19 Aralık 2014 Cuma

Taqi al-Din and His Observatory

With the support of Hodja (Hoca) Sadaddin Effendi, who realized the talent and capacity of Taqi al-Din,  and an imperial edict by Sultan Murad III,  the financial and logistical supports were provided to build an observatory in Istanbul. Even though some of today's historians who are not aware of the Ottoman intellectual history claim that the observatory was mainly built for astrological purposes, there does not exist any evidence regarding this claim. On the contrary, there is evidence against this claim.  Ala al-Din Mansur al-Shirazi's poetic work in Persian, Shahinshahnama (Şehinşahname), provided detailed and remarkable information concerning the observatory's establishment, functioning and astronomical instruments [1]. Such detailed information in this work reminds us of the fact that the author very likely worked in this observatory.

In a conversation between the Sultan and Taqi al-Din, the Sultan asked Taqi al-Din about how the observations were going, and he replied, “O great leader, there were many uncertain points in Ulugh Beg's Zij (astronomical observations containing matrix listing of the periodic positions of the planets as seen from several locations on the earth). Zij has been corrected through these observations” [2]. As can be seen in this conversation, the purpose of the establishment of this observatory is to correct Ulugh Beg's Zij.

A stamp with a drawing depicting the workers in the observatory from Shahinshahnama [3]

What caused the end of the observatory on January 21, 1580 when everything had been going so well? Those who like vague answers refer to Atai's Zayl of al-Shaqaiq, which is an Ottoman Turkish zayl (continuation) of Tashkopruzada's al-Shaqaiq al-Numaniyya and covers the period between 1558 and 1634.  This source suggests that the observatory was destroyed due to a letter questionably attributed to the shayh al-islam Qadizade Ahmad Shamsaddin Effendi. However, Atai was born after the deconstruction of the observatory and he gave the wrong dates for beginning and ending of the establishment of the observatory in his book [4]. All of these facts require us to consider carefully what Atai wrote in this case. Furthermore,  the shayh al-islam at that time was a qualified scholar in both rational and religious sciences. He wrote super-commentary (hashiya) on Sharh al-Mawaqif, where philosophical, geometric and astrological issues were discussed. This hasiya is available in a hand-written form. In addition to this work, since Kamal al-din Ibn al-Humam died without completing his work, which is one of the most important commentaries (sharh) on Hidaya, the shayh al-islam completed this uncompleted work starting from Kitab al-Vakalah (book of ministry) and named it Nataij al-Afkar fi Kash al-Romoz  wa al-Asrar [5]. This commentary Fath al-Qadir is being publishing with this takmila (completion). It does not seem  realistic that such a scholar wrote this kind of letter.

According to the published archival documents, the observatory's employment and material requests, although costly, were fulfilled.  Some requested materials were provided from Egypt. According to the last of these documents, bearing the date of August 9, 1579, approximately 5.5 months before the destruction of the observatory, upon the death of one of the employees in the observatory, someone was assigned to this open position [6].

When looking to Ala al-Din Mansur's work again, we encounter a hint for the cause of the destruction.  In a continuation of Taqi al-Din's statements quoted above, he said that “The enemy is very unhappy and is writhing violently. Now you can order to stop the observations, whereby hurting those who are low-minded and envious”. After that, it is written that the Sultan had the chavush bashi, who was responsible for discipline in place ceremonies and meetings of the Imperial Council, and ordered to destroy the observatory [7].

Like many inventors, Taqi al-Din was probably quarrelsome. Hence although he was from the ulama (scholar) class, he could not form good relationships with the people in Istanbul, where he had moved already. Kunh al-Ahbar contains an event regarding the fractiousness of Taqi al-Din [8]. When taking into account both the statements of Taqi al-Din in  Shahinshahnama and the event in Kunh al-Ahbar, even though the Sultan and Hoja Sadaddin Effendi supported him, some had hard feelings against him. Furthermore, some unwanted and strange events, such as the black death and the comet, occurred after the establishment of the observatory. All of these sealed the observatory's fate. Since Taqi al-Din realized this, he requested that the observatory be destroyed after completing his observations.

References and Notes

[1] Besides the valuable information the book contains, due to its aesthetical drawings the book can be considered artwork.

[2] Aydın Sayılı, “Alâuddin Mansur'un İstanbul Rasathanesi Hakkındaki Şiirleri”, Belleten, 20, 1956, p. 459.

[3] Even though "Medieval Arab Astronomers" is written on the stamp, there were Turkish and Jewish astronomers in the observatory. http://sio.midco.net/danstopicalstamps/arabic.htm

[4] Atâullah Nevizâde Atâî, Zayl-i Shaqaiq, Istanbul: Tabhane-i Âmire, 1269, vol. 1, p. 286-287. This book can be downloaded here.

[5] Abdülkadir Atansu, Osmanlı Şeyhülislamları, Ankara, 1972,  p. 37-38.

[6] İsmet Miroğlu, “İstanbul Rasathanesine ait Belgeler”, İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi, Tarih Enstitüsü Dergisi, 3, İstanbul, 1973, pp. 75-82.

[7] Aydın Sayılı, p. 468.

[8] Gelibolulu Mustafa Âli Efendi, Gelibolulu Mustafa Âli ve Künhü'l-ahbâr'ında II. Selim, III. Murat ve III. Mehmet devirleri, Prep. Faris Çerçi, Erciyes Üniversitesi yayınları, Kayseri, 2000, vol. III, p. 424.

Takiyüddin ve Rasadhanesi

Takiyüddin'in kabiliyetini farkeden ulemadan Hoca Sadeddin Efendi'nin - daha sonra şeyhülislam olacaktır - teşviki ve Sultan III. Murad'ın emriyle kendisine bir rasadhane yapması için maddi ve lojistik destek sağlanmıştır. Her ne kadar bazı günümüz tarihçileri tarafından, rasadhanenin esas olarak astrolojik gayeler için kurulduğu iddia edilse de, buna dair bir delil mevcut değildir. Bilakis, aksine delil mevcuttur. Alâüddin Mansur'un Farsça manzum kitabı Şehinşâhnâme, rasadhanenin kuruluşu, işleyişi ve orada kullanılan aletlere dair tafsilatlı bir çok malumat vermektedir [1]. Bu manzum eserde verilen malumatın bu kadar tafsilatlı olması, müellifin orada çalışmış biri olduğunu hatıra getirmektedir.

Rasadhanenin kuruluşuna dair Padişah ile Takiyüddin arasında geçen bir konuşmada, Padişah Takiyüddin'e rasad işlerinin nasıl gittiğini sorar ve şu cevabı alır: "Ey ulu Sultan, Uluğ Bey Zîc'inde pek çok şüpheli yerler vardı. Artık rasadlar yardımıyla zîc tashih edilmiş bulunuyor" [2]. Görüldüğü üzere, rasadhanenin kuruluş gayesi, Uluğ Bey'in hazırladığı Zîc'in (astronomik tablolar) düzeltilmesidir.


Şehinşâhnâme'deki rasadhane çalışanlarını tasvir eden resmi kullanan bir pul [3].

Buraya kadar herşey normalken ne oldu da 21 Ocak 1580 tarihinde rasadhane gözden çıkarıldı? İşin kolayına kaçanlar, Atâî'nin (1583-1635) Taşköprüzâde'nin meşhur eş-Şekâiku’n-Numâniyye adlı esere yaptığı zeyle müracaat etmektedirler. Bu zeyl, 1558-1634 senelerini ihtiva etmektedir. Burada, rasadhanenin, Şeyhülislam Kadızâde Ahmed Şemseddin Efendi'ye nisbet edilen bir mektub üzerine yıkıldığı iddia edilmektedir. Ancak Atâî'nin doğumu rasathanenin yıkılışından sonradır ve Zeyl'de rasadhanenin inşaatının başlama ve bitiş tarihleri hatalıdır. Ayrıca, Takiyüddin'in rasad işlerini tamamlayamadığı ifade edilmektedir ki diğer kaynaklar bunun aksini ifade etmektedir [4]. Tüm bunlar, Atâî'nin bu meselede yazdıklarını dikkatle ele almamızı gerektirmektedir. Ayrıca devrin Şeyhülislam'ı akli ve nakli ilimlerde mahir bir âlimdir. Felsefe, hendese ve heyet üzerine meselelerin de ele alındığı Şerhu'l-Mevâkıf üzerine bir hâşiyesi vardır. Bu haşiye, yazma olarak mevcuttur. Ayrıca, Hanefi mezhebi fıkıh âlimleri içinde mümtaz bir yeri olan Kemalüddin ibnü'l-Hümam Hidâye şerhini tamamlayamadan vefat etdiğinden, bu şerhi Kitâbü'l-Vekâle'den itibaren Kadızâde Ahmed Şemseddin Efendi tamamlamış ve adını da Netâicü'l-Efkâr fî keşfi'r-Rumûz ve'l-Esrâr koymuştur [5]. Şimdi, en meşhur Hidâye şerhi olan Fethu'l-Kadîr, bu tekmile ile beraber neşredilmektedir. Böyle bir âlimin, iddia edilen komik mektubu kaleme aldığını düşünmek pek gerçekçi gözükmüyor.

Neşredilen arşiv vesikalarına göre rasadhanenin hem istihdam hem de malzeme talebleri maliyetli olsa bile yerine getirilmiştir. Hatta malzemenin bir kısmı Mısır'dan getirtilmiştir. Bu vesikaların sonuncusu 15 Cemaziyelâhır 987 (9 Ağustos 1579) tarihlidir. Bu vesikaya göre, rasadhanenin yıkılışından 5,5 ay evvel, rasadhanede çalışanlardan birinin vefatı üzerine yerine başka birinin tayini yapılmıştır [6].

Alâüddin Mansur'un manzum eserine tekrar dönersek, yıkılış sebebine dair bir ipucuyla karşılaşırız. Yukarıda Takiyüddin'den aktarılan ifadelerin devamında, o şöyle demektedir [7]: "Düşman ise pek kederli, can evinden kıvrım kıvrım kıvranıyor. Artık rasadın sona erdirilmesi emrini ver; kötü düşünceli ve kıskanç kimselere nisbet olsun". Sonrasında Padişah'ın çavuşbaşını çağırttığı ve yıkma emrini verdiği yazılıdır.

Çoğu kâşif gibi anlaşılan Takiyüddin de geçimsiz bir kişidir. Künhu'l-Ahbar'da Takiyüddin'in geçimsizliğine dair bir hadise anlatılmaktadır [8]. Hem Şehinşâhnâme'deki Takiyüddin'in sözleri hem de Künhu'l-Ahbar'daki hadise dikkate alınırsa, Takiyüddin devlet ricali ve Hoca Sadeddin gibi ulema tarafından desteklense bile kendisine karşı menfi düşünceli insanlar mevcuttu. Buna rasadhanenin kurulmasından sonra yaşanan veba salgını ve kuyruklu yıldız görülmesi gibi bazı hadiseler eklenince işler rasadhane aleyhine gelişmiştir. Bunu farkeden Takiyüddin, rasad işinin bitmesinden sonra, Padişah'dan rasadhanenin yıkılmasını talep etmiştir.

Sultan III. Murad tarafından Takiyüddin'e verilen zeamet beratına bakılırsa, rasadların tamamlandığı ve takvimlerin bu rasadlar sayesinde düzeltildiği ortaya çıkmaktadır. Ayrıca Sultan, bu işin kendi zamanında yapılmasından gurur duymaktadır [9]. Takiyüddin devlet desteğiyle elde ettiği bu ciddi gelir kaynağı ile çalışmalarını sürdürmüştür. 1585'de 59 yaşında vefat etmiştir.


Referans ve Notlar

[1] Kitap ihtiva ettiği malumat yanında, içindeki estetik minyatürlerden dolayı, bir sanat eseri olarak da ele alınmalıdır. 

[2] Aydın Sayılı, “Alâuddin Mansur'un İstanbul Rasathanesi Hakkındaki Şiirleri”, Belleten, 20, 1956, s. 459.

[3] Pulun üzerinde Arap astronomlar yazmasına rağmen, rasadhane çalışanları arasında Türk ve Yahudiler de vardı. http://sio.midco.net/danstopicalstamps/arabic.htm

[4] Atâullah Nevizâde Atâî, Zeyl-i Şakâik, İstanbul: Tabhane-i Âmire, 1269, cild 1, s. 286-287. Kitaba buradan ulaşılabilir. Bu sayfaların transliterasyonu için bkz. Cahit Şenel, “Nevizade Ataî'nin Hadaikü'l-hakaik'inden Takiyüddin'in biyografisi”, Osmanlı Bilimi Araştırmaları, Cilt 10, Sayı 2, 2009, s. 130-133. Bu makaleye buradan ulaşılabilir.

