Chapter 4 Ibn Taymiyya, al-Siyāsa al-Sharʿiyya, and the Early Modern Ottomans

In: Historicizing Sunni Islam in the Ottoman Empire, c. 1450-c. 1750
Open Access

The Hanbali scholar Taqī l-Dīn Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/1328) would not be among the first names to come to mind when one thinks of the pre-Ottoman Muslim scholars whose oeuvres were influential in the making of Ottoman Sunnism. There are many reasons for this. The Hanbali legal school (madhhab) to which Ibn Taymiyya belonged was not only the smallest of the four “Sunni” legal schools but also arguably the furthest removed from the Hanafi legal school, to which the vast majority of the Muslims of the lands of Rum (Anatolia and the Balkans) belonged and which the Ottoman administration promoted as the “default madhhab” throughout its provinces.1 Besides, Ibn Taymiyya was, both in his own time and in later periods, a sharply divisive figure, who had provoked controversy even among his fellow Hanbalis for deviating from the madhhab consensus on such issues as divorce oaths.2 Outside Hanbali circles, he was also widely condemned for his anthropomorphic interpretation of God’s attributes and for his attacks against the visitations of the tombs of prophets and saints. To many Rumi Muslims, whose understanding of Islam was strongly colored by Sufism, Ibn Taymiyya’s rejection of a wide variety of Sufi beliefs and practices and his anathematization of the Andalusian mystic Muḥyī l-Dīn Ibn ʿArabī (d. 638/1240) as “Shaykh Akfar” (the most blasphemous master) would have seemed deeply objectionable as well.3

Notwithstanding these differences between the kind of Sunni Islam that Ibn Taymiyya upheld and the kind of Sunni Islam to which the vast majority of the Ottoman learned elites adhered, however, Ibn Taymiyya was not entirely unappreciated in the Ottoman lands. In fact, since the 1980s, scholars such as Ahmet Yaşar Ocak and, more recently, Yahya Michot and Mustapha Sheikh have argued that there was even an Ottoman “school of Ibn Taymiyya,” whose adherents included the famous tenth/sixteenth century Hanafi jurist Birgili/Birgivī Meḥmed Efendi (d. 981/1573) and his eleventh/seventeenth-century followers, known in the secondary literature and in some Ottoman sources as the Kadızadelis. Some of these scholars have further placed the Kadızadelis in a specific genealogy of “Islamic revivalism,” or “Salafi Islam,” extending from Ibn Taymiyya to the Wahhabis.4 However, other scholars have (in my opinion, rightly) objected to this genealogy on grounds that both Birgivī and the Kadızadelis were firmly rooted in the Hanafi-Maturidi tradition and that the evidence for their use of Taymiyyan ideas is both questionable and limited.5

This paper argues that the most concrete evidence we have at hand of Taymiyyan influences among the Ottoman men of letters in the early modern era points to a rather different, much more imperial, context for the reception of Taymiyyan ideas. The work of Ibn Taymiyya that most resonated with the Ottoman learned elites from the mid-tenth/sixteenth century onward was a juristic treatise on governance titled al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya fī iṣlāḥ al-rāʿī wa-l-raʿiyya (Sharʿī governance for the betterment of the ruler and the ruled). Significantly, the Ottoman men of letters who took an interest in this text did not necessarily represent the “more stringent” or “more traditionalist” among their peers. Rather, what attracted them to this treatise was its authorization of a strong state for a stable society founded on sharʿī principles, for this was also how they saw, or at least wished to see, their state. Just as importantly, the notion of siyāsa sharʿiyya (governance based on the principles of Islamic law) offered a useful conceptual framework to reconcile the Ottoman dynastic law known as ḳānūn with the universalizing norms of the sharia. Of course, Ibn Taymiyya had developed his thoughts on siyāsa sharʿiyya in the significantly different legal and administrative context of the Mamluk sultanate, and in transplanting his teachings to their own context, the Ottoman writers had to rethink aspects of those teachings in view of their own legal and administrative practices.

In this paper, I examine the Ottoman Rumi scholars’ engagement with Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya in the context of the transformation of Ottoman imperial ideology under the impact of both multifaceted changes in the political arena and growing Sunni confessionalism. While Ottoman Sunnism had multiple sources of inspiration, this paper assesses in particular the impact of a certain corpus of juristic literature that came out of the Mamluk lands on some of the later Ottoman scholarly discussions and trends (a concern shared with the contributions by Helen Pfeifer, Nabil Al-Tikriti, and Guy Burak in this volume). With this aim in mind, the next two sections shall introduce Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya and the broader corpus of siyāsa sharʿiyya texts as they took shape in the Mamluk context and discuss how and why this text, along with some other texts in this corpus, attracted the attention of Rumi scholars first around the mid-tenth/sixteenth century. Then, in the third and fourth sections, I shall examine how two rather different Rumi scholars, the mufti and mudarris Dede Cöngī (d. 975/1567) and the belle-lettrist and kadi ʿĀşıḳ Çelebi (d. 979/1572) engaged with the ideas expressed in this corpus. These more textually grounded sections of the paper shall highlight not just what the Ottoman scholars took from the earlier scholarly discussions but also what they brought to them that was new (an emphasis shared with the papers by Tijana Krstić, Nir Shafir, and Evren Sünnetçioğlu in this volume). At the same time, this discussion will bring out the complexity and contradictions in the Ottoman reflections on their own religiopolitical order and emphasize the interplay of religious ideology and political expediency in this regard. This theme is continued in the fifth and last section, which examines the afterlives of the works of Cöngī and ʿĀşıḳ Çelebi during the eleventh/seventeenth century, when the aforementioned Kadızadeli preachers became ascendant in the Ottoman capital. We shall see that notwithstanding the intensification of intra-Sunni debates and the occasional use of Ibn Taymiyya’s name by Sufis to cast aspersion on their critics, both Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya and its Ottoman offshoots appealed to the Kadızadeli and non-Kadızadeli alike and found a more enthusiastic audience than before, during the eleventh/seventeenth century. I will argue that this was due less to a “Salafi” (or proto-Salafi) turn among the Hanafi scholars of Rum and more to the fact that the notion of siyāsa sharʿiyya answered well the practical and ideological needs of the Ottoman ruling elites in a time of social and political transformation.

1 Ibn Taymiyya and the Development of the Idea of Siyāsa Sharʿiyya under the Mamluk Sultanate

Just as the Ottomans were one of the most successful states to be formed by a Muslim dynasty in the aftermath of the Mongol invasion, Ibn Taymiyya was one of the most novel Muslim thinkers to reflect upon and respond to the realities of the post-Mongol era. He was born in 661/1263 to a scholarly family in Harran, a town that had to surrender to Mongol rule a few years previously. When Ibn Taymiyya was six years old, his family relocated to Damascus, where they would spend the rest of their lives under the rule of the newly formed sultanate of the Mamluks. Even though the Mamluks successfully checked the Mongol advance, the early decades of their rule were also marked by political instability and infighting, and a sense of crisis among the civilian elites. It was in this environment that Ibn Taymiyya developed a close, if also fraught, relationship with the Mamluk authorities. On the one hand, he ran to their aide by preaching jihad against the sultanate’s Mongol, Christian, and Shi‘ite enemies, and by providing the Mamluk rulers with religious and political counsel. On the other hand, he also angered the Mamluk officials by entering into heated polemics with fellow scholars and was periodically imprisoned.6

It was mainly Ibn Taymiyya’s theological and juridical views that landed him in trouble with the Mamluk authorities. By contrast, no such controversy surrounded his political tract, al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya fī iṣlāḥ al-rāʿī wa-l-raʿiyya, written between 711/1311 and 714/1315.7 This treatise is widely accepted to be a milestone in the history of Islamic political thought even though the nature of its significance has been construed differently by different scholars. In 1939, Henri Laoust famously argued that with this treatise Ibn Taymiyya had replaced the classical juristic discourse, centered on the institution of the caliphate, with another, centered on the implementation of the sharia.8 Recently, Mona Hassan has successfully challenged this view by showing that Ibn Taymiyya continued to refer to the caliphate as both an ideal form of government and a historical institution in various writings.9 Ovamir Anjum, on the other hand, has maintained that Ibn Taymiyya did indeed break with classical juristic thought but by rejecting the formalism and quietism of the classical jurists and by advocating a return to the unified religiopolitical authority and political activism of the Muslim polity in its earliest years.10 Whereas Anjum and Caterina Bori have read Ibn Taymiyya as reconceptualizing “Islamic politics” as a more inclusive realm that was of relevance to rulers and ruled alike, Abdessamed Belhaj has seen him instead as a social conservative whose fear of instability and disorder led him to support an expanded role for the state.11

Arguably, there are insights to be gained from all these approaches to Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya. Even if the Hanbali scholar did not proclaim the caliphate to be moribund in his time, he still de-emphasizes it in this particular treatise, using such terms as “caliph” and “imam” exceedingly rarely and omitting altogether any references to the juristic debates about the conditions for accession to the office of the caliph. The sole criterion that Ibn Taymiyya articulates for legitimate rulership is that rulers service the Muslim community by upholding the sharia and protecting public order. He defines “the exercise of authority for the benefit of the people” (wilāyata amr al-nās) as “one of the greatest religious duties,” and he identifies princes and jurists as the two primary groups of people entrusted with this responsibility.12 Ibn Taymiyya’s authoritarian and collectivist tendencies are especially evident in his conceptualization of siyāsa and its relationship to the sharia. A term with a range of meanings, siyāsa connoted before the modern era: 1) statecraft and the management of the subject people (raʿiyya); 2) “the discretionary authority of the ruler and his officials, one which they exercise outside the framework of the Shari‘a”; and by extension, 3) punishment, particularly punishment that exceeds the ḥadd punishments prescribed by Islamic law.13 While some jurists had viewed siyāsa in the second and third senses with a great deal of misgiving and even opposition, Ibn Taymiyya saw a meaningful role for the legal authority of the ruler as long as it did not violate the precepts of the sharia but rather helped to reinforce them and to maintain and protect public order. Because he regarded the exercise of authority and coercion to be indispensable for fulfilling the Quranic injunction to “command the right and forbid the wrong” (amr bi-l-maʿrūf wa-nahy ʿan al-munkar), he particularly supported measures that enhanced the coercive power of the state and protected the collective interests of the Muslim community.14 It was for similar reasons that he condoned the use of judicial torture and circumstantial evidence in the conviction of suspected criminals, something that had been opposed by the majority of earlier jurists.15

It must be pointed out that the notion of siyāsa sharʿiyya was not solely the brainchild of Ibn Taymiyya. Several other Shafi‘i, Maliki, and Hanbali jurists had also discussed the concept of siyāsa from the viewpoint of “sharʿī normativity” before him, but the corpus truly developed in the late seventh/thirteenth and early eighth/fourteenth centuries, when scholars such as Shihāb al-Dīn al-Qarāfī (d. 684/1285) as well as Ibn Taymiyya and his student Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (d. 751/1350) gave it its distinctive form.16 Significantly, all these jurists lived in the Mamluk sultanate, where there was a high degree of “symbiosis” between the ulama and military officials, and where norms of fiqh and practical considerations of governance were closely conjoined in the actual practice of law.17 A novel feature of the Mamluk legal system was that they appointed to each major town four chief judges (qāḍī l-quḍāt), one from each of the four Sunni legal schools; this was a set up that allowed the legal mechanism to be both predictable and flexible and enabled the political authorities to obtain the results that they considered to be the most conducive to social order. It was also in the Mamluk period that the maẓālim or siyāsa courts proliferated and expanded their jurisdiction to encompass such matters as marriage, even though the most radical developments in this regard would come in the second half of the eighth/fourteenth and, especially, the ninth/fifteenth centuries.18 Even if the early eighth/fourteenth-century proponents of siyāsa sharʿiyya could not have anticipated these later developments (much less condoned them), they can be said to have unwittingly opened the way for them by translating into political discourse what must have been a wider societal demand for law and order.

However, not all Mamluk-era jurists were as positive about the expansion of administrative justice; nor were they all convinced of its compatibility with sharʿī norms. In the ninth/fifteenth century, scholars critical of the excesses of the Mamluk siyāsa tradition sought to discredit it by associating it with the yasa of Chinggis Khan. Some, like Maqrizī (d. 845/1442) and Ibn Taghrībirdī (d. 874/1470), even proposed that the word siyāsa comes from the Persian word se, meaning “three,” and the Mongol word yasa, because Chinggis Khan had divided his realms between his three sons, turning his yasa, in effect, into “se yāsa,” or three yasas prevalent in three different realms.19 Tellingly, however, even these more critical commentators found it difficult to reject the siyāsa tradition completely and often distinguished between “just” and “unjust” siyāsa, following a formulation first articulated by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya and repeated in many other works afterwards.20

2 Transplanting the Notion of Siyāsa Sharʿiyya to the Ottoman Context

Siyāsa had also been a part of the Ottoman legal and administrative vocabulary from at least the ninth/fifteenth century onward. However, as Guy Burak has noted, the “Ottoman siyāset” did not have the same meaning as the “Mamluk siyāsa,” since the Ottomans had been, well into the tenth/sixteenth century, much more in tune with the juristic and administrative traditions of the “post-Mongol” East (Iran and Central Asia) than with those of Egypt and Syria under the Mamluks. In the Ottoman ḳānūnnāmes, or lawbooks, the term “siyāsa” was used in the narrower sense of administrative punishment and drew its power not just from the reigning sultan, as in the Mamluk context, but also from the cumulative legal tradition of the Ottoman dynasty, as in the case of the Chinggisid yasa.21

The “Ottoman siyāset” did, nevertheless, have a broader meaning, that of “governance,” when it was used in the Ottoman ethics (ahlāḳ) literature, which was modeled on the Persian “ethico-philosophical” literature.22 This broader definition of siyāset also informed the famous discursus of Ṭursun Beg (d. after 896/1491) on law and governance in the preamble to his history of Meḥmed II (r. 848–850/1444–1446, 855–886/1451–1481). There, citing the authority of “philosophical works” (kütüb-i hikemiyye), the madrasa-trained bureaucrat distinguishes between two types of siyāset, both of which can potentially lead to an ordered state of affairs in human society: “that which the philosophers (ehl-i hikmet) call divine governance (siyâset-i İlâhî), and which the people of sharia call sharia,” and that which is issued by rulers using their reason, like the laws of Chinggis Khan, “which is called royal governance and law (siyâset-i sultânî ve yasağ-ı padişâhî) and according to our custom (örf), customary law (örf).”23 It is noteworthy that Ṭursun Beg considered both the sharia and ruler’s law, including the laws of Chinggis Khan, to be legitimate, even as he emphasized the superiority of the first over the second. Interestingly, Ṭursun does not mention the Ottoman ḳānūn in this passage, even though some of his readers would probably have also thought of it in the same connection, judging by the fact that ḳānūn and yasa (or yasağ) were sometimes used interchangeably in the Ottoman sources of the period.24

