Noor-ud-Din (نورالدّین) sought to make alliances with his Muslim neighbours in northern Iraq and Syria in order to strengthen the Muslim front against their western enemies. In 1147 he signed a bilateral treaty with Mu'in ad-Din Noor-ud-Din (معین الدّین) , governor of Damascus; as part of this agreement, he also married Mu'in ad-Din's (معین الدّین) daughter Ismat ad-Din Khatun (عصمت الدّین خاتون). Together Mu'in ad-Din (معین الدّین) and Noor-ud-Din (نورالدّین) besieged the cities of Basra and Salkhad, which had been captured by a rebellious vassal of Mu'in ad-Din (معین الدّین) named Altuntash. To reassure Mu'in ad-Din (معین الدّین) , Noor-ud-Din (نورالدّین) curtailed his stay in Damascus and turned instead towards the Principality of Antioch, where he was able to seize Artah, Kafar Latha, Basarfut, and Balat.
In 1148, the Second Crusade arrived in Syria, led by Louis VII of France and Conrad III of Germany. They decided to attack Damascus, despite the former alliance the city had made with the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Mu'in ad-Din (معین الدّین) reluctantly called for help from Noor-ud-Din; the crusader siege lasted only four days before Noor-ud-Din (نورالدّین) arrived.
Noor-ud-Din (نورالدّین) took advantage of the failure of the crusade to prepare another attack against Antioch. In 1149, he launched an offensive against the territories dominated by the castle of Harim, situated on the eastern bank of the Orontes, after which he besieged the castle of Inab. The Prince of Antioch, Raymond of Poitiers, quickly came to the aid of the besieged citadel. The Muslim army destroyed the crusader army at the Battle of Inab, during which Raymond was killed. Raymond's head was sent to Noor-ud-Din, who sent it along to the caliph in Baghdad. Noor-ud-Din (نورالدّین) marched all the way to the coast and expressed his dominance of Syria by symbolically bathing in the Mediterranean. He did not, however, attack Antioch itself; he was content with capturing all Antiochene territory east of the Orontes and leaving a rump state around the city, which in any case soon fell under the suzerainty of the Byzantine Empire. In 1150, he defeated Joscelin II for a final time, after allying with the Seljuk Sultan of Rüm, Mas'ud (whose daughter he also married). Joscelin was blinded and died in his prison in
Unification of the Sultanate
When Ascalon was captured by the crusaders in 1153, Mujir ad-Din forbade Noor-ud-Din (نورالدّین) from travelling across his territory. Mujir ad-Din, however, was a weaker ruler than his predecessor, and he also agreed to pay an annual tribute to the crusaders in exchange for their protection. The growing weakness of Damascus under Mujir ad-Din allowed Noor-ud-Din (نورالدّین) to overthrow him in 1154, with help from the population of the city. Damascus was annexed to Zengid territory, and all Syria was unified under the authority of Noor-ud-Din (نورالدّین), from Edessa in the north to the Hauran in the south.
