Pakistan-Turkey co-production to create new TV series on Sultan Selahaddin Eyyubi

Developments are under way between filmmakers in Turkey and Pakistan to create a joint television drama on the incredible life of medieval ruler Selahaddin Eyyubi.

Eyyubi, also known as Salahaddin Ayyubid, Salahuddin al Ayyubi or Saladin for short, was born in Tikrit, Iraq, in 1138. A twelfth century warrior-turned-Sultan, Saladin founded the Ayyubid dynasty and also famously conquered Jerusalem from the Christians during the Crusades.

A Sunni Muslim of Kurdish heritage, Saladin was responsible for ending the Shia Fatimad Caliphate in Egypt, and went on to rule large swathes of the Near East. By the time of his death in 1193, his dominion stretched from Egypt and Jordan, through to Palestine and Syria, and eastern Turkey.

Filmmakers for both countries met with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan this week to discuss the period drama.

Shehzad Nawaz and Emre Konuk, who is the producer of another period drama, ‘Uyanış: Büyük Selçuklu’[renamed ‘The Great Seljuks: Guardians of Justice’ for English audiences], shared details about their new project. PM Khan has given the new series his full backing, claiming it will help young Muslims become more familiar with their Islamic history.

“The series on the life of Salahuddin Ayyubi will make the youth more aware of his historic role,” Prime Minister Khan said, before adding, “It is high time to make dramas and films based on historical narrative rather than opting for routine topics.”

The Selahaddin Eyyubi series was first announced at a press conference in Istanbul in August, when producer Emre Konuk said:

“Jerusalem is the bud of our hearts. We want to show the importance of Jerusalem for the Islamic world to the whole world again through art in the way we know best.”

Another series producer, Dr. Syed Junaid Ali, said at the same press conference: “In the last 20 years, Islam has suffered a lot. The aim of this project is to prevent the misunderstanding of Islam. To remind us that Salahaddin Ayyubid day is celebrated in Norway and why the British named the first warship after the Second World War.”

The historic drama will centre on the victories of Saladin as a great commander who defeated the European Crusaders, as well as his ideals of uniting the Islamic world.

The series is expected to run for three seasons, with 34 episodes in each season. As well as being a joint production between Turkey and Pakistan, the cast of the series will also feature actors from both countries.

No dates have yet been given on when filming will start or when the series is expected to air.


Main image, top, of the statue of Saladin Ayyubi in the Citadel, Damascus, Syrian, in 2008. Photo © Graham van der Wielen, Wikipedia Common / CC by 2-0