read this ‘Qasida’ lyric:


When the eyes of luck watches over you

Sleep with no fear, as the place of danger becomes the place of peace.

Follow the Phoenix stars, you will find yourself in the web of fortune.

The Orion stars become your horse and your luck becomes its bridle. 

(Phoenix stars for good luck and Orion for power.)


Here are a few more of his poems:


A Night of Happiness

We passed the night of happiness

That matched well with our willing desire

It was a great occasion, far beyond anyone’s expectation

The night had to be on guard, as the she was our only witness.

 It was to ruin our happiness by the cruelty of morning light.

 Oh, what an interesting night passed, we were at the mountain feet. When I tried to narrate it, hardly anyone would believe.

I told the night to guard our door, not let our happiness plundered,

 as hands of contempt would be coming, with the early morning light.

 With the eyes of my thinking, it was possible to see.

Her appearance left on my mind, as I woke up in early morning.

My heart grasped her hand so hard, her fingers started bleeding.

Qadi al Fadil worked with Sultan Saladin until his death in 1193 and then worked with his son King Aziz Afzal, until Sultan Saif al Din Adel (his uncle) removed Afzal from power and replaced him with his son King Mansour. Qadi al Fadil continued working until his death in 1200 AD in Cairo, Egypt.  He was buried in the Karrafa Cemetery, at the Mount Muqatam.  On his grave was inscribed the words, “Qadi Alfadil was an artistic treasure of the epoch.”


*Ibn Khalikan, ‘Biographical Dictionary’, Volume 2, pages 111-116

Yasin Mahmoud Aziz is from Halabja and lives in the UK.  He is the author of ‘Dum Dum Castle’ and two books in Kurdish and he is planning several more books, including ‘A Few Days Life of Revolution in Halabja’. Email:

2 Responses to Qadi Al Fadil, first minister of Saladin
  1. ALi
    March 10, 2014 | 21:36

    Ay wa kurd che.

    all kurdish writers have being writing in and developing languages other than their own mother tongue examples are Mohammad Qazi and Ebrahim Yunesi.Yaşar Kemal

    • Yasin Aziz
      March 11, 2014 | 13:50

      Sultan Saladin was one of the historic leaders of the world, his philosophy was far before his time for about a thousand years. At the time 99% of people were illiterate then how can anyone be nationalist? Saladin could not run his Empire with only Kurds, it is a fact he united all the Middle Eat and North Africa against all Europe who came to occupy, enslave and plunder the area in the name of Religion. We can see now what happens in Syria without the Ayubid, Kurds’ Leadership.

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL