Without a long introduction, the resurrection of Ertugrul (in Turkish ‘Diriliş Ertuğrul’) goes straight to the point. From the very first scene, we see an assault of Byzantine soldiers against a Muslim Seljuki and his daughter. As the girl raises her head to the sky crying out for help an arrow, shot by Ertuğrul, penetrates the heart of the soldier standing at her feet, with a background of great, epic music, a hoarse and solemn voice challenges saying, “May Allah help us..”
There is a clear empathy of feeling towards the millions of Muslims, who are suffering an unprecedented cultural and psychological defeat. Ertuğrul manages to get the attention of millions of viewers worldwide, especially in the Arab world. The success of the series was not a coincidence and needed no propaganda for a successful launch.
The drama revolves in the 13th century in an area between Aleppo and Antakya, in times of conflict and disputes between great empires in the region. It is a time when the Mongolians and Romans were fighting to control the region. Then, the Turkmen tribes came looking for a land as shelter, which led to the great breakthrough later on, after careful preparation and battles.
The series displays the harbingers prior to establishing the Turkish state. It demonstrates the methods for building and restoring the former glory the Ottoman style. Due to the miserable conditions suffered by many Muslims today, the series lends itself to the present day. At that time, it was as if the world was waiting for a leader or hero, Ertuğrul embodied all the attributes needed.
Thus, the series presents the struggles of betrayal, espionage and warfare. A historical recalling of a fraught and dangerous time, steeped in treachery and suffering. The noble qualities of friendship, sacrifice, altruism, courage, daring and love illustrating the real depth of the account. How these traits and strengths led to the emergence and continuation of the state, despite all plots against its existence.
The genius of Ertuğrul lies in several key factors. The most important of which is the maintenance of the climax and its escalation with every new episode. The girl who was almost beaten by the Crusader soldier, but was saved by Ertuğrul’s intervention, soon to become his wife and a major heroine in the course of events.
Another intrinsic element, keeping the continued interest with its fan base, was the unification of character traits to highlight Ertuğrul’s heroism through the written, pictorial, artistic and musical influences directed to enhance his powerful, just and altruistic idealism.
The Music adds support to his prestige. Achieved by the careful selection of sympathetic pieces that communicate and interpretively convey his feelings.
Ertuğrul’s character is immense, with other actors supporting him as he carries the steady, strong, reliable and good natured hero, with perfect, timely appearances.
The expert selection of the actors was essential. The creative director excelled in choosing players to make even very subtle performances count. Moreover, the actors had undergone training in horseback riding, archery and swordsmanship. (Many had previously acted in historical series).
According to the director, the performance was enhanced by a concerted effort to bring a feeling of realism with a strong respect and sympathy conveyed by the cast. All of whom understood the link with their ancestors.It was obvious how proud they felt in performing these important roles.
The ‘Ertugrulic emotional stretch’ is an illustration of the essence and core values of most Musilms around the world at the time of The Ottoman Caliphate. This was reflected in the praising of the series in many Cultural Forums. Showcased with a mastery of artwork, embodied by the character of Ertuğrul as the good companions’ defender in his majestic epic display. After the suffering of Muslims in consequent waves of attacks in the last two centuries, the history of Islamic glory was shaken before questioning and underestimating campaigns. The series of Ertuğrul attempted to prove the contrary, in a refreshing and contemporary way that proved to be great success.
Nowadays, where the word “success” is not equated with the past, honourable campaigns and the sad truth is the audiences association of terrorism, IS crimes has permitted the destruction of the image of the past.
Ertuğrul revisits the succession from a new angle. It replaces the hateful da’shism with the chivalrous Ottoman who was standing one day on top of the entire Arab region.
The series presents a more realistic view of the word “Allah Akbar”, which has been distorted in our time, highlighting how it conveys the spirit of pride, dignity and hope in the hearts of Muslims, with its powerful sincerity.
