Islam is the worlds second biggest religion and has spread rapidly across several continents since it first emerged. But human history is littered with religious conflicts, so any new religion is going to meet some friction. “Cometh the hour, cometh the man” – there have been many great Islamic warriors who rose to the challenge of confronting this friction. No matter what you think of Islam it’s hard to deny that some of the greatest warriors and military tacticians of all time have been Muslim. Islamic empires stood strong for many centuries. In this article we will look at our top 10 greatest Islamic warriors ever.
With the full name of “An-Nasir Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub” it’s easy to see why he became more well known as Saladin. Saladin led the Muslim pushback against the European powers during the third crusade. And he led it successfully. He was the king of both Egypt and Syria. He was gifted with the ability to bring together separate Muslim communities so that a combined pushback was possible. After successfully driving the Christian armies out of Palestine he did the unthinkable. He showed tolerance to the Christian civilians who had been left behind. Allowing the Christians to live freely was incredible for the 12th century. Most leaders in his position would have massacred them. Before he died, Saladin donated most of his wealth to charity. He taught that Islamic warriors must be charitable and merciful.
Malik Ambar’s story is incredible. Sold into slavery as a child, he would eventually become one of the most successful military commanders in India. He was originally from India. But his parents sold him to Islamic traders in India. When he grew older, he gathered his own army and led them to victory numerous times. He made a career out of warfare. Many local kings hired his army to defeat their enemies. At one point, Malik Ambar was even made Prime Minister in an Indian kingdom. He is known widely for his battles with the Mughal empire, which was a powerful Islamic kingdom which ruled over much of India and Pakistan. Few Christian, Buddhist, Hindu or Islamic warriors ever saw the level of success he did in India.
Osman I was the leader of a group of Islamic warriors who founded the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire grew rapidly and stood long. In fact, it stood for over 6 centuries and only met it’s demise after the first world war. And it all started with Osman I. He was the leader of a nomadic tribe that decided to establish some sort of kingdom. He took advantage of the huge numbers of Islamic warriors fleeing the encroaching Mongol hoards. He also took advantage of the rapidly declining power of the Byzantine empire, jumping at the chance to seize more and more of their territory. This set in motion a chain of events that would end in the Ottoman Empire annexing almost all of what was once Byzantine land.
Abd El Karim
Abd el-Krim was such an efficient military commander that he inspired future revolutionaries like Che Guevara, Chairman Mao, and countless other Islamic warriors who were eager to follow in his footsteps. So who was he? Well he was a North-African Muslim who led a huge coalition into war against the French and Spanish governments. This was a time when it was never a good sign to be involved in a war with European empires. But he seemed to fare quite well. For a while at least. He was ultimately forced to surrender. After his loss he was exiled to a tiny island in the Indian ocean. It’s clear that they exiled him so far away because they still considered him to be a genuine threat to European power in North-Africa.
Muhammad Bin Qasim
Muhammad bin Qasim was a key general during the period in which Islam was spreading to South and Central Asia. He captured sever vital regions in what is now Pakistan, which was quite a feat. Indian kingdoms have historically been notorious for their repeated success in defending their land. But his enemy was a Hindu king. The kings subjects were mostly Buddhist, who hated their king. This weakened his position in defending against Islamic invasion. Many of the kings political allies actually defected to the Muslim side. Muhammad bin Qasim commanded an army which was supremely confident that their god was the only true one. They also had superior weapons than the Hindu side. All these factors came together to give rise to one of the greatest Islamic warriors ever.
Mehmud The Conqueror
Mehmed the conqueror is celebrated as the man who captured Constantinople. Constantinople was the most vital city of the Byzantine Empire so capturing it shock the whole of Europe. Mehmed surrounded the city with the aim of blocking any supplies or help from it’s allies. He then took advantage of the superior Ottoman technology to bombard the city. The Ottomans became famous for the use of giant cannons, such as the ones used against Constantinople. What makes this more impressive is that Mehmed did this at the young age of 21. The fall of Contantinople paved the way for Ottoman expansion into Europe, as the hoards of Islamic warriors swept through it.
Tipu Sultan was the Sultan of an Indian kingdom during the late 18th century. Tipu Sultan was such a well respected leader that Napoleon approached him for help in fighting the British. This suited the Sultan well as he was a life-long enemy of the British East India Company. He is noted for his use of rocket weaponry against the British during the Anglo-Mysore war, which ended as a complete disaster for him as he died in battle. Shortly before his death he attempted to gather a huge coalition of Muslim countries to rise up against the British. Despite the fact that almost no one came to his aid, he is still considered one of history’s most efficient Islamic warriors.
Nader Shah was the Persian Shah between 1736 and 1747. He is remembered as one of the greatest military tacticians in Iranian history. This extends to the point where many see him as the Iranian Napoleon. With a series of successful military campaigns he expanded his countries borders to stretch over almost all of the Middle-East. But his military genius eventually proved to be his downfall. He spent too much money on war and his Empire expanded too fast for it’s economy to handle.
Hazrat Ali (RA)
Ali was the Son in law of the Profit Muhammad. But he is also known for being among the mightiest and bravest Islamic warriors ever. Early Islam needed military skill to survive against it’s many enemies. They would raid travelling caravans for supplies and personal experience. This was how Ali learned his battle skills; he was involved in most of them. He was also involved in most battles of the period. For his effort and bravery he was selected the the first Caliph to succeed Muhammad, if Shia tradition is to be listen to. If Sunni tradition is to be believed, he was the fourth Caliph.
No list of Islamic warriors could avoid having Muhammad as number one. Considering his effectiveness in crushing his enemies, he might just have been the greatest military leader of all time. He was at war with the tribe he was born into, and all of their allies. This was a big deal considering how few Muslims there were at the time. But he was able to outsmart them at every turn and form relationships with other powerful Arab tribes. After crushing his enemies he would show them mercy, as an example to his followers.