[5] Abdülkadir Atansu, Osmanlı Şeyhülislamları, Ankara, 1972,  p. 37-38.

[6] İsmet Miroğlu, “İstanbul Rasathanesine ait Belgeler”, İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi, Tarih Enstitüsü Dergisi, 3, İstanbul, 1973, s. 75-82.

[7] Aydın Sayılı, a.g.m., s. 468.

[8] Gelibolulu Mustafa Âli Efendi, Gelibolulu Mustafa Âli ve Künhü'l-ahbâr'ında II. Selim, III. Murat ve III. Mehmet devirleri, Haz. Faris Çerçi, Erciyes Üniversitesi yayınları, Kayseri, 2000, cild III, s. 424.

[9] Johannes Heinrich Mordtmann, “Das Observatorium des Taqi ed-din zu Pera”, Der Islam, 13, 1923, s. 82-96. Makale Cem Pulathaneli tarafından tercüme edilmiştir. Tercüme için bkz. “Takiyüddin'in Pera'daki Gözlemevi”, Osmanlı Bilimi Araştırmaları, X/2, 2009, s. 115-129.  Her nekadar neşredilen beratda tarih ifade edilmemişse de, kullanılan ifadeler rasadın tamamlanmış olduğuna delalet etmektedir. Makalenin pdf haline buradan ulaşılabilir.


10 Aralık 2014 Çarşamba

How Aware are Turkish Historians of Ottoman Intellectual Life?*

Islamic civilization, especially Ottoman civilization, is a civilization of fiqh, and was built on law [1]. The considerable number of works written on this subject is sufficient, I think, to exhibit the importance which Islamic civilization places on justice [2]. A saying attributed to the second caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab, “al-Adl asas al-mulk – justice is the basis of state” [3] is one of the most concise sayings stating that a state cannot stand without justice. Attaining justice requires an established legal mechanism and legists enabling this mechanism to continue.

In the Ottoman State, which applied Islamic law,  legists, who are required to carry out the law, were trained only in madrasas until the Tanzimat period. Madrasas not only trained jurists but also provided a suitable infrastructure in which many scholars, who were ingenious in every branch of science, were trained. Therefore, madrasas played a significant role in the regular functioning of the legal mechanism and the shaping of society. Due to these facts, before studying the political, social, and intellectual history of the Ottoman State, the first step should be to try to comprehend the status of madrasas and ulamas (scholar) in the State. Otherwise, the analyses regarding Ottoman will be void. However, there are some difficulties related to both ulum 'aliya (high sciences – tafsir, hadith, fiqh, usul al-hadith, usul al-fiqh, kalam, tasawwuf) and ulum aliya (ancillary sciences – grammar, syntax, rhetoric, logic) for those who will study in this area. Language and logic are in the most important place among the ancillary sciences. The language of education and academia was Arabic. While Latin was the lingua franca of the Christian world, Arabic was that of the Islamic world. Hence in order to construe the meaning of a text pertaining to a previous time, a researcher needs to gain the minimum knowledge that those who were understanding this text had. Furthermore, the researcher should have the minimum knowledge regarding the culture in which he/she is conducting his/her research. {Please refer to “How can Ottoman intellectual life be understood?” (this post is in Turkish) for the detailed information regarding what the minimum requirements are.}

I will share a paragraph from one paper of Halil Inalcik, a famous Ottoman historian, so as to evaluate the importance of these minimum requirements. Inalcik says about Birgiwi, “Kadizades, following Birgiwi in the 16th century, Kadi Mahmad in the 17th century, and also the strictest and uncompromising representatives of Sunna, started attacking the bid'ahs, which they determined as opposing to Sharia in the Ottoman society, during their sermons in the central mosques, and provoking people. For instance, while defining the cash waqfs as a bid'ah against Sharia, Mahmad Birgiwi attacked shayh al-islam (the grand mufti) Ebussud, who considered these waqfs beneficial for the Muslim society. Moreover, he exaggerated this stance so that he regarded shayh al-islam Ebussuud as an infidel. This drastic disagreement stems from the fact that Mahmad Birgiwi was following Hanbali school and the shayh al-islam against him was following the more liberal Hanafi school” [4].

