İstanbul Üniversitesi Ktp., İbnü’l-Emin Yazmaları No: 2839
Sarıkaya, A., “Ömer Fa’ik Efendi, Nizamü’l-Atik”, unpublished BA thesis, Istanbul University 1979
Ömer Faik’s central idea in Nizâmü’l-atîk fi’l-bahri’l-amik (“Old order in the deepest sea”) is that “spiritual recovery” (ma’nevî kalkınma) should have its place in the reform program. He divides his treatise into 32 sections, nine of them concerning “spiritual measures” (tedbîrât-ı ma’neviyye) and 23 concerning “the apparent order” (nizâm-ı sûriyye). As for the first, he begins by stressing that the Ottoman state is in fact “the Muhammedan state” and Selim the “leader of the believers”; thus, it has to follow the Holy Law and practice justice in order to pursue victory against its enemies and welfare for its subjects. As an example of arrangements that may be criticized, Ömer Faik cites Ebussuud Efendi. To reach this aim, jurisprudence (fikh) must be read in the mosques and the population must be illuminated in religious manners; this way, people will obey to the dynasty and pray for the Sultan. “The zeal for the religious sciences causes the reform of the world” (ilm-i dine rağbet ıslâh-ı âleme sebeb), Ömer Faik notes. He suggests that dervish and sheikhs should help with their prayers all over Istanbul, the Balkans, Anatolia and the Arab lands; imams serving in the houses of magnates should help the needy in secret, paying the debts of the imprisoned and so forth, in order to cause prayers in favour of the Sultan. Ömer Faik then describes with the grimmest colours the situation of the ulema: he claims that the number of medrese students has fallen dramatically over the last thirty years, as well as both the number and the quality of the lessons delivered in the Sultanic mosques. Furthermore, Ömer Faik speaks against confiscations (müsâdere) of the properties of deceased officials, and argues that a substantial part of the property should always be left for the deceased person’s family. Finally, in times of campaign dervish sheikhs should be paid to pray till the final victory.
Moving now to the “apparent” order, Ömer Faik suggests that courtiers should not let the Sultan be isolated, but instead unite “like one body” to assist him. Moreover, it should be prohibited to them (as well as to other officials, such as judges, scribes or teachers) to meddle with the common people in coffeehouses and barber-shops, in order to avoid the spread of rumours. As for the field of economy, Ömer Faik urges statesmen to avoid ostentation and pomp; he stands for local products, lamenting the extensive use of furs which has only produced a large part of the income of Russia. He blames buying and presenting as gifts luxury goods ornamented with gold and precious stones, stressing instead that local production can very well meet the needs of the population. He also laments the moral and financial situation of the scribes and suggests that statesmen should have farms around Istanbul: thus, they will be used as camps for military exercises and at the same time they will contribute to the prosperity of the surrounds of the capital.
As for military matters, Ömer Faik suggests the creation of smaller arsenals and naval bases in the Black Sea coasts, as well as in Çanakkale and Bozcaada (Tenedos), to protect the capital and the merchant routes from Russian attacks. Another problem is the logistics of the campaigns, which now results to the destruction of the wealth of the Muslim inhabitants. Ömer Faik’s suggestion is that the vakf income could be used for urgent needs of the state: a special treasury (hazine) should be created, and in times of need the government should be able to take loans from it after a relevant fetva of the şeyhülislam. Ömer Faik also notes that tax-farmers and poll-tax collectors oppress the reaya and stresses that orders should be short and written in plain language, as ignorant judges often read them in an incomprehensible way; furthermore, sultanic orders should not be issued for trivial matters.