“Ertugrul,” shows a different side of Muslims

The Turkish show Diliris Ertugrul (Ertugrul Ghazi in Urdu and Ressurection: Ertgurul), recently dubbed in Urdu has not only been making waves across the border. Set in 13th century Anatolia amidst the backdrop of the emerging Ottoman Empire is being hailed as the Turkish Game of Thrones.

Writing for The Quint, Hiba Beg said that besides the direction, storyline, acting an production that the show is known for, the portrayal of their religion and some of its historical figures has created among Muslims. That too, in the subcontinent’s pop culture where Muslims are typecasted into the typical mould of a terrorist, Urdu-waxing qawwal or poet, or a faithful sidekick.

A Bonafide Muslim Hero

He is actually a hero for whom the Quran is a guiding light for statecraft as well as daily life. The Quran is not some tool of indoctrination. Even the Christian population which could have been demonised and othered— as is the norm in pop-culture for countries disseminating majoritarianism via TV shows and films — is not vilified. There’s good and bad on both sides, giving the storyline the human heart we have been craving. For the parents’ generation that hasn’t been hooked to shows like Game of Thrones, the shift in genre is exhilarating to see. It also adds a completely new ball game when one sees the depiction of an Islamic Empire on TV screens today, a topic that is never touched. If ever a Muslim empire is depicted in any show or film, always, it is through the gaze of negativity.

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The show is laced with direct messaging from the Quran, which comes as a fresh take for literally anyone, as all you ever hear of the Islamic Surahs on TV is before a man decides to put on an explosive belt. Truly, through Ertugrul Gazi, Muslims across the world haven’t just found a show that is excellently made, but finally found the heroes their parents told them about.

Of Fatwas and All That Is Haram

Zakir Naik, decided to come out with a video talking about the show, saying that though the show doesn’t have bigger sins like love-making scenes, it is still “haram” and encouraged those who do not watch shows to not indulge in this one either. He says the music and lack of Hijab wearing women in the show isn’t permissible for the Muslim eye. Whether you agree with him or not is truly up to you, but anything with the word ‘Muslim’ in it comes hand-in-hand with controversy, so we were very prepared for this. My opinion? Hmmm, I’m just saying there’s worse things I could be doing, but then again, I’m not a preacher.

If there is one thing I could change about the show…well, it is excruciatingly long. Often I wake up in the middle of the night thinking to myself “Wow, how will I ever complete five hundred episodes in this lifetime?” and then sit there as insomnia eats me whole…alright, I’m kidding. But truly, this is Kyunki Saas Bhi… level of endlessness. Sometimes you truly wish the horses would not run in slo-mo, and that people would just be dramatic as opposed to clinging to subtle reactions so the show could just.move.on…but here’s my thing.

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For many Muslim families, watching Ertugrul together has become a sort of evening ritual. We come together and watch the show as we try and grasp the very many complex relations between characters, groan at our mothers when they hide their faces when the gore war scenes come on, and smile in pride when the Prophet’s teachings hold back the good guys from giving up. It is true that the show is yet to reach other groups, but I for one am hopeful.

If nothing else, everyone can find one person in the show they can have a full fledged crush on, and I fully support that. More importantly, the normalisation of such content will truly be ground-breaking when it comes to fighting Islamophobia, as it gives a peek into the culture and lives of Muslims, allowing them to be regular human beings…something the world strips them off everyday.

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