Ertugrul: Making of an Empire

It  was a cold January night of 2019. I was at my cousin’s, who was leaving for Umrah and I had to accompany him in morning to airport. I was finding it hard to sleep there. When I failed to sleep, I took my phone and opened my WhatsApp. There I came across a WhatsApp group named ‘Dirilis Ertugrul’. I was added to the group few months ago on request of my friend, with only five members in it but had never tried to check its content. So with sleeplessness unending, I thought to give it a try and started downloading the videos and watching it. After watching the first episode, I become interested and started to download the other episodes one after another almost till Fajar Salah. As I found it more relevant to Islamic history, so I decided to do little research on it.

Before going further I would like to give its brief introduction, to know what it is all about and how is it different from other serials available worldwide.

It is a Turkish series called Dirilis Ertugrul (Resurrection Ertugrul). So far five Seasons have been completed and currently sixth season is being aired. Which pertains Osman Gazi (Kirilis Osman), The son of Ertugrul and founder of Ottoman Empire. The show is being watched around the world almost in 150 countries by both Muslims and non Muslims. The Show started in 2014 on Turkish television TRT1. Originally made for local Turkish audience but surprisingly become world famous. The series is Muslim cenntered, full of action, thrill and entertainment with meticulous ethics, beautiful mannerism unlike Bollywood and Hollywood. Having different characters like scholars, warriors, healers and leaders, I do tempt to acknowledge that full justice has been done by every character which makes you feel proud of your Muslim history.

What’s more, the show can be watched by one with its family as it’s rightly said ‘’Halal for the eyeballs”

The series starts with Ertugrul’s mission to find the land for his Kayi tribe and their fight with crusaders, Mongols, Byzantines and some traitors. The series also shows them praying, reciting Quran and making supplications. It literally gives goosebumps when they put their hands on chest and bow down their heads while hearing the name of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

How it got famous in Kashmir : Coming back to WhatsApp group, when I completed all those pre uploaded episodes with my father, I asked for more episodes but unfortunately I got a note from group admin that only three episodes will be uploaded a day because he didn’t want group members to get addicted to it and remain busy watching the serial whole day. That was very disappointing for the group members because at the end of every episode, we were curious to know as to what happens next and the only remedy for that was our long discussions over the phone. Sometimes our approach was rude with group admin for not sending more episodes. Consequently we kept saving all the episodes of the seasons till we reached fifth season. Till the time we all five group members had created our own groups, sharing it with our friends and cousins, from local shopkeeper to religious persons in our locality, everybody became fond of it. We were so much absorbed into it that we used to describe persons through Ertugrul characters. We also started to use some Turkish terms in our conversation like Eyvallah (Thanks), Bey (sir/boss) Kardes (brother) etc. Eventually it became more famous in Kashmir after August 2019 when Kashmir was under strict curfew and internet services were off for months. So when people had nothing to do. They started asking for  Ertugrul and like stuff and started sharing it through pen-drives and other devices. The show achieved more heights recently in South Asia when Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan suggested youth to watch Dirilis to learn Islamic history and values and called it an alternative culture against the nonsense which we are being fed by the western and westernized media. The Series got some criticism as well when Egypt’s top religious body (Dar al Ifta) warned its citizens against watching it, expressing apprehensions that this historical Turkish series is part of efforts by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to revive the Ottoman Empire in Middle East and regain sovereignty over Arab countries which were previously under Ottoman rule. But the warning also got lot of criticism. Despite all these efforts to downplay, millions across the Arab world are watching it online. Today on social media, we can see people with username based on the characters in Ertugrul. Like Tugrut, Halima, Bamsi etc. Even I was surprised to see one of the users with name ‘Noyan” the Mongol commander and the enemy of Ertugrul. Today Ertugrul has become talk of the town as it’s the only alternative for decent families and is at the same time, based on historical facts.