The author in his Nasîhatnâme (“Book of advice”) begins by warning the Sultan that any time God wills, He can make the nonexistent exist. He created the world and the tribes of men, made them reproduce themselves till the end of days, and settled them on earth with a caliph for their well-being (V1b-2a: hilâfet ile ‘imâret etmeleriyçün iskân eyledi). For this reason, in order to help each other and procure their food, settlement and clothing, men formed societies (V2a: cemiyet), cities, towns and villages, as God inspired them. Their worldly professions (dünyevî nizâm-i intizâm hâlleri) were organized in four groups (bölük), namely the farmers (ehl-i hirâset), the craftsmen (ehl-i sanâ’at), the merchants (ehl-i ticâret; i.e. “those who carry and bring needed goods from one country to another”) and the statesmen (ehl-i siyâset), i.e. those who are practicing good administration (hüsn-i zabt ile hâkim ve zâbit eyleyüb), so that the people do not attack one another’s family and property and kill each other according to their natural faculties of passion and lust (tabî’atlarından konılan kuvvet ve (recte: -i) gazabiyye ve şeheviyyenin muktezası üzere). For this reason, God facilitated the “arrangement of the rules of the state (tertîb-i kavâ’id-i devlet)”; moreover, He sent religion and the Holy Law, so as humanity arranges its otherworldly needs and conditions; He sent the Prophet, and made Muslim kingdoms and states (V2b: devlet ve saltanat) rise, among them “the Exalted State and other Muslim states”. Now, after a eulogy of the Ottoman Empire and its Sultan (V2b-3a), the author states that, among the people others are ignorant, others corrupted and others intelligent, and even among the intelligent most are libertine (ehl-i hevâ), so that they do not know the prerequisites and the needs of the state. Only if their reason prevails over their wishes (‘akl hevâsına gâlib olub) do they care properly for religion; in fact, knowing the needs of state and kingship depends on knowing the needs of religion, and whoever cares for religion is prone to care for the welfare of the state. In a long excursus, illustrated with hadiths and stories featuring the prophets Davud and Sulayman, the author stresses the transitory nature of worldly power and the need to secure one’s place in the Hereafter instead.
Finally, the author sets to describe the diseases plaguing the Exalted State and the ways to mend them (V6b). Some wise ulema, he states, have shown that the state power (devlet ve saltanat) is like a dome based on ten pillars (payanda). The first pillar is the people of Islam (or: the helmet of Islam) (beyze-i İslam), i.e. that a strong army protects efficiently “the people constituting the realm” (devlet ve saltanat müştemil olduğu kavmi) from both “injuries inflicted from each other” (biri birlerinin zararından) and the surrounding enemies; the second, that the fortresses of the realm are kept in good shape, with all the supplies needed; the third, that no robbers and irregulars (kuttâ’-ı tarîk ve hırsuz ve saruca ve sekbân makûlesi) obstruct travelers; the fourth, that honour, family, property and reason are properly protected with the imposement of the canonical punishments (hadd); the fifth, that the canonical affairs (judgeship, teaching, issuing of fetvas, preaching, “i.e. commanding right and forbidding wrong”) are handed over to qualified ulema; the sixth, that the officials to whom the execution of the canonical orders is committed (ahkâm-ı şer’iyyeyi hükkâm-ı şer’ hükm etdikleri vakıtda icrâ içün vaz’ ve ta’yyin olunan beğler ve beğlerbeğiler) are of good nature, fearful of God and pious; the seventh, that those serving the religion and the dynasty (dîn ü devlet ü saltanat hizmetinde olup) are given their full stipends from the public treasury; eighth, that the officers charged with collecting the revenues for the treasury (beytü’l-mal) are righteous and pious; ninth, that four imperial councils a week are summoned, in order to hear the complaints and cases of all high and low; and tenth, that spies are used to procure information about both the enemies and the relations between the reaya and their governors (hâkim) in the cities, towns and villages (V6b-7b). The ultimate medicine for a state is in the hands of the Sultan; he must observe these ten rules and think about them night and day.
