21 April 2019
Greetings to my intimate group of readers. I’m back again to grace my blog with more of my thoughts, sometimes jumbled, sometime insightful, but mostly honest. I know I said I’m busy with my book, but truth be told, I’ve been more engrossed with my latest obsession, Dirillis Ertugrul (The Resurrection, Ertugrul), a Turkish series which dramatically chronicles the lives of a nomad tribe in the 13thcentury. It features the father of Osman Gazi, who was the founder of the formidable Ottoman empire, that dominated the world for almost 800 years. If you haven’t heard about this series that has captured the interest of Muslims around the world, you must not be amongst the binge-watching masses. Being snagged between eastern and western culture, and being a scarf wearer, I am in love with the women’s outfits, and their elaborate headdress makes me want to start a new fashion trend, although I try to ignore that the fact that they seem to change their clothes only twice in a season. There are moments when I am driven insane by mother Hayme’s off-centre head piece, which deeply offends my sense of symmetry. Nonetheless, the deep rich colours and hand-woven fabrics, ornate rugs, pure leather boots and hand carved wooden chests are out of this world. Being nomadic, they have limited access to water, and apart from watching the characters take ablution of their faces, hands and feet, one never witnesses any bathing or body cleansing, even after vigorous battles. The toilet arrangements are also visibly absent. The music is repetitive and predictive, the battle scenes too long and unrealistic, and the constant reading of badly translated sub-titles can be tedious. Also, this show has none of the special effects, dramatic music, dragons and raunchy scenes of Game of Thrones. So, why has this Netflix show gained such popularity that they started making T-shirts with the Ertugrul insignia?
My own obsession with this show, made me contemplate its uncanny attraction. The theme is characterised by the survival of a nomadic people, surrounded by numerous enemies including the Knights Templar Crusaders, The Byzantines and the Mongolians who ruthlessly conquered, rampaging and pillaging their enemies, killing men women children indiscriminately. The depiction of the religious battle between the Turks and the Christians casts the Christians as evil, which is obviously biased and overplayed to create a good-guy bad-guy scenario. The irony that this is exactly how Muslims are unfairly portrayed in modern times is either deliberate or negligently lost on the writers.
As if surviving against these odds is not enough the tribe is constantly faced with treachery and betrayal. Through the constant trials and tribulations there is a steadfast belief and righteous thread of justice, divinity and righteous action that is indelibly woven through the story, carried largely through the role of protagonist, Ertegrul, who is pretty much the Braveheart of the Kayi tribe. The raw mortal combat type survival is juxtaposed by the deep spiritual calm of the Dervish Sufis lead by the historic Ibn Arabi, a mystic poet and philosopher who lived at the time. Arabi only surfaces intermittently and lends a calmness to the chaos that characterises the period. He supports the battle against oppression with spiritual aplomb and plays a prominent role in the successes from the background. His esoteric role lends and beauty to the strength of spirituality and prayer in Islam. The context of the battles is defensive rather than aggressive and is steeped in establishing what is fair. It defines the vexed notion of war for peace, which seems to be the Islamic fate. Notably, there is no fanatical gender oppression that is associated with modern Muslims. The women, who are predominantly occupied with weaving and colouring the fantastic rugs and fabrics for sale to traders, certainly are no strangers to wielding their swords, shooting arrows and kicking ass when they need to. Mother Hayme, who is the mother of Ertugrul and his brothers takes the reigns of the Kayi tribe and there is no issue with her position as head because she is a woman. She commands the respect of her male counterparts and the Kayi tribe. The strength and convictions of one man against the odds, who paved the way to the establishment of an empire which was founded on truth and justice is at the heart of this tale. This story provides hope to all who experience self-doubt, fear and oppression. This show revives the aspect of Islam that was lost in a by-gone era. It captures the hearts of all who admire the integrity and grit of a people who persevered through oppression, treachery, lies and ignominy with righteousness and honour. In a world where the truth of Islam has been diluted and distorted, this reminder of a slice in history of honourable battle for justice and survival, grips the Muslims with a force they may not even comprehend.
Perhaps it is the hope of regaining the rectitude, justice, honour and integrity that draws people to this historical drama, despite its production draw-backs.
As I proceed through the lengthy 3rdseason of this historical drama, I am eternally grateful that I live in an era of plumbing and electricity, although I still dream of wearing those awesome threads!
With love 💜