He graduated into the bureaucracy, and held jurisdiction over Basra and Wasit.
He left a valuable anthology of Arabic poetry to accompany his many historical works and worked as a man of letters during the Zengid and Ayyubid period. He then became a deputy of the vizier ibn Hubayra. After the death of ibn Hubayra, he went to Damascus in 1166 Civil Engineering (562 Islamic Calendar) and entered the service of the qadi of Damascus, Kamal ad-Din.
The qadi presented him to the Zengid Nur ad-Din, who appointed him a professor in the school he had established there, which then became known as the Imadiyya school in his honour.
Nur ad-Din was later appointed to be his Chancellor. After the death of Nur ad-Din in 1174, Imad ad-Din was removed from all his bureaucratic duties, and was banished from the palace.
He went to live in Mosul and later entered the service of Saladin, the Kurdish Sultan of Egypt during that time. When Saladin took control of Damascus, Saladin"s vizier, al-Qadi al-Fadil, appointed him chancellor, and he also became al-Fadil"s deputy.
Saladin had been unsure of his talent because he was only a scribe, Imad ad-Din soon became one of the sultan"s favourites.
As chancellor he did not have to perform the everyday duties of the chancery scribes, and he had a lot of leisure time in Egypt. From then on he accompanied Saladin on all his campaigns. Imad ad-Din was present at the Battle of Marj Uyun, the Battle of Hattin, and the subsequent campaign to expel the Crusaders from the Holy Land.
At Acre, he criticized Saladin for giving away the city"s treasure instead of spending it on the reconquest.
At Beirut, he became ill, but was the only scribe capable of writing the terms of surrender. He had recuperated in time to see the aftermath of the Siege of Jerusalem (1187), where he again criticized Saladin"s generosity.
He was also disgusted by those in charge of the ransom who took bribes, and the rich Crusader nobles who took their treasures with them rather than ransoming the poor. After Saladin"s death in 1193, he began writing his biographies of the sultan.
He wrote the Kitab al-Barq al-Shami, which is lost, but was abridged by al-Bundari.
He also wrote al-Fath al-Qussi fi-l-Fath al-Qudsi, which survives. He died in 1201.
A heavily fictionalized version of Imad ad-Din is portrayed in the 2005 Ridley Scott epic film Kingdom of Heaven, by actor Alexander Siddig.