9 Ekim 2015 Cuma

Published Fiqh and Usul al-Fiqh Books in Ottoman Turkish

There is a need for a detailed bibliography on law related writings in Ottoman Turkish in the Ottoman State. Although Turk Hukuk Bibliyografyasi [Turkish Law Bibliography] by Ahmet Mumcu is worth considering, it has some mistakes in the categorization of books. For instance, a prayer treatise is categorized under the judicial procedure by just looking at its name. Moreover, many fiqh books are not covered in his book and there is no explanation about the properties of the included works. Another remarkable book is Osmanli Turklerinin Bastiklari Kitaplar 1729-1875 [The Books Published by Ottoman Turks between 1729 and 1875] by Jale Baysal. However, there are many mistakes in both books' title and categorization.

Many problems that today's Muslims have been facing stem from ignoring fiqh. The fiqh books, considering issues based on al-Quran al-Karim, al-Hadith al-Sharif and Ijma, are like compasses for a Muslim. Without them, Muslims lose their way, as is today.

Here I would like to collect published books in Ottoman Turkish under three categories: Fiqh, usul al-fiqh and  history of fiqh. The collected books were written in the forms of composition (talif), translation (tarjama) and translation-commentary (tarjama-sharh). One of the most striking properties in the books translated into Ottoman Turkish is that the original text was not only translated (tarjama) but annotated (sharh).

The below list is only a start. Over time, this list will expand and some additional notes about the books will be provided.

