It was March 2020, when the government announced that everyone will be inside their house until the next announcement due to the worldwide pandemic. Yes, it was the 24th of March when a strict lockdown was announced. People were looking at ways to spend their time at home. Some resorted to cooking and some to their basic hobbies like painting, drawing, reading, and so on.
And when the entire world was in distress about the coronavirus and concurrently, bored at their home, that’s where came a savior in the form of a web series-Resurrection Ertuğrul. Within no time, this Turkish drama took the entire nation of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh under its patronage.
Dirilis Ertugrul has far-reaching popularity with audiences in 60 countries including South America, the Middle East, and South Africa. The series was written and produced by Mehmet Bozdug and directed by Metin Gunay from 2014 onwards. The theme music is composed by Alpay Goktekin. To assist with choreography, production teams from Hollywood were invited to Turkey. This series was shot in Riva, Turkey where a special set was created for this purpose.
The lead pair of Ertugrul- Esra Bisligc, and Engin Altan Düzyatan became an overnight sensation on social media and online portals alike globally. So, what is that element in this drama which got everyone hooked to their phones or TV sets?
In this write-up, we will take a deep dive into the pool of Resurrection Ertuğrul.
Muslims have mostly been shown ‘through the gaze of negativity’ in TV series, films and nowadays, the narrative of media has become the icing on that cake of Islamophobia. Hence, the show marks a welcome change and combats Islamophobia. Vilifying Muslims amidst pandemic continued in India.
Take the example of the recent spate of historical Indian movies; Alauddin Khilji, the historic ruler of the Delhi Sultanate was portrayed as a crazed, carnivorous barbarian in the Bollywood movie Padmaavat. Therefore, Muslims craved a powerful and positive depiction in the media. And Dirilis Ertugrul seems to have satiated that desperation to see a glorifying and true to the facts depiction of Muslims. It is widely popular across the Muslim world for celebrating Muslim heroes.
Surprisingly, non-Muslims are also big fans of Ertugrul, setting aside any cultural bias to enjoy the show for pure entertainment. The show’s popularity is not limited to the masses but also reached the dignitaries. Venezuela’s President Nicolas Madura is an avid fan and was seen happily wearing the hat of a Turkish warrior or Alp on a recent visit to the sets and, so was Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan.
There are 5 seasons of Dirilis Ertugrul – Only 2 seasons were released on YouTube, and all the seasons were released on Netflix, the global video streaming platform. The series is based on the life of the 13th-century Muslim Oghuz Turk leader Ertugrul, whose son Osman Ghazi is considered to be the founder of the Ottoman Empire.
It depicts the bravery of Muslim Oghuz Turks fighting the Mongol invaders, Christians, Byzantines, and the Knights Templar in Anatolia. A strong emphasis has been placed on Muslim scholars, and Islamic jurisprudence bringing out unique and thoughtful solutions to the complex problems faced by the characters.
The solutions are based on the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and Hazrat Ali (A.S.). Each episode delivers both spiritual and life lessons by allowing principle characters to talk directly about moral dilemmas and their resolution. The people were hooked to their screens during its streaming in India and Pakistan alike during Ramazan due to its moral and spiritual message being conveyed.
Another feature is the use of Aalims or scholars; in the earlier seasons, a fictionalized version of renowned Islamic scholar and Sufi, Ibne Arabi, is seen advising Ertugrul, while the later series shows the local Imam or Khoja giving guidance. The most notable lessons from this serial are: maintain your positioning towards establishing justice, protect the innocent, trust in God, and never give up. Perhaps the most popular quote in Ertugrul is “The victory is not ours, it belongs to Allah”, a sentiment that resonates deeply with many Muslims.
The women portrayed in the story also provide an intriguing change from the usual orientalist stereotypes of Muslim women hidden in homes. The women often act as Beys or chieftains in place of their husbands and brothers as required by the pertaining situation, they fight with swords and daggers and won’t quietly marry any man chosen for them to please anyone even if it’s a sultan.
There have been queens throughout history who defied the pressure of the times by ruling independently. The characters of Halima Sultan, Aykis, Saljan, Haeme Hatun remain in your mind even after a long time.
Ertugrul is thoroughly entertaining and represents universal values like good will always overcome evil, surviving tough times through perseverance, and which can revive the spirit no matter what your faith is. Apart from this, the way actors performed their character, the way they fight and all the action sequences were very good.
Ertugrul changes your spirit and shifts your mindset as you watch it positively. You see the personification of wisdom, bravery, persistence, deep faith, and brotherhood being displayed. It humbles you. It influences you. Amid the raging debate, the Muslim world hopes that Ertugrul will inspire people to make a better place to live in harmony and peace.
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