In 1870/71 (1287) it was published in series in the newspaper Asır and was printed as a book in the same year. The book was translated in numerous languages.
İpşirli, M., “Hasan Kâfî el-Akhisarî ve devlet düzenine ait eseri Usûlü’l-hikem fî nizâmi’l-âlem”, Tarih Enstitüsü Dergisi 10-11 (1979-80), 239-78.
Akhisari in his Usûlü’l-hikem fî nizâmi’l-âlem ('Elements of wisdom for the Order of the World') states that his treatise concerns the order of the world (nizâm-i âlem) to be used by the officials of the government and the experts of the sultanic court (a’yân-ı ashâb-ı dîvân ve erbâb-ı eyvân-ı sultân) (I 248; elsewhere, he repeats that he meant to reiterate the rules of the world order, nizâm-ı âlemün ka’idelerini tecdîd itmekle [I 250]). This world order has been disorderly and deranged (âlemün nizâmında fesâd ve bozgunluk). A nation (kavm) is not destroyed as long its deeds are governed by equity, justice and uprightness (hak üzre, adâlet ve istikâmet ile); provided this happens, God Almighty does not change His favour contained in the order He has ordained (nizâm ve intizâmlarında olan ni’met ve âfiyetini). So Hasan Kâfî examined all signs of sedition and confusion (ihtilâl ve teşevvüş) that had happened the previous ten years or more, since H. 980 [1572/3], in order to find their causes and ways. These ways are three: first, the negligence shown in the giving of justice and the good administration (adâletde… hüsn-i siyâset ile zabt olunmakda), due to the unfit persons who have obtained offices (I 249); second, that the statesmen neglect taking councils, because of their pride that makes them despise the ulema; third, that discipline and military ability have been waning in the army, because the soldiers do not have fear of their superiors. The ultimate source of this all is twofold: the greed for bribery and the submission to the words of women (I 250). However, the author does not mention these two causes elsewhere.
Now, the reason for the existence of the world order is that God wanted the world and its people to survive until the End of Days. Propagation of mankind comes with social intercourse, which comes with property (mal), which comes with custom (te’âmül), that is dealing with each other (mu’âmele ve alış-viriş). To attain this aim, certain rules are needed, so God divided people to four categories (bölük, sınıf): the men of the sword, the men of the pen, the cultivators, finally the artisans and merchants. Then God ordained kings and rulers (pâdişâhlık ve beğlik itdiler), to possess and control (tasarruf idüp, zabt eylemeği) these four categories. Kings and viziers, officials and soldiers belong to the first group; their purpose is to keep all four classes under control with justice and wise politics (adâlet, hüsn-i siyâset), but always with the counsel of religious and wise men. Another aim of this class is to keep the enemies away; kings and beys have also to take care of other necessary things. The second class contains the ulema and other men of prayer who cannot fight. Their duty is to take care that everyone follows the premises of the faith (emr-i ma’rûf ve nehy-i münker) (I 251) and to teach them to the other classes, especially to the king whose [spiritual] health is necessary for the health of the people. The third class is now known as re’âyâ ve berâyâ. Their aim is to produce in order to cover the needs of all the people; their work is superior to everyone else, after the knowledge and the holy war. Finally, the fourth class is composed by artisans and merchants, whose work is to produce and bring things necessary for the people.
Everybody has to belong to one of these categories, in order not to be a burden to others. Men who are outside these classes must be forced to enter one of them; some philosophers even claim that people who do not work (işsüz ve güçsüz kimesne) must be killed. In older times, Sultans made annual surveys of such people and were prohibiting such Arab unemployed from passing into the Balkans (I 252). Another point is that people should not pass or be made to pass through these borders; everybody must occupy himself with the work suitable to his class. One of the causes of present-day disorder is that since H. 1001 [1592/3] reaya and artisans from towns and villages are forced to the army, resulting to the ruin of urban economy and the (tenfold!) increase of prices. If the Sultan’s care is taken according to the old manner (pâdişâhun muhâfazası tertîb-i kadîm üzre ola), i.e. according to the Holy Law, all people must do strictly what is ordained to the class they belongs; or else, weakness will infect the dynasty (pâdişâhlık) and maybe the dynasty (saltanat) will pass to some other family (I 253). God forbid that this happens to the Ottomans.