  1. Quduri Sharif Tarjamasi (Aziziyya), Ebu al-Husayn Ahmad b. Muhammad Amin al-Quduri, Translator: Mahmad Amin Fahim Pasha, Darsaadat: Shirkat-i Shafiya-i Osmaniya Matbaasi, 21 Zilkada 1315.
  2. Sharh al-Mawqufati, Mawqufati Mahmad Efendi, 1302, 2 vols. {Ottoman translation-commentary of Ibrahim Halabi's Multaqa al-Abhur}, vol-1 and vol-2.
  3. Halabi Tarjamasi Babadagi, Ibrahim al-Hanafi al-Halabi, Translator: Ibrahim b. Abdillah al-Babadagi, Darsaadat: Matbaa-i Yusuf Ziya, 1314, 316 pages. {Ottoman Turkish translation of Halebi-i Sagir, a book dealing with issues related to salat (prayer)}
  4. Tarjama al-Tahtawi, Ala al-Din Muhammad b. Ali b. Muhammad al-Dimasqi al-Haskafi, Translation: Abdulhamid al-Naqshibandi al-Halidi al-Ayntabi, 8 vols. {Ottoman Turkish translation of hashiya (glosss/super-commentary) on Durr al-Muhktar by Tahtawi}
  5. Tarjama-i Durar al-Hukkam fi Sharh Gurar al-Ahkam, Molla Husraw Mahmad b. Faramurz b. Ali, 2 vols, Istanbul: Tabhana-i Amira, 1258. ebook
  6. Tarjama-i Sharh al-Siyar al-Kabir, Imam Muhammed Shaybanî, Commentator: Shams al-Eimme Sarahsi, Translation: Mehmed Munib al-Ayintabî, Kostantiniyya: Tabhane-i Mamure, 1241, 2 vols, 357+373 pages.
  7. Tarjama-i Siyar al-Halebî, Ibrahim el-Halebî, Translation: Ahmed Asim, Kahira, 1832
  8. Tasîs al-Nazar wa Ruh al-Fiqh, Dabbusî, Translation: Ibn al-Hazm Farid, Mizan al-Hukuk Matbaasi, 1328, 108 pages. {Ottoman Turkish translation of Hanafi faqih Dabbusî's (d. 430/1039)  Tasîs al-Nazar fi Ihtilâf al-Eimme, a book dealing with ilm al-khilaf (comparative Islamic Law)}
  9. Commentaries on Majalla
    • Durar al-Hukkâm Sharhu Majalla al-Ahkâm, Ali Haydar (Küçük Haydar) Efendi, Istanbul, 1330, 4 vols. {Complete and the most famous commentary on Majalla } ebook
    • Mirqat al-Majalla, Ali Haydar Efendi. {until the end of 11. Book of Majalla }
    • Ruh al-Majalla, Hacı Rashid Pasha (governor of Musul), 1326-1328, 8 vols.  vol 1-4 and vol 5-8
    • Majalla-i Ahkâm-i Adliyya Sharhi, Turkzâde Ziyaeddîn Efendi, 1312. 
    • Majalla-i Ahkâm-i Adliyya Sharhi, Kuyucaklizade Mehmed Atif Bey (Evkâf-ı Hümâyûn İdare Meclisi reisi). {Commentary on the first nide books of Majalla. It is not complete due to the death of the author}
    • Asar al-Said fi Asr al-Hamid. {Commentary on the first book (Kitab al-Buyu) of Majalla}
  10. Fatâwâ
    • Bahjat al-Fatâwâ ma'an Nuqûl, Abu al-Fadl Abdullah b.M. al-Hanefi al-Yenishahri, Abdullah Efendi, Compiler: M. Fikhi al-Ayni. Istanbul: Muhammed Rajai, 1266, 5+643 pages. ebook
    • Fatâwâ-i Ali Efendi ma'an Nuqûl, Shaykh al-Islâm Chataljalı Ali, Compiler: Salih b. Ahmed al-Kafawî, Istanbul, 1856. ebook
    • Natija al-Fatâwâ ma'an Nuqûl, Durrizâde Mehmed Arif,  Addition of Nuqul: Mehmed Hafız
    • Fatâwâ-i Fayziyya ma'an Nuqûl, Shaykh al-Islam Fayzullah  Efendi, Istanbul: Dar al-Tıbaa al-Amire, 1266. 572 pages. ebook
    • Fatâwâ-i Abdurrahim, Mantashizâda Abdurrahim, Correction: Ibrahim Saib, Balda al-Tayyiba al-Kostantiniyya: Dar al-Tıbaati'l-Mamura al-Sultaniya, 1243, 2 vols, 578+584 pages.
    • Fatâvâ-i Ankarawî, Mehmed Emin al-Ankaravî, Correction: Muhammed al-Sabbağ, Bulak:Dâr al-Tıbaa al-Misriyya, 1281, 2 vols, 443+435 pages.
    • Fatâwâ-i Ibn-i Nujaym wa Tarjamasi, Ibn-i Nujaym Zeynel Âbidin b. Ibrahim, Translation: al-Seyyid Hasan Refet, Istanbul: Shayh Yahya Efendi Matbaasi, 1289, 2+363 pages. ebook
    • Fatâwâ-i Jamiu al-Ijaratayn, Mashrabzâde Mehmed Ârif, Istanbul : Dar al-Tıbaa al-Âmire, 1252, 427 pages. ebook
  11. Ilmihal  (Islamic catechism)
    • al-Majmua al-Zuhdiyya fi al-Ahkam al-Diniyya, Seyyid Ahmed Zuhdu Pasha, Istanbul : Matba’a-i Osmaniyya, 318+4 pages.
    • Nimet-i Islam, Mehmed Zihni Efendi. ebook
    • Islam Yolu, Iskilipli Mehmed Âtif Efendi, Istanbul : Awkâf-i Islâmiya Matbaasi, 1338
    • Anwar al-Hamid fi Fiqh Ehl al-Tawhid, Sabrizâde Ali Nureddin Abdullah, Dersaadet: 1317, 3 vols, 159+134+150 pages.
  12. Din-i Islamda Men-i Muskirat, Iskilipli Mehmed Âtıf Efendi, 1345, 32 pages.
  13. Tashil al-Faraiz, Hoca Emin Efendizâde Ali Haydar, Istanbul, 1322, 234 pages.
  14. Madhal-i Fiqh, Abdussattar Kirimî, Istanbul : Mahmud Bey Matbaası, 1299, 31 pages.
  15. Hamza Efendinin Bey’ ve Shira Risalasinin Sharhi, Ismail b. Osman b. Ebi Bekr b.Yusuf (Osmanpazari Muftusu) al-Shumnuwi, Istanbul : Matbaa-i Amire, 1260, 2+91 pages.
  16. Alğâz-i Fiqhiyya, Mehmed Zihni Efendi, Istanbul : Kasabar Matbaasi, 1309, 232 pages. ebook
  17. Vazaif al-Qudat Tarjamasi, Hasan Sıdkı Efendi, Dersaadet, 1307.