Inalcik's comments on Birgiwi contain errors of  knowledge and analysis. It cannot be said that there is a connection between Birgiwi and the Kadizades movement in terms of  intellectual framework. Even though it is told that the Kadizades tought the books of Birgiwi, obviously the opinions of Birgiwi and the Kadizades conflicted such that Birgiwi often cited from the books of famous great sufis, such as Muhyiddin al-Arabi, and stated explicitly that he was not against tasawwuf, against so-called shayhs (mutashayyih). Birgiwi's understanding of bid'ah differs from that of the Kadizades, who attacked even the minarets of mosques because minarets were bid'ah. Furthermore, instead  of provoking people, as the Kadizades did, Birgiwi tried to correct the mistakes, which he considered a violation of the fundamental principles of the religion, only by using his pen. The disagreement between Birgiwi and the shayh al-islam Ebussuud was centered around whether or not the cash waqfs are valid  according to the Hanafi school. By considering the current conditions in his time, Ebussuud Effendi gave a fatwa, which stated that the cash waqfs were valid, according to Imam Zufar, one of the most prominent faqihs in the Hanafi school. However, Birgiwi opposed this fatwa since when a zahir al-riwayah (of reliable transmission) is available for a case,  a fatwa cannot be given based on a riwayah in a lower level.  This opposition meaningfully shows the freedom of thought in the Ottoman: a scholar in a small town could  easily come out against the shayh al-islam Ebussuud Effendi, one of the most mighty grand muftis, and wrote a refutation (raddiya) against him. Unfortunately, Inalcik did not mention any reference to the information stating that Birgiwi regarded Ebussuud Effendi as an infidel.

There is an obvious error regarding Birgiwi's following of the Hanbali school. One who has read little of Birgiwi's books cannot make such a mistake and easily understands that Birgiwi strictly adhered to the Hanafi school. He refuted shayh al-islam Kamalpashazade's criticisms of Wiqaya, one of the four matn books in the Hanafi school. This refutation and the disagreement between him and Ebussuud Efendi demonstrated his strict obedience to his school. He wrote all of his books according to the Hanafi school. It appears that Inalcik, who has not read or cannot read Birgiwi's one book and  was affected by the article related to Birgiwi in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, asserted that Birgiwi followed the Hanbali school.

Another Ottoman historian claimed that Birgiwi frequently mentioned marginal scholar Ibn Taymiyya's opinions in his books [5]. While using a takmila (completion) of Ottoman Turkish translation of Birgiwi's al-Tariqah al-Muhammadiyyah as a reference for his claim, he is so far away from the Ottoman scientific and intellectual life that he cannot realize that the sentences he used as reference do belong to the author, who wrote the Takmila [6]. However, there is no citation to Ibn Taymiyya in al-Tariqah al-Muhammadiyyah.

Why did these two Ottoman historians arrive at a decision without reading Birgiwi's books? Unfortunately, a paradigm issue, on which philosophy of science puts emphasis,  appears in this case. Instead of critically analyzing the previous works in this subject, they just follow what has been written before. This imitation may stem from the feelings of oppression/defeat. Has not the time come for the transition from taqlid (imitation) to tahqiq (verification)?

References

* Yazının Türkçesine buradan ulaşılabilir.

[1] Mohammad Âbed al-Jabrî, Arap-İslâm Aklının Oluşumu [Bunyah al-'Akl Al-'Arab], Translation from Arabic into Turkish by İbrahim Akbaba, İstanbul, 2001, p. 109.

[2] Gunasti suggests that “the reason for the low number of Qurʾān commentaries written by the Ottoman ulema has to do with the nature of the ilmiyye (the Ottoman learned hierarchy), which valued specialization in fiqh above all else”. Susan Gunasti, “Political Patronage and the writing of Qurʾān commentaries among the Ottoman Turks”, Journal of Islamic Studies, 24.3 (2013): 335-357.

[3] Abu al-Lays al-Samarqandî, Tafsir al-Quran, Translation into Ottoman Turkish by Abu al-Fadl Musa al-İznikî, Transliteration into Modern Turkish with simplification by Mehmet Karadeniz, İstanbul, 2007,  vol. 2, p. 163.

[4] Halil Inalcık, “Türkiye ve Avrupa: Dün ve Bugün”, Doğu Batı, Yıl 1, Sayı 2, 1998, p. 21. The article can be downloaded here.

