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Kenzü’l-kübera ve mehekkü’l-ulemâ (“Treasure of the Great and Touchstone of the Learned”) was prepared for some “Paşa Ağa bin Hoca Paşa”.
After the usual praise to God and the (mandatory) complain about the author’s times, focusing in the absence of wise ulema, the intermingling of high and base people, the enfeeblement of the Holy Law and so forth (Y39), Şeyhoğlu explains that he chose to translate in Turkish stories and poems found in Arabic and Persian. His work, a large part of which consists of poetry and hadiths, is divided in four chapters. The first (Y40-66) deals with “Sultans, kings and beys” (pâdişâhlar ve melikler ve begler). The Sultan is God’s shadow upon earth, as if God was a huge bird whose shadow offers power and might on whoever befalls; he must have the power concentrated in his hands and not give it to others. A perfect kingship approaches prophecy and (ultimate) knowledge; thus, the power and might of the kingship should be a helper to religion and knowledge. The precept of “commanding right and preventing wrong” must be followed (Y49). He has to avoid submission to his passions, and instead display justice with his subjects and care for the strength of his army to protect his realm. Moreover, justice must be shown to both the subjects and the army, and the king must protect the weak and show to the powerful their proper place (hadd). Furthermore, he should not forget his own duties toward God, and not use his kingship for bad purposes; even proven culprits should be forgiven, for this is the virtue of mildness (hilm, Y54). If the ruler wants to use overpowering (kahr), i.e. the opposite of mildness, he must use it against his enemies, the hypocrites, and the “men of innovation”. Thus, he should carry out the Holy War and punish oppressors, as well as criminals, always according to the law. Then, Şeyhoğlu repeats again that a Sultan must be a representative (halîfe) for God, which means that in his turn he must be the shelter of the weak and the oppressed (Y64).
In the second chapter (Y66-105), Şeyhoğlu deals with the three “situations” (hâlet) of the Sultan, namely in relation with his own self, with his subjects and with God. Concerning the first situation (Y67-69), Şeyhoğlu stresses that the ruler must be just and generous and avoid oppressive and illegal deeds, by guarding his soul from evil qualities and wishes, such as lust for material things, calumny or fornication. The real kingship (hâs pâdişâhlık) is the subjugation of one’s body and heart, and the control of one’s wishes; on the other hand, a good many may exert this “real kingship”, but few the “general” one (‘am), i.e. worldly rule, since the latter is something near to prophecy. Coming to the second situation (Y69-82), the author repeats his urging for justice and generosity. There must be no place for tyranny, the powerful must not oppress the needy (Şeyhoğlu stresses that ascetics and religious people must be protected) and everyone should live in peace and welfare. Furthermore, the Sultan should care for the needs of the ulema and show respect and magnificence toward them, as well as toward dervishes; for all this there must be a share in the treasury (Y70). The subjects are to the Sultan like relatives (karâbet yirinde), and he must care for them as if they were his own household (ehl-ü-‘iyâl). Kingship and justice are twin brothers. “Every good measure that was imposed in the process (her sonradan konmış eylük) to appease the burden of the subjects” will be counted in favour of the Sultan, so he must follow the laws (ol kânûnca gide) and avoid innovations, with the exception of good ones (bid’at-i hasene); if, on the contrary, he puts forth hard laws (yavuz kânûn) and oppresses the subjects and the army, this will be counted against him in the Hereafter, even if he just continues previous practice (Y71-73). The Sultan must not forget that he is his subjects’ shepherd, and that he must protect them against the wolves, i.e. “tyrants and infidels”; in this context, he must conduct the Holy War and be merciless against oppressing and dishonest officials and robbers (including âhîler ve rindler, Y75). But when the religious people forget their obligations of “commanding right and forbidding wrong”, when hypocrites and corrupted and oppressive people are the king’s companions, when they increase taxes and impose innovations, take fees from the travelers and merchants (Y77), and in general use their position to amass wealth from licit and illicit sources (halâldan ve harâmdan), then the Sultan is doomed, if not in this world then surely in the next one. As for the third situation (Y82-105), Şeyhoğlu urges the Sultan to remember that his power is only transitory and that he must not seek it for himself; the real power belongs to God. However, he should not engage into reading the Quran and spend most of his time away from people’s eyes so that he is not aware of his subjects’ complaints; on the contrary, he ought to keep himself informed of the affairs of the realm and care for his flock. For this, he needs a faithful, clever and just vizier. A vizier, says Şeyhoğlu, is to the Sultan as the reason is to the heart (Y88); he should consult with him for all affairs, great and small, and learn every complaint and petition of his subjects, officers and soldiers (iller sübaşılarınun ve ‘âm ra’iyyetün ve sipâhîlerün). Again, Şeyhoğlu stresses the need for clemency: a ruler should first try to mend the evildoers’ ways by advice and persuasion, rather than with the sword of the executioner. He must take care to appoint honest and pious persons to high offices and check their behaviour, as his officers are like the senses in the body. As for the ruler himself, he is like the heart in the body: if he is upright, people will be upright too. All the rest of his subjects are, in degrees (tefâfütince), like the veins, sinews, bones, muscles and hairs. Thus, as in the human body the limbs need the heart and vice versa, so are subjects, officers and rulers interconnected and dependent to each other (Y92-93). A happy king is this in whose realm medreses and public kitchens feed the needy, bridges and roads are safe, inns are working for the benefit of the traders, and people pray piously in the mosques (Y98). The Sultan must appoint a superintendent over pious foundations (Y100: evkâf üzerine bir sâhib-nazar), as well as a pious and experienced chamberlain (hâcib), who would forward the petitions and complaints of the needy and the oppressed to the him; in the same vein, he should appoint a pious and courageous bey over the army, if his realm is next to infidel area (Y102); just governors (şahne veyâ bir hâkim) over the provinces and towns, as well as wise, just, pious and honest judges, who would not bear grudges, take bribes (which, Şeyhoğlu complains, happens most often in his times: Y104) or covet the properties of the vakfs and of the orphans.
