Islamic History Project
Islamic History Project

Why Every Muslim Should Watch Dirilis: Ertugrul

*no spoilers*

If you haven’t heard of Dirilis: Ertugrul (Resurrection: Ertugrul) then seriously who are your friends?

This Turkish series first aired in 2013 and has since taken the Muslim world by storm for all the right reasons. The series is based on the main character Ertugrul Bey who was the father of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, Osman I. The programme is based on the Kayi Tribe in which Ertugrul, and his father Sulayman Shah belonged to.

As a writer on Islamic history and Muslim Identity I have always supported cinematic efforts to tell Muslim stories.  From The message to Omar Series I have much respect for those who produce, invest and create visual history that Muslims have grown up LISTENING too – but never really connecting with. Can you blame us? We belong to the generation of the screen!  Movie marathons and binging on Netflix is an activity we dedicate hours too daily.

Our community has long debated ways to engage the Muslim youth into being passionate about their Muslim faith and identity, however has at times lacked creativity and engagement that youngsters require to invest their time in. Series like Dirilis are one avenue in which the global Ummah can provide Muslims with a sense of belonging through creating cinematic culture with a good message.

In an era where most of our knowledge is attained through our beloved screens – TV and film which are educational, with clean content is a Muslim’s prerogative. In my opinion it will always be better for Muslims to watch that which will portray them positively as heroes, warriors and students of knowledge rather than the negative character roles we see every week on mainstream TV. Not to mention the illicit sexual scenes of most series and movies which are spiritually damaging for our community to watch.  Dirilis: Ertugrul does not have any rude scenes to worry about.

There are countless historical fiction series, but how often is there a series which is tailored to a Muslim audience? Dirilis: Ertugrul speaks to the heart of many Muslims who carry the sentiment, identity and concept of belonging to the Ummah.

Remember, it is a Netflix series so it is not all factual and there are many additional story plots which are purely for entertainment purposes – but the lessons to learn from this series cannot be doubted.

5 Pillars Dilly Hussain has put together a list of historical errors and facts of the era – (SPOILER ALERT) date meetup

But In terms of the real history – the period before the founding of the Ottoman Empire is full of mythological tribal history of the Oghuz people, and the ancestral lands that they originated from. The general overview of the series is based upon some real characters and events but bear in mind the stories portrayed in Ertugrul have been told through generation of Turks. Memory and Mythology is powerful to a nation and can empower a people beyond belief.

If this show teaches us anything – it is that Muslims are their own worst enemy. Through the seasons a key theme which is utterly heart-breaking to watch is that the unity of the Muslims is always broken by their own. Those who are weak in their faith and good character often create fitna and destruction upon the Kayi Tribe.

We all know unity is crucial for the development and protection of our community. The Quran and Hadith specify many times the importance of unity in our religion. “And hold fast, all together, by the rope which God (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude God’s favour on you; for you were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, you became brethren”. When we break the unity and go against our own in the name of personal ambition, wealth and worldly distractions this weakens our collective power.

Unity is not the only Islamic value that is portrayed and revived in this series. The main character Ertugrul is considered a brave, who possesses the honour and loyalty a Muslim should have. His fearlessness towards his enemies is admirable and his thirst to provide justice to his tribe and the wider Muslim world is an idea that is woven through Islamic history. At the same time this program does not try to paint all Muslims as perfect human beings. Many of the villains are Muslim, as well as those who fall into error and seek repentance. I feel this humanizes our experiences as ‘real life’ Muslims who also make mistakes or even chose to go down a path which will inevitably hurt those around us.

Another character to watch out for is based on the famous scholar Ibn Arabi, a sheikh from Andalusia who becomes the spiritual guide of Ertugrul. He often quotes Quran, hadith and stories of the Prophets to remind Ertugrul of his purpose – these scenes are full of wisdom for the viewers.

It is refreshing to watch a program that portrays Muslim men in a positive light. The image of  a Muslim man is attacked constantly and systematically by the entertainment industry and media. Watching a program that shows the masculinity of a Muslim man in a historical context is pleasing – and I’m not referring to the sword fighting or wrestling. I’m referring to the characteristics that are desirable in a Muslim man such as loyalty, modesty, respect to the opposite sex and expressions of love. Our men need reminding that their masculinity is not based upon how tough, staunch and rigid they are but how compassionate, brave and just they are.



I hope that those who do watch this program don’t watch just for the hype but watch to learn and embody good characteristics and morals within themselves.

Yes, Dirilis is just a TV Show – but TV shows create culture and revives sentiments lost.

Ertugrul has helped me remember…

Our life is not at all precious if we do not embody justice.

That God is our strength in the midst of exponential pain.

That truth will always prevail over falsehood.

That numbers are not needed when fighting on the side of truth. 

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