size: 48 fols;
printed surface: 80×145 mm;
page: 130×190 mm;
The most significant work by Müteferrika
is a political and state theoretical treatise composed in order to
improve the Ottoman government.
The volume appeared in 1732, about one and half year after the uprising of Patrona Halīl which had overthrown the system of Sultan Ahmed III and Grand Vizier Dāmād İbrāhīm. The writing, recalling the characteristics of Ottoman siyāsetnāme, calls the attention of the Ottoman leaders to the results of the state and military development and to the reasons of strategic superiority of the rival European powers, while strongly condemning the severa centuries long disinterest of the Ottomanps to the external world. An important feature of the work is to break with the hitherto prevailing nostalgic attitude to bygone golden ages. Although observes the stylistic conventions in as much he speaks contemptuously about the Christian nations, but in the content it already turns away from the indifference referring to the superiority of Islam. It announces in a list organized by items the reasons of the state’s weakness and the conditions of rise.
In harmony with the main aspects of contemporary Ottoman reforms, the works mainly focuses on the necessity of the reorganization of the army. It also offers a broader historical background by describing after the Greek philosophers the various types of state (6v-7v), or by treating on the origins and reasons of success of the foundations of European culture, the Roman Empire (19v-20v). The concept nizām-i cedīd (new order), which would be used for the newly organized military formations of Sultan Selīm III (1789-1807), appear here for the first time referring to the modernized European army (17v-18r).
Although the purpose and genre of this work cannot be compared to the Risāle-i İslāmīye, in the evaluation of contemporary events we can observe a change in the author’s attitude. The utopistic optimism of Risāle-i İslāmīye may have had some rational basis, if one takes into account the Karlovci Treaty (1699) which was a rather positive correction in contrast to the previous series of Turkish failures in the Balkans, the European “internal wars” of the first decade of the 18th century, and the experiences of the reform and peace years of the Tulip Period. However, the Usûl ül-hikem… was already inspired by the atmosphere after the Po¾arevac Treaty (1718) which was a further stroke on Turkish hopes, and later by the upheaval overthrowing the regime supporting Müteferrika and the terror of Patrona Halīl in Istanbul. In this book he objectively and critically presents to the reader the recipe of recovering from the crisis, and the final triumph of the Ottoman house does not appear as the unconditional prediction of a prophecy, but as a possible result of the learning and reforms which had been postponed for centuries.
The Oriental Collection preserves three copies of the work,
one of which is from the bequest of Įrmin Vįmbéry. [MTAK shelfmark:
768.439; 768.412; 770.153.]