The Kavanin is dedicated to Sultan Ahmed I and his Grand Vizier Kuyucu Murad Paşa, so it must have been completed between 1606 and 1611. Ayn Ali describes himself as the “ex-defter-i hakani emini”, so 1607 should be a terminus post quem.
More than forty mss of the Kavanin survive, including two French translations made in the 1730s. A ms. (Fatih 3497) seems to have been an earlier recension of the text by the author (Howard 2008: 88-89).
Ayn Ali’s work is the prototype of the “administration manuals” genre. In Kavânîn-i Âl-ı Osmân der hulâsa-ı mezâmîn-i defter-i dîvân (“Rules of the House of Osman summing up the contents of the registry of the Imperial Council”) (AA2-81; T90-111; A28-68), the author lays down his aim: to list the administrative and financial units of the Empire, the ranks and numbers of its officials and soldiers, with a special view in describing the details of the timar system; all because “it took a long time to search all this information in various scattered registers”. The work is structured in seven chapters and a conclusion. The first chapter (AA6-10; T91-92; A29-39) describes the has and saliyane lands, as well as the provinces (beylerbeylik) of the Empire; the second (AA11; T92-95; A40), the sancaks and their rules; the third (AA11-39; T95-100; A40-51), the fiefs of the sancak financial officials (the defter kethüdası and the timar defterdarı). In the fourth chapter (AA39-61; T100-104; A51-61), Ayn Ali describes in detail the structure of the timars and their military output in each province. In the next chapters he moves to the rules and terminology of the system: the terms and kinds of the various fiefs in the fifth (AA61-69; T104-107; A61-64), and the rules on their bestowal and allotment to various ranks of soldiers and officers in the sixth (AA70-75; T107-109; A64-66). Here Ayn Ali inserts the observation that the reaya should not be allowed to bear sword or to use horses, and that if they wish to become sipahis they should go to the frontier line.
In the last chapter (AA75-79; T109-110; A66-67), which differentiates mainly Ayn Ali’s work from previous manuals, the author proposes some measures for redressing shortcomings and failures in the timar system (zeamet ve timar hususunda olan ihtilâl). The causes for the present situation are two-fold, he says: on the one hand, the timariots do not care for their duties and especially the soldiers they have to maintain, sending their servants and slaves (hidmetkâr ve ‘abd-i müşterâ) in time of campaign; on the other, the inspections due in each campaign are not conducted probably nor are their results registered and kept. Ayn Ali claims that himself as defter-i hakanî emini tried to correct this last practice, but generally it has been twenty or thirty years that no inspection was made or registered. In his epilogue (AA79-81; T110-111; A67-68), the author speaks again of his services to the office, stressing that no timar should be given to non-qualified persons and that vacant timars should be redistributed through a proper and careful registering.
Imperial registers and kanunnames; probably scribe manuals, such as Pseudo-Ali Çavuş’s manual, a text belonging to the 16th century (see Howard 2008).