Usûl al-Fiqh
  1. Tashil-i Mirqat al-Vusul ilâ Ilm al-Usûl, Mehmed b. Feramuz Molla Hüsrev,  Translator: Gelibolulu Osman b. Mustafa Efendi ebook
  2. Lawâmiu al-Daqâik fi Tarjamati Majami al-Haqâiq, Abu Said Hadimi, Translator: (Meclis-i Mearif azası) Ahmed Hamdi Shirvani, 1293, 312+24+18+42+8 pages.
  3. Usûl-i Fiqh Dersleri, Büyük Haydar Efendi,  Note taking: Hacı Adil Arda, Istanbul : Matbaa-i Amire, 1326, 558 pages.
  4. Usûl-i Fiqh, Mehmed Zihni Efendi
  5. Usûl-i Fiqh, Mahmud Esad b. Emin Saydishahrî, Istanbul: Maktab-i Sanayi Matbaasi, 1302, 384 pages (first vol.)
  6. Talhis-i Usûl-i Fiqh, Mahmud Esad b. Emin Seydishahrî
  7. Turkcha Mukhtasar Usûl-i Fiqh, Ahmed Hamdi Shirrwanî, Istanbul : Mihran Matbaasi, 1301, 133+3 pages. ebook
  8. Usûl-i Fiqh Sualleri, Dersaadet : Matbaa-i Huquqiyye, 1330, 8 pages.
  9. al-Zaria ilâ Ilm al-Sharia, Abdulkadir Saduddin, Dersaadet : Mahmud Bey Matbaasi, 1311, 146 pages.

History of Fiqh
  1. Tarih-i Ilm-i Fiqh (Darulfunun Ulum-i Shariya Shubasi Ders Takriri), Kamil Miras, Istanbul,1331, 112 pages
  2. Mawâhib al-Rahman fi Manâqib al-Imam Abu Hanifa al-Numân, Ibn Hacer Haytemi, Translation and commentary: Manastirli Ismail Hakkı, Derseadet: Mahmud Bey Matbaasi, 1310, 214 pages.
  3. Tabaqât-i Fuqaha, Mahmud Tevfik, Istanbul: Ikbal Millet Matbaasi, 1325, 20 pages.
  4. Tarjama-i  Wasiyatnâma-i Imam Azam, Translation: Shayh Ibrahim Nureddin, Istanbul : Dar al-Tıbaa al-Âmira, 1264, 19 pages.
  5. Mashâhir-i Ashâb-i Guzin ve Tarâjim-i Ahval-i Fuqâha, Hilmizâde İbrahim Rifat, Dar al-Hilafe al-Aliyye: Kutubhane-i Jihan, 1319, 176 pages.

24 Eylül 2015 Perşembe

Islamic Intellectual Tradition and Imam al-Ghazali

Through his writings, Imam al-Ghazali has a legitimate reputation in both the Islamic world and the West. On the other hand, due to the shortsightedness of some of today's scholars, this reputation has been leading them to incorrectly evaluate the effects of his writings on the Islamic intellectual tradition. In this tradition, no scholar's thought or word has been regarded as an absolute and indisputable truth. Clearly this is the requirement of the nature of ilm (knowledge). Despite the recent perception that religious sciences are merely based on the narration (naql), the rational activity plays a crucial role in the application of naql and how to figure out a solution when there is no clear naql about a problem. 

The first orientalists claimed that Ashari madhab and Imam al-Ghazali negatively impacted rational thought in Islamic civilization. At best, they claimed rational thought slowed down. Although the decrease in lack of interest in rational sciences is also disputable, the validity of such a claim would be only shown by presenting al-Ghazali as an absolute authority. They have been successful at this.

The statements in an article, written by a Turkish columnist with a Phd in social sciences and comparative philosophy, reminds me that the domination of the orientalistic ideas over the Eastern minds still continues. This article contains the following claims about Imam al-Ghazali and Islamic intellectual tradition [1]:
  • In his Tahafut al-Falasifa, “al-Ghazali passed a merciless judgment on the philosophers and declared them outside the faith of Islam for holding three views”
  • “The political developments of his time in the background” affected his judgment on this issue.
  • “Sunni theologians and jurists took this verdict as a condemnation of all philosophy.”   
In an intellectual writing, a scholar should act according to what science rather than emotion requires. Unfortunately, the author approaches to the issue emotionally rather than scientifically. What is the mercilessness in his views? What is more natural than that a religious scholar gives a judgment in a religious matter?

Taking into consideration Imam al-Ghazali's works (e.g. al-Munkiz min al-Dalal and Tahafut al-Falasifa) and especially his views about infidelity in Faysal al-Tafrika - a small book but dealing with important issues-, how politically or scientifically he approaches to issues can easily be understood. The claim in the article about the political effect on al-Ghazali's views left unsupported.