Now, there are five classes of the “the people constituting the realm” (devlet ve saltanat müştemile olduğu kavm): the canonical judges (hükkâm-ı şer’), the secular governors (hükkâm-ı ‘örf), the treasurers and collectors (ümenâ ve ‘ammâl), the soldiers and the peasants (re’aya). In these unfortunate times, most of the canonical judges think only of their gain; most of the governors are new-comers who seek to reach higher posts and thus spend so much money that they get into unbelievable debt; collectors are not capable of collect revenues with honesty; soldiers used to be a honoured profession most hard to bear, but now it is an easy way of getting a wage; moreover, paying these wages has become a very difficult task for the state. Moreover, they get their posts by bribery, intercession or other illicit ways, having nothing to do with war affairs. As for the peasants, they are so overwhelmingly burdened with taxes that they are forced to leave their villages, with the result that many villages in Anatolia have been deserted, while villagers in Rumili flee to the infidel countries; those remaining find making a living more and more difficult (V8b). Those who deal with crafts and trade (esnâf ve re’ayâda tüccâr), on their part, see their capital destroyed and abandon their commercial activities, while those who are able to keep a capital have equal or more debts. More generally, there are five problems pertaining to the state itself (devlet ve saltanat kendüsi): the neglect of its wealth and treasure; the dispersion of its subjects (reaya); the intermingling of its subjects and soldiers, with the enfeeblement of the army as a result; the increase of expenses and salaries; the difficulties in finding reinforcements for naval warfare, “as in the Crete campaign” (V9a).
Now, there are ten reasons for these misgivings: first, no proper consideration is made on the needs and realities of the Empire; second, the Sultan himself and his people (devlet ve saltanatın kendü zâtında ve ricâlinda) display pomp and thus raise their expenses; third, that the collecting offices (emânâtı) are not given to the right people; fourth, that the absolute proxy (i.e. the Grand Vizier, vekîl-i mutlak) is either incapable of comprehending the problems or prevented of solving them; fifth, that there is no consultation (müşâvere) with honest, pious and experienced people, with problems dealt with at first glance; sixth, that incapable people are used in the service of the state, due to bribery, intercession or affiliation to some great household (9b: bir büyük yere intisâb); seventh, that appointments and removals are not made according to the needs of the day; eighth, that small (i.e. unworthy) people are used in the administration of great affairs (mesâlih-i kibârda ricâl-ı sıgâr istihdâm etmek); ninth, that the master of state does not inquire closely the situation in his realm, entrusting this to his ministers; and tenth, that oppression and tyranny upon the subjects is not removed with the help of Holy Law. History has also shown that another ten factors contribute to the fall of dynasties: the tyranny of the rulers; the neglect of the viziers; the flight of the poor; the use of mean servants; the treason of the scribes; the [complete] trust to one’s ministers; the independence of knowledge (istiklâl-ı ma’rifet), i.e. the abandon of consultation; the neglect for the situation of the peasants; the excessive burdens imposed upon them; and letting go the opportunities (izâ’at-ı fırsat).
There is no doubt, notes grimly the author (V10a), that these factors are now present. What must be done is to consider these and gradually proceed in mending the evils; every day that passes makes this job more and more difficult. A state is like a patient: the young ones have need of other treatment than the older. A man is a child (taze) till the age of seventeen, young (yiğit) till forty, and old till his death; similarly, a state/dynasty is fresh when it appears, and its strength increases gradually until it reaches the point that it can defend itself both against the surrounding enemies and the tensions between its members. Then begins the young stage, till the pomp and luxury of the ruler and his subordinates increases and so do the expenses and salaries; this is the beginning of the old age, ending with the collapse of the state. However, in contrast with human death, the author claims that the collapse of a state can be prevented, as God has granted his protection upon men, high and low. If a Sultan loves God, follows His orders and practices justice, the same will happen in the hearts of “the tribe that make the state” and eventually even rain will make all business flourish; and vice versa (V11a-11b). As it is written, the weapon of the Sultan can suppress a disorder of all his subjects, but all the subjects cannot remove the disorder caused by the Sultan’s weapons; the author here inserts the “circle of justice” in a rather extended and verbose version (V13a-13b). A Sultan who cares with justice for his subjects may hope that his state will last forever; but he must remember that he will be judged and held responsible for his administration in the End of Days. Just like a child first knows its mother’s power and makes all its complaints to her, then as it grows up it perceives that its father’s power is greater and addresses its complaints accordingly, then the governor of the district, then of the province, then the Grand Vizier, then the Sultan and finally God; similarly, if one’s complaints are not heard by the governor of the district, then the governor of the province, then the Grand Vizier and then the Sultan, it is God who will finally receive the complaints and punish all those who were not punished (14b-15a). The author claims straightforwardly that the “poor servants of God who constitute the Exalted State” have been forced to sink into debt, due to the excessive burden imposed upon them as a result of the lack of revenue, of the increase in expenses and of the Crete campaign; if they do not find consort in the Sultan, then they will complain to God… What the Sultan should do, then, is to follow the example of his ancestor, Suleyman the Magnificent, impose order and care for the safety and the well-being of his poor subjects (V15b). He must check the points where the order imposed in Suleyman’s times is not present and thus bring it back; most importantly, Suleyman stuck to the precepts of the Holy Law and always consulted his müfti, Ebu’s-su’ud.