[5] Fahri Unan, “Dinde Tasfiyecilik Yahut Osmanlı Sünnîliğine Sünnî Muhâlefet: Birgivî Mehmed Efendi”, Türk Yurdu, X/36, 1990, s. 33-42. The article can be downloaded here.

[6] Birgivî, Takmila-i Tarjama-i Tarîqat-i Muhammadiyya, Translation into Ottoman Turkish with explanation by Vedâdî, İstanbul, 1256/1840. This book can be downloaded here.

6 Aralık 2014 Cumartesi

Voluntary Admission of Guilt and Oath in Ottoman Society*

In one of the book reviews of Haim Gerber's “State, society, and law in Islam: Ottoman law perspective”, the reviewer objects that a defendant's voluntary admission of guilt before a plaintiff presented any evidence was a widespread phenomena in Ottoman society and this was a characteristic feature of the society [1]. What leads to this objection is that Gerber used saqq (collection of real law cases) books to reach the conclusion regarding the matter. However, Gerber came to this conclusion by means of not only using the law cases in the saqq books but also considering the court records of different cities [2]. These saqq books were collected from real court records and it is obvious that law cases in these books were not selected so as to praise the existing legal system. This kind of books was like a manual for qadis (judge), by means of which they had an opportunity to observe how to record the different law cases and basis of the judgments in fiqh books.

In fact, the issue of voluntary admission exists in the primary source of Islamic religion. In kitab al-iqrar (book of admission) of Tarjumah al-Tahtawi (Ottoman Turkish translation of al-Tahtawi's super-commentary on al-Durr al-Mukhtar), it is stated that part of the 135th verse from Sura al-Nisa, “koonoo qawwameena bialqisti shuhadaa lillahi walaw AAala anfusikum - be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves” expresses the concept of iqrar (admission) and this kind of behavior suits Muslim and believer [3].

Gerber's book calls attention to another fact that was valid in many law cases in the Ottoman. When a plaintiff does not have any evidence to present to the judge, the plaintiff wants the defendant to take an oath that he/she is not guilty; since many defendants refused this demand, they lost the lawsuit.

Justice and admission of guilt are important issues often emphasized by both al-Quran al-Karim and al-hadith al-sharif (prophetic tradition). Since the only way to realize justice is by means of law,  Islamic scholars  did not leave any ambiguity in determining which side is just, realizing the justice and upholding the rule of law. Therefore, Islamic civilization is called  a civilization of fiqh (law).

References

* Bu yazının Türkçesine buradan ulaşılabilir.

[1] Christopher Melchert, "Haim Gerber, State, Society, and Law in Islam: Ottoman Law in Comparative Perspective", The American Historical Review, Vol. 101, No. 4 (Oct., 1996), pp. 1256-1257.

[2] Haim Gerber, State, society, and law in Islam: Ottoman law perspective, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1994,  p. 48-50. The part dealing with this issue in this book is as follows:

Evidence: Voluntary Admission

Scholars of Islamic law tell us that one reason the Islamic criminal law could not be applied in practice is that the rules of evidence were extremely strict, circumstantial evidence being excluded. 73 To a degree this claim is logically true, yet the criminal law nevertheless was applied. One major reason for this is the surprising phenomenon that an incredible number of defendants voluntarily admitted guilt. An example is a case of murder reported from Rumelia (the European part of the empire). Two women sued a gypsy and claimed he had murdered their next of kin. They demanded that he be put to death by retaliation (kisas). For some inexplicable reason the defendant admitted guilt out "of his own free will," as the document puts it.74 In another example, an Istanbul woman sued a boat owner and claimed he had forcefully entered her house and raped her. The defendant admitted guilt not just once but in four different court sessions, as the law requires in this case.75 Again, there is no hint as to what propelled a defendant to admit guilt when no proof was forthcoming. One can only guess that more people in this period had a guilty conscience than our modern mode of thinking would lead us to expect-possibly an aspect of the more deeply religious nature of that society. What leads us to this conclusion is a related fact that helps to shed some light. In a large number of cases where neither party possessed evidence, defendants were given the opportunity to swear an oath and win the case, yet they declined to do so, thereby automatically losing the case. Such refusal sometimes led to indictment for murder, entailing the death penalty.76 In such situations it is obvious that the motivating force was indeed a sense of guilt or a fear of God. Such situations are so common in our documents as to lead us to believe that we are confronting here something that was deep and fundamental at the time. The oath was thus seen as an effective judicial tool to secure evidence, something quite reminiscent of the medieval European ordeal, which is no longer seen today as a blind belief in superstition but as an effective judicial tool in the hands of a society highly vulnerable to the ravages of nature and hence deeply religious.77 One is reminded here of Roy Mottahede's study on loyalty and leadership in medieval Islam, which contains important considerations on the crucial role of oaths in the political life of that society. For example, "the seriousness of oaths is shown most dramatically by the shock and horror with which the medieval Islamic historians discuss those occasions when men openly perjured themselves.78 David Powers brings in another important example in his study of fourteenth-century Morocco. A lawsuit over a piece of endowed property dragged on for about thirty years and was finally to be decided by the oath's being offered to one of the parties. So after thirty years of stubborn, and possibly expensive conflict, one party could swear and win the case automatically. Yet he refused, thereby losing the case automatically.79 I believe we may have here in a nutshell an answer to those who apply to the kadi system their own modern way of thinking - those who question how this system of law could function at all without any technical means to investigate and obtain evidence. The case of the oath suggests that we may be influenced by our hidden ethnocentric blinders concerning this system of law, and that it is time we tried to view this legal system on its own terms. Fear and religiosity may have been tools as effective in the hands of the Ottoman judiciary as are investigative authority and technology in the hands of a modern judiciary.