The claim that Imam al-Ghazali's verdict was accepted as an indisputable fact among theologians (mutakallimin) and fiqh (Islamic law) scholars (fuqaha), is also inconsistent with the Islamic intellectual tradition. For instance,  Imam al-Ghazali regards the belief of the eternal (qadim) universe as an infidel statement; however, Shaykh al-Islam KamalPashazadah (d. 1534), one of the greatest Ottoman scholar, criticizes this verdict in his book Hashiya ala Tahafut [2]. Moreover when taking a look at the works penned during the Ottoman time, for instance in Kamalpashazadah's treatise on ontology, Ibn Sina (Avicenna) is often cited with the name of “Shaykh” (master) despite Imam al-Ghazali's criticism of Ibn Sina's thoughts [3]. Another famous Ottoman scholar Hadimi (d. 1762), having many important works on fiqh (Islamic law), usul al-fiqh (Islamic legal theory) and morality, penned a commentary on Ibn Sina's exegesis of the chapter of al-Ikhlas (sincerity or fidelity) in  al-Quran al-Kerim [4].  

As opposed to the Christian world, you cannot find any list of banned writings/publications (such as Index Librorum Prohibitorum [5]) or scholars  in the Islamic intellectual tradition. Even though there is a widespread tradition of criticism (raddiya) in this tradition, this does not mean at all that  a criticized scholar or book has absolutely no value or is prohibited.

References and Notes

[1] "With the political developments of his time in the background, Ghazali passed a merciless judgment on the philosophers and declared them outside the faith of Islam for holding three views: that the universe was eternal, that God did not know the particulars and that resurrection in the hereafter will be spiritual only. Sunni theologians and jurists took this verdict as a condemnation of all philosophy. The Orientalists declared this end of philosophical thinking in Islam. As Sunni theology and philosophical mysticism Ghazali and Ibn al-Arabi grew stronger, Peripatetic philosophy took a back seat. But philosophical thinking did not come to an end in the Muslim world. It took different forms". Ibrahim Kalin, "Al-Ghazali and Wittgenstein on the limits of philosophy", Daily Sabah, November 1, 2014. You can read the whole article here.

[2] Kemal Paşa-zâde, Tehâfüt hâşiyesi, translation from Arabic to Turkish by. Ahmet Arslan, Ankara: Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı, 1987, p. 25-26. In the pages where Kamalpashazadah deals with this issue, he states that  Fakhr al-Din al-Razi does not agree with Imam al-Ghazali as well by citing al-Razi's al-Matalib al-Aliya.

[3] Please refer for one of these treatises to: Engin Erdem ve Necmettin Pehlivan, "Varlığın ve Yokluğun Ötesi: Kemalpaşazade’nin 'Leys ve Eys’in Anlamının İncelenmesine Dair Risale'si / Beyond Being and Non-Being: Kamalpashazādah’s Risālah on the Analysis of the Meanings of  'Lays' and 'Ays' ", İslam Araştırmaları Dergisi, 2012, no 27, p. 87-116. You can reach the paper here.

[4] Please refer for the evaluation of this hashiya to: Harun Bekiroğlu, "Bir Felsefî Tefsir Örneği Olarak Muhammed Hâdimî’nin İbn Sina’ya Ait İhlâs Sûresi Tefsirine Haşiyesi / A Philosophical exegesis - Muhammad Hadimi's hashiya on Ibn Sina's exegesis of the chapter of al-Ikhlas", Hitit Üniversitesi İlahiyat Fakültesi Dergisi, 2013/1, vol. 12, no 23. You can read the article here.

[5] Index Librorum Prohibitorum is a list of publications prohibited by the Catholic church. The last update was done in 1948. It was abolished on June 14, 1966 by Pope Paul VI.

7 Ağustos 2015 Cuma

Islam and Science

How to consider the concepts in the relationship between religion and science is crucially important. Science has an aim to reach a solution or an understanding of a problem or a phenomenon through experimentation, observation and/or mathematical reasoning based on a well-established methodology. A scientist in this process always tries to evaluate how consistent the obtained knowledge is and open the door to new  discoveries. Science is not static and absolute. On the contrary, it continually changes as its previous mistakes are corrected with the help of critiques. In the sciences of religion, knowledge is obtained through a methodology as well. Unlike the scientific activities, the production of knowledge is mainly based on narrations (riwayah) from the main sources. That is, there is a narration instead of experimentation and observation. Obtained information is processed again with this methodology. Since the scholars of religion, like scientists, have an endeavor to access true knowledge, they discuss information they obtain with other scholars and publish their findings. Other scholars comment on these new ideas, thereby giving feedback to the process of obtaining knowledge. Reasoning plays an important role in obtaining knowledge in both religion and science. If there is a process of obtaining knowledge, it is impossible to realize this without the reasoning.

