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HomeGlobal Perspective & Critical ResearchHow Ertugrul Resurrected The Muslim Imagination

How Ertugrul Resurrected The Muslim Imagination

Author: Azad Essa

Affiliation: Middle East Eye

Organization/Publisher: Middle East Eye

Date/Place: November 20, 2020/UK

Type of Literature: Essay

Word Count: 5,400


Keywords: Turkey, Diriliş Ertugrul, Ottoman State, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Omar Mukhtar, Pakistan, Muslim World, Islamic Tradition


This exhaustive essay explains the efforts to bring forth memories of a state that spanned continents and worked for its citizens’ welfare irrespective of caste, creed, color, and religion—through the stories of Ertugrul of Anatolian Turkey’s Kayi tribe. The author links different threads of Islamic history and the current-day rule of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and exposes the influence of the modern-day Western stereotype of the Muslim figures. Reservations apart, the piece (which includes embedded videos) demands a genuine read and a critical analysis. The journalist-author, whose work has spanned the Middle East to South Asia to the Americas in international media, also reflects how oppressed communities find a hero in Ertugrul by his relentless struggle to establish his Turkic community in 13th-century Anatolia. The article begins by reviving the 1980s starring “Omar Mukhtar,” whose legacy intensified Kashmir’s resistance movement. The piece then traverses from Gaza in Palestine to Pakistan, Kashmir, and New Zealand, showing how this Turkish TV show has engulfed peoples’ imaginations by reviving the historical past when Muslim conquerors took over lands and established the rule of law and justice, which sees emphasis in this TV series. It also picks up the individual characters who take a lead role in the popular series available on Netflix, which includes women in central roles revealing the Islamic legacy of women empowerment, and it emphasizes scholarship—as in the shape of the character Aliyar Bey. The author also has a critical view of the TV series; he writes: “For fans outside Turkey, Dirilus: Ertugrul eclipses the Ottomans’ contradictions, even the modern Turkish state. Ertugrul himself is clearly an embodiment of what the Ottomans or Muslim world were meant to be – not what they’ve become.” Nevertheless, the show has triggered fresh hope against injustice, oppression, and colonialism.

By: Riyaz ul Khaliq, Non-Resident CIGA Research Associate



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