Yet the fact that the Ottoman legal tradition had more in common with that in other post-Mongol polities to their east does not mean that Rumi scholars were completely unaware of the Mamluk legal and administrative traditions or of the Mamluk siyāsa literature before the tenth/sixteenth century. An important conduit of ideas in this regard would have been the students and scholars who traveled between the two realms already during the ninth/fifteenth century.25 One of the early scholars who might have been instrumental in bringing to the lands of Rum knowledge of the juristic literature of Mamluk Syria was ʿAlā l-dīn ʿAlī Ṭarābulusī (d. after 849/1445), who was a kadi of Jerusalem and one of the earliest Hanafi scholars to draw on the concept of siyāsa sharʿiyya in his manual for kadis entitled Muʿīn al-ḥukkām. Ṭarābulusī traveled to the then-Ottoman capital Edirne and presented some works to Murād II (r. 824–848/1421–1444, 848–855/1446–1451), but not, it seems, Muʿīn al-ḥukkām. The text, which would be much cited by later Ottoman writers, is notable by its absence from the Ottoman palace library inventory of 908–909/1502–1504.26 Another scholar whose works dealt with issues of siyāsa and traversed the Mamluk and Ottoman realms was Muḥyī l-Din Ḳāfiyeci (d. 879/1474). Interestingly, Ḳāfiyeci was Rumi in origin. Born in Bergama in western Anatolia, he had acquired his education during his travels in Anatolia, Iran, and Syria before settling in Cairo, where he gained renown as a versatile scholar and authored, among other works, two epistles, entitled Sayf al-mulūk (The sword of rulers) and Sayf al-quḍāt (The sword of kadis). Even though Ḳāfiyeci never returned to the lands of Rum, he maintained a connection with the Ottoman court, or at least with the grand vizier Maḥmūd Pasha (d. 878/1474), and dedicated to him several of his works, including Sayf al-mulūk.27

Despite these early points of contact, nevertheless, it was not until the tenth/sixteenth century that the Hanafi scholars who were based in Rum began to take a greater interest in the Mamluk siyāsa literature in general and in Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya in particular. This interest developed in the wake of three major developments. First, the rise of the Safavids in 906/1501 as a rival Shi‘itizing dynasty and the flaring up of a full-fledged ideological and military conflict between the Ottomans and the Safavids a decade later infused Ottoman religious and political culture with an unprecedented degree of Sunni confessionalism. It also impressed upon the imperial elites the need to eradicate or at least limit the “heterodox” forms of Islam in the Ottoman lands and to address and correct the divergences between the established Ottoman practices and the universalizing norms of the sharia.28 In their effort to formulate a stronger response to the “heresies” of their time, the overwhelmingly Hanafi-Maturidi scholars of Rum also began to look beyond their own legal and theological traditions and to selectively utilize the arguments of some Shafi‘i, Maliki, and, to a lesser extent, Hanbali jurists alongside those of the Hanafi authorities.29

A second development that was perhaps even more consequential for the beginning of the Ottoman engagement with the siyāsa al-sharʿiyya corpus was the incorporation of Egypt and Syria into the Ottoman realms following the Ottoman victories against the Mamluks in 922–923/1516–1517. In the aftermath of the conquest, prominent Rumi scholars were appointed as kadis, mudarrises, and surveyors to such cities as Aleppo, Damascus, and Cairo, where they fraternized, competed, and sometimes clashed with local scholars of different madhhab affiliations. This experience also exposed the Rumi scholars to the debates among the Syrian and Egyptian scholars about the Ottoman ḳānūn, or as the latter scholars often preferred to call it, by way of association with the Chinggisid yasa, “the Ottoman yasağ.”30 Evidence of Rumi familiarity with the anti-yasa/yasağ discourse of some Egyptian and Syrian scholars crops up in a variety of texts from this period. For instance, the eminent scholar Kemālpaşazāde, also known as Ibn Kemāl (d. 940/1534), who, as military justice (ḳāḍīʿasker) of Anatolia, had accompanied the Ottoman sultan Selīm I during his Egyptian campaign and taken part in Egypt’s first land survey, recycled the Mamluk-era pseudoetymology that derived the word siyāsa from the “three yasas” of Chinggis Khan’s three sons.31 Since Kemālpaşazāde mentioned this etymology in a treatise on the “Arabicization of foreign words” rather than in a juristic treatise, it is not clear what greater significance, if any, he assigned to this supposed etymological connection between the yasa and siyāsa, but some other Rumi scholars who had spent time in the former Mamluk lands differentiated much more sharply between divinely originated and human-made laws and came out clearly against the yasa. Such was, for instance, the case with Ḳınalızāde ʿAlī Efendi (d. 979/1572), who condemned the Chinggisid yasa unequivocally in his Ahlāḳ-ı ʿAlāʾī, which he wrote circa 972/1564–1565 while serving as kadi of Damascus. Baki Tezcan has argued that Ḳınalızāde’s strong condemnation of the yasa also bespoke his ambivalence about the Ottoman ḳānūn, which, however, is not explicitly mentioned in this text.32 Another contemporary Rumi writer who had taken part in the Ottoman conquest of Egypt and who had also spent some time in that province and, subsequently, was more explicit in his criticism of, if not ḳānūn, then of those who invested binding power in it. In his book of advice, written sometime between 962/1555 and 974/1566, and addressed to the grand vizier, the anonymous author of the Kitābu Meṣāliḥü’l-Müslimīn repeatedly emphasizes that ḳānūns are made by administrators to meet the needs of their time; they are not “from the time of the Prophet, hence it cannot be a sin (günāh) to change them.” Clearly, however, the same writer was not oblivious to the reputation of the Ottoman laws; hence, he urged the grand vizier not only to issue new laws (yasak, yasağ) but also to do his utmost to enforce them “so that people will not say that the Ottoman yasağ lasts until the forenoon” (Osmanlunun yasağı hod kuşluğa değindir dimeyeler).33

Third and last, the growing anxiety among the scholars of Rum about the compatibility of the Ottoman ḳānūn with the sharia during the first half of the tenth/sixteenth century prompted efforts on the part of the leading Ottoman jurists to try to address and reduce these points of tension. Some high-ranking jurists, like Çivizāde Muḥyī’d-dīn Meḥmed (d. 954/1547), tried to accomplish this by undertaking a sustained critique of those Ottoman institutions and practices that they deemed problematic, such as cash waqfs, but met stiff resistance on the part of the Ottoman imperial establishment in this regard.34 Far more successful, in comparison, were the efforts of Kemālpaşazāde and Ebū’s-suʿūd (d. 982/1574), who tried to harmonize the ḳānūn with the sharia by working out a comprehensive legal framework for what had been until then ad hoc administrative and fiscal arrangements and by rearticulating the principles of the Ottoman land regime in the language of Islamic jurisprudence.35

As we shall see below, all three of these trends were relevant to the growth of an Ottoman corpus of siyāsa sharʿiyya literature in the tenth/sixteenth century and informed the views expressed in this corpus. Still, of the first two texts to be written by Ottoman scholars on the topic, Cöngī’s Risāla fī l-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya (also known as Siyāsetnāme) was perhaps a more direct response to the challenges presented to the Ottoman officialdom by Syrian and Egyptian scholars, while ʿĀşıḳ Çelebi’s Miʿrācü’l-eyāle ve minhācü’l-ʿadāle was concerned more exclusively with the debates among the Ottoman Rumi elites. In line with their particular concerns, both also highlighted different strands of the earlier siyāsa sharʿiyya corpus.

3 Dede Cöngī and His Risāla fī l-Siyāsa al-Sharʿiyya

The career of Kemālü’d-dīn İbrāhīm b. Bahşī b. İbrāhīm, known variously as Dede Efendi, Dede Halīfe, Ḳara Dede, or Dede Cöngī (on account of his popular commentary on a work on Arabic grammar written in cönk form) is a striking illustration of the high social mobility in the lands of Rum during the heyday of Ottoman expansion. Born to a modest family in Sonusa near Amasya in Anatolia, Cöngī had worked as a tanner before belatedly acquiring a madrasa education. Despite his modest background and late start, he subsequently had a rather successful career, serving as mudarris and mufti in different parts of the empire, including Bursa, Tire, Merzifon, Diyarbakır, Aleppo, İznik, and Kefe (Caffa).36 Since in both Diyarbakır and Aleppo Cöngī taught in a madrasa founded by Deli Hüsrev Pasha (d. 951/1544), it is reasonable to think that this vizier of Bosnian devşirme origin had been among his patrons.37 Another patron might have been Sultan Süleymān’s eldest son, Prince Muṣṭafā (d. 960/1553), to whom Cöngī dedicated another treatise on fiscal matters. In other words, Cöngī was not just any provincial mudarris and mufti, but one with significant connections to the Ottoman military administrative elite. Cöngī’s commitment to the Ottoman religiopolitical order comes across clearly in the treatise he dedicated to Prince Muṣṭafā, whom he addresses as “Sultan Prince Muṣṭafā” and as “the inheritor of the office of caliph,”38 but it is more obliquely demonstrated in his Risāla fī l-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya for reasons that will be discussed below.

Unfortunately, we do not know at what point in his career Dede Cöngī penned his Risāla fī l-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya; the text provides no autobiographical information, and the earliest extant manuscript dates from 1054/1644–1645, that is to say, almost 80 years after the author’s death.39 It is tempting to think, nevertheless, that Cöngī composed his text sometime during or after his stay in Aleppo (952–957/1545–1550), where he must have had many more opportunities to familiarize himself with the Mamluk-era siyāsa literature. Besides, from an article by T.J. Fitzgerald we learn that while he was serving as mudarris and mufti in Aleppo, Cöngī became involved in a major dispute that had the local scholars up in arms about the legitimacy of the fiscal practices that the Ottomans had been trying to establish there. In a fatwa he issued on the dispute, Cöngī had firmly defended the legitimacy of the Ottoman practice, and the imperial administration had responded to the complaints in accordance with this fatwa.40 Even though there is no direct connection between this controversy, which was about fiscal matters, and Cöngī’s Risāla fī l-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya, which is about criminal law, the wider resentment about the Ottoman ḳānūn that the controversy revealed may well have provided an important motivation behind Cöngī’s decision to pen this treatise.

Since Cöngī wrote his text in Arabic, and made little or no attempt to correlate the terms of Islamic juristic discourse with Ottoman administrative terminology, it seems safe to conclude that he was writing primarily for a scholarly audience, comprised of both Rumi and Arab scholars. If Cöngī intended with his text to reach out to the Syrian and Egyptian scholars in particular, his decision to frame the discussion around siyāsa sharʿiyya makes a great deal of sense: Siyāsa sharʿiyya, after all, was a juristic concept that was well known to these scholars; it was also a concept well suited to the madhhab plurality that still prevailed in their circles; in fact, the proponents of the concept had downplayed madhhab differences in promoting siyāsa justice, and especially valued the ability of the political authorities to rise above the confines of the madhhab system.41

At the same time, however, it could also be said that Cöngī did not do enough to reach out to the non-Hanafi Muslims. The vast majority of the sources he cites in his treatise (a total of 42 works) are by medieval Hanafi-Maturidi writers, many of them from Transoxania.42 As for those of his non-Hanafi sources that he identifies by name, there are no more than three. These are Aḥkām al-sulṭāniyya by Māwardī (d. 450/1058), who was a Shafi‘i, al-Dhakhīra by Qarāfī, who was a Maliki, and an unidentified work (probably al-Ṭuruq al-ḥukmiyya) by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, who was, like his teacher Ibn Taymiyya, a Hanbali. It could of course be symbolic that Cöngī chose a text each from the remaining Sunni madhhabs, but his reasons for choosing them might also have been simply the fact that they all dealt with the concept of siyāsa sharʿiyya.

Strangely, however, Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya, generally assumed to have been among the sources of Cöngī, is actually nowhere referenced.43 Perhaps Cöngī found it more prudent to bypass this text because of the controversial nature of its author among the Arab and Rumi scholars he wished to reach. But it is also possible that Cöngī had simply not read Ibn Taymiyya’s work, which was not as widely known in the lands of Rum at the time.44 In either case, there is no denying the presence of Taymiyyan ideas in Cöngī’s epistle, but these ideas were transmitted via other Mamluk-era writers who had read and utilized Ibn Taymiyya rather than through Ibn Taymiyya’s own works directly. An important connection in this regard was Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, but even more important than him, as far as Dede Cöngī was concerned, was the aforementioned Hanafi jurist, Ṭarābulusī. Indeed, almost the entire introductory section of Cöngī’s Risāla, in which he defines siyāsa, distinguishes between “just” and “unjust” siyāsa, and introduces the concept of al-siyāsa al-sharʿiyya, was taken from the introduction to the third section of Ṭarābulusī’s Muʿīn al-ḥukkām.45

Differently from Ibn Taymiyya, and in keeping with the Hanafi tradition, in this treatise Dede Cöngī uses siyāsa mainly in the narrower sense of administrative punishment. As the opening quotations from Bābartī (d. 786/1384) and Ṭarābulusī make clear, administrative punishments were understood to be harsher than the punishments prescribed by the sharia, as they were introduced with the aim of stamping out “corruption” (fasād).46 Citing Ṭarābulusī, Cöngī points out that the topic of siyāsa is complicated and that Muslims fall into three groups in their position on the topic. One group rejects siyāsa categorically because they mistakenly believe it to be against the sharia, while another group applies it too liberally and transgresses the punishments prescribed by God (ḥudūd), perpetrating “injustice” (ẓulm) and “blameworthy innovations” (bidaʿ). Only a third group embraces the golden mean by combining siyāsa and sharia and practicing siyāsa sharʿiyya, defined as the kind of siyāsa that serves “sharʿī ends” (al-maqāṣid al-sharīʿa) and safeguards public order.47