Islamic sources often define the taxonomy of science this way: “sciences (ulum) are divided into two parts: narrative/transmitted (naqli) sciences and rational (aqli) sciences. The knowledge of religion is obtained from the narrative sciences”. At first glance, it might come to mind that there is no room for reasoning in the narrative science within this taxonomy because “narrative” and “rational” concepts are mentioned separately. Reasoning, however, plays a crucial role in the sciences of religion, such as tafsir (exegesis), hadith, fiqh and kalam, which benefit from both social and  natural sciences. Let us discuss each of these sciences briefly: 

The science of hadith deals with the oral transmission of information over a social network, which is highly widespread with respect to time and space. In this transmission, the transmitters are required to satisfy some predefined conditions. Constructing and controlling such a network is based on rational activity. The science of tafsir tries to explain or comment the holy scripture in terms of riwayah (based on the hadiths and the sayings of sahabah, friends of the prophet, and tabiun, the next generation of sahabah) and  dirayah. Dirayah tafsir is mainly based on linguistics, historical resources and the general goals of Shariah. The science of kalam explains the principles of the faith based on naqli and aqli arguments. The naqli arguments constitute the primary dogmas of the religion, whereas rational sciences, such as logic, astronomy, geometry and mathematics, are used to found the aqli arguments. The science of fiqh arranges the relationship between individual and God, and individual and other individuals. The Islamic science tradition relies on the harmony of these two kinds of sciences: aqli and naqli. Ottoman madrasahs, the last ring of this tradition, introduced both aqli and naqli sciences into their curriculum (Please refer to [1] for further details  about the courses taught in the madrasahs). It is obvious that the aqli sciences are indispensable elements of this tradition. Elmalili Hamdi Efendi, who got education under this tradition and gave lectures in the Ottoman madrasahs, says about aqli and naqli sciences [2]: “There are naqli and aqli parts in every sciences. Neither naqli sciences are free from  reasoning (aql) nor aqli sciences are free from citation (naql). Progress does not mean to ignore the past values, but means to improve the past values by permitting modification and new discoveries. To put it another way,  progress means to add successors' property to predecessors' property”. A similar thought was stated in Newton's letter with the date of 1676 [3]: “If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”.
One of  the key properties Islamic science tradition has is freedom of thought. Scholars receiving ijazat (diploma) from their teachers in this tradition do not become a repeater of their own teachers; on the contrary, they  state their opinions upon matters they face. Establishing such an environment requires  toleration of different opinions. The students of scholars at highest level in science of fiqh made different ijtihads (juridical interpretations) from their masters. That is to say, they did not hesitate to declare when they drew conclusions that were different from the conclusions their masters came to. Ahmad Faruq al-Sarhandi (d. 1624), a great Indian scholar in kalam and tasawwuf and known as Imam Rabbani, explains this in one of his letters [4]: “After reaching the level of ijtihad, it is not correct that Imam Abu Yusuf follows Imam al-Azam Abu Hanifa. It is correct that Imam Abu Yusuf acts upon his own opinion and does not follow  Imam al-Azam. Imam Abu Yusuf famously said 'I argued with Imam Abu Hanife about whether al-Quran was created or not for six months'. Progress in professions is obtained by adding thoughts together. If it depended only on one thought, there would not be any progress. Since Sibawayh's (d. 796) book, namely al-Kitab, on the Arabic syntax, the amount of knowledge on the syntax has increased a hundredfold because of the new innovations and thoughts added to the knowledge of nahw (Arabic syntax). But, the person who formed the basis of the Arabic syntax is Sibawayh. The superiority therefore belongs to him. While the most superior in a science is its founder, the honor to increase a science belongs to successors”. An Ottoman countryside scholar Imam Birgiwi was able to stringently criticize Ottoman shaykh al-Islam Ebussuud Efendi because he gave a fatwa related to the validity of cash waqfs (charity foundations). This freedom of thought in the religious sciences can be easily observed in other sciences. 