[3] al-Tahtâwî, Tarjamah al-Tahtâwî, translation and explanation by Sayyid Abdulhamid al-Nakshibendî al-Halidî, vol. 6, p. 371. This tremendous translation, published in 8 volumes, is the Ottoman Turkish translation of al-Tahtâwî's gloss on al-Durr al-Mukhtar. Arabic matn was provided between “( )” and sharh (commentary) between “《》”. However, since the 8th volume was published later, instead of using these symbols, “* *” and “( )” were used for matn and sharh, respectively. This book is one of the important references in al-Radd al-Mukhtar (a super-commentary on al-Durr al-Mukhtar) by Allamah Ibn Abidin, who is known as the last muhaqqiq of Hanafi school.

3 Aralık 2014 Çarşamba

An Anecdote on the Fate of the Ottoman Madrasas*

Madrasas are one of the most important type of institutions in the Ottoman State. Academic research conducted on these institutions will provide important clues regarding the political, legal, scientific, and religious structures of the Ottoman State, and furthermore how and to what extent these structures changed over time. For each system functioning properly, after a while, problems in this system are no longer considered a problem to be handled due to the lack of paying required attention to its sub-systems, namely institutions. As a result, it is inevitable that the institution starts malfunctioning. However, when the malfunctioning reaches a certain level where it disturbs society, reformation starts in order to improve the current status of the corrupted institution. It seems that madrasas faced a similar fate. So  what caused the malfunctioning of madrasas?

Many articles regarding the reformation of madrasas were published in magazines and newspapers in the late era of the Ottoman State. One of them reported a conference about reformation of the  syllabus  of the madrasas, in which Shaykh al-Islam (grand mufti) Musa Kazim answered  the question of a madrasa student “All right, how can we make a living?” and Musa Kazim Efendi replied, “We will consider this problem. This does not pertain to you.  Be sure that  your income is high. But this income is at the hand of some people. If all the waqfs (Muslim pious foundation) dedicated to the students are given to the students, I think each receives 3 lira, if there are 5000 students. Furthermore, people certainly help you.  Hopefully you put forth your best effort” [1].

Incomes from the waqfs would have met the needs of both madrasas and their students. Economic problems  had negative effects on both mudarris (professor) and students. In fact, the issue can be traced back to the Celali revolts (16th century). During the social and economic crisis, poor parents sent their children to madrasas, which they considered the best place for their children in terms of sheltering and accommodations. Because madrasa students were draft exempt, this increased the number of applicants to the madrasas. All of  these, in turn, caused the madrasas to exceed their capacity [2].

As pointed out by Musa Kazim Efendi, waqfs of the madrasas were dedicated to other areas, probably  due to the fact that the madrasas fell out of favor. However,  if there is not being able to support oneself, it is not difficult to understand  why teaching and learning are not effective.


References

* Yazının Türkçesine buradan ulaşılabilir.