The author proposes the “cure by opposites” (tedâvî bi’l-ezdâd); just as doctors cure diseases due to cold with heat and vice versa, so must a reform find the roots of the disorder and fight them back with their opposites (V16a). There are ten such roots (mentioned also before [V9a-10a] in a more compact form): the first, affairs must be dealt with after thoughtful and proper consideration and examination, and this should be done with piety, commitment to the Holy War (cihâd ve gazâ, V16a), “commanding right and forbidding wrong”. The longevity of a dynasty is secured with constant effort, rather than bought in any price; the Sultan must protect the honour, property and family of his subjects. Moreover, the wealth (from money to houses and gardens) produced by agriculture, manufacture and trade depends on the ruler (devlet ve saltanat-ı ‘aliyye ile olur), who must guard these activities as he guards the apple of his eye. From the year H.1000 (1591) onwards, the Exalted State is pested by people of self-interested nature, who have changed province governorships up to six times (the author is cautious about the accuracy of this fact, but he has heard of people who met up to ninety different governors when travelling from Baghdad to Istanbul [V17a] –which means that he had no access in official records). Secondly, when the Sultans and their entourage started to care for luxury and pomp (şân ve şöhret), the salaries and other expenses rose. They have to be gradually decreased, in a way that unnecessary burden will be lifted from the subjects. The Sultan is like any man, whose expenses should not be more than his revenue. Now, order should come by increasing the wealth of the treasury, and this can be done only by protecting the peasants from oppression; if one cares only for wealth (and not for its producers), no revenue is produced. Here the author inserts a story on Selim I’s vizier Piri Paşa, explaining that there are three treasuries, one known to himself, the peasants, one known to the defterdar, from which salaries and other expenses are paid, and one known to the Sultan, i.e. the inner treasury (V17b-18a). Third, the various offices should be given to the right people; this includes canonical posts (emanât-ı şer’iyye), administrative, military and financial ones. A story illustrates here how a realm can be destroyed if entrusted to bad-natured and unjust administrators, and vice versa. Fourth, the absolute proxy of the Sultan, i.e. the Grand Vizier, must be capable of dealing with all the state affairs. A state (devlet ve saltanat) is like a man; the Sultan is the head, the vizier the heart, the peasants the feet and justice the soul (ruh) (V19a). Thus, it is through the vizier that the sultanic justice can be applied. The author repeats here the ten pillars (payanda), on which the dome of the state is built (V20a-21b; cf. V6b-7b), stressing the effect of reaya joining the army and the need to check the military registers, the responsibility of the beylerbeyis and their voyvodas regarding the safeguarding of the roads, the neglect on imposing canonical punishments such as the cutting off of hands for theft, and so forth. Fifth, all important affairs must be discussed with pious and experienced people. Everybody, rich and poor, high and low needs consultation; people are divided into three categories, whole men (bütün âdem), who have their own opinion and are open to consultation, half-men, who have their own opinion but do not put it into consultation, and no-men (hiç âdem), who have neither opinion nor do they consult. It is said that consultation is the basis of a realm and the guide of the righteousness. This statement is illustrated by a story about prophet Sulayman and Balkis, queen of Yemen, who “a woman herself” had selected (intihâb olunmuş) three hundred thirteen men, whom she consulted (V22b), as well as other rulers who took pains to select the right people for consultation. Not everybody is qualified for consultation (V23a: her kişi müşâvereye ehl olmaz); these people must be experienced, pious and reasonable (and, as the Prophet said, if one has to consult a woman he has to do the opposite she says). Sixth, occupants of important posts should be chosen according to their own idiosyncracy, rather than through bribery, intercession of some magnate or affiliation to households. Such men should have four virtues, namely prudence (hazm), ability (kifayet), truthfulness (sıdk) and trustfulness (emanet), while there is nothing worse for the state and the dynasty than appointing covetous people to these posts: it is like making the wolves shepherds of the flock. In an interesting excursus (V24a), the author repeats that the Ottoman state has passed through the age of youth into its