Cöngī next sets out to establish the legitimacy of siyāsa sharʿiyya on the grounds of evidence from the Quran and hadiths (nuṣūṣ al-sharʿiyya) as well as with reference to the legislative deliberations of the four “rightly guided caliphs.” Here, Cöngī furnishes textual proofs for the permissibility of specific siyāsa punishments. He also provides several more general explanations for why it had been necessary for later rulers to stipulate harsher punishments than what the sharia prescribed. He stresses in particular the mutability of sharʿī judgments in connection with the idea of the “corruption of the times” (fasād al-zamān), alluding to the pessimistic view of human history that had also informed Ibn Taymiyya’s views on siyāsa. Accordingly, the further away Muslims are from the time of the Prophet, the more corrupt they become, thus necessitating the adoption of harsher measures to preserve public order.48 A second general principle that Cöngī evokes is al-maṣāliḥ al-mursala, or social benefit, that he says had guided the first four caliphs when they introduced practices that the sharia neither permits nor prohibits, such as writing down the Quran.49 As Hüseyin Yılmaz has pointed out, this concept was particularly important in the Maliki school of law, but its close cognate in the Hanafi legal school, maṣlaḥa, had also been of central importance to the efforts of Ottoman jurists like Ebū’s-suʿūd to legitimate controversial practices such as cash waqfs.50

While modern scholars are in consensus that Dede Cöngī was writing all this to legitimate Ottoman ḳānūns, they have struggled to explain why he chose nonetheless not to reference either the Ottomans or their ḳānūns. The word qānūn and its plural qawānin are used several times in the text, but always in the sense of “principle” or “standard” (as in the principle of sharia or qānūn al-sharʿ), which was the prevalent meaning of the word in the Mamluk context.51 Uriel Heyd has attributed the absence of pointed references to the Ottoman context in the treatise to Cöngī’s authorial modesty and reluctance to go beyond the role of compiler.52 Perhaps, however, Cöngī wanted to write about administrative justice in the abstract language of jurisprudence, precisely because he thought this was a more effective way of winning over those of his readers who remained skeptical about the legitimacy of the yasa/ḳānūn tradition. In any case, many of the specific examples of siyāsa justice that Cöngī discusses and condones in this text—for instance, execution by strangling, the use of torture to extract confessions, the consideration of the criminal record or of the social reputation of the accused as well as the admission of circumstantial evidence in determining guilt, “the acceptance of the killing of a few to avert harm to the many” (a principle referenced in “the ḳānūnnāme of Meḥmed II” to justify royal fratricide), the execution of “perpetrators of discord (fasād) on earth,” and the punishment of “sodomy” as a capital crime—had their place in one fashion or another in the Ottoman ḳānūn tradition as it had evolved until the time of Süleymān I (r. 926–974/1520–1566). In the Ottoman context, the criminalization of “sodomy” was a new development, initiated in the reign of Süleymān, which might explain why Cöngī mentions it multiple times in his treatise.53 Even in those instances in which the specific siyāsa punishment discussed was not part of the Ottoman penal code, its inclusion in the text could have contemporary relevance. For instance, considering that Cöngī was writing in a time of ongoing conflict with the Safavids, as well as of sporadic persecution of Anatolian “Kızılbaş,” it must not be coincidental that the very first example of siyāsa punishment that he gives from the beginning of Islamic history is the burning of a group of heretics (zanādiqa) by the fourth caliph ʿAlī b. Abū Ṭālib (d. 40/661) on grounds that they believed him to be divine.54 It must also be significant that Dede Cöngī does not go into the details of what kinds of siyāsa punishments he considered “unjust” or “un-sharʿī,” as this could have brought up controversial aspects of the Ottoman penal code—for instance, the substitution of some of the corporal punishments with fines—as examples of “unjust” or “un-sharʿī” punishments.55

After having legitimated law making by the political authorities, Cöngī turns in the next section of his treatise to the question of whether it is legitimate for kadis to practice siyāsa, namely, to apply the laws and regulations introduced by rulers. This, too, was a critical question, since in the Ottoman legal system kadis were responsible for applying ḳānūn as well as sharia and since notwithstanding the alternative venues of justice distribution, such as the Imperial Court and courts of governors-general, where kadis (or ḳāḍīʿaskers) also presided, the Ottoman rulers actively promoted the kadi courts as the principal venue of justice distribution throughout their realms.56 In this context, it should not be surprising that Cöngī answers the question of whether kadis can practice siyāsa with an overwhelming yes, albeit a yes uttered by citing others. First, he cites a passage from Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya to the effect that the sharia has not determined limits for how siyāsa is to be practiced; because rulers will introduce laws and regulations in response to the specific conditions of the time, when those conditions change, so can the rules. Hence, in some periods and places kadis may be delegated the functions of military governors, while in other periods and places they may not. Next, Cöngī gives us the contrary view upheld by Māwardī and Qarāfī that kadis should not meddle in siyāsa, and he lists nine reasons why these two jurists considered military governors to be equipped with greater powers than kadis to practice siyāsa and deliver effective justice. In the end, Cöngī gives his own view, based on the authority of “the principal Hanafi sources,” that kadis have also been granted most of these powers.57 Once again, Cöngī was tacitly approving of the ways in which the Ottomans administered justice.

To recapitulate, Cöngī’s Risāla fī l-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya was an attempt on the part of a devoted member of the Ottoman learned establishment and a Rumi Hanafi scholar to intervene in the debates that were ongoing among both Syrian and Egyptian, and to a lesser extent Rumi, scholars about the legitimacy of the Ottoman ḳānūn. I have argued above that it was probably in an effort to win over his colleagues opposed to the “Ottoman yasağ” that Cöngī defended the Ottoman ḳānūn through the juristic framework of siyāsa sharʿiyya and avoided making direct references to specific Ottoman institutions. Possibly, it was also his desire to “play safe” and avoid unneeded controversy that led him to bypass Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya while making his arguments. Interestingly, a second Ottoman Rumi writer to take an interest in the siyāsa sharʿiyya literature slightly later in the same century would opt for a very different strategy, translating Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya into Turkish and adding extensive (and critical) commentary about the contemporary Ottoman context.

4 ʿĀşıḳ Çelebi and His Miʿrācü’l-Eyāle ve Minhācü’l-ʿAdāle

Es-Seyyid Pīr Meḥmed b. Seyyid ʿAlī, better known as ʿĀşıḳ Çelebi, represents a rather different social and intellectual profile from his older colleague, Cöngī. To begin with, ʿĀşıḳ was a Rumelian, born in Prizren (in present-day Kosovo) to a distinguished ulema and seyyid family with distant Baghdadi roots, and received his education from the leading scholars of Istanbul. Partly because he made his career in a time of increasing congestion in the Ottoman learned establishment and partly because of his own circumstances, however, ʿĀşıḳ had a rather undistinguished career, having to work for many years as a court clerk, a trustee for pious endowments, and a secretary to the şeyhü’l-islām before eventually settling for an equally frustrating career as a small-town kadi. As ʿĀşıḳ makes clear in the Miʿrācü’l-eyāle, he took greater pride in his accomplishments as a belle-lettrist, “a poet and a prose-stylist,” than as a kadi.58 In keeping with his penname ʿĀşıḳ (meaning, literally, lover), his literary oeuvres included a Dīvān, a şehrengīz (“city thriller”), devoted to the beautiful young men of Bursa, and several biographical dictionaries, the most famous of which is his Meşāʿirü’ş-şuʿarā, a lively tribute to the empire’s poetic scene as well as to its urban culture of predominantly male lovers and beloveds. He also translated into Turkish a number of religious, political, and literary works from Arabic and Persian.59

There is no indication that ʿĀşıḳ ever read Cöngī’s epistle, so it is impossible to say whether it was that work that first piqued his interest in the siyāsa al-sharʿiyya literature. Unlike Cöngī, ʿĀşıḳ had not spent time in the former Mamluk lands, but he had studied with at least one traditionalist scholar from Egypt, and it has been speculated that he might have gained familiarity with the works of Ibn Taymiyya through him.60 In the preface to his translation, ʿĀşıḳ describes al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya as a “book that is small in volume but great in benefit,” and he explains that he decided to translate it to fulfill the Quranic injunction to “command the right and forbid the wrong” and to petition for a more desirable post for himself. ʿĀşıḳ was writing in 977/1569–1570, one year after he had been dismissed from his office as kadi of Karatova (Kratovo, today in the Republic of North Macedonia), and he was clearly very disillusioned with his career in the Ottoman judiciary. He expresses hope that if Selīm II (r. 974–982/1566–1574) is pleased with his translation, he may free him from all administrative duties to devote his time entirely to the composition of literary works, but ʿĀşıḳ was also willing to be examined with the prospect of employment at either the land registry or in the department for the inspection of tax farms.61 Perhaps because he was not sure of a favorable reception by Selīm II, ʿĀşıḳ also addresses the grand vizier Soḳollu Meḥmed Pasha in the conclusion to his translation.62 Soḳollu, to whom ʿĀşıḳ had also devoted other works, was the most powerful Ottoman statesman at the time, as well as an active patron of literature and the arts, and a pious Muslim, whose brand of Sunni religiosity combined a high respect for the sharia with devotion to sharia-abiding Sufism. Soḳollu and his royal wife İsmihān Sultan (d. 993/1585) were ardent admirers and patrons of the Rumelian Halveti master, Muṣliḥu’d-dīn Nūre’d-dīnzāde (d. 981/1574), who was (as discussed in Grigor Boykov’s paper in this volume) a vocal advocate of the state-sponsored version of Sunni Islam.63 Around the years ʿĀşıḳ translated al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya, Soḳollu had also invited to Istanbul Birgivī Meḥmed Efendi, whose works would later inspire the Kadızadelis, to solicit his words of advice about “how to eliminate injustices” (defʿ-i meẓālim) in the Ottoman realms.64 Given Soḳollu’s interest in a range of sharia-minded interlocutors, it is not surprising that ʿĀşıḳ Çelebi thought the grand vizier might also be interested in his translation of Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya.

The text that ʿĀşıḳ presented to Selīm and Soḳollu for approval, however, was more than a simple translation. In the early modern Ottoman world of letters, translators played a role more akin to that of an author, replacing the original preface, and often also the original title of the work, with one of their own, and depending on their target audience, their own intentions, and the conventions of the genre, they could translate the source text in markedly different ways.65 ʿĀşıḳ claims that he translated Ibn Taymiyya’s epistle “word for word” (bi-ʿibâretihi) and without embellishing it with verses or rhymed prose.66 In fact, his was not a literal translation but rather a transadaptation, which enriched the content with additional material. The sections added by ʿĀşıḳ, including his introduction and conclusion, as well as the excursuses on kadis and kadiship, the land regime, fiscal practices, and the art of warfare, are almost as long as the original text, and significantly alter the overall impression of the work.

The introduction is revealing of both similarities and differences between the author and the “translator” in religious and political outlook. Even though ʿĀşıḳ was, in his personal life and cultural sensibility, quite different from the stringent Hanbali scholar, he agreed with Ibn Taymiyya that the proper functioning of society required religion and law, the upholding of which in turn required a strong state. To drive home this point, Ibn Taymiyya had begun his treatise with the famous “authority verse,” “O you who believe, obey God and the Messenger, if you believe in God, and those in authority among you” (Q 4: 58–59), and ʿĀşıḳ also incorporates this section into his own introduction. For both men, figures of authority comprised both the military ruling elites and scholars, even though in the introduction to his transadaptation ʿĀşık puts the stress more squarely on rulers as the deputies of the prophets in the post-prophetic age.67

Differently from Ibn Taymiyya, ʿĀşıḳ tailored his discourse to a distinctly royal audience and devoted a good chunk of his introduction to the eulogy of the Ottoman rulers. After praising God, the Prophet, the four “rightly guided” caliphs, and the Companions, he provides a brief account of human history from Creation until the time of the Ottomans with the aim to highlight the unique place of the latter within world and Islamic history. Therein the various Muslim dynasties are listed without any distinction being made between those that claimed the universal caliphate, such as the Umayyads and the ‘Abbasids, and those that were mere regional emirates or sultanates, like the Ghaznavids, Buyids, or Seljuks. The Buyids, who were Shi‘ites, are listed among the Muslim rulers who occupied themselves with matters of “justice and sharia,” whereas “Chinggis from among the infidels (kefereden) and Timur from among the oppressors (zalemeden)” are mentioned separately as rulers who were sent by God to punish the wrongdoers, but on account of whom many innocents also suffered.68 The Ottomans are introduced as having inherited “the office of the caliphate and the protection of the seal of prophecy” (emr-i hilâfet ve hıfz-ı hatm-i nübüvvet).69 ʿĀşıḳ was evoking here a Sufi-inflected definition of the caliphate and casting the Ottoman rulers as “caliphs of God,” who, like the first four caliphs, took their authority directly from God and who united in their person spiritual and temporal power.70 In clear contrast to Ibn Taymiyya, albeit in good company among his Ottoman contemporaries, ʿĀşıḳ even attributes quasi-mystical qualities to the Ottoman rulers. The recently deceased Süleymān I is eulogized as a ruler who had “won with his sword not just the sultanate of this world but also the sultanate of the other world and in whose sainthood (vilâyet) and ability to perform marvels (kerâmet) the people have great faith.”71 Esoteric themes also predominate in ʿĀşıḳ’s eulogy for Selīm II. Possibly in order to assuage popular misgivings about Selīm, who had acceded to the throne after his father had controversially ordered the execution of two of his brothers, ʿĀşıḳ writes for several folios about the esoteric properties of the name “Selīm” and (wrongly) prophesies that the latter would remain on the throne for 40 years.72

The emphasis on the Ottoman dynastic pedigree in ʿĀşıḳ’s text also stands in contrast with the inconsequential place of the dynastic principle in Ibn Taymiyya’s original epistle as well as in Mamluk political culture at large.73 Actually, genealogy was not one of the strong points of the Ottomans in their claims to preeminence in the Islamic world, either. Notwithstanding, ʿĀşıḳ asserts categorically, if vaguely, that the Ottomans come from a line of prophets and do not have any fire-worshippers among their ancestors, whereas all the other “sultans of the past” were either Chinggisids or Circassians (a reference to the Mamluks), and even the best of them were at the end of the day descendants of Chosroes (Nûşînrevan), who was a follower of Zoroaster and a fire-worshiper.74 The underlying message was that the Ottomans are and have always been better, purer Muslims than other dynasties. Even though the Safavids are not directly referenced, given their rule over Iran, and given Iran’s history as the original homeland of Zoroastrianism, ʿĀşıḳ’s division of royal houses into those that descended from the monotheistic prophets and those that descended from the followers of Zoroaster and fire-worshippers must have been colored, to a large degree, by the ongoing Ottoman-Safavid rivalry.