The third chapter (Y106-122) promises to speak of “the viziers, the men of the pen and the other substitutes” (vezîrlerün ve kalem ehlinün ve nâyiblerün), but in fact speaks almost only of the former. If kingship is a tent, says Şeyhoğlu, the vizier is its pillar; officers (begler ve sübaşılar) are its ropes, while its piles are the Sultan’s justice: this means that the more the viziers, officers and army the better. Now the vizier must have four virtues, namely honesty (toğrılık), loftiness (yücelik), perseverance (sebât) and forbearance (tahammül). Like the Sultan in the previous chapter, a vizier too has three “situations”, in relation to God, to his king, and to the people and army, and in all these situations he must display these four virtues. As for the first situation, the vizier must be honest in his following the path of God; he should be lofty insofar he avoids the love of wealth and sees his life as a pilgrimage. The vizier ought also to be persistent and patient; last but not least, forbearance of adversities is the most difficult virtue in these circumstances. Similarly, in the second situation, a vizier must be honest and sincere with his king; lofty in that he should not covet positions, wealth or favours; persistent in abstaining from enmities and quarrels and lending no ear to the king’s enemies; for all this, he must practice again forbearance, in order to bear the Sultan’s changes of mood (for instance by a vision or dream, bir vâkı’a veyâ bir hâdise: Y115) and to patiently guide him to the right decisions. The third situation means that the vizier, apart from following the same virtues as described above (being honest and just with his retinue and his inferiors, finding the right people as his subordinates and checking constantly their behaviour) and especially forbearance (in the tent simile, he is to carry the weight of all the realm and give nobody reason to complain); for this reason he must at all times keep away from bad-natured people. As for the other officers (nâyibler ve iş dutanlar ve baş erenleri ve kalem ehli), they also should follow the same four virtues in all their doings.
Finally, the fourth chapter (Y122-153) deals with the ulema, müftis, judges and preachers. Şeyhoğlu stresses that the basis of knowledge (‘ilm) is fear and awe of God: only who fears God is a master of knowledge, and the more his knowledge the more his awe. If an ulema uses his knowledge to attain wealth and positions, he is ignorant of this truth. Then, Şeyhoğlu proceeds to a taxonomy of the various branches of the ulema according to their moral stance. Masters of knowledge (‘âlimler) can be divided into three categories: those who know the external truth, i.e. the knowledge emanating from the Prophet’s words and deeds (such as the study of the tradition, the Holy Law, and so forth), those who know the interior one, i.e. knowledge emanating straightforwardly to the soul (such as “the knowledge of reality”, of the soul or of things spiritual, angelic and demonic: Y125-26), and those who are acquainted with both. These last are quite rare; there even may be only one at each age, and this is the pole of his time; the Prophet was such a person. Now, the external ulema are of three categories: müftis, preachers and judges. The muftis can either know the knowledge of both the heart and the tongue, or their tongue may know but their heart be ignorant (dilleri ‘âlim ola ve gönülleri câhil ola); and those are propounding injustice and corruption. Real and honest ulema must follow the path of the Holy Law, abstain from innovations and superstitions, devote themselves to their duties and pious works, and so forth; not an hour of the day should be lost from prayer and study (Y134-136). As for preachers, they also are divided in three categories. There are those who read stories from the Prophet and various saints’ life to the people (kassâs, fassâl), drawing crowds behind them but in fact aiming to worldly ends. They flatter officials of the realm; they incite people to innovation and drive them astray. The second category, the preachers proper (vâ’iz), are sincere possessors of knowledge, do not follow innovations, are ascetic and pious. As for the third, which consists essentially from sheikhs, these are real admonishers of the people; they possess external and esoteric knowledge and call the men to the path of God. Finally, judges are similarly examined along three divisions. The first includes those who have no idea of the law: they cannot tell right from wrong. Judges of the second category know the law, but do not follow it in practice: they take unjust decisions, take bribes, administer the vakf revenues for their own profit and even engage to trade, taking advantage of their privilege to draw the officially fixed prices (Y147: narh). On the contrary, the third category includes honest, educated and wise judges, who conduct their profession without greed and according to the religious precepts.
Essentially a translation of Necmeddin-i Râzî, Mirsâdü’l-ibâd (1230/1; also translated in Ottoman Turkish by Mevlânâ Kasım b. Mahmûd Karahisarî as Kitâbu irşâdi’l-mürîd ile’l-murâd min-tercümeti kitâbi Mirsâdi’l-ibâd in 1421/2), with additions by the author.