old age, as luxury and pomp led to the expansion of bribery and corruption and ultimately of oppression; as a result, the Celali rebels appeared in Anatolia, and the Sultan was at great pains suppressing them. The real cause for this was the appointment of greedy men to governorships through bribery and affiliation, as well as (adds the author in a marginal note) the granting of timars, zeamets, vakfs and malikânes to such covetous persons, who in their turn gave the revenues to any tax-farmer (mültezim) was willing to offer five dirhems more, making thus the peasants destitute. Seventh, appointments and removals must be justified; a removal must be due to treason, i.e. oppression or neglect to suppress oppression, and an appointment to trust. Pushing over one’s affiliates or retinue to high posts leads to disorder; such appointments and their respective removals must be done according to the right and to the Holy Law. Eighth, the right men should be used in each important affair, as God made people to vary in intellect, piety, zeal, and so forth; just like a camel cannot carry the burden of an elephant, or a donkey cannot carry the burden of a camel, so someone appropriate for being a bey is not necessarily good as a beylerbey, or a successful beylerbey is not necessarily a good Grand Vizier, and the same for the ‘ilmiye; moreover, men exceeding in trade or agriculture are not necessarily good as “men of the pen or men of the sword” (27a). Before the year 1000 H., the Sultans used the most appropriate men, because bribery and affiliation had not come to play such an important role in government appointments (V26b). Ninth, the Sultan should not trust unquestionably his ministers, but instead has to inspect carefully the situation of the realm. The Sultan’s territory (dâ’ire-i devlet ü saltanat) is like a house, and his subjects are like the people of the household; he must inspect his affairs in person, just as the master of the house inspects his family and servants (V28b). The Sultan should enquire especially (and in secret) the relations between judges and officials (hâkimleri ile re’âyâsı mâbeyninde olan mu’âmele, V29b). The importance of inspecting and suppressing oppression is illustrated with various hadiths, stressing the importance of “commanding right and forbidding wrong”, a duty traditionally imposed to the ulema who now are disoriented by greed (V31b). [Tenth, that oppression is removed; this title is omitted in the ms.] Another version of the “circle of justice” is inserted here (“wealth cannot be procured but with a prosperous country”, vilâyet ma’mur olmak: V32b; a more orthodox version, with the peasants in this place, is quoted in V33a). If infidel kings like Anuşirvan could practice justice guided only by their reason, stresses the author, Muslim Sultans who have also the divine guidance cannot be excused (V34a-34b). The author repeats that if a Sultan follows his passions and lusts, neglecting the worldly and religious affairs of his subjects, the whole state will fall into disorder (V35a).
As in a synopsis, the author recapitulates stressing that the utmostly important task of the Sultans is to show zeal in the religious affairs (V35a: cümleden evvel ve ahırı olan maslahat-ı ikâmet-i dîn etmeğe himmet sarf etmek imiş), protecting the ulema and appointing everywhere preachers to instill knowledge to the people, just like Mehmed II who built medreses and brought the wisest men from the Turkish, Persian and Arab lands. All kinds of corruption, including military defeat, stem from the abandonment of the Holy Law; the connection between the neglect of the religious precepts and the military weakness is illustrated with several hadiths and Quranic phrases. Thus, the six unsuccessful years of the Cretan campaign (V37b) are explained with the “love of the world” (hubb-ı dünya), now instilled in the hearts of men, resulting in the neglect of the Holy Law and the expansion of tyranny. The way for reinstalling order in the Ottoman state and for beating the enemies of the faith is to revert from shameful deeds (V38b: ef’âl-ı kabîha); and this will happen only if the Sultan reads this treatise (bu makaleye nazar-ı şerîfleri ta’alluk etmek ile) at least once a week and acts accordingly, never leaving the precepts of the religion as sent down to men by God Almighty.
 V7a: nefs-i ‘ırz ve neseb ve mal ve ‘akl hıfz içün etdürilen hadd-ı kazf ve neseb hıfz içün etdürilen hadd-ı zina ve recem ve mal hıfz içün etdürilen zamân ve kat’-ı yed ve ‘akl hıfz içün etdürilen hadd-ı şürb ikamet etmekdir
Hadiths; refers to “some books of advice” (V12a); stories about Suleyman and Selim (e.g. V17b, 25a-26b) and even Mehmed II (V35b), but also about Sassanid kings (e.g. Behram in V18b or Ardashir in 32b)