[1] Musâ Kâzım, "Kelam Kitaplarının Asrın İhtiyaçlarına Göre Düzeltilmesi ve Yazımı, Müslümanlar Arasındaki Farklı Mezheplerin Birleştirilmesi, Medreselerdeki Eğitim Öğretimin Islahı", Yazan. Eşref Edip, Sad. Hulusi Arslan, Hikmet Yurdu, Cild 3, Sayı 5, s. 393-407, Ocak-Haziran 2010. The article can be downloaded here. The original version of this article was published under the title of “Kütübü Kelâmiyyenin İhtiyâcât-ı Asra Göre Islah ve Te’lîfi, Beyne’l-Müslimîn Mezâhib-i Muhtelifenin Tevhîdi, Medreselerde Tedrîsâtın Islâhı” in Sırat-ı Müstakîm 52 (p. 403-406), 53 (p.5-6), 54. (p.22-23).

[2] Similar complaints regarding the situation of madrasas can be seen in Bayan al-Haqq. Ramazan Boyacıoğlu, "Beyanü'l-Hak'ta Ulema, Siyaset ve Medrese", Cumhuriyet Üniversitesi İlahiyat Fakültesi Dergisi, Cild 2, Sayı 1, 1998. This article can downloaded here.

1 Aralık 2014 Pazartesi

From Balaibalan to Esperanto*


While talking about artificial languages, Esperanto comes to our mind first. But 300 years ago before the construction of Esperanto, Balaibalan, which had its own grammar and lexicon, was used to produce many texts. Why did people attempt to construct a new language while there were languages which people could acquire naturally? Major reasons for constructing a language are: to transmit information within a specific group and to expedite the communication between people from different nations through a language which is easy to be learned.

Balaibalan

Mustafa Koç did thorough research on Balaibalan and published a voluminous book titled 'Baleybelen - İlk yapma dil (the first artificial language)' in 2005 [1]. This book explains the grammar and provides the dictionary for this language. I will share what I summarized from the book.

Muyhi-i Gulseni (1528-1604), born in Edirne, completed his education there at Ucserefeli and Bayezit madrasahs. After that, he came to Istanbul in order to continue his education in Sahn-i Saman (the highest level of university education). He participated in the lectures of the most famous scholars of his time, such as Ebussuud Efendi and Sururi of Gelibolu [2]. He formed a strong relationship with Ebussuud Efendi. Muhyi, speaking in praise of Ebussuud Efendi, said about him, "He mentioned such exceptional information on either tafsir (Quranic exegesis) or tawil (ratinal exegesis) or ilm-i sofiyya that if I wrote and explained it, it would take my entire life". Ebussuud Efendi called Muhyi as "sahib-i tarih (owner of date)" due to Muhyi's skill of composing a chronogram to commemorate the date of an event ("tarih düşmek" in Turkish) [3].

Among his works are Rashahat Tercumesi (translation of Rashahat), Ahlak-i Kiram (Tremendous Moral/Ethics), Sharh-i Hadis-i Cibril (Commenraty of Hadith/Tradition of Gabriel), Sharh-i Hadis-i Erbain (Commentary of Fourty Hadiths), some Diwans (Collection of Poems) and the book on Balaibalan [4].

Muhyi described himself as "zaban-zada-i abkaman ( one who gives a language to mutes)" [5]. He stated on the language he constructed, "I have constructed a very self-contained language which mankind has not constructed yet. While integrating Turkish and Persian into this language, I further fortified it by using Arabic syntax" [6].

In Balaibalan, which was constructed to be as easy to use as possible, tasniya (dual) and muannas (feminine gender) and exceptional plural were not allowed, contrary to Arabic. Hence Balaibalan were constructed through selecting some properties of Ural-Altaic, Indo-European and Semitic languages. The number of borrowed words in Balaibalan constitutes the low percentage when compared to the total of words in this language [7].

While constructing Balaibalan, Muhyi took oral and written usage of a language into account. Therefore, he described the language's phonetic system in his book. He wrote the grammar books in Ottoman Turkish including example sentences with their Turkish, Persian and Arabic translations [8].

References

 * Makalenin Türkçesine buradan ulaşılabilir.

[1] Mustafa Koç, Bâleybelen- ilk yapma dil, Klasik:İstanbul, 2005.

[2] Ibid., p. 12.

[3] Ibid., p. 26.

[4] Ibid., p. 44-52

[5] Ibid., p. 54.

[6] Ibid., p. 59.

[7] Ibid., p. 67-68.

[8] Ibid., p. 79.