Otherwise, however, ʿĀşıḳ does not stress the Ottoman claim to be champions of Sunni Islam in his eulogy, or at least not as much as did some other contemporaries.75 In fact, he downplays the importance of religious motivations when extolling the Ottoman military victories in general. This is interesting, because the long-standing Ottoman claim to be gāzīs, waging war in the name of Islam, would have fit well into a Taymiyyan framework, in which jihad is one of the primary duties of a Muslim ruler.76 Instead, ʿĀşıḳ builds his narrative around the Ottoman quest for world dominion. This ideal arguably had its heyday somewhat earlier, in the first three to four decades of the tenth/sixteenth century, when the Ottomans were expanding rapidly, and is thought to have died a slow death thereafter.77 Nevertheless, when ʿĀşıḳ was writing, the Ottomans were still actively trying to extend their influence over distant territories by using the instruments of diplomacy and trade, and Soḳollu was contemplating such ambitious projects as building a canal between the Don and Volga Rivers and over the Suez to connect with the Muslim communities that lived in the steppes north of the Black Sea and in the Indian Ocean.78 ʿĀşıḳ stresses the continuing Ottoman claims to world dominion by hyperbolically writing of the Ottoman arrows reaching as far east as Eastern Turkistan (Mâçîn) and the Indus valley (Sind) and as far west as Rome. It is only at the end of a long list of victories and conquests that he signals the Ottoman championship of Islam with a reference to the (fancied) destruction of the “great church” in Rome.79

ʿĀşıḳ’s eulogy of the Ottomans comes closer to the Taymiyyan line when he praises the Ottomans for their devotion to justice and the sharia. Even here, however, there is an important difference between the two writers. Whereas Ibn Taymiyya categorically rejects the possibility of justice outside the bounds of the sharia, ʿĀşıḳ does not. Rather, he uses Sufi metaphors, as he eulogizes the Ottoman rulers for being the “meeting place of the two seas” (mecmaʿü’l-bahreyn) and for uniting the “two lights” of justice and sharia. He also praises them for having issued “well-respected kânuns like the resm-i Osmânî.”80 All this indicates that, like the Arab jurists of the tenth/sixteenth century, ʿĀşıḳ saw the Ottoman ḳānūn as representing a form of justice beyond the sharia, but he differed from them in that he saw this in a positive light.

As we read the later sections of the text, however, it becomes apparent that ʿĀşıḳ did not actually consider the Ottoman administrative and legal system of his time either as just or as sharʿī as he makes them out to be in his introduction. This critical streak becomes apparent already in ʿĀşıḳ’s translation of the first chapter of Ibn Taymiyya regarding the appointment of the right people to public offices. After a fairly conventional discussion of what Hanafi jurists have said about the permissibility of serving as kadi,81 ʿĀşıḳ provides a sharply critical account of the Ottoman judiciary of his time. According to him, some of the kadis of his time lacked the requisite “knowledge and understanding” to perform their duties properly, while some others were learned, but did not act in accordance with their learning, disregarded what their “reason and religion” dictated in return for monetary gain, and justified their unlawful decisions by saying that this is what “the grandees” (ekâbir) demand. Though a kadi himself, ʿĀşıḳ mocks the false pretensions of corrupt kadis to piety with almost anticlerical overtones. He describes how kadis give themselves airs with their long gowns and unkempt beards in supposed imitation of the Prophet (who, ʿĀşıḳ assures us, looked nothing like them) and how they use this aura of respectability to have their way with male and female beloveds. In keeping with his çelebi sensibility, ʿĀşıḳ ends this discussion on a humorous note with a couplet about how he would like the same treatment but is always passed over because he has a sparse beard.82

Perhaps because he was hoping to be given a job in the fiscal bureaucracy and wanted to prove his competency, ʿĀşıḳ makes the most extensive interpolations on the subject of the public treasury (beytü’l-mâl). These interpolations, which are mostly in the “supplements” (ilhâkât), can be seen as serving two different, and to some degree even contradictory, purposes. On the one hand, a principal concern of ʿĀşıḳ seems to have been to demonstrate the sharʿī basis of the Ottoman system of land tenure and taxation, and he does so by reproducing the fatwas issued on the topic by Ebū’s-suʿūd. As the latter’s one-time student and secretary, ʿĀşıḳ is profuse in his words of praise for Ebū’s-suʿūd and hails the latter as “the imam of our time, the chief mufti of the ulama and the general public (âmme), the seal of the müctehids and remnant of the righteous selef.”83 On the other hand, ʿĀşıḳ also includes in his text three documents that he takes to be from the earliest days of Islam and that inform the critique he provides of the actual working of the Ottoman fiscal system further down in the text.84 In addition, ʿĀşıḳ draws on his professional experience as a midranking kadi in the Balkans both to explain the particularities of the complex system of land tenure in that region and to critique a wide variety of “abuses” he witnessed during his tenure in Rumeli.85 While some of these “abuses” must have been the result of officials taking advantage of a monetizing economy to enrich themselves at the expense of the re‘āyā, as ʿĀşıḳ suggests, others were clearly connected to the central administration’s attempt to alleviate fiscal tensions in a time of rising expenses. A recurring theme in ‘Āşıḳ’s criticisms is the overtaxation of the subject population. In this, the şeyhü’l-islām Ebū’s-suʿūd himself was complicit, having ruled all arable lands in the Ottoman Empire to be “royal demesne” (arâziyü’l-memleke) and having legitimated on that basis the imposition of “tithing rates higher than the customary 10 %.”86 Evidently, however, ʿĀşıḳ did not find it in himself to challenge these rulings and instead puts the blame squarely on the tax collectors for abusing their privileges. By dispossessing the reʿāyā of their baştinas and by overtaxing the Christian peasants until they are forced to flee, avaricious officials are both violating sharʿī norms and causing damage to the public treasury, he argues.87

Another practice that ʿĀşıḳ blames on greedy officials is the sale of properties belonging to Christian ecclesiastical foundations (kilise evkāfı). Even though ʿĀşıḳ accuses the superintendents (nâzır) who sold such waqfs of proceeding without proper authorization, actually, the practices that he criticized were also the result of state action.88 In 1568, shortly before ʿĀşıḳ penned his transadaptation, the Ottoman government, citing a number of fatwas by Ebū’s-suʿūd, had declared all Christian waqfs to be null and void. Subsequently, however, after some hard negotiation with the monastic authorities, and again with Ebū’s-suʿūd’s help, the government had softened its position. Christian waqfs would once again be allowed to function, but under the legal fiction that they were benefiting Christian communities rather than Christian places of worship (which the şeyhü’l-islām had earlier ruled to be impermissible). Following this revised formula, churches and monasteries would also be permitted to “buy back” their properties, albeit at considerable cost to these foundations.89 Around the time ʿĀşıḳ was writing (977/1569–1570), the imperial authorities had already revised their stance, but in various parts of the empire the complex processes of confiscation and resale were still dragging on.90 It was probably this fluctuating state of affairs that enabled ʿĀşıḳ to present the sale of Christian waqfs as an “abuse” by individual officials rather than as concerted state action. Even though ʿĀşıḳ would not necessarily have known of this, Ibn Taymiyya had also played a role similar to Ebū’s-suʿūd in the confiscation of Christian monastic foundations in the Mamluk sultanate two and a half centuries earlier.91 Hence, there is a delicious irony in the fact that ʿĀşıḳ presents his criticism of the sale of church waqfs in a translation of a work of Ibn Taymiyya’s as well as after praising Ebū’s-suʿūd. ʿĀşıḳ’s remarks on the sale of church waqfs are, nevertheless, important as a rare piece of evidence of the critique of this affair by a Muslim.

In comparison to the matter of the public treasury, ʿĀşıḳ did not have much to add to Ibn Taymiyya’s discussion of penal law. He does, however, make a few omissions in the original text, presumably out of consideration for the sensibility of his high-placed readers. One of the omitted passages concerns the question of whether the murder of a sovereign ruler should be considered a crime against “the rights of God,” that is to say, a public crime whose punishment is incumbent on the political authorities. Even though ʿĀşıḳ was writing half a century before the first instance of regicide in the Ottoman lands, he must have found the topic too distasteful to include in a text submitted to the Ottoman sultan.92 A second omitted paragraph deals with the question, “If one Muslim ruler enters the territory of another, and kills that land’s people, is it incumbent on that country’s people to resist or should they submit?” As the question exposed the power grab behind conflicts between rival Muslim sovereigns, even the otherwise outspoken Ibn Taymiyya had found it prudent not to venture an answer and simply noted that Hanbali jurists have differed on the matter. The Hanbali reference would, of course, have been irrelevant to ʿĀşıḳ’s overwhelmingly Hanafi audience, but more consequential was the possibility of legitimate resistance to an invading Muslim power that the question raised. Since the Ottomans had repeatedly been in the position of the invading power in their recent history, the question was not one they would have wished to entertain, hence the omission by ʿĀşıḳ.93

A third omission of ʿĀşıḳ’s is seemingly minor but nevertheless illustrative of the difference of outlook between him and Ibn Taymiyya. Ibn Taymiyya begins the section on the punishment of wine-drinking with a hadith, which has the Prophet say that if someone is caught drinking wine once, twice, or three times, he should be flogged, but if he is caught drinking a fourth time, then he should be killed. In his commentary on the hadith, Ibn Taymiyya says that most scholars consider the Prophet’s reference to the execution of the habitual wine-drinker to be “abrogated” (mansūkh), some other scholars consider the punishment to be still valid, and yet others hold it to be a discretionary punishment to be decided upon by the ruler (taʿẕīr). ʿĀşıḳ translates the passage as is, except he omits the opinion of those scholars who held the punishment of execution to be still valid. Presumably he considered this opinion to be too extreme.94 Otherwise, however, ʿĀşıḳ translates Ibn Taymiyya’s harsh prescriptions for the punishment of wine-drinkers, adulterers, and “sodomites” without any mitigating commentary, despite the fact that he himself was an aficionado of wine parties and beautiful youths and makes no secret of it in his literary writings and, to some degree, even in this transadaptation.95 His reticence in this regard is of course not surprising, since it was a far more serious crime to question sharʿī regulations than to break them. What is perhaps more interesting is that ʿĀşıḳ also translates faithfully Ibn Taymiyya’s strongly worded condemnation of the conversion of ḥadd punishments into monetary fines, even though this was a common practice in the Ottoman lands. In fact, where Ibn Taymiyya likens the people who collect fines for ḥadd offenses to whores, pimps, and fortunetellers, the Ottoman writer not only translates these insults as they are but also volunteers both the Turkish and Arabic words for “pimp.”96 It would seem that ʿĀşıḳ translated these sections approvingly, because they meshed well with his own dislike of the pecuniary concerns of the Ottoman officials of his time.

There is finally one passage in which ʿĀşıḳ indicates, in a fascinating aside, that the Hanbali scholar was not always harsher than the Ottoman learned establishment on questions of penal law. The passage in question concerns the punishment of the perpetrators of religious innovation (bidʿa). In the original passage, Ibn Taymiyya first cites the opinions of Shāfiʿi, Aḥmad, and Mālik, that “the initiator of innovations which are contrary to (the precepts in) the Book and the Sunna be put to death”; he then adds that “Mālik and some other jurists allowed that the Qadariyya be put to death, for fear that mischief might spread in the land and not because they are apostates.” After translating this passage, ʿĀşıḳ comments, “It is the same with the Kharijites and Revâfız (a derogatory term for Shi‘ites); [their persecution] is not on account of their apostasy (riddetlerinden) but because they might perpetrate mischief, but it is understood from the fatwa issued by the current mufti of the believers, the imam of the Muslims, the chief mufti, the prop of the religion of the Prophet … the remainder of the müctehids … Ebū’s-suʿūd, which rules it permissible to enslave the Kızılbaş women, that the latter are murdered on account of their apostasy.”97 With this interjection, ʿĀşıḳ not only confirms that in the tenth/sixteenth century some members of the Ottoman learned establishment considered the Kızılbaş to constitute a different category of “heretics” than Shi‘ites,98 but also that the official Ottoman position on the Kızılbaş was even harsher than that taken by Ibn Taymiyya on other “misbelievers.” The latter point is striking, because the Hanafi school, to which the Ottomans belonged, had previously been the most lenient of the Sunni legal schools when it came to the persecution of heretics and misbelievers. As such, ʿĀşıḳ’s commentary reveals how much the Hanafi position on the matter had hardened by his time, due in part to the polarizing effect of the Ottoman-Safavid conflict and in part to the fact that in the Ottoman lands Hanafism had become a veritable “state madhhab.”99 Even though ʿĀşıḳ himself was not particularly confessionally minded,100 as a member of the Ottoman learned establishment he could hardly avoid the obligatory anti-Kızılbaş rhetoric of his time. In fact, the reference to Ebū’s-suʿūd’s fatwa is not the only instance in which ʿĀşıḳ bows down to anti-Kızılbaş rhetoric in this text. In his “supplements,” he also includes a letter purported to have been written by ʿAlī b. Abū Ṭālib, in which the latter praises the second “rightly guided” caliph, ʿUmar, to critique the “Kızılbaş,” who accept ʿAlī to be their imam but who reject ʿUmar as caliph.101

Clearly, ʿĀşıḳ’s Miʿrācü’l-eyāle was less a programmatic endorsement of Ibn Taymiyya’s vision of siyāsa al-sharʿiyya than a somewhat idiosyncratic engagement with it in the early modern Ottoman context. Ultimately, ʿĀşıḳ’s “constitutional” views (his endorsement of a realm of justice beyond the sharia, and his more mystical conception of royal authority) were more “Ottoman” than “Taymiyyan”; it was more in his critique of specific Ottoman practices that ʿĀşıḳ turned “Taymiyyan.” Both of these strains of ʿĀşıḳ’s thought had something to do with the shifting social, political, and cultural currents in the late tenth/sixteenth century. For ʿĀşıḳ was, on the one hand, a vivacious chronicler of an “age of beloveds,” in which the elites of an expanding Ottoman Empire embraced the ideals of world conquest, charismatic authority, and spiritualized love, and could transition seemingly effortlessly between the prescriptive language of religious law and the ambiguous idiom of Neoplatonic Sufism.102 On the other hand, this age was already slowly withering when ʿĀşıḳ was writing, and in the new age of “crisis and transformation,” of diminishing opportunities and rising competition, and we might add, of deepening rifts in approaches to religion and piety, the Ottoman elites would also feel the need for a new approach to law and governance.

