Mustafa’s voice came like some distant breeze blowing over the sands of the Wadi. “I have become so great as I am because I have won men’s heart by gentleness and kindliness…..It is not the custom of kings to kill kings.”
Time seemed to have protracted in the wake of certain people, and this time, yes of course! You guessed it right. I was lost in these famous quotes by Saladin, as I while gazed through the Arrow slit at the Shoubak Castle.
Known as the “Krak de Montreal” originally; the Shoubak Castle still stands proud. It is now a home for bedouins. It was the seat of the Second Crusade and it was upon the sands of time right here, when valiance found a new meaning and chivalry a new icon.
Our Bedouin guide Mustafa told us how Emperor Saladin returned the wives and children of the Crusaders, who’d sold them for food while being raided by Saladin’s army for almost two years.
Built by Baldwin-I of Jerusalem in 1115 AD, this castle was meant for protection of caravans enroute from Syria to Arabia. Later it was defamed by Raynald of Châtillon, who used to attack rich caravans.
Saladin attacked this castle to teach them a lesson. But due to strategic location of this castle on a hill on the plane of Edom, his army was unable to use the siege engines to besiege the castle.
The place is surrounded by rough rugged mountains with no vegetatiin and foliage around. I understood how difficult life is here. Our guide told us, that Bedouins are living inside the holes of the surrounding mountains. He shouted something in Arabic and his voice echoed around the hills, lending an intensity to the almost surrealistic landscape. The most interesting thing was how many people came out of the holes and responded by waving their hands.
There is a water hole at the entry of the gate with spiral stone stairs to approach the nearby spring for collecting water. It was very scary and I observed my wife’s expression after entering few steps inside.
Standing atop the hill, I realised men of grit and valour are shaped by life’s most difficult situations. Shoubak threw me into centuries old history, as I touched the stones, feeling lost songs of a bygone era…..