Both tenets of creed (itiqad) and religious practices (amal) in Islam have made contributions to natural and applied sciences as well as social sciences. A creedal tenet in Islam, “The future is only known by God”, caused the separation of astronomy and astrology, hence freed astronomy from superstitions. Qadi Abu Bakr al-Baqillani (d. 1013), a theologian belonging to al-Ashari school, made a clear distinction between astronomy and astrology - until his time these two disciplines were interfered with each other - rejected astrology, and opposed astrologers [5]. Similarly Imam al-Ghazali (d. 1111) states in his book, Ihyau Ulum al-Din (the Revivification of the Religious Sciences), that knowledge is not bad per se and it can be discredited only due to one of three reasons. The second among them is that “a science is usually discredited because of its harm to the owner, such as ilm al-nujum (the science of the stars), which cannot completely be discredited per se because it is divided into two separate parts. The non-discredited part pertains to calculation. The Quran says that “the sun and the moon are running on their courses with a reckoning” or “The sun and the moon are made to a reckoning” ('al-shamsu wa al-qamaru bi husban', Rahman/5). The Quran again says that  “And for the moon We have appointed mansions till it becomes an old shriveled palm leaf” ('wa al-qamaru qaddarnahu manazila hatta aada ka al-urjuni al-qadim', Yasin/39). The discredited part of the science of the stars is concerned with judgment from the stars for the future. The religion has criticized it. … The Prophet Muhammad said, “After me, I am afraid for my ummah (the Muslim community) about three things: Cruelty of the rulers,  believing in nujum, rejecting qadar (Allahu taala's Eternal Will for the existing of something or predestination)” (Ibn Abdilberr from Abu Mihjan). [To discuss one of the early misconceptions in the history of science literature, I deliberately chose the above-mentioned scholars from the Ashari school (one of the schools of the theology in Islam). The orientalists, such as Edward Sachau and George Sarton, claimed that the Islamic scholars, especially those from the Ashari school, hindered the scientific progress in the Islamic world. The recent studies in the history of science have been showing that these claims do not reflect the truth.] From the point of view of amal (religious practices), Islam wants the believers to perform the prayer five times a day, fast and sacrifice an animal in a specified time. For instance, taking the prayer (salat) into consideration, determination of qibla (the direction of Kaaba in Makka) and prayer times led to the intensive studies on astronomy, hence mathematics and geometry in the Islamic civilization. Medicine has an important position in both ilm al-hadith (science of the Prophetic sayings) and ilm al-fiqh (science of Islamic law). In ilm al-hadith, the prohpetic sayings related to medicine were gathered together under the title of al-Tibb al-Nabawi (the Medicine of the Prophet). Because the Islamic law manages the every aspect of a human life, this science benefits also from medicine. Imam al-Ghazali complains about Muslims' lack of interest in medicine in some regions. He states in his book Ihya, “There are many regions in which the physicians are zimmi (literally those who are protected / the non-Muslim citizen in a Islamic state)” [7]. The following saying also declares the importance of medicine [8]: “There are two sciences: the science of body and the science of religion – 'al-ilmi ilman: ilmu al-abdan wa ilmu al-adyan'” [9].  

The beginnings of many sciences (astronomy, observation, medicine, arithmetic, physics, chemistry and  arts)  are based on prophets in the books penned in the Ottoman language such as Mirat-i Kainat, Mawduat al-ulum and Durr-i Maknun [10], [11], [12]. Furthermore, narrations, allegedly transmitted from the Prophet Muhammad, are reported that Plato and Socrates, commonly known today as Greek philosophers, were in fact prophets [13], [14]. The fact that the origin of the sciences  is rested upon prophets  in a society where the religion guides the life should be studied well. 

So far the relationship between Islam and science has been examined. The following should not be ignored: science is not a goal but a tool for humanity.  That such a tool brings felicity and serenity to humanity makes  it crucial to make use of this tool judiciously. Since Islam offers felicity in the world and the hereafter, Islam will intervene in how we should use this tool with its orders, prohibitions and ethical rules. Such an intervention  might remind us over a conflict between religion and science. Conceptually a conflict or harmony occurs among equals. If we talk about a conflict or harmony  between religion and science, we have to suppose that religion and science are able to intervene with each other. In this case, we should accept that science has a right to define its own ethical rules (or its boundlessness). In other words, science cannot be taken under control. This kind of thought  cancels the assumption that the science is a tool. If we consider science a tool, we have to accept an (religious or human) authority over science. Either way (a religious or human authority) takes the science under control. Hence, the conflict or harmony between religion and science is void.

Let us look at the issue from a philosophical point of view. The ultimate goal of philosophers is always to establish an ethical system (Ethics is a chart that tells an individual what he/she can and should do). A human-constructed ethical system has something to say to science. Should science be limited or can it do everything without any bound? Even today's Western World puts limits on science. Otherwise, a human can be treated as any kind of living/nonliving creature. For instance, can  those who are sentenced to death be used in experiments? After establishing human fields in which humans are grown  by connecting to a machine, can the organs of those humans be transplanted to other people? Should science not be limited by saying yes to such questions? 

Reference and Notes

[1] Cevat İzgi, Osmanlı Medreselerinde İlim (Science in the Ottoman Madrasahs), vol. I, İstanbul, 1997.

[2] Elmalılı M. Hamdi Yazır, Makaleler I, Compiled by Cüneyd Köksal, Murat Kaya, İstanbul, 1997, p. 247.  The phrase is in the article which is a preamble to his translation named as Tahlil-i Tarih-i Felsefe: Metâlib ve Mezâhib. The translation covers only the parts on theological philosophy and metaphysics  of (Paul Janet, Gabrielles Seailles) Histoire de la philosophie: Les problèmes et les écoles, which was published  in 1887. The original text can be accessed here. The English translation of the book can be also obtained here (vol 1, vol 2).

