Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi Ktp. Hazine nr. 370.
Çınar, A. O., “Es-Seyyid Mehmed Emin Behic’in Sevanihü’l-Levayih’i ve değerlendirilmesi”, unpublished Yüksek Lisans Tezi, Marmara Üniversitesi 1992
Behic Efendi first laments the situation of Muslim knowledge and morals in the Ottoman Empire: mosques and medreses are empty, while no justice is to be found in the courts as the provincial ayans use them for their own interests. Behic proposes the printing of cheap treatises on logic and Arabic language, for the benefit of ulema and students (noting at the same time the potential profits of the state printing house). New regulations (nizamname) on the ulema and their behaviour should also be printed propagated by especially appointed preachers and muftis, instead of frequenting the ayans’ banquets; in the same vein, the kazaskers should choose two supervisors (nazir) to inspect the provincial ulema in regular intervals.
Moving to the central administration, Behic claims that a major problem in the function of the government is the fact that the top offices of the financial and administerial bureaucracy are overburdened with work and overcrowded with visitors; he proposes a high commission of ten selected people, who will constitute the “heart of the state” (kalb-ı devlet): they would discuss all matters of the government and after agreeing upon some measures they would present them to the Grand Vizier. Behic’s proposals on provincial administration are of a similar nature: he suggests the appointment of two “general governors”, one for Anatolia (based in Kutahya) and one for the Balkans (based in Manastir), who will act according to special regulations (talîmâtnâme) aided by a small committee and a retinue trained in the new camps of the Nizam-i Cedid. As for the financial bureaucracy, Behic laments the ignorance and greediness of the present clerks and proposes the strict selection of the most competent, their regular inspection, their organization in four distinct groups and their constant training: in special schools they should be regularly taught not only mathematics and book-keeping, but also geography, Arabic and Persian language, literature, geography, politics and history of Europe and of Turkey (tevârîh-i Türkiyye; this could also mean “Turkish histories”). Behic argues that descendants of noble families (kibâr-zâdeler), who are well-educated, smart and competent, do not dare to enter public service because they fear arbitrary decisions from the part of the government (from dismissal to execution and confiscation of property). As a result, they prefer to follow the ulema career and the government remains open to the meanest of men (esâfile).
Moreover, Behic stresses the need for education in foreign languages; he proposes the foundation of a special school for this aim, as a way to create Muslim interpreters who could translate European books and be competent in international diplomacy. Another issue pertaining to language concerns no less than the Sultanic orders: not only are they issued for trivial matters, they are also written in such a complex and heavy language that their addressees fail to understand them. Furthermore, he finds that the punishments given are not efficient enough; he proposes a recodification of laws in simple language and the foundation of a special court (hakimler mahalli) in the centre of Istanbul, where criminal cases should be heard and judged. Behic has also proposals for the administration of Istanbul: the city must be cleansed from unemployed vagabonds and all inhabitants must be provided with a “permit to pass” (mürur tezkiresi), as in European cities. An “inspector of the city” (şehir nâzırı) should be appointed, preferably a high ulema; he will be granted independent clerks and a special building. This official should then write down all foreigners (artisans and merchants from the provinces, workers, unemployed) and give them a special pass with their description. A similar verification of the population should be done in the neighbourhood level by the local imams, while the control of the population will be supplemented by inn-keepers and a special system of spies (casus).
As for economy, Behic Efendi describes the economic reforms of Peter the Great as an incentive to reform Ottoman economy: he claims that not only the civilized, but also the nomad Muslim (medenîsi şöyle dursun ednâ bedevîsi) is much more competent than the European; thus, Ottomans can easily succeed where the Russians succeeded, since the latter ones are “the most disgraced of all the European nations” (cem’î-i milel-i efrenciyyenin erzeli). Behic Efendi finds his optimism corroborated by the quick progress the Ottomans made in fine arts, bringing examples from the illustrations of books or the fabrication of furniture. He proposes the appointment of one defterdar for every province, with the premise that he be not dismissed before three years pass; these officials will look that local products (yerli mali), especially textiles, be used instead of imported ones from Europe or India. Officials up to the Sultan himself should give the example to the population in this respect. Behic gives a detailed list of goods that could be produced in the Ottoman lands, initially with the help of technicians from Austria, Hungary or Poland; he suggests that textile manufactures should be created in Bursa, Amasya, Ankara and Köprü in Anatolia and Edirne, Filibe, Manastır and the Danubian coasts in the Balkans, whereas factories for goods such as watches, glassware or jewelry should be created in Istanbul. Special manufactures could be used to produce official uniforms for government clerks and ulema. These goods should bear the state seal and be sold at fixed prices; moreover, workers should be paid aboundantly, efficient ones should be given a rise and those who discover new techniques should even have their own seal on their products; on the other hand, those that prove inefficient should lose nothing but their pay. Behic predicts strong reactions on the part of foreign merchants; he suggests that a special office (nezaret) be created and that new and specific regulations for the guild organization and the trade be arranged, always according to the needs of the times. Moreover, special provisions should be made for the guild artisans, who should have their own new workshops.