The first chapter deals with the principles safeguarding the order of the state (pâdişâhlığun nizâm ve intizâmı) and the causes that make a dynasty to prolong and expand. (1) The main cause is justice (adâlet), along with mild government (hüsn-i siyâset). God has ordained that a king must be just and kind; without mild government a dynasty (beğlik ve pâdişâhlık) cannot attain perfection. Hasan Kâfî inserts here the “circle of justice” giving emphasis to mildness as well (adâlet ile dahi hüsn-i siyâset) (I 254). The king must make his subjects love him, and collect the taxes without oppression and force; he must punish oppressors. Careless kings are those who are prone to carouse and appetites, on the one hand, and let go of their duties, on the other. When Nûşirevân died, no subject was found to whom he would owe a single coin; this is an example for justice, all the more so since he was an infidel (I 255). (2) Secondly, the king must appoint honest and suitable men to the various posts. If the low (alçak) attain high posts, then those of high origin (yüce asıllu olan) will become low (I 255-56). Since disorder came in Ottoman lands, the high posts started to be given to unfit persons (kâdir olmayan). May God give that things will happen again according to the right manner and the old law (uslûb-ı kavîm ve kânûn-i kadîm) (I 256-57). (3) The king must choose an able and wise vizier, who will help him: if the king forgets some important matters, the vizier will remind him, and if the king remembers them, the vizier will take care of them. “If you want to see who or how is the king, look who or how is his vizier” (I 257). (4) The king must esteem and respect the ulema and the people of prayer, who are the heirs of the Prophet (I 257-258). A king has to do five things in order to be loved by his subjects: to honour the noble among them, to pity the powerless, to protect them from the enemies, to help the oppressed, and to make the roads safe (I 258). (5) The king must be generous; furthermore, he must practice his generosity equally to all classes, because he needs all of them: kingship comes with all the social classes (pâdişâhlık cemî’ esnâf ile olur). If he keeps the soldiers away from the treasury, for instance, they will not fight for him (I 258-60). (6) The king must be calm, mild, patient; he must not hasten to punish (I 260). (7) A new king ought to respect and take care of his father and predecessor’s friends and supporters, in order not to make enemies (I 260).
Now Hasan Kâfî proceeds to discuss the things that harm the king’s power. These things are: (1) A king takes as vizier and companions new and inexperienced people; (2) A king hurts his own friends; (3) The expenditures of the king become more than his income; (4) Appointments and removals are made according to the king’s whim; (5) The king does not consult the ulema. It is also said that three things bring disaster to kingship: a king occupied only with pleasure and amusement, the viziers envying each other, and the soldiers losing their discipline. Other signs include the abandonment of the Holy Law and the oppression of the people by the army (I 261). If the viziers discern any of these signs, they must warn the king and he has to act immediately if he is to prevent decline (I 262).
In the second chapter, the author discusses good planning with consultation. The real purpose of consulting is to show the sunnet among the community of believers. Not only the king must counsel with his viziers, but they also should take advice by ulema, as well as other intelligent and sagacious people. Every work needs consultation to be done properly. At any rate, wisdom and intelligence is to be more valued than any other quality; in the war, a stratagem is worth more than courage and might (I 263-66). Now, three things destroy good planning (tedbîr): both isolation and excessive number of consultants; enmity between consultants; and, lack of somebody able to take up the measures decided upon (I 266-67).
The third chapter deals with the military matters, and mainly the weaponry of the army. Hasan Kâfî observes that the Ottoman soldiers have lost their ability to battle, because their chiefs neglect inspecting and registering them and their weapons. In older times the kings themselves used to inspect their armies. Fifty years ago (i.e. mid-1540s) the enemy started to use new weapons; should the Ottomans imitate them, they would surely win over them, but the Ottoman army neglected this matter and thus is constantly defeated. The author gives some other advice, such as the need for the Sultan not to be involved personally in the battle even when he is on campaign; or that the defeated enemy chieftains should not be reinstated in their previous posts: this happened in H. 1003 (1594/95) with the beys of Wallachia and Moldavia, with disastrous effects; Hasan Kâfî proposes that Christian beys from places near Istanbul or Edirne should be appointed in those places (I 267-71).
The fourth chapter further discusses the causes of Ottoman defeats. The main cause of victory is righteousness and abstinence. The king and his viziers must prevent the soldiers from going to “innovations and needless whims” (bid’atleri ve beyhûde havâlara) such as coffeehouses; this can be done either with mild measures or suppression (hüsn-i siyâset ve zabt ile). Victory can be achieved with the help of God, but the officers must keep the army in good discipline; the prayers and spiritual guidance by ulema and sheikhs are of great use. In the author’s time, however, these groups are destitute and the kapıkulu make fun of them. Another cause for victory is zeal and planning from the part of the king; he must punish those who desert and reward the brave. Soldiers must fight for religion, not for plundering or promotion; they should be united, while nowadays factionalism and jealousy dominates them. Ottoman armies are defeated because the soldiers have become oppressors, and God cannot but punish that. Three years before the completion of this treatise, the soldiers in Rumili, and especially the janissaries, started plunder the villages of Muslim reaya. All such sedition comes from greed and covetousness (tam’-ı hâm). Other causes of defeat include bad timing, pride and underestimation of the enemy (I 272-75).
In his concluding chapter, Hasan Kâfî speaks of peace (sulh) and treaties (ahd). War is difficult and full of bitterness, while peace brings safety and comfort. To make war with a nation that seeks peace is wrong. Besides this, it is a mistake and a great sin to break a treaty (I 275-77).
When speaking of government, the author uses the terms “affairs of the people and important cases of the land” (umûr-ı nâs, mühimmât-ı memleket: I 249). Kings are to the other people (sâ’ir halk-ı âlem) as the heart is to the body; their [spiritual] health guarantees the health of the whole body (I 252).
Kâdî Beyzâvî (d. 1291), Envâru’t-tenzîl ve esrâru’t-te’vîl (widely read in Ottoman medreses); Mahmûd ez-Zemahşerî (d. 1144), Rebî’u’l-ebrâr (shortened version by Amasyalı Hatîb Kasımoğlu Muhyiddin Mehmed [d. 1533], Ravzatü’l-ahbâr, translated to Turkish by Aşık Çelebi [d. 1571]). Both referred to in I 250.