5 Afterlives of the Sixteenth-Century Ottoman Siyāsa Sharʿiyya Texts during the Seventeenth Century

A full discussion of the Ottoman engagement with the siyāsa sharʿiyya corpus after the tenth/sixteenth century exceeds the scope of this paper. In what follows below, I will instead wrap up the previous discussion by considering the afterlives of ʿĀşıḳ’s Miʿrācü’l-eyāle and Cöngī’s Risāla fī l-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya in the core lands of the Ottoman Empire during the eleventh/seventeenth and early twelfth/eighteenth centuries. This discussion is necessary, because certain changes in the social and political dynamics ended up making the siyāsa sharʿiyya literature more relevant to the Ottomans in this period. But there is also another reason for extending the discussion into the eleventh/seventeenth century, and this is the need to speak to a line of scholarship that has persistently argued for the emergence of a distinctive “school of Ibn Taymiyya” in the Ottoman lands during this period. According to this scholarship, the primary carriers of Taymiyyan ideas in the Ottoman lands were the Kadızadelis, who were a group of Sunni revivalist preachers, and their followers, who were active in and around Istanbul from the early 1040s/1630s until at least the 1100s/1690s, and who wanted to restore to Ottoman Islam the purity of Islam of the age of the Prophet and his Companions.103 As we shall see, nevertheless, the literature actually overestimates both the importance of Taymiyyan ideas for the Kadızadelis and the importance of the Kadızadelis for the spread of Taymiyyan ideas in the core Ottoman lands during the eleventh/seventeenth century. Far more important agents in this regard were people higher up in the imperial administration, who found in the siyāsa sharʿiyya literature possibly some inspiration for, and definitely justification of, the changes they began to introduce into the Ottoman state tradition during the second half of the eleventh/seventeenth century.

The dynamics, nevertheless, were somewhat different in the early decades of the eleventh/seventeenth century, when crisis seemed the order of the day, and when literate men of different walks of life, from military administrators to kadis and from members of the scribal service to preachers, were competing with one another to advise the rulers about how to get out of this crisis. It was also in this context that the preacher and namesake of the Kadızadeli movement, Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed (d. 1045/1635), hit upon ʿĀşıḳ’s transadaptation of Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya and, after lightly reworking its introduction, submitted it as his own work to Murād IV (r. 1032–1049/1623–40).104

The son of a kadi, and the grandson of a devşirme, Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed had received his early education from a student of the famous tenth/sixteenth-century scholar Birgivī Meḥmed Efendi in Balıkesir but then continued his studies with various other scholars in Istanbul and Cairo. Ḳāḍīzāde first took up preaching during his brief stint as a disciple of the Halveti Shaykh ʿÖmer of the Tercüman lodge and persisted in that vocation, also after switching his tariqa affiliation from the Halveti to the Naqshbandi order.105 His position as preacher and “advice giver” also allowed Ḳāḍīzāde to cultivate contacts in the Ottoman court. In one of his treatises of advice, the preacher claims that he first wrote a treatise of advice for the grand vizier Ḳuyucu Murād Paşa (d. 1020/1611) and Aḥmed I (r. 1012–1026/1603–17) and was gratified to see his text received by both with great favor.106 Later, Ḳāḍīzāde also courted ʿOs̱mān II (r. 1027–1031/1618–22) and submitted to him a tract on horses and horsemanship.107 Still, none of these engagements can compare to the persistence with which Ḳāḍīzāde courted Murād IV, dedicating to him a versified prayer of good wishes (duʿānāme) on the occasion of his accession to the throne, a versified creed, an anti-Safavid/Kızılbaş tract, and at least five texts of political advice.108 One of these five tracts of political advice was Tācü’r-resāʾil ve minhācü’l-vesāʾil, an expanded translation of Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya.

Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed’s Tācü’r-resāʾil is of particular importance to the debate about the influence of Ibn Taymiyya over the Kadızadelis, as it is the one and only “Kadızadeli” text that we know so far that explicitly references Ibn Taymiyya. The problem is, however, that as mentioned above, this was not actually Ḳāḍīzāde’s own translation but ʿĀşıḳ’s. It could be argued that Ḳāḍīzāde must have held Ibn Taymiyya in high esteem to want to assume ownership of a translation of the latter’s text, but it should also be remembered that the text Ḳāḍīzāde appropriated was at least one-third ʿĀşıḳ’s and incorporated various features that were at odds with the original Taymiyyan vision. There is no indication that Ḳāḍīzāde wanted to strip the text of these later additions; in fact, he left all the “supplements” and digressions of ʿĀşıḳ intact, and he contented himself with merely changing parts of the introduction to cover up the fact that he was claiming another person’s work. Interestingly, in the process, he ended up omitting not only ʿĀşıḳ’s but also Ibn Taymiyya’s name, and instead presented himself (“Shaykh Meḥmed b. Muṣṭafā known as Ḳāḍīzāde”) as the author of the text.109 Patient readers could still find out that the text was in part a translation of Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya when they got to the part in which ʿĀşıḳ announces the end of his translation of the said work and the beginning of the “supplements.”110

Moreover, with a single exception, discussed below, the changes that Ḳāḍīzāde introduced to his version of the text were not any more indicative of a hardcore Taymiyyan than ʿĀşıḳ’s transadaptation. For instance, while Ḳāḍīzāde replaced ʿĀşıḳ’s eulogy of Süleymān and Selīm II with a eulogy of Murād IV, the new eulogy also played on number mysticism and the esoteric properties of the sultan’s name, just like ʿĀşıḳ’s.111 More remarkable still, Ḳāḍīzāde inserted into the text a “letter of invitation” to Islam by an Islamized Alexander the Great. Evidently, Ḳāḍīzāde was not a stranger to the eclectic universalism that had characterized the outlook of earlier generations of Ottoman imperial elites.112 Lest we think that these are anomalies limited to this text, it is worth pointing out that the other works Ḳāḍīzāde submitted to Murād IV also exhibit a similar diversity of sources of inspiration, from Quranic verses to Sufi poetry to excerpts from a Turkish rendition of the pseudo-Aristotelian Kitāb Sirr al-asrār.113 It is only in the texts that he authored for ordinary Muslims that Ḳāḍīzāde restricted himself to verses from the Quran and excerpts from jurisprudential texts.114 It would seem that the socially bifurcated cultural codes of early modern Ottoman polite society also held for this early eleventh/seventeenth-century preacher: he spoke to the elites in one discursive register and to the commoners in another.

In short, Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed was not quite the uncompromisingly “puritanical,” “antisyncretistic,” and “anti-elitist” Muslim reformist that modern scholars have imagined him to be; nor was he any more Taymiyyan in his disposition than, say, ʿĀşıḳ had been. This having been said, he did insert into his revised version of the transadaptation one passage that would be of interest to scholars looking for Taymiyyan influences in the Kadizadeli milieu. The passage in question discusses the different types of idolatry (şirk) and is taken from Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s Ighāthat al-lahfān min maṣāʾid al-shayṭān (Rescuing the distressed from the snares of the devil). Interestingly, Ḳāḍīzāde does not reveal his source but simply says that he took the text from works of kelām. He does, however, cite the same passage on idolatry in another work of political advice, where he gives the correct title of the source but misattributes it to another Hanbali scholar, Abū ’l-Faraj Ibn al-Jawzī (d. 597/1201).115

The reference to Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya’s Ighāthat al-lahfān is noteworthy, because this Hanbali writer was the most important student of Ibn Taymiyya and because modern scholars who have been convinced of the Kadızadelis’ Taymiyyan convictions have rested their case in recent years mainly on the fact that the Ottoman writers who were or who fit the profile of Kadızadelis cited Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, and especially his Ighāthat al-lahfān.116 One of these scholars, Sheikh, has further argued that the Kadızadelis were far more immersed in the writings of Ibn Taymiyya than they let on, but that because of the controversy surrounding the latter’s name, they preferred to give reference to his less controversial student, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, instead.117 This view, however, is rather speculative and is open to critique on several grounds. First, while Sheikh has identified in the works of two key thinkers who inspired the Kadızadeli movement, Birgivī and Aḥmed Rūmī el-Aḳḥiṣārī (d. ca. 1041/1632), two passages that seem to be taken from Ibn Taymiyya’s Iqtidā l-ṣirāṭ al-mustaqīm (The necessity of the straight path),118 this would hardly suffice to identify these otherwise solidly Hanafi-Maturidi scholars as crypto-Taymiyyans.119 Secondly, the supposition that Ibn Taymiyya was considered too controversial a name to be explicitly mentioned in the Rumi context also needs to be qualified: it is true that some works and ideas of Ibn Taymiyya, such as his rejection of tomb visitations, were considered by some (perhaps many) Ottoman scholars to be deeply objectionable, but some other works and ideas were not, as evidenced by the translation(s) of his al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya into Turkish.120 It could be argued that the Kadızadelis felt more vulnerable than other more “mainstream” Ottoman scholars when citing Ibn Taymiyya, because they, too, targeted such popular practices as tomb visitations as bidʿats, but it has to be said that even in the highly polarized environment of eleventh/seventeenth-century Istanbul, where their critics referred to the Kadızadelis regularly as “fanatics” (mutaʿaṣṣıbīn), “hypocrites” (mürāʾī), and “deniers” (münkirīn), no one associated them with Ibn Taymiyya, except perhaps indirectly in the context of the debates on tomb visitations and the congregational performance of supererogatory prayers.121 Thirdly, Sheikh’s claim that the Kadızadelis may have cited Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya as a safer choice than his teacher is based on the assumption that the writings of the two men were otherwise equally well known to eleventh/seventeenth-century Ottoman scholars. This was not actually the case, however, since as Caterina Bori has recently shown, even an unusually well-read bibliophile like Kātib Çelebi (d. 1067/1657) was far more familiar with the contents of the works of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya than with those of Ibn Taymiyya.122

In short, even if the Kadızadelis were more familiar with Ibn Taymiyya than they let on, the evidence at hand does not support the view that they represented on the whole a “school of Ibn Taymiyya” or even a distinctively “Taymiyyan” subcurrent of Hanafi-Maturidi Islam in the lands of Rum. Neither is it possible to say that they played an especially significant role in spreading the knowledge of Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya in the eleventh/seventeenth century. Today we know of only three manuscript copies of Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed’s Tācü’r-resāʾil anywhere, as opposed to ten manuscript copies of ‘Āşıḳ’s Miʿrācü’l-eyāle in Turkey alone.123 It was also only the latter version that was mentioned in Kātib Çelebi’s bibliographical compendium Kashf al-ẓunūn.124 It is telling, too, that Tācü’r-resāʾil was not copied together with other, more popular, works that were written by Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed for the benefit of Muslims in general. It seems that both versions of the translation ultimately catered to high-ranking members of the imperial administration than to either a more exclusively scholarly or a more popular readership.

Much the same observations can be made about the circulation of the Arabic originals of Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya in Istanbul in this period. Currently, Istanbul’s manuscript libraries contain twelve manuscript copies of the original Arabic epistle, roughly equal to the total number of copies of both versions of the Turkish transadaptations in the same collections. Judging by the codicological evidence, most, if not all, of these copies of the Arabic original had come into the possession of Istanbuli readers either in the late eleventh/seventeenth or in the early twelfth/eighteenth centuries. In fact, there may even have been something of a competition among the top-ranking Ottoman grandees to obtain precious copies of this work in this period. The şeyhü’l-islām Feyżullāh Efendi (d. 1115/1703), who was a former student and son-in-law of the “third-generation Kadızadeli leader” and preacher Vānī Meḥmed Efendi (d. 1096/1685), as well as one of the most well-read, most politically active (and most controversial) scholars of his time, evidently cared enough about the work to obtain an early and precious copy, one that had been copied in 850/1446–1447 to be presented to a high-placed Mamluk official.125 The grand vizier Şehīd ʿAlī Paşa (d. 1128/1716), who was also a known bibliophile, but who had nothing to do with the Kadızadelis and was in fact a Sufi sympathizer and even reputed to be a Bayrami-Melami ḳuṭb, also owned three copies of the work, one of which had been copied very early, in 780/1378–1379.126 It is evident that the interest in the tract (and its earliest copies) continued at the highest levels of the imperial hierarchy also in the twelfth/eighteenth century. We find two other Mamluk-era copies of the work in the library of Aḥmed III (r. 1115–1143/1703–30), dated 766/1363 and 797/1395, and four copies of the work in the library established by Maḥmūd I (r. 1143–1168/1730–54); two of the copies in Maḥmūd’s library also dated from the Mamluk era, from 744/1343 and 893/1488 specifically.127 The head of the scribal bureaucracy, Re’īsül-küttāb Muṣṭafā Efendi (d. 1162/1749), too, owned a copy, which bears the endowment date of 1154/1741–1742.128

Considering that all these individuals were known bibliophiles and founders of waqf libraries, it is reasonable to think that their demand for precious copies of al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya was fueled in part by their bibliophilia.129 But it cannot have been just the antiquarian appeal of the Mamluk-era Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya copies that recommended the text to the Ottoman readers. The latter must also have been interested in the subject matter, siyāsa sharʿiyya. What suggests this is the even greater popularity of Dede Cöngī’s Risāla fī l-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya starting slightly earlier. In fact, this decidedly more recent epistle dwarfs Ibn Taymiyya’s famous work in terms of its popularity with eleventh/seventeenth- and twelfth/eighteenth-century readers in the Ottoman capital. My preliminary research in the database of the Süleymaniye library in Istanbul in the summer of 2019 has revealed over 60 manuscript copies of Cöngī’s text, as compared to 12 manuscript copies of Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya.130 Of course, Cöngī’s text did not just circulate in Istanbul but also in other intellectual and administrative centers in the Ottoman lands, including the Arab provinces, but my point is that the text had a particular relevance for the Turcophone Rumi ruling cadres.131 This is also indicated by the fact that the Risāla fī l-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya was translated into Turkish no less than three times between the late eleventh/seventeenth and early thirteenth/nineteenth centuries. The earliest of these was a rather faithful translation made by Sebzī Seyyid Meḥmed Efendi (d. 1091/1680) sometime in the second half of the eleventh/seventeenth century and represented in Süleymaniye’s database with some ten manuscript copies, the earliest of which dates from 1121/1709.132

