The use of Arab Swords
During the early Islamic years, the Arabs sheathed their weapons in baldrics. The use of sword and baldric was consciously abandoned by the Abbasid caliph al-Mutawakkil (847-861) in favor of the saber and belt. But the use of sword and baldric seems to have retained a ceremonial and religious significance. For example, the Zangid ruler Nur ad-Din (1146–74) was anxious to demonstrate that he was a pious traditionalist, searching out the old methods preferred by the Prophet. Consequently, among his reforms he re-adopted the custom of wearing a sword suspended from a baldric. His successor Salah ad-Din (1138-1193), known in the west as Saladin, did the same and it is noteworthy that he was buried with his sword, «he took it with him to Paradise.»
According to David Nicolle, the Arab sword was used mainly for cutting. He cites Usama ibn Munqidh's memoir as evidence, that when Usama was being attacked by a Hashshashin, Usama struck the assassin down. Other stories by Usama add credence to David Nicolle's theory.
During the Mamluk period the saber seems to have been the preferred weapon of the warrior elite but the most finely decorated edged weapons were swords. Swords were used in the most important ceremonial events in the Mamluk period, that is, in the investiture of Mamluk sultans and caliphs of the restored Abbasid dynasty where the ruler was «girded» with the «Bedouin sword» saif badawi. There are no surviving descriptions of such swords but it can be suggested as a hypothesis that the exquisitely decorated Mamluk sword blades now preserved in Istanbul are in fact saif badawi.