Şahin, A., “Abdullah Halim Efendi’nin Seyfü’l-izzet ila hazreti sahibi’d-devlet adlı kitabının çevirim yazısı ve değerlendirilmesi”, unpublished MA thesis, Marmara University 2009.
The work was composed upon a request from İzzet Mehmed Pasha, then governor of the Boğazhisar fortress, and contains an introduction, eight chapters and a conclusion. In the introduction (Ş70-72) Halim explains that God created people different from one another and that men depend on each other for their sustainance; because of these differences, God ordained the solution of a ruler, who must rule with justice and with the aid of a vizier. In the first part (Ş73-110) Halim answers to the complains of his patron upon the difficulties of the vizierate, bringing examples from famous Sufi masters answering similar complains in the past: he stresses that governing with justice is one of the most commendable acts, following only faith, especially for people of knowledge and honesty. After praising İzzet Mehmed Pasha for his kindness and generosity, Halim attacks those Sufi of his era who claim that only the esoteric sciences matter. He also insists that sinful gain is the utmost sin, accusing greedy tax-collectors and blaming bribery for the loss of so many lands to the Russians; this is why the state officials and the provincial notables must be united (Ş104: muvâfakat-ı erkân-ı devlet ve müşâreket-i a’yân-ı memleket). Here Halim stresses that “it is better to live under an oppressing ruler for forty years, than to live one hour without ruler” (Ş106: kırk yıl padişah-ı câbir elinde olmak, bir saat padişahımız olmadan ehvendir).
The second part (Ş111-117) deals with the advantages of forgiveness for rulers and viziers. Giving various examples from the life of the Prophet, Halim stresses that rulers must always hear any complaint or problem and behave with mildness and understanding against the people. In the third part (Ş118-123), Halim stresses that extra-canonical authority (siyaset) is a branch of the Holy Law; quoting extensively from Dede Cöngi’s sixteenth-century treatise and other fikh books, he studies in detail the canonical punishments for several sorts of crimes and misdemeanors. The fourth part (Ş124-126) deals with the principle of “commanding right and forbidding wrong” (emr-i ma’ruf u nehy-i ani’l-münker), quoting various traditions in Arabic. In the fifth part (Ş127-131), Halim talks of the duty for Holy War or cihad, quoting traditions and fetvas and finally defending the occasional use of archery in battle, with the reasoning that all weapons are useful and that a bow can sometimes be more fit than a cannon (Ş131). In the sixth part (Ş132-154) the author reverts to the issue of canonical punishments and quotes several fetvas on a variety of crimes and the Holy Law requirements thereof.
The seventh part (Ş155-166) deals with the army. Halim lays down seventeen points for an efficient and faithful army. Among advice on campaigning and on keeping a high moral, one should note some more specific points, such as: that the army is divided in three groups (Ş156: those paid by the tax of the infidels and the booty, mal-ı harâc u ganâyimden; the ordered army or asâkir-i mürettibe, paid by the public treasury and more particularly by the section for canonical alms or sadaka; and the volunteers; this section is illustrated by recent historical anecdotes on the need for generosity against soldiers); that every group of soldiers is given its own symbols, so that they can be discerned from one another (Ş159); that the soldiers should not occupy themselves with agriculture or commerce (Ş164; here Halim describes the four classes of people, military, ulema, peasants and artisans, all governed by Sultanic justice). As for the eighth part (Ş167-174), it gives various advice to viziers and rulers, mostly from hadiths and stories from the medieval Islamic history; these stories emphasize the need for justice, piety and abstinence.
The epilogue (Ş175-243) is structured in the form of a dialogue: Halim imagines that in the year of the composition of his work, due to the loss of Crimea and other territories to Russia, the population of Istanbul was divided into twelve groups and each one elected its most distinguished and experienced member to voice their opinion. This meeting is described in detail and in direct speech, with the interlocutors having names such as Zerdeçâv (“turmeric”) Çelebi or Yumurtacı (“egg-seller”) Receb. These personages lament the massive intrusion of ignorant Turkish peasants into the cities, leading to a general decay in the quality of statesmen and scribes. Ulema and bureaucrats have neglected knowledge because of their rush for wealth and gain. Meanwhile, morals have deteriorated (in contrast with the “nice custom of Moscovy”, where a chief keeps in order every ten persons, another every hundred and so on; but this view is vehemently attacked by the chief of the meeting: Ş195 and 197), judges oppress peasants, the soldiers are not paid in time and the viziers are too many and prone to luxury. One participant even suggests the killing of the infidels of Istanbul (Ş204: İslambol’un re’ayası), as they become more and more numerous and they pay much less taxes than the Muslim peasants. The chief of the meeting, Hidayet (“right path”) Çelebi, accuses every interlocutor of hypocrisy, as they all blame others and ignore their own sins; when he is reminded of the glorious Sultans of old (and especially Selim I), he answers that the people of old also were avoiding luxury and pomp, esteemed knowledge and were not pleased whenever peace was concluded with the infidel. If these things change, the Ottoman state may replenish “as is written in the conclusion of Ibn Khaldun’s Prolegomena” (Ş192-193). Finally, after refuting the Sufi of the company in terms that resemble Birgivi’s accusations (cult of the saints, dance: Ş217ff.), Hidayet Çelebi speaks of good manners for the servants (Ş235ff.), argues again that the state will be restored if everyone reverts to the ancient zeal and piety, and finally reveals his identity as the author of the treatise (Ş241).
Also fetva collections and historical anecdotes.
Şahin, A., “Abdullah Halim Efendi’nin Seyfü’l-izzet ila hazreti sahibi’d-devlet adlı kitabının çevirim yazısı ve değerlendirilmesi”, unpublished MA thesis, Marmara University 2009