An undeniable political factor is also behind the spread of this Ertugrulic experience in the Middle East. Turkey’s support to the the Arab Spring revolutions has encouraged a large number of viewers to express gratitude for the Turkish support and stance. Though this doesn’t seem a typical response it stems from a feeling of shared sympathy and a collective awareness. This observation also opens the door to the impact of the collective consciousness.
The series raises hopes and ambitions that Turkey could revive the Ottoman legacy. It is no secret that it corresponds to Turkish policy, current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself often refers to old Ottoman glories in his speeches and political debates. A dream in the hearts of sympathisers of the ‘cause’ of the Arab spring revolutions.
The Ottoman dominance in the series is very clear in the deliberate historical fallacies, such as ignoring the role of the Abbasid caliphate and Arabs in full, and reducing the role of the Ayyubid state in the face of the fifth crusade in 1218. It created the illusion this small community is the one who confronted the great crusades alone.
Although the works of art with specific objectives can not be detailed in all its historical roles. This was evident in the point that the Seljuk Turks did not show their real role reflecting their historical effort. The scriptwriter’s reasoning was that the series deals with a particular historical era; which focuses on the circumstances associated with the birth of the Ottoman Empire. However, Arabs were underrepresented in the reference to the Arab role of spiritual inspiration through the figure (Ibn Arabi). This character symbolised what could be achieved by the Arabs in power of Turkey. The sincere Arabs are the source of great inspiration in understanding the Quran and the Prophet’s Sirah.
Having a personal controversy (Ibn Arabi) is a different personality in Arabic and religious culture. However, in the series, it is deeper than this controversy. They are not address the Arabs personally, but mainly they speak to conscience, this conscience being Turkish Sufism. The sufi (mystic) work may meaningfully help in changing the stereotype of secular Turkey among Arabs. The same Arabs whose image was linked in ‘Hollywood’ to the mental image of oil drums, casinos and backwardness and terrorism. The character of (Ibn Arabi) came to tell the Turks,’don’t think the same way ‘Hollywood’ promotes Arabs, instead think in an Ertugrulic way’.
The teachings of the Islamic religion offer a simple pure sweetness and offer peace to the Turkish tribes and perform religious rites mixed with the spirit of advice and simplicity in dealing with kings and the public.
However, the role of the Arabs in this bright flash can not be limited. The series could expand the Arab, Kurdish and Persian roles more than this.
A Family Series
Also, the absence of bathos and pornography in the work contributed greatly to its popularity and approval among conservative Arab families. This was evident in the discussions of the younger generation who spoke about their parent’s interest in following regularly.
The series avoids controversial issues that would inflame Muslim communities. Though it highlights the role of Sufis groups in serving the Islamic State and the role of the scholars in taking difficult decisions at some points. It was presented in such a way as to allow the acceptance, even by the most conservative opponents to mysticism.
The modern Turkish soap operas that have flooded the Arabs’ screens in recent years have used female characters in cliche roles. The familiar female character seeks to ignite lusts of their male counterparts resulting in an obscene and unwelcome scenarios, unsettling in the Middle East.
This series succeeded in changing the lead female roles into a far more balanced and highlighting the positive contributions and activities of women. The heroic female Muslim characters in this series attempts correct the twisted, seductresses portrayed in the many Turkish drama, such as , “forbidden love” Giving a dignified role model instead of destroying the values and virtues of decent Muslims.
Seeing women in an active leadership role, while observing conservative Islamic dress, that does not inhibit her, has given practising women a refreshingly positive example for a modern, Islamic way of life.
In the end, the followers of the work see that it demonstrates the doctrine of the true Muslim faith, and how Ertuğrul did not resent the many hardships he faced, but accepted their inevitability. It also reflected his belief that there is no lasting comfort for him or for his community in this world. These are the same sentiments of large Muslim audiences in the Arab region today. After the decline of the revolutionary, ”Arab Spring”, and the ‘apparent’ relative stability of regimes of oppression and counter revolution. The resemblance and similarity of the series to today’s reality, with its many sufferings and hopes, touches a chord of faith and yearning. These people live in hope to overcome its challenges and achieve its aspirations.