Dedicated to Osman II’s vizier (Güzelce) Ali Paşa (IU2b-3b), i.e. between 1619 and 1621.
The Usûlü’l-hikem fi nizâmi’l-âlem (“Elements of wisdom for the order of the world”) starts with the usual initial eulogy praises God who created reason for the sake of the world order and taught the faculty of speech to humanity. The author narrates how he conceived the idea of writing this treatise in a meeting of witty friends, when he realized that most of the books on the morals (ahlak) of Sultans and viziers were too complicated and detailed (IU2a). Thus he composed this essay, which consists of an introduction, four chapters and an epilogue.
The introduction (4a-4b) describes how God ordained humanity to be divided into four classes: one for the sword, one for the pen, and one (sic) for agriculture, crafts and commerce (hırs ve zirâ’at ve hirfe ve ticâret içün). The first class includes kings, Sultans, ministers and soldiers, whose aim is to protect all classes with justice and wise politics (adâlet, hüsn-i siyâset) and to keep the enemies away. The second class consists of the ulema, judges and other men of prayer; their mission is to protect religion, teach the precepts of the Holy Law, incite people to prayer and pray for the Sultan’s health. The third class, the peasants, is now called re’aya and their duty is to produce goods for the use of all people; their work is superior to all, after knowledge and Holy War. As for the fourth class, the artisans and merchants, they provide people with necessary goods. No one should be outside these classes: all the wise agree that everybody must belong to one, and if someone insists on not belonging some philosophers suggest his execution, in order not to become a burden (IU4b). Every class has its own duties and profession; if they stay to their mission, the result is order, if not, disorder (ihtilal). Moreover, mischief has appeared whenever a class was made to cross these limits and engage in the work of another class; for instance, whenever peasants were enlisted in the army. This is why the [Ottoman] forces are beaten by the infidels, since the army is constituted in large part by peasants and merchants (IU4b).
The first chapter (4b-11b) concerns the order of the kingship and the dynasty. The most important cause of a dynasty’s power is justice (adâlet) and mild government (hüsn-i siyâset). Governing (riyaset) must be done according to the Prophet’s Holy Law, and in this case it becomes everlasting. Hasan Beyzade quotes the “circle of justice” and stresses that the king must protect his subjects against oppressors, illustrating this advice with stories of sheikhs and kings of old. Moreover, the king must not be careless, i.e. neither prone to carouse and appetites nor ready to let go his duties.
Another point is that a king must appoint suitable officers to the high posts of government (6b). Particularly, the choice of the vizier is of great importance: he must be experienced and sincere to the Sultan, and he should be daring enough to raise his voice against him. Furthermore, a king ought to respect the ulema and the other people of prayer; to honour them with gifts and to accept their counsel (8a). He also must be generous to all classes equally, since he needs all of them; he cannot favour only one. A rich treasury is useless if there is no love for the king in the hearts of his subjects and army. A king should also be mild, and especially avoid inflicting the capital punishment; finally, he should respect and honour his father’s friends and followers.
Next, the author discusses (10b-11b) the reasons that cause decline in a king’s power. This happens when a new king is associated with inappropriate companions and counselors and does not consult the ulema any more. 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. If the viziers or the ulema discern any of these signs, they must warn the king and he has to act immediately if he is to prevent decline (11a).
The second chapter (11b-13b) deals with consultation (müşâvere). Consultation is ordained by the Koran, and in human matters the king must consult with ulema and other wise and experienced people; in fact, every man needs consultation in every endeavour he sets to himself, although not everyone is capable of giving good advice. Even at war wisdom and intelligence are more valuable than military power. Good planning is harmed when someone has an excessive number of consultants, when consultants are jealous of each other, or when the measures decided are not carried out.
The third chapter (13b-16b) concerns the use of weaponry. After pointing out the importance of proper weapons as shown by the Prophet himself, Hasan Beyzade stresses that a chief of the army (serdar) must inspect his army regularly and in person (14a) and that the enemy keeps inventing new weapons and as a result growing stronger from day to day (15a; in less detail than Akhisari: hususâ her sene islaha nev’inden bir dürlü silâh ihtirâ’ eylemeleri ile yevmen fi-yevmen serhadlarımız askerine za’f ve düşmana kuvvet teveccüh eder oldu). After a lengthy praise of perseverance in battle (sabr), the author notes the importance of using spies in order to learn the situation of the enemy and urges the Sultan not to engage personally in battle.
In the fourth chapter (16b-19a) the author proceeds to the “causes bringing God’s help”. Hasan Beyzade emphasizes the need for the Sultan to keep the army in discipline (this piece is lacking in Akhisari’s text!) with mild measures (hüsn-i siyaset) and showing respect to the elder soldiers. Furthermore, ulema and sheikhs’ prayers must be secured, and to this aim the Sultan must bestow his favors and generosity towards them. A Sultan must also be generous to his soldiers; on the other hand, he has to punish deserters and reward the brave. Soldiers must not fight for plundering and wealth, but out of zeal; they should be united, while nowadays they are dominated by factionalism and sedition, causing many losses to the benefit of the infidels. Finally, bad timing and neglect of chances result to defeat.
Finally, the epilogue (19a-b) discusses peace and treaties. Using quotations from the Koran and from Persian legendary traditions, the author praises peace and condemns breaking a treaty.
Hasanbeyzade quotes, apart from “various books on ethics”, Fâzıl Hâsim ibn Hatîb Kâsim’s (d. 1534) Ravzü’l-ahyâr, claiming that he took many points concerning the world order and its arrangements from this treatise (IU2b) –cf. Akhisari I250. In general, he summarizes it in a less detailed or creative way than Akhisari, keeping some stories Akhisari omits, but without Akhisari’s original ideas (for instance, Akhisari adds the weakness of women’s advice in the chapter on consultation, the famous excerpt on Western weaponry, or the reference to coffeehouses).
Ravzü’l-ahyâr in itself is a synopsis in Arabic of el-Zamakhshari’s Rebiü’l-ebrâr, made in the early sixteenth century and translated into Turkish by Aşık Çelebi for Selim II (d. 1574). Aykut (op.cit.) traces the use of Hasanbeyzade’s source, which is selective: thus, Hasanbeyzade’s first chapter corresponds to some parts of Ravzü’l-ahyâr’s third chapter; his second chapter, to the first and fifth chapter of his source; and so forth. One might conclude that Beyzade was, as a matter of fact, re-writing Akhisari’s compilation or translating his Arabian version. On the other hand, his omissions from Akhisari’s work must lead us to the conclusion that they were both using an abridged form of Ravzü’l-ahyâr, possibly the one written by Aşık Çelebi.
Hasan Bey-zâde Ahmed Paşa, Hasan Bey-zâde târîhi, Ş. N. Aykut ed., Ankara 2004, XLIX-LV (Seems to confuse the two copies, see p. LIV attributing the Belediye ms. to the copyist of İstanbul Üniv. ms.)