Most probably between 1630 and 1633.
Topkapı Sarayı Ktp., E.H. 1326.
Terzioğlu, D., “Sunna-Minded Sufi Preachers in Service of the Ottoman State: The Nasîhatnâme of Hasan Addressed to Murad IV”, Archivum Ottomanicum 27 (2010), 241-312.
Hasan begins his Nasihatnâme ("Advice Book") by stressing the benefits the Sultan would have from reading texts like his; because the Sultan did not give ear to the advice by experienced old people, he says, the world fell to affliction and the Sultan himself “almost lost kingship from his hands” (az kaldı saltanat elden gideyazdı, probably referring to the 1632 rebellion which would then constitute a further terminus post quem for the composition of the treatise; cf. Terzioğlu 2010: 262). All the more so, there is a kingship (padişahlık) even more important, and that is the eternal one; power and state (devlet, saltanat) are but a dream of this world. First of all, thus, the Sultan must be in control of his body; if he has not conquered the rulership of his body, he cannot conquer the world, and if he does not know how to possess his body he just has to humiliate himself in front of those who may inform him of body control.
Then Hasan proceeds to his justification of the need for consultation. There are things that the Sultan knows and things that he does not, since however perfect a mind has always need of a guide; all the more so the affairs of kingship are like the sea, too extensive and difficult for a single mind to perceive. That is why consultation is so important in some matters (ba’zı umûrda bâ-husus meşveret sünnetdür, Terzioğlu 2010: 289). The Sultan’s consultants must not be young, but old and experienced people who had served his own ancestors and who dare tell him the truth, however unpleasant may it be.
Concrete advice starts from here on, with the enumeration of the causes for the “destruction of the world”. Hasan states straightforwardly that the foremost reason lies with the Sultan’s doorkeepers, who prevent the poor and the weak from direct access to him. The door of the halifs, he argues, must be open. Another cause is the ignorant judges: what makes judges oppressive is the fear of discharge, because steadiness in the office brings justice (we will see this view again below, a real leitmotiv in Hasan’s thought). Ostentation (şöhret) is another door to oppression, and both the Sultan and his servants must practice abstinence. Moreover, the Sultan has absolute responsibility for his poor subjects (ra’iyyecikler). When dismissing very often officials from their posts, it is like giving a sword to robbers telling them to destroy the world, argues Hasan, before dwelling in a sort of commonplace advice of the “decline of the world” style: nobody listens to the old, the ignorant have risen to high posts, people chase whoever says something right, and so forth. Hasan claims that the Sultan has gained not one faithful servant since his rise to the throne, and he adds that the real skill of government is not executing people, but finding the right ones (hüner katl itmek degildür. Hüner er yerine er bulmakdur).
After a reiteration of the need for consultation with pious people (and Hasan notes that it is not an easy task to discern them), it is stated that two classes (ta’ife) can either destroy or repair the world: oppressive judges and governors (beg). If these two classes are reformed, the repair of the world is an easy thing. And the reform passes through long-term appointments: judges and governors must serve at least for five or ten years as the sole way to prevent them oppressing the people. The Sultan, stresses Hasan, must tell them that they must have no fear of discharge; if they are oppressing people, the Sultan should cut off their head, rather than discharging them. The reason for this advice is that today’s people do not think of tomorrow, as the Day of Judgment is nothing but a legend to them; that is why they are prone to oppression and immorality.
This excursus on immorality leads Hasan to another leitmotiv of his treatise, namely the usage of tobacco as a Frankish innovation that leads to depravity. He devotes a large part of the text to this subject, urging the Sultan to issue a strict prohibition: people (taşrada nâs) say that the Sultan was not able to prohibit tobacco, so obviously he cannot react to his other enemies; however, if he manages to abolish smoking, there is hope that all kings will become his slaves. On this occasion, Hasan also accuses the “people of innovation” (ehl-i bid’at), who “walk outside the path of the book of God and are the highest among the ignorant” (Terzioğlu 2010: 294).
Hasan then reverts to the matter of justice. The Sultan, he stresses, is ordained by God as a shepherd to the flock, his servants. Now, wolves devour his last sheep and the country (vilâyet) is all destroyed; is the Sultan to collect the treasury from the air? Judges are those who permit governors, sipahis or tax-collectors to oppress the people, by taking bribes out of greediness. Thus, the first thing the Sultan must do is to rectify the judicial personnel, and the only way to do it is to keep all appointments at least five or ten years long. In case of bribery, judges are to be exiled for life to remote places such as Nubia or Algiers, instead of losing their post just to take another. In the verses that follow till the end of the treatise, Hasan emphasizes in length that the Sultan must follow the Shari’a in punishing oppressors instead of ordering executions too easily (and thus exercising a right that belongs to God). He also accuses scribes of destroying the treasury and the properties of the orphans, as well as the “chief-robber” scribe of the janissaries. Financial clerks (rakam) can be both the Sultans’ treasury and their destruction, and the solution is the same as with other posts: they are to be appointed for life, so that they will not be afraid of discharge and they will perform their duties honestly (Terzioğlu 2010: 307). After this last piece of advice, Hasan adds another vehement attack to tobacco, stressing that “all innovation is corruption” (kullü bid’atin dalâlet), connecting it to taverns, coffeehouses, homosexuals and dancers, all inhabitants and buildings of Hell.
Terzioğlu, D., “Sunna-Minded Sufi Preachers in Service of the Ottoman State: The Nasîhatnâme of Hasan Addressed to Murad IV”, Archivum Ottomanicum 27 (2010), Introduction.