Two known mss.:
İşbilir, Ö. (ed.), Nizâm-ı Cedîde dair bir risale: Zebîre-i Kuşmânî fî ta’rîf-i nizâm-ı İlhâmî, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu 2006
Kuşmânî’s treatise Zebîre-i Kuşmânî fî ta’rîf-i nizâm-ı İlhâmî (“The book by Kuşmanî describing the order [or, army] by İlhâmî”) is not a political essay per se; rather, it was written as an answer to the janissaries’ and their followers’ attacks against Selim III’s “New Army” or Nizâm-ı Cedîd. Its greatest part is structured as a dialogue, with the janissary arguments refuted by the author in the second plural person. After the usual invocations in the beginning, with special reference to the Holy War, in his prolegomena (I4-23) Kuşmânî describes Selim III’s efforts to organize and train the army. According to him, the reforms were necessary due to the pitiful situation of the Ottoman armies, because of their lack of experience after a prolonged peaceful period, on the one hand, and of the fact that their Christian enemies, working day and night for the amelioration of their own armies, exceeded the Muslim ones. Kuşmânî then describes the reforms, insisting that Selim “renovated the foundations of the state” (I7: esâs-ı devleti tecdîd eder) and (in some verses in Persian) that for a new branch to bloom from an old root, the old branch must be broken. And indeed, when he proceeds to describe in length the reactions against Selim’s reforms, he first cites the argument that “those who use the innovations of the infidel (ihdâs-ı küffâr), become similar to them” and that the glorious Sultans of old did not use such “bad innovations” (bid’at-ı bed; I10). Kuşmânî names his opponents disobedient, fanatic bigots, ignorant and even madmen; he also states that as there are four classes, namely “the people of the sciences and of asceticism, those who are real soldiers or scribes, the merchants and tradesmen, and the farmers” (bi’l-fi’l ehl-i ‘ulûm ü zehâdet veya hakîkaten ‘askerî ve ehl-i kitâbet veya tüccâr ve eshâb-ı sanâ’at veya harrâs ve erbâb -ı zirâ’at), these people, not real soldiers but just roaming about with military clothes, should be persecuted and killed, as is the practice with those who “refuse to enter in one of the four classes”. In a similar vein, however, some may accuse the author, says Kuşmânî, of meddling with what does not concern him, since he is neither a soldier nor a receiver of state salaries. To this, Kuşmânî answers that even an itinerant dervish is still a Muslim, and all Muslims are similarly responsible (since the Holy Book was not given in different forms to the travelers or the nomads) for “commanding right and forbidding wrong” (emr-i ma’rûf ve nehy-i münker); and if one raises the objection that ulema should know better, the author argues that unfortunately they do not care, and all the more so, this neglect to command right and forbid wrong from their part could be disastrous. After defending himself this way, Kuşmânî returns to the issue of innovations: he remarks pointedly that if such rules did not exist in the time of the old Sultans, nor did such idiocy exist since the beginning of Islam; for the infidels have proceeded so much in the science of war, that it would be a folly for Muslims not to follow them.
After this introduction, Kuşmânî proceeds to the first chapter of his work (I23-32), with its main subject the accusations that Selim’s New Army imitates the infidels in adopting their uniforms and their use of trumpets. Kuşmânî’s first point is that both these innovations were in fact used long ago: the various elements of the uniform were traditionally used by the Rumelian Muslims, while the trumpet is nothing but what the Arabs call tabl-ı harb, or war drums; moreover, its usefulness is evident, while the janissaries themselves were so many times defeated without trumpets. And here the author embarks in a long libel against the janissaries (I26ff.): they meddle with the rabble, stay at home and avoid campaigns; they practice all kinds of humiliating professions (I27: ba’zınız bakkâl u nakkâl ve kiminiz hammâl u cemmâl ve ekseriniz dahi dihkâniyyet ve sâ’ir sanâyi’-i izâfiyye ile); their own uniform is useless in war; their lack of discipline makes their big numbers a disadvantage against the enemy. “If soldiers could be made by gaining money from lawful or unlawful trades, by worldly professions, or just by simple luxury and clothing, undoubtedly the Porte would produce five million soldiers with ease” (I29: eğer harâmdan veya halâldan para kazanmak birle veya ma’âş-ı dünyevî olan sanâ’at veya mücerred zîb ü ziynet ve kıyâfât ile ‘askerî olmak lâzım gelse idi).