In 1157 Noor-ud-Din (نورالدّین) besieged the Knights Hospitaller in the crusader fortress of Banias and routed a relief army from Jerusalem, but he fell ill that year and the crusaders were given a brief respite from his attacks. In 1159 the Byzantine emperor Manuel I Comnenus arrived to assert his authority in Antioch and the crusaders hoped he would send an expedition against
The problem of Egypt
In 1168 Amalric sought an alliance with Emperor Manuel and invaded Egypt once more. Shawar's son Khalil had had enough, and with support from Caliph al-Adil requested help from Noor-ud-Din (نورالدّین) and Shirkuh. At the beginning of 1169 Shirkuh arrived and the crusaders once more were forced to retreat. This time Noor-ud-Din(نورالدّین) gained full control of Egypt. Shawar was executed and Shirkuh was named vizier of the newly conquered territory, later succeeded by his nephew Salah-ud-Din. One last invasion of
The Extreme Honour
The whole story of the dream:
It was a peaceful night in Damascus in the year 1162 A.D. He had just gone to bed after completing his mid-night prayers. As he descended into deep snooze, a noble saint with face shining came to him and pointing towards two men with blue eyes, said, “Protect me from these two”. He just could not absorb it anymore and woke up trembling in distress. He performed ablution and offered prayers and again went to sleep. The same saint interrupted him again asking to protect against the evil of the two men. He woke up again and offered prayers and went to bed. The dream repeated for the third time and he just jumped out of this bed asserting, “It’s too much of slumber!!” He immediately called for his noble vizier Jamal Ad Din and shared his dream with him. The vizier advised him to keep the matter undisclosed and immediately head off to Madina. The man was Sultan Noor-ud-Din Ad Din Zangi, who ruled the Muslim lands bordering Crusader States in Palestine during tenth century. The noble saint who came in the dream was Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) himself. The Sultan departed for Madina with a few men and loads of luggage on speedy camels. After sixteen days of journey the royal caravan entered Madina. The Sultan went straight to the Prophet’s Mosque and offered two raka’s of prayers. After while he gathered Medinaites and began distributing valuable gifts. Then began the royal feast for all the inhabitants under strict orders from the Sultan that no one was allowed to miss. Meanwhile the Sultan kept careful eye on all the attendees to recognize the faces of the two men whom Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him) had pointed to. The feast passed on but all in vain. The Sultan asked curiously if anyone was left out from the feast, the crowd denied. It was after repeated insistence by the Sultan that he came to know about the two westerners staying near the mausoleum of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). They had a public reputation of being celibates purely devoted to prayers all the time. They were brought before Sultan who took no time recognizing them; they were the same blue-eyed men shown in his dream. The Sultan inquired about their identities and motives. They cunningly produces the story that they were pilgrims from the West, had come to attend annual Hajj but the strong desire to stay nearer to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) held them in Medina. The Sultan went into their room where all he could find were some scattered books. This situation left the Sultan in serious puzzle amid frequent requests of pardon by the Madinaites defending the two men being very pious who would regularly visit Jannat al Baqee Graveyard and would generously spend in charity during drought years. The embarrassing situation remained until an idea struck Sultan’s mind and he quickly removed the prayer mat where there was a rock. He removed the rock and in his extreme shock and anger found a tunnel dug deep leading to Prophet Muhammad’s (Peace Be Upon Him) grave. The Sultan immediately arrested the two men and forced them to disclose the reality. The two men revealed that they were Christian spies dispatched and funded for a special mission by Christian Kings to enter prophet’s grave and take his body away. The Sultan infuriated by the plot, had those evil spies executed. Moreover under his orders, a channel dug around the Prophet’s grave and filled with molten copper to protect his grave from any further mischievous attempts forever.
Noor-ud-Din (نورالدّین) was noted for strict adherence to religious dicta in his public and private life. Justice was a paramount feature of his character. He is credited, culturally, with patronizing scholars and with the extensive building of mosques, hospitals, schools and universities throughout his territories. These universities were principally concerned with teaching the Qur'an and Hadith. Noor-ud-Din (نورالدّین) himself enjoyed having specialists read to him from the Hadith, and his professors even awarded him a diploma in Hadith narration. He had free hospitals constructed in his cities as well, and built caravanserais on the roads for travelers and pilgrims. He held court several times a week so that people could seek justice from him against his generals, governors, or other employees who had committed some crime. In the Muslim world he remains a legendary figure of military courage, piety, and modesty. Sir Steven Runciman said that he loved, above all else, justice.
The Damascene chronicler Ibn al-Qalanisi generally speaks of Noor-ud-Din (نورالدّین) in majestic terms, although he himself died in 1160, and unfortunately did not witness the later events of Noor-ud-Din's (نورالدّین) reign.
While on this campaign he received a diploma of investiture as lord of Mosul, Syria, Egypt, and Konya from the Abbasid caliph in Baghdad.