By Agha Iqrar Haroon
Hürrem Sultan (Khuram Sultan) is a household name in Pakistani society –thanks to Urdu TV Drama series “Hürrem Sultan” which was dubbed into Urdu from Turkish language.
One could find empty streets in Lahore at the broadcasting time of “Hürrem Sultan” when this drama series was screened. This Drama could be considered as one of the most viewed drama on Pakistani television screen. However, majority of her lovers in Pakistan may not know that her actual name was Roxelana who was a Ukrainian woman instead of having Russian origins as wrongly mentioned at her mausoleum till the time Ukraine Embassy in Turkey played a historic role to fix this historic error.
There was written near her tomb at the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul (I read myself in 1997) that her origins were from Russia although she was born in western Ukrainian town of Rohatyn which is around 68 km south-east of Lviv city. There is no doubt that Lviv at the time of birth of Roxelana was a part of Ruthenian Voivodeship under the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland because almost entire western Ukraine was ruled by Polish Crown that time when Roxelana aka Hürrem Sultan was born but this land was not under Russian Empire at the time of her birth and now this land is again part of Ukraine which in history had been ruled by several empires but at last got its independence in early 90s.
According to available information in the pages of history, Roxelana aka Hürrem Sultan was an unfortunate daughter of a Orthodox priest of Rohatyn who was captured and abducted at the age of 15 during one of the raids of Crimean Muslim Tatars into Ruthenia and then she was sold at women’s slave market (Avret Pazary— in Urdu Aurat Bazzar) in Crimea and then was transported to Aurat Bazzar of Istanbul where she was bought by Valide Sultan Hasfa (mother of Suleiman the Magnificent) as a gift for her son, Sultan Suleiman —Here the story of her rise started.
It is unfortunate that in Muslims countries, particularly in Pakistan, historians are shy to write about the barbaric invasions of eastern Europe by Muslim conquers who encouraged molestation of Christian children and selling of Christian women. In history written by Muslim authors, Muslim conquers were only praised and their rules were glorified.
The slave Hurrem Sultan not only became wife of a king rather the mother of another king (Selim II ) and is being remembered for her power, political maneuverability and charities she did out of her own money (not through the expense of the Kingdom).
Hurrem sponsored construction of several Caravanserais on the way to holy city of Mecca from Istanbul. She sponsored construction of a mosque, two Koranic schools (madrassa), a fountain, and a women’s hospital near Aurat Bazzar in Istanbul —-the place where she was sold as slave. Now this place is known as Haseki Sultan Complex.
She commissioned a bath, the Haseki Hürrem Sultan Hamamı, to serve the community of worshippers in the nearby Hagia Sophia. In Jerusalem she established in 1552 the Haseki Sultan Imaret, a public soup kitchen to feed the poor and the needy. She also built Imaret Haseki Hurrem, public soup kitchen in Mecca.
It is a historic achievement that mention of the Russian origin of Roxelana aka Hurrem Sultan has been removed from the visitor panel near her tomb at the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul at the request of the Ukrainian Embassy in Turkey.
“We are gradually restoring the historical truth: at the request of our embassy, the Turkish side has removed the text of the inscription about the supposedly Russian origin of Sultan Suleiman the First’s wife Roxelana near her tomb at the Suleymaniye Mosque,” the embassy said on Facebook.