[3] David Brewster, Memoirs of The Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton, vol I, Edinburgh, 1860, p. 125. The book can be accessed here.

[4] Ahmed Farukî Serhendî, Mektûbât Tercümesi, Translated from Persian into Turkish by Hüseyin Hilmi Işık, İstanbul, 2001, 292nd letter, p. 464.

[5] George Saliba, “The Ash'arites and the science of the stars”, Editör Richard G. Hovannisian,Georges Sabagh, Religion and culture in  medieval Islam, Cambridge, 1999, p. 79-92.

[6] Gazâlî, Ihyâu 'ulûm al-dîn, Translated from Arabic into Turkish by Ahmed Serdaroğlu, İstanbul, 1974, vol. I, p. 78-79.

[7] Gazâlî, Ibid., p. 60.

[8] This saying is considered a hadith (prophetic saying) in Riyad al-Nasihin, written in Persian by Muhammad Rabhami in 1432 [Translated into Turkish by A. Faruk Meyan, Istanbul, 1980, p. 584]. However, this saying is also referred to Imam Shafii in Tashkopruluzada Ahmad Effendi's Mawduat al-ulum (Adapted into Modern Turkish by Mumin Cevik, Istanbul, 1966, voll. I, p. 262)  and Buhan al-Din al-Zarnuji's Talim al-Mutaallim (Translated into Turkish by Ali Kara, Istanbul, 2008, p. 37)

[9] After writing these lines, I read  an interview with the science historian Rushtu Rashid. He shared the same opinions as those in my last paraghraph. Rushtu Rashid, Klasik Avrupali  Modernintenin Icadi ve Islam'da Bilim, Editor Bekir S. Gur, Ankara, 2005, p. 316.

[10] Nishancizâde Muhammed bin Ahmad, Mir'at-ı Kâinât, Adapted into Modern Turkish by A Farûk Meyân, İstanbul, 1987, p.117, 124, 394-396. Nishancizada (d. 1031/1571), working as a mudarris (professor) and molla (qadi of the Holy Cities), wrote a history book based on more than 300 books. This book  was widely read in the Ottoman time. The following information is given on page 11 about the pages (suhuf) that were revealed to the first prophet Adam: “There was information about medicine, mathematics, physics,  chemistry and other sciences in  these pages (suhuf)”. On page 124, it is stated about the Prophet Idris (Enoch): “He knew astronomy, arithmetics, medicine, the secrets of plants, how to write, stitch, measure  and more”. It is written on page 394 that “The prophet Sheet (Seth) had 50 pages (suhuf) covering wisdom, mathematics, chemistry, arts, and many other sciences”.

[11] Tashkopruluzada Ahmad Effendi, Mawduat al-Ulum, Translated from Arabic into Ottoman Turkish by Kamaladdin Mahmud Effendi, Istanbul, 1313, p. 338. The original name of this books is Miftah al-Saadah, which was translated into Ottoman Turkish by the author's son. Mawduat al-Ulum was adapted from Ottoman Turkish into Modern Turkish by Mumin Cevik (Suleman Kuku) and was published as two volumes in Istanbul in 1966. Page 251 states that “the prophet Idris (Enoch) was the master of all the sciences. God gave him the prophethood and wisdom  along with the knowledge of stars and mathematics. In his time, 72 different languages were spoken”.

[12] Yazıcıoğlu Ahmed Bîcan, Dürr-i Meknûn (İnceleme, Çeviriyazı, Dizin, Tıpkıbasım), Prepared by. Ahmet Demirtaş, İstanbul, 2009, p. 123: “The prophet Idris established the science of stars and observation”. Another critical edition was prepared by Laban Kaptein in 2007. You can reach the website of this edition here. For a version of the book adapted into Modern Turkish:  Yazıcızâde Ahmed Bîcan, Dürr-i Meknûn (Saklı İnciler), Adapted from Ottoman Turkish into Modern Turkish by Necdet Sakaoğlu, 1999, p. 48.

[13] Nev’î Efendi, Netâyij al-Funûn (The essence of the sciences), Prepared by Ömer Tolgay, İstanbul, 1995, p. 126-127. In this book, a hadith was narrated about the prophethoodness of Aflatun (Plato). It is also stated that some scholars consider Socrates a prophet.