What is interesting is that Dede Cöngī’s text received all this attention after having hardly received any during the first 80 to 100 years of its existence. The earliest known extant manuscript copy of the work is dated 1054/1644–1645, followed by two other copies, dated 1067/1657 and 1069/1658.133 These were the years when Cöngī’s famous progeny, Minḳārīzāde Yaḥyā (d. 1088/1678), was climbing up the ranks of the Ottoman learned hierarchy to become eventually one of the longest serving şeyhü’l-islāms of the eleventh/seventeenth century. This raises the possibility that the text was brought to the attention of the wider public by either Minḳārīzāde or someone else who knew of the family connection between the two men. This possibility is also supported by the fact that the text’s first Turkish translator, Sebzī, introduces Cöngī as “the ancestor of Minḳārīzāde” (cedd-i Minḳārīzāde) in the preface to his translation of the text.134

Whatever the role of Minḳārīzāde was behind the rise of Cöngī’s Risāla fī l-siyāsa al-sharʿiyya from obscurity to fame, there was certainly a broader context to the interest that high-level Ottomans took in the siyāsa sharʿiyya literature, and more broadly, juristic works on rulership, in this period. From the appointment of Köprülü Meḥmed as grand vizier (1066/1656) to the Ottoman defeat at Vienna (1094/1683), a succession of viziers from the Köprülü household worked hard to restore the control of the imperial government over the myriad restless power groups, both in the capital and in the provinces, and while doing so, they leaned heavily on religiously inspired measures of social disciplining.135 It was also in this period that they introduced to the recently conquered island of Crete (1081/1670) and the resubdued Basra (1080/1669) a system of land tenure and taxation that was decidedly more “Islamic” than earlier Ottoman practices and that allowed for private ownership of land as well as heavier rates of taxation.136 Significantly, Ottoman experimentations with “sharʿī governance” continued also in the late eleventh/seventeenth and early twelfth/eighteenth centuries. The Ottoman poll-tax reforms and the short-lived attempt to abolish price ceilings (narh), both of which were instituted by the grand vizier Köprülüzāde Muṣṭafā in 1102/1691, and the abolition of some taxes and fines as bidʿats in the ḳānūnnāme of Midilli (Mytileni) in 1121/1709 can be mentioned as some pertinent examples.137 As Ekin Tuşalp Atiyas has pointed out, the Ottoman officials did not name specific texts but rather evoked the authority of either “the sharia” or “the books of Islamic jurisprudence” when they wanted to explain why they were breaking ways with some of the old Ottoman state traditions.138

A new disinclination to use the word ḳānūn on the part of the Ottoman imperial administration at the turn of the eleventh/seventeenth century went hand in hand with this development. This trend culminated in the famous decree of Muṣṭafā II in 1108/1696 that all Ottoman imperial orders from that point on reference only “the noble sharia” and not “couple the [terms] noble sharia and ḳānūn.”139 Of course, not all Ottoman men of letters and statesmen shared this aversion to the use of the word ḳānūn, as indicated by the continued references to ḳānūn in Ottoman political and historical literature throughout the eleventh/seventeenth century.140 Nor was the decree of 1108/1696 the end of the legislative functions of the Ottoman sultans. Quite to the contrary, in the twelfth/eighteenth century, the Ottoman rulers continued to make laws just as—if not more vigorously—and Muslim jurists referenced royal edicts even to a greater degree than before in their juridical rulings.141 However, now, the Ottoman rulers justified their lawmaking with reference to sharʿī norms first and foremost, and only secondarily with reference to their cumulative dynastic traditions. It was precisely this shift, I would argue, that also explains the main attraction of Cöngī’s modest treatise on siyāsa sharʿiyya to the later Ottomans. Cöngī had legitimated the Ottoman ḳānūn under the rubric of the Mamluk siyāsa and without so much as a reference to the Ottoman dynasty, styling it as the kind of siyāsa that serves “sharʿī ends” and safeguards public order. Even if Cöngī’s original concern had been to intervene in a debate centered in the empire’s newly annexed provinces of Egypt and Syria during the tenth/sixteenth century, his solution to that debate turned out to be just as relevant to the needs of the empire’s overwhelmingly Rumi ruling elites in the following century. It seems that this particular definition of ḳānūn, as ruler’s law in service of the divine law, which could be adjusted to the changing needs of the time, rather than as accretive dynastic custom, had won the day.


An earlier version of a section of this article was first published in Turkish in Terzioğlu, Bir tercüme 247–275. The research for the present article was supported by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2015–2020)/ERC Grant Agreement 648498, “The fashioning of a Sunni orthodoxy and the entangled histories of confession-building in the Ottoman Empire, 15th–17th centuries.” Tijana Krstić, Guy Burak, Baki Tezcan, Başak Tuğ, Ahmet Kaylı, Özgün Deniz Yoldaşlar, Arif Erbil, A. Vahdi Kanatsız, and Evren Sünnetçioğlu gave valuable feedback on this paper. I am grateful to them all. Naturally, I claim sole responsibility for all errors that remain.


For a view of the Hanafi legal school as the “default” or “semidefault” legal school in Ottoman Egypt, see Ibrahim, Pragmatism, esp. 139, 149–161; for a discussion of the same as the “state madhhab” in the Ottoman lands, see Burak, The second formation and Peters, What does it mean.


Bori, Ibn Taymiyya wa-jamāʿatuhu esp. 23–36; al-Matroudi, The Ḥanbalī school; Melchert, The relation of Ibn Taymiyya 146–161.


For a study that has argued for the marginality of Ibn Taymiyya among non-Hanbali scholars of the Ottoman period on the grounds summarized above, see el-Rouayheb, From Ibn Ḥajar al-Haytamī; for a study that has qualified this picture with new evidence for Ottoman scholarly awareness of Ibn Taymiyya, see Bori, Ibn Taymiyya (14th to 17th century) 112–120.


Ocak, XVII. Yüzyılda 208–225; Şimşek, Les controverses; Öztürk, Islamic orthodoxy; Çavuşoğlu, The Ḳāḍizādeli, esp. 39–47, 93–100; Lekesiz, XVI. Yüzyıl; Michot, Introduction 1–4, 18–19, 37–39; Sheikh, Taymiyyan influences 1–20; Sheikh, Ottoman puritanism, 93; Sheikh, Taymiyyan taṣawwuf; Evstatiev, The Qāḍīzādeli movement and the spread 3–34; Evstatiev, The Qāḍīzādeli movement and the revival 213–243; Currie, Kadızadeli 1–25. Note that Michot and Sheikh reject the “Salafi” label as anachronistic and inappropriate for both Ibn Taymiyya and the Kadızadelis.


Radtke, Birgiwīs Ṭarīqa Muḥammadiyya, 159–174; el-Rouayheb, From Ibn Ḥajar al-Haytamī 303–304; Martı, Birgivî 65–68; Ivanyi, Virtue, esp. 76–82.


Laoust, Ibn Taymiyya 951–955.


Ibid. 952.


Laoust, Essai 278–315.


Hassan, Modern interpretations 338–366; Hassan, Longing 111–115.


Anjum, Politics.


Ibid.; Belhaj, Law and order 401, 409, 420–421; Bori, One or two versions 6–7.


Ibn Taymiyya, al-Siyāsa 163; for the English translation, see Ibn Taimiyya on public 187. Henceforth, references will be given to both versions, separated by a slash. Note that there is also a longer version of this epistle, which remains in manuscript form, but it was far less widely circulated and was not the one to be translated into Turkish, so it will not be referenced here. For a discussion of the differences between the two versions, see Bori, One or two versions.


Bosworth, Netton and Vogel, Siyāsa 693–696; see also Belhaj, Law and order 401–402.


For a discussion of Ibn Taymiyya’s views on amr bi-l-maʿrūf and its connection to his political thought, see Cook, Commanding right 151–157.


Johansen, Signs as evidence 168–193.


On the earlier history of the corpus, see Massud, The doctrine of siyāsa; Belhaj, Law and order 402–403. Even though siyāsa sharʿiyya as a juridical concept was given full force by Ibn Taymiyya, Belhaj points out that the concept was already being used by Muḥyī l-Dīn Ibn ʿArabī a century earlier.


Lev, Symbiotic relations; Stilt, Islamic law.


Rapoport, Royal justice 71–102; Rapoport, Legal diversity 210–228; see also Nielsen, Secular justice.


Rapoport, Royal justice 95–96. For a debunking of the claim of Chinggisid influence over Mamluk siyāsa, see Ayalon, The great yāsa 107–156.


Rapoport, Royal justice 95–96.


Burak, Between the ḳānūn esp. 20–23.


Sariyannis, A history 433–434.


Tursun Bey, Târîh-i Ebü’l-Feth 10–12.


For examples of the interchangeable use of ḳānūn and yasa in the Rumi/Ottoman context, see Burak, The second formation 595–597.


For preliminary findings on scholarly mobility in the Ottoman realms, see Ökten, Scholarly mobility; Burak, The second formation, ch. 4; Karamustafa, Saraydan 55–56; Taşkömür, Books 395–396. On the roles played by scholars in Mamluk-Ottoman diplomatic relations, see Muslu, The Ottomans esp. 25–28.


Taşkömür, Books 397; on Ṭarābulusī’s life and career, see Karaman, Trablusî. Muʿīn al-ḥukkām will be discussed further below as one of the primary sources of Cöngī’s epistle.


For a study of the life and scholarly contributions of Ḳāfiyeci and the Arabic edition and Turkish translation of his two aforementioned works, see el-Kâfiyeci, Seyfü’l-mülûk; for a discussion of these works, see also Köksal, Fıkıh ve siyaset 159–168. Sayf al-mulūk must have entered the Ottoman palace library after 908–909/1502–1504, since the text does not appear in the inventory made by the librarian Hayre’d-dīn Hıżır ‘Aṭūfī then. On Ḳāfiyeci’s relation to Maḥmūd Pasha and the works he devoted to the latter, which were also transferred to the palace library, see Taşkömür, Books 398. In the mid-tenth/sixteenth century, Ḳāfiyeci’s ties with the Ottoman world were deemed sufficient for Ṭaşköprüzāde to include him in his biographical dictionary of the scholars of Rum; see Taşköprülüzâde, eş-Şakâ’iḳ 118–122.


On the impact of the rise of the Safavids on Ottoman imperial ideology and on Ottoman religious and political culture more generally, see Sohrweide, Der Sieg; Eberhard, Osmanische Polemik; Üstün, Heresy; Fleischer, The Lawgiver; Dressler, Inventing; Al-Tikriti, Kalam; Krstić, Illuminated; Krstić, Contested conversions; Krstić, From shahāda; Krstić, State and religion; Terzioğlu, Where ʿilm-i ḥāl meets; Terzioğlu, How to conceptualize; Burak, Faith; Şahin, Empire 205–213; Çıpa, The making; Atçıl, The Safavid threat.


It seems that the Ottoman şeyhü’l-islāms Kemālpaşazāde and Ebū’s-suʿūd drew especially on Maliki and Shafi‘i works and only secondarily on Hanbali ones in this context. On the verifiable instances of borrowing, see Üstün, Heresy 240–268; Al-Tikriti, Kalam; for inconclusive evidence about the use of a work by Ibn Taymiyya by the Ottoman scholar and lettrist ʿAbdu’r-raḥmān al Bisṭāmī (d. 858/1454), see Gril, Ésotérisme 192.


On the scholarly exchanges between Rumi and Egyptian and Syrian scholars during the tenth/sixteenth century, see Winter, Society and religion 185–188; Meshal, Antagonistic sharīʿas; Burak, Faith, law and empire; Burak, The second formation esp. chs. 2–4; Pfeifer, Encounter; see also Pfeifer’s essay in this volume. On the anti-yasa/yasağ discourse of the Syrian and Egyptian scholars in this period, see Burak, Between the ḳānūn 15–20; for a more nuanced (albeit still critical) assessment of the Ottoman legal system by the Egyptian scholar Zayn al-Dīn Ibn Nujaym (d. 970/1563), see Ayoub, Law, empire, and the sultan 31–63.


Interestingly, a later copyist found it appropriate to excerpt this passage right before a copy of Cöngī’s Risāla fī l-siyāsa al-sharʿiyya. The excerpt is titled, “Siyāsa from the Risāla al-Taʿrīb by Ibn Kemālpaşa,” in MS Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi (hereafter SK), MS Esad Efendi 924, 166a.


Tezcan, Ethics 118–120.


For the anonymous author’s references to his participation in the Egyptian campaign, see Yücel (ed.), Osmanlı devlet, 125; for the other references to Egypt or “the Arab lands” (Arabistan), see Ibid., 94–95, 110, 123, 124; for the polemics against ḳānūn-minded conservatism, see Ibid., 93–94, 111, 118, 120–121; for references to (Ottoman) yasağ, see Ibid., 98, 101–104, 109, 114. Note that Yücel misdates the text to ca. 1046–1050/1637–40; for the correct dating, see Tezcan, The “Kânûnnâme of Mehmed II” 658–659. The grand vizier addressed in the treatise must have been Rüstem Pasha (d. 968/1561), Semiz ʿAlī Pasha (d. 972/1565), or Soḳullu Meḥmed Pasha (d. 987/1579).


Gel, XVI. Yüzyılın; Mandaville, Usurious piety.


İnalcık, Islamization; Akgündüz (ed.), Osmanlı kanunnâmeleri iv, 29–121; Imber, Ebu’s-suʿud esp. chs. 2 and 5; Buzov, The Lawgiver; on the relationship of ḳānūn and sharia more generally, see also Barkan, XV ve XVIıncı asırlarda; Barkan, Kanun-nâme; Heyd, Studies; Repp, R., Qānūn and sharīʿa; Peirce, Morality tales; Ergene, Qanun and sharia; Peters, Crime and punishment.


On Cöngī’s biography, see Akgündüz, Dede Cöngī; Ali b. Bâlî, El-Ikdü’l-manzûm 232–235; Atâyî, Hadâik i, 503–505.


Admittedly, Hüsrev Pasha had died a year before Dede Cöngī was appointed mudarris in the Hüsrev Paşa madrasa in Aleppo, but it is possible that the pasha’s family remembered and honored the ties of clientage that had been formed between the two men after his death. While Hüsrev Pasha had served in numerous positions throughout his eventful career, it is noteworthy that his tenure as governor-general of Rumeli and then vizier (943–951/1537–1544) overlapped in time with the tenure of Ebū’s-suʿūd as military justice (ḳāḍīʿasker) of Rumeli (944–952/1537–1545). On the pasha’s life, see Özcan, Hüsrev Paşa, Deli.