After all, observes Kuşmânî in one of his most original arguments (I30), most of the weapons and tools are indeed innovations of the infidels. “Because”, he explains, “these accursed ones are all oriented toward this world (sâlik-i dünya oldukları ecilden), they always think of increasing their knowledge”; this is why they have the custom of keeping an apprentice until he manages to find some new and unheard knowledge and thus to prove that he may become a master workman himself. Muslims, on the contrary, regard the world as something temporary and transitory, and so they tend to neglect worldly affairs and give more importance to religion and piety. However, Kuşmânî notes, during Selim III’s reign factories were created within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire, and contribute to the military supremacy of his New Army.
The second chapter (I32-70) begins with the accusation that the New Army has no spiritual leader (pir), contrary to the janissaries and their allegiance to Hacı Bektaş-ı Velî. After accusing the janissaries that they only take pride in their old victories, just like the day-dreamings of an opium eater (which he describes in lively detail), Kuşmânî notes that neither of the victorious Islamic armies of old had Hacı Bektaş as their spiritual leader. An army should obey to none other but the “master of the time” (sahibü’l-vakt), i.e. the Sultan; and if they act in unity, they will succeed. After all, Hacı Bektaş gave in fact his blessing to Osman I and to his successors, not to the janissary corps; all the more, according to another tradition Bektaş (and not Hacı Bektaş) was just the name of the first agha of the janissaries, when Alâ’eddin Paşa, Osman’s brother, founded the corps. As for the argument that the janissaries were organized and sanctified by Suleyman the Lawgiver, Kuşmânî observes that he did not give them his permission to become corrupted and to roam like swashbucklers of the streets (I41: kaldırım kabadayısı). Moreover, their fighting the New Army, i.e. the Sultan’s army, is another sin that cannot be justified.
Next Kuşmânî turns to the issue of training. Nothing can be wrong in learning more arts and tricks, he claims, and there is no art that can be achieved without training; to send an untrained army to a well-trained and experienced enemy would be just as collecting a street dog and send it for hunting. Moreover, tradition and old glories do not necessarily bring victories by themselves. Without training and discipline, the janissaries are doomed to be defeated, no matter how many they are, just as it happened in Egypt. Kuşmânî here narrates a didactic story, according to which the secret for beating one’s enemies is to be always one step ahead from them, i.e. to know the science of war better. The French realized this and were victorious; also, Ottoman Sultans of old kept in pace with the infidels and introduced their weapons and tactics in time (I55). Later kings, on the contrary, succumbed to the temptations of comfort and ease, turned to the use of drugs and led their whole people to an idle way of life, with the result that the enemies surpassed them in the art of war. A kingdom (her kankı saltanatın mâlik olduğu iklîm), says Kuşmânî, is like a ship, which is in grave danger if the captain cannot prevent its crew from drinking and amusing itself instead of being alert. The rest of the chapter is a violent attack on the use of drugs and other intoxicants, including coffee and tobacco: Ottoman soldiers are said to sell their arms in time of war in order to buy their coffee and opium. Kuşmânî discusses in length the various opinions on smoking, which he condemns on the grounds that a) causes expense of money in vain, b) causes spending of time in vain, c) is detrimental to health, d) is an intoxicant, e) is canonically forbidden, f) is a bad innovation, and g) is bad for morals (I64-65).
In the epilogue (I71-88), Kuşmânî attacks again the woman-like luxury and carouse of the (janissary) soldiers. In order to refute the dismissal of innovation by his adversaries, he now follows a more philosophical route: those who neglect the “pursuit of the necessary efforts” (I75: teşebbüs-i esbâb) and claim that “things must be done as in the time of [their] forefathers” fall into the sect of fatalism (kaderiyye/ cebriyye mezhebi). On the contrary, each generation is responsible for its fate; one has to fulfill the necessary prerequisites for one’s aims, and then leave the final result to God’s hands.
Toward the end of his treaty, Kuşmânî mentions another argument of the opponents of the New Army: if obeying the ruler’s orders can be considered an act within “commanding right”, disobeying wrong can bring no harm (I80: vücûb-ı imtisâl-i emr-i ulü’l-emr heman ma’rûfdadır. Ammâ münkerde itâ’at eylemezseniz dahi bir be’s yok). In this context, wrong is the fact that public money (beytü’l-mal) is spent for the new soldiers’ training; to which Kuşmânî answers that this applies only when a ruler spends public money for his personal whims, not for something necessary. The example of the gunners corps shows that the soldiers’ training can bring results that are beneficial for the state.
 A play with words: İlhâmî means “inspiration-giving”, but it was also the poetic pseudonym of Selim III.