[14] Paul Janet, Gabrielles Seailles, Tahlil-i Tarih-i Felsefe: Metâlib ve Mezâhib, Metafizik ve İlahiyat, Translated from French into Ottoman Turkish by Elmalılı Hamdi Yazır, Haz. Muhtar Yazır ve Ayhan Yalçın, İstanbul, 1978, In the footnote of page 237, Elmalılı Hamdi Efendi says about Socrates: “It is narrated that Socrates has the properties of the prophethood. There is no problem to see him as a prophet. Socrates is a philosopher that benefit from the deductive reasoning, which does not prevent him from receiving ilham (inspiration from God)”. In the trial of Socrates, he was accused of  the crimes of irreligiousness because he rejected the Greek's polytheism.

16 Temmuz 2015 Perşembe

Osmanlıca Matbu Fıkh ve Usûl-ı Fıkh Kitapları

Osmanlı'da hukuk çalışmalarına dair tafsilatlı bir bibliyografi neşrine ihtiyaç olduğu kanaatindeyim. Ahmet Mumcu'nun Türk Hukuk Bibliyografyası dikkate değer olmakla beraber, eksiklikleri var. Mesela Ebussuud Efendi'nin dua mecmuası, sadece ismine bakıldığından muhakeme usulune dair bir kitap olarak fişlenmiş. Ayrıca birçok fıkh kitabı derlemeye dahil edilmemiş; dahil edilen kitapların hususiyetlerine dair izah da verilmemiştir. Jale Baysal'ın Osmanlı Türklerinin Bastıkları Kitaplar 1729-1875 adlı kitabı da bir diğer dikkate değer kitaptır. Ancak hem kitap isimlerinde hem de tasnifinde hatalar mevcuttur.

Günümüzde meseleleri fıkh kitaplarına müracaat ederek halletme şuuru maalesef azaldı. Halbuki Kuran-ı Kerim, hadis-i şerifler ve icmaya binaen meseleleri sistematik olarak ele alan fıkh/usul-ı fıkh bir müslümanın hayatının pusulasıdır. Onsuz yolunu şaşırır. 

Burada sadece Osmanlıca matbu fıkh ile alakalı kitaplar, fıkh, usul-ı fıkh ve fıkh tarihi olmak üzere üç başlık altında toplanacaktır. Bu kitaplar, telif, terceme ve terceme-şerh mahiyetindedir. Osmanlıca'ya yapılan tercemelerin hususiyetlerinden biri de, metin sadece terceme edilmeyip şerhinin de yapılmasıdır.

Aşağıdaki liste bir başlangıçtır. Zamanla genişleyip, kitapların hususiyetlerine dair malumat da eklenecektir.


  1. Kuduri Şerif Tercemesi (Aziziyye), Ebü'l-Hüseyin Ahmed b. Muhammed Emin el-Kudurî, mütercim Mehmed Emin Fehim Paşa (Kars Sancağı Mutasarrıfı), Dersaadet : Şirket-i Sahafiye-i Osmaniye Matbaası, 21 Zilkade 1315, def’a-i rabia (4. tab), 339 sahife. 1320, def’a-i hamse (5. tab)
  2. Şerhu'l-Mevkufâti, Mevkufâti Mehmed Efendi, 1302, 2 cild. cild1 ve cild2 {İbrahim Halebi'nin Mülteka'l-Ebhur kitabının Türkçeye terceme ve şerhidir}
  3. Halebi Tercümesi Babadaği, İbrahim b.M.b.İbrahim el-Hanefi el-Halebi, mütercim İbrahim b. Abdillah el-Babadaği, Dersaadet : Matbaa-i Yusuf Ziya, 1341, 316 s. {İbrahim Halebi'nin namaza dair bahisleri ihtiva eden Halebi-i Sağir kitabının Türkçeye tercemesi}
  4. Tercemetü't-Tahtavî, Alaeddin Muhammed b. Ali b. Muhammed ed-Dımaşkî el-Haskefî, mütercim Abdülhamid en-Nakşibendi el-Halidi el-Ayıntabî, 8 cild. {Tahtavî'nin Dürrü'l-Muhtar üzerine yazdığı kıymetli haşiyenin Türkçeye tercemesidir. Türkçedeki en hacimli fıkıh kitabıdır.} ekitap
  5. Terceme-i Düreri'l-hükkâm fî Şerhi Gureri'l-ahkâm, Molla Hüsrev Mehmed b. Feramürz b. Ali, 2 cild, İstanbul : Tabhane-i Amire, 1258 (1. tab). İstanbul : Matbaa-i Âmire, 1292 (2. tab) ekitap
  6. Terceme-i Şerhu'l-Siyeri'l-Kebir, İmam