Dede Cöngī, Risāla fī Amwāli bayti-l-māl 1b–2a; for a modern Turkish translation in slightly abbreviated form and the facsimile respectively, see Akgündüz (ed.), Osmanlı kanunnâmeleri iv, 217–218, 236–237. This treatise will not be discussed here, as there is no reference in it to either al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya or to any other work that draws on the latter text.


Dede Cöngī, Siyāsetnāme/Risāla fī l-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya SK, MS Esad Efendi 3610/6, 156b–164b (copied in 1054/1644–1645). Because the author does not mention his name within the text, the attribution to Cöngī has been based on the attribution of the vast majority of the later copyists and readers as well as the first translator of the work into Turkish. A minority of Ottoman readers and copyists, however, ascribed the work to other scholars. While most of these other attributions can be discarded as unfounded, one deserves further investigation. This is the attribution to the Egyptian Hanafi jurist Zayn al-Dīn Ibn Nujaym (d. 970/1563). Ibn Nujaym is identified as the author of Risāla fī l-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya in three manuscripts preserved in Süleymaniye library (MS Hacı Mahmud Efendi 1097/1, 14a; MS Hüsrev Paşa 758/3, 29a and MS, Reşid Ef 1027/13, 128a), while in two others in the same library (MS Carullah 2120/2 and MS Laleli 961/4), he is identified as the author in the online library catalogue, but not in the manuscripts themselves. None of these manuscript copies are dated. Apparently, the text is attributed to Ibn Nujaym also in an undated manuscript preserved in Al-kutubkhāna al-Khidwiyya al-Mıṣriyya, MS Fiqh Ḥanafī 1160; for a description, see Dede Efendi, al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya 18–19. What makes Ibn Nujaym an intriguing possibility is the fact that he was a contemporary of Cöngī and had a more nuanced view of the Ottoman imperial order than some other Egyptian scholars of the period. According to Samy A. Ayoub, Ibn Nujaym accepted Ottoman rule to be legitimate, but criticized “the corruption and abuse of power within it.” He also engaged with the concept of siyāsa in his Baḥr al-rāʾiq (The clear sea), albeit in a different manner from the Risāla fī l-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya. Whereas the treatment of siyāsa in Risāla fī l-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya bears a strong imprint of the thought of the Mamluk-era Hanafi jurist Ṭarābulusī and, to a lesser extent, of the Hanbali jurist Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Ibn Nujaym took his definition of siyāsa from Maqrizī. Ibn Nujaym also vehemently rejected the roles played by kadis in the application of siyāsa in direct contrast to the author of the Risāla fī l-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya. On Ibn Nujaym’s views on siyāsa and the Ottoman imperial authority, see Ayoub, Law, empire, and the sultan 54–64; for Cöngī’s views, see below.


Fitzgerald, Murder in Aleppo 185, 188, 195–197.


Yılmaz, Caliphate 85.


For the complete list of the sources cited by Dede Cöngī, see Köksal, Fıkıh ve siyaset 197–200.


Heyd, Studies in old Ottoman 199; Köksal, Fıkıh ve siyaset 225; Sariyannis, A history 105. Differently from the other scholars, Köksal acknowledges that Ibn Taymiyya is not mentioned by name, but still assumes that Dede Cöngī utilized his text particularly in the early sections of the treatise.


To give an idea, no copy of Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya is mentioned in the 908–909/1502–1504 inventory of the Ottoman palace library; for the facsimile and transliteration of the inventory, see Necipoğlu et al. (eds.), Treasures ii. Moreover, a preliminary codicological investigation of eleven of the twelve manuscript copies of Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya in Istanbul libraries suggest that none of these texts had come into the possession of Rumi readers before the mid-tenth/sixteenth century. See footnotes 125–128.


Dede Efendi, al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya 74–76; cf. Ṭarābulusī, Muʿīn al-ḥukkām 138a–b.


Dede Efendi, al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya 73.


Ibid. 74–76.


Ibid. 83. On the views of Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya on fasād, see Belhaj, Law and order 409–412; for near contemporary Hanafi jurists’ use of the same concept to accommodate legal change, see Reinhart, When women went to mosques 119–122; Terzioğlu, Bidʿat, custom; for Shafi‘i examples, see Katz, The “corruption of the times.”


Dede Efendi, al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya 84, 86.


Yılmaz, Caliphate 86; Khadduri, Maṣlaḥa 738–740; Mandaville, Usurious piety.


Dede Efendi, al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya 75, 84, 86. On the use of “qānūn” in the sense of “principle,” or “standard,” see Burak, Between the ḳānūn 7–8 and Ferguson, The proper order 72–74.


Heyd, Studies 202.


Dede Efendi, al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya 77 (death by strangling), 78, 81–82 (punishment of “sodomites”), 90–92 (admission of circumstantial evidence), 92–94 (use of torture to force a culprit to admit crime), 103–104 (killing a few in order to avert harm to the many). For the relevant practices in the Ottoman ḳānūnnāmes, see Heyd, Studies 30, 64, 77–80, 102–103, 116–118; Akgündüz (ed.), Osmanlı kanunnâmeleri i, 328; iv, 296–298, 302, 369–370; for a comparison of the punishments prescribed for “sodomites” by jurists of different madhhabs as well as by ḳānūn, see el-Rouayheb, Before homosexuality 118–128.


Dede Efendi, al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya 77–78. On this anti-ghulāt report, see Anthony, The caliph and the heretic 161–194.


For a different interpretation, see Midilli, Dede Cöngi’nin 241, 244–255.


For a nuanced discussion of the Ottoman justice distribution and promotion of kadi courts as its principal venue in the tenth/sixteenth century, see Peirce, Morality tales 86–125, 311–348. On the place of kadi courts versus other venues of justice distribution in the early modern Ottoman Empire, which reflect a different, twelfth/eighteenth-century perspective, see Ergene, Local court, ch. 9, Aykan, Rendre la justice 52–86, Tuğ, Politics of honor 185–244 and Baldwin, Islamic law, chs. 2, 3, and 5.


Dede Efendi, al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya 105–120.


Âşık Çelebi, Mi‘râcü’l-eyâle 55–56.


In addition to Ibn Taymiyya’s siyāsa al-sharʿiyya, ʿĀşıḳ Çelebi translated into Turkish the Arabic version of Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazalī’s (d. 505/1111) al-Tibr al-masbūk fī naṣīḥat al-mulūk and Muḥyī’d-dīn Haṭībzāde’s (d. 940/1534) Rawḍ al-akhyār, which was an abridged compilation of those chapters of Zamakhsharī’s (d. 538/1144) Rabīʿ l-abrār that deal with rulership. Probably ʿĀşıḳ chose to translate these works because of their popularity with Ottoman readers.


His teacher, ʿAbd al-Raḥīm al-ʿAbbāsī (d. 963/1556), of the ʿAbbasid family, was a hadith scholar who had come to Istanbul from Cairo following the Ottoman conquest. He was, by lineage, a Hanbali, but had switched over to the Shafi‘i school at a later point in his life. On this scholar, see Öznurhan, Abbâsî, Abdürrrahîm 5–6 and Pfeifer’s essay in this volume; for the argument that ʿAbbāsī may have been the conduit by which both Çivizāde and ʿĀşıḳ discovered Ibn Taymiyya, see Gel, XVI. Yüzyılın 182.


Âşık Çelebi, Mi‘râcü’l-eyâle 56–57; for the date of composition, see ibid. 203–204.


Ibid. 232. For another work ʿĀşıḳ presented to Soḳollu, see ʿĀşıḳ Çelebi, Dhayl. For another eulogistic mention of the grand vizier, see Âşık Çelebi, Meşâʿirü’ş-şuʿarâ iii, 1179.


On Soḳollu and İsmihān’s patronage of Nūre’d-dīnzāde, see Necipoğlu, The age 345–368 and Yürekli, A building 159–185.


Atâyî, Hadâik i, 633.


Hagen, Translations 95–134.


Âşık Çelebi, Mi‘râcü’l-eyâle 57.


Ibn Taymiyya, al-Siyāsa 18–19, 161/Ibn Taimiyya 12–13, 183; cf. Âşık Çelebi, Mi‘râcü’l-eyâle 40–41, 183.


Âşık Çelebi, Mi‘râcü’l-eyâle 41.


Ibid. 42.


On the importance of Sufi themes in tenth/sixteenth-century Ottoman political thought and culture, see Yılmaz, Caliphate.


Âşık Çelebi, Mi‘râcü’l-eyâle 46.


Ibid. 46–55.


On the limited role of dynasticism under the Mamluks, see Ayalon, Mamlūk military aristocracy 205–210; Holt, The position; Levanoni, The Mamluk conception; Richards, Mamluk amirs 36–37; Yosef, Mamluks and their relatives.


Âşık Çelebi, Mi‘râcü’l-eyâle 42. For broader perspectives on Ottoman royal genealogies in the tenth/sixteenth century, see Flemming, Political genealogies.


For a slightly later Ottoman text that mentions the Ottoman sultans’ devotion to Sunni Islam and the Hanafi madhhab as the first of the 20 qualities that made them superior to other dynasties, see Taʿlīḳīzāde, Taʿlīḳī-zāde’s Şehnāme 116.


Gazā does, nevertheless, surface as a theme in the treatise of advice ʿĀşıḳ appended to the very end of his supplements. This treatise, presented as a text that was written by Aristotle for Alexander the Great, is a Turkish translation of an Arabic text with some references to contemporary Ottoman practices. For the references to gazā, see Âşık Çelebi, Mi‘râcü’l-eyâle 211, 213; for the complete treatise, see 211–231; for the original Arabic text and another Turkish translation made in the reign of Meḥmed III (1003–1012/1595–1603), see İhsanoğlu, Osmanlı askerlik literatürü ii, 686–687.


On the Ottoman aspirations for world conquest during the early part of the long reign of Süleymān, see Fleischer, The Lawgiver; Necipoğlu, Süleyman the Magnificent; Turan, The sultan’s favorite; Şahin, Empire, ch. 6.


Casale, The Ottoman age, ch. 5.


Âşık Çelebi, Mi‘râcü’l-eyâle 44.


Ibid. 42.


Ibid. 69–79.


Ibid. 84–88.


Ibid. 198–201.


Ibid. 192–198. The documents in question are 1) an “ahidnâme” sent by the Prophet Muḥammad to the generality of Christians, 2) an “ahidnâme” sent by the Christians of Damascus and Aleppo to ʿUmar b. al-Haṭṭāb (d. 23/644), and 3) a letter sent by the Prophet Muḥammad to Bahraan of Yemen. The first of these documents is actually identical to the charter that had been preserved by the monks of St. Catherine in Mt. Sinai and which would be used by them multiple times to defend their foundations against state encroachment. Since in the charter in question Muḥammad promises to Christians that Muslims would not interfere with the appointments of church officials, destroy or confiscate church properties, or use them to build mosques, this document relates directly to ʿĀşıḳ’s critique of the Ottoman confiscation of Christian endowments, discussed below. For differing perspectives on the “charter” and its authenticity, see Moritz, Beiträge; Atiya, The Arabic manuscripts; Morrow, The covenants. For other contemporary Ottoman documents that cite the “charter,” see Acun, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nda and Ferīdūn Bey, Münşeʾātü’s-selāṭīn, SK, MS Ragıp Paşa 1521, 20b–21a. The second document included by ʿĀşıḳ is a version of the so-called “pact of ʿUmar.” On the complex history of this document and its multiple versions, see Cohen, What was the Pact of ʿUmar? As for the third document, ʿĀşıḳ says he took it from Abū Yūsuf’s (d. 182/798) Kitāb al-kharāj, a text that would become progressively more important for the way the Ottomans understood their land regime in the eleventh/seventeenth century.


Âşık Çelebi, Mi‘râcü’l-eyâle 201–211.


Imber, Ebu’s-suʿud 124–125; Greene, The Edinburgh 68.


Âşık Çelebi, Mi‘râcü’l-eyâle 202–204.


Ibid. 206.


On the “crisis of the monasteries,” see Fotić, The official; Alexander, The Lord giveth; Kermeli, Ebū’s-suʿūd’s; Kermeli, Central administration; Kolovos, Christian vakıfs. For the fatwas issued on this issue, see Ebū’s-suʿūd, Şeyhülislâm 163–164, 168–169.


Kermeli, Central administration.


Sariyannis, A history 104–105; on Ibn Taymiyya’s fatwa on church waqfs, see Welle, The status.


This omission was first pointed out by Köksal, Fıkıh ve siyaset 171; for the original text, see Ibn Taymiyya, al-Siyāsa 90/Ibn Taimiyya 98.


This omission was first pointed out by Köksal, Fıkıh ve siyaset 171; Ibn Taymiyya, al-Siyāsa 93/ Ibn Taimiyya 102.


This omission was first pointed out by Furat, Selefiliğin 221; compare Ibn Taymiyya, al-Siyāsa 109–110/Ibn Taimiyya 120 and Âşık Çelebi, Mi‘râcü’l-eyâle 145–146.


Âşık Çelebi, Mi‘râcü’l-eyâle 144–149.


Ibid. 125–126; cf. Ibn Taymiyya, al-Siyāsa 76–80/Ibn Taimiyya 79–82.


Âşık Çelebi, Mi‘râcü’l-eyâle 150–151; cf. Ibn Taymiyya, al-Siyāsa 119/Ibn Taimiyya 130–131. For a foray into the genealogy of the notion of “perpetrators of mischief in the land” (sāʿī bi-l-fasād fī l-ʿarż), see Aykan, A legal concept.


Ebū’s-suʿūd actually states this explicitly in one of his fatwas; see Ebū’s-suʿūd, Şeyhülislâm 174–175. Other jurists in other contexts, however, made the Shi‘ite-Kızılbaş distinction differently, as did the political authorities; see Winter, The Shiites 12–20; cf. Imber, The persecution 245.


Burak, The second formation.


Cases in point would be his views on the Buyids, discussed above, and his views on antinomian dervish poets, discussed in Anetshofer, Meşâ’irü’ş-Şu’arâ.


Âşık Çelebi, Mi‘râcü’l-eyâle 208.


Andrews and Kalpaklı, The age of beloveds 307, 351–352.


See footnote 4. For broader perspectives on the Kadızadelis, see Zilfi, The Kadızadelis 262–265; Zilfi, Politics of piety 146–159; Baer, Honored; Sariyannis, The Kadızadeli movement; Terzioğlu, Sunna-minded; Tuşalp Atiyas, Sunna-minded trends; Tezcan, The portrait; Shafir, Moral revolutions.


For a detailed discussion of the relationship between the two texts, see Terzioğlu, Bir tercüme 264–268. For the correction of the identity of Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed who claimed the work (and several other works of political advice), see Tezcan, The portrait 215–229.


Ibid. 197–215, 241–244; for Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed’s Naqshbandi affiliation, see also his poem recorded in SK, MS Yazma Bağışlar 5563, 47a. Until Tezcan’s article, the biography of Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed was based largely on the information provided by Katib Çelebi, The balance 132–136.


Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed, Nuṣḥü’l-ḥükkām sebebü’n-niẓām 2b–3a.


Tezcan, The second Ottoman Empire 118–119.


Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed, Duʿānāme 114b–118b (written on the occasion of Murād’s accession to the throne in 1032/1623); Naẓm fī ʿilmi’l-ʿaḳāʾid 4b–67a (composed in 1037/1627–1628); Naṣīḥatnāme 119a–136a; Pādişāh-ı ʿālempenāh ḥażretlerine neṣāyiḥ-i kes̱īre 140a–145a; Naṣru’l-aṣḥāb ve ḳahru’s-sebbāb 1a–48b; Nuṣḥü’l-ḥükkām sebebü’n-niẓām 2b–70a (composed in 1040/1630–1631); Mesmūʿatü’l-neḳāyih mecmūʿatü’n-neṣāyiḥ (composed in 1041/1631–1632); Tācü’r-resāʾil ve minhācü’l-vesāʾil. For a critical edition of the Duʿānāme, see Deniz, Kadızade; for a critical edition of Naẓm fī ʿilmi’l-ʿaḳāʾid, see Karaca, Kadızâde and Büyükkeçeci, Kadızâde; for a modern Turkish publication of another version of the ḳaṣīde, see Ürekli, Dördüncü Murad.


Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed, Tācü’r-resāʾil 12a.


Ibid. 121a.


Ibid. 11a–b.


Ibid. 8a–b. Even though the Ottoman fascination with Alexander the Great has been said to be more a phenomenon of the ninth/fifteenth and early tenth/sixteenth centuries, there are also other eleventh/seventeenth-century Ottoman texts featuring Alexander as an ideal ruler. For explorations of the Ottoman Alexander corpus, listed in the order of their chronological focus, see Kastritsis, The Alexander romance; Beaudoen, Mirrors; Krstić, Of translation 134–136; Şen, The dream; on the Ottoman versions of the book of advice supposed to have been written by Aristotle for Alexander, see Yılmaz, Caliphate 63–64.


For excerpts from the pseudo-Aristotelian Kitāb Sırr al-asrār, see Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed, Mesmūʿatü’l-neḳāyih 8b–12b.


See, for instance, Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed, Risāle-i Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed 94b–103a; Risāle-i Īmān ve İslām 103b–107b; Risāle-i Ṣalāṭ 44b–47a. For an analysis of Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed’s religio-legal writings aimed at a wider audience, see Tezcan, A canon of disenchantment.


Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed, Tācü’r-resāʾil 10a–11a; Mesmūʿatü’l-neḳāyih 110a–111b; Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed also praises the same work in a letter he wrote to the şeyhü’l-islām Hocazāde Meḥmed, see Tezcan, The portrait 207, 214.


Michot, Introduction; Sheikh, Ottoman puritanism; Sheikh, Taymiyyan influences; Sheikh, Taymiyyan taṣawwuf.


Sheikh, Taymiyyan influences 17–19; Ottoman puritanism 128–131.


Sheikh, Taymiyyan influences 12–17; Ottoman puritanism 118–128.


For the relevant scholarship, see footnote 6. Other than the passages identified by Sheikh, the arguments that Birgivī was a crypto-Taymiyyan have been based largely on the misattribution to him of works that were authored by Aḳḥiṣārī; for the correction of these misattributions and a discussion of their implications, see Kaylı, A critical study 52–81, 119–125, 137–139, 141–142.


It seems that Sheikh is not aware of the existence of either the Miʿrācü’l-eyāle or Tācü’r-resāʾil, or for that matter, the Risāla fī l-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya, for he lists the “theology of liberation” that he finds in Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya among the factors that would have made the Hanbali scholar an anathema among the Ottomans; see Sheikh, Ottoman puritanism 129–130.


For references to Ibn Taymiyya in the context of the eleventh/seventeenth-century Ottoman debate on tomb visitations, see ʿAbdü’l-mecīd Sivāsī, Dürer-i ʿaḳāʾid 81a–82a; Katib Çelebi, The balance 93. Of these commentators, Sivāsī (d. 1049/1639) was a learned Halveti shaykh, an ardent supporter of Ottoman Sunnism, and, in the last decade of his life, a vocal adversary of Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed, while Kātib Çelebi stood equidistant to both the Kadızadelis and their critics. Notwithstanding their differences, both of these writers agreed that Ibn Taymiyya had been an indisputably errant figure and had erred also in taking a radical stance against tomb visitations. Both also discounted his views by noting how he had been branded an unbeliever “by the generality of the ulema of Egypt” and died in jail. It was in a very similar manner that the Celveti Sufi master İsmaʿīl Ḥaḳḳī Bursevī (d. 1137/1725) brought up the name of Ibn Taymiyya to delegitimate the attack against the Regāʾib and Berāt prayers in his own time. On this, see Cengiz, İsmail Hakkı Bursevî 135.


Bori, Ibn Taymiyya (14th to 17th century) 115–117; see also 112–115 for observations about knowledge of Ibn Taymiyya in other parts of the Ottoman Empire in this period.


Ḳāḍīzāde Meḥmed, Tācü’r-resāʾil, SK, MS Hacı Mahmud Efendi 1926; Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi Kütüphanesi (hereafter TSMK), MS Hazine 371/1, 1a–48a; Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, MS Diez A quart 46. This last copy bears a reader’s note dated 1047/1637–1638 (ia), indicating that the work must have been copied before that date. The other copies are undated. Cf. ʿĀşıḳ, Miʿrācü’l-eyāle TSMK, MS Revan 1610 (copied in 1005/1596–1597); SK, MS Reisülküttab 1006 (copied in 1008/1600); Nuruosmaniye MS 2315 (copied in 1009/1600); SK, MS Esad Efendi 1901 (copied in 1011/1602); SK, MS Esad Efendi 1803/1, 1b–94b (copied in 1054/1644); TSMK, MS Hazine 1768/1, 1b–117a (copied in 1088/1677–1678); Milli Kütüphane, MS A. 8112; SK, MS Şehid Ali Paşa 1556; SK, MS Çelebi Abdullah Efendi 51/2, 38b–217b; Yapı Kredi Sermet Çifter Araştırma Kütüphanesi, MS Türkçe Yazmalar 466/1.


Katib Çelebi, Keşf el-zünun ii, 1011.


For the copy, see Ibn Taymiyya, al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya, Millet Kütüphanesi, MS Feyzullah 1290 (copied by ‘Alī b. Süleymān in 850/1446–1447); the text is also listed in Feyżu’llāh’s endowment deed; Feyzullah Efendi Vakfiyesi, Millet Kütüphanesi, MS Feyzullah 2189, 223a; on Feyżu’llāh, see Meservey, Feyzullah; Abou-el-haj, The 1703 rebellion; Nizri, Ottoman high politics, esp. ch. 1.


Ibn Taymiyya, al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya, SK, MS Şehid Ali Paşa 1553/1, 1–76 (copied in 780/1378–1379); SK, MS Şehid Ali Paşa 1544 (copied by Muṣliḥu’d-dīn Ebū’l-hayr Aḥmed in Istanbul in Ẕī’l-ḥicce 1109/1698); SK MS Şehid Ali Paşa 1543 (previously owned by a certain Ḥüseyin in 1011/1602–1603). On the first of these manuscripts, see Bori, One or two versions; on Şehīd ʿAlī Pasha, see Özcan, Şehid Ali Paşa; Gölpınarlı, Melâmîlik 165–166.


For manuscripts of Ibn Taymiyya’s al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya in the collection of Aḥmed III, see TSMK, MS Ahmet III 1118 (copied in 797/1395) and TSMK, MS Ahmet III 117 (copied in 766/1363), and Karatay, Topkapı Sarayı Müzesi Kütüphanesi Arapça yazmalar ii, #4660, #4661. For manuscripts of the same work in the collection of Maḥmūd I, see SK, MS Ayasofya 2886/1 (copied in 893/ 1488); SK, MS Ayasofya 2887 (copied in 999/1591); SK, MS Ayasofya 2888; 2889 (copied in 744/1343).


Ibn Taymiyya, al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya, SK, MS Reisülküttap 528. This seems to be a twelfth/eighteenth-century manuscript. Other manuscript copies of the work preserved in Istanbul libraries are SK, MS Yahya Tevfik 270, which is undated but has an owner’s note dated 1186/1772–1773 and Bayezid, MS 1987, which was inaccessible at the time of research for this paper.


Erünsal, Osmanlılarda kütüphaneler; Sezer, The architecture of bibliophilia.


For a partial list, see Bibliography.


For some copies of the text preserved in libraries in such cities as Cairo and Riyad, see Dede Efendi, al-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya 5–20.


For the Latinized transcription of Sebzī Efendi’s translation, see Açık, Dede Cöngî’nin; for manuscript copies, see MS SK, Hacı Mahmud Efendi 1914; MS Millet K, A.E. Şeriyye 398 (copied in 1199/1784–1785); MS SK, Hüsrev Paşa 639/4, 195–244; MS Milli Ktp, A 9124; MS Nuruosmaniye, 203/2; MS Beyazit Devlet K, Bayezit 4790; MS Beyazit Devlet K, Bayezit 4890 (copied in 1150/1737–1738); MS SK, Hacı Mahmud Efendi 1914; MS Nuruosmaniye 4982/1, 1b–35b (copied in 1121/1709); MS Nuruosmaniye 4892/3, 71–105. For the translations made by İsmāʿīl Müfīd Efendi (d. 1217/1802) and by the şeyhü’l-islām Meşrebzāde ʿĀrif Efendi (d. 1275/1858), see Akgündüz (ed.), Osmanlı kanunnameleri iv, 122–212; Erten, Tercüme-i Siyâsetnâme’nin tahlîli and Erel, Dede Cöngi’s.


Dede Cöngī, Siyāsetnāme/Risāla fī l-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya, SK, MS Şehid Ali Paşa 2725/55, 254–262 (copied in Ẕī’l-ḳaʿde 1054/December 1644-January 1645); SK, MS Ragıp Paşa 639/3, 130b–142a (copied in 1067/1656–1657); Diyarbakır İl Halk Kütüphanesi, MS 104/2, 24b–37a (copied in 1069/1658); SK, MS Esad Efendi 924/4, 166b–187a (copied in 1083/1672–1673).


Until now, the main source of the claim about the family relationship between the two men was the preface to the first Turkish translation of Cöngī’s Risāla fī l-Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya; for the reference, see Açık, Dede Cöngî’nin 8. A recent discovery by Özgün Deniz Yoldaşlar, who is currently writing his PhD thesis on Minḳārīzāde, has thrown up new evidence in strong support of this conclusion. The evidence in question is a note made by Minḳārīzāde Yaḥyā in his copy of Dede Cöngī’s supercommentary on Taftāzānī’s commentary on ʿIzz al-dīn al-Zanjānī’s al-ʿIzzī fī-l-taṣrīf, and reads: “This is the supercommentary of the maternal ancestor of this poor slave on the commentary on Zanjānī by Saʿdü’l-mille ve’d-dīn and I am the sinner, Yaḥyā, son of ʿÖmer (May He forgive both).” See Dede Cöngī, Ḥāshiyya ʿalā sharḥ al-ʿIzzī fī-l-taṣrīf, SK, MS Murad Molla 1734, 1a. I thank Yoldaşlar for allowing me to share this important finding.


Among the measures of “social disciplining” deployed in this period were the bans on wine taverns, coffeehouses, and alehouses, and even on the trade in coffee and tobacco; the prohibition of the Sufi devrān and the Mevlevi semāʿ, and the banishment of Sufi shaykhs who did not abide by this prohibition. The Köprülüs also revived the early eleventh/seventeenth-century project of reclaiming Eminönü for the Muslims and pushing the Jews and Christians residing there to the outer skirts of the city. For differing perspectives on these policies, see Baer, Honored; Thys-Şenocak, The Yeni Valide complex; Yıldız, 1660. For an aborted attempt to reform the religious beliefs and practices of Ottoman Muslims circa 1113/1702, see Abou-el-Haj, Formation 51–52, 91–97.


For differing perspectives on the land tenure and taxation system implemented in Crete, see Veinstein, On the çiftlik debate; Veinstein, Le législateur ottoman; Veinstein, Les règlements fiscaux; Greene, An Islamic experiment; Greene, A shared world 25–29; Kermeli, Caught in between faith and cash; Kolovos, Beyond “classical” Ottoman defterology; on the system implemented in Basra, see Khoury, Administrative practice.


On the 1102/1691 reforms, see Sariyannis, Notes on the Ottoman poll-tax reforms; Tuşalp Atiyas, The Sunna-minded trend 272–276. On Köprülüzāde Muṣṭafā’s justification of the reforms on sharʿī grounds, see Defterdar Sarı Mehmed Paşa, Zübde-i vekayiât 387–389. On the ḳānūnnāme of Mytileni (Midilli), see the studies cited in footnote 136.


Tuşalp Atiyas, The sunna-minded trend, esp. 238–239, 265–272.


Heyd, Studies in old Ottoman, 154–155.


Abou-El-Haj, Power and social order; Tezcan, The second Ottoman Empire esp. 49–58; Darling, A history of social justice, 146–148; Ferguson, The proper order, ch. 6; Sariyannis, A history, chs. 4–8.


On the continued relevance of ḳānūn during the twelfth/eighteenth century, see Tuğ, Politics of honor 55–67; on the progressive incorporation of royal edicts into the fatwa texts of Ottoman ulama, see Ayoub, The sulṭān says. On the role of state authorities in law enforcement and social and moral regulation in the twelfth/eighteenth century, see also Ergene, Local court; Semerdjian, “Off the straight path”; Zarinebaf, Crime and punishment; Zilfi, Women and slavery; Aykan, Rendre le justice; Baldwin, Islamic law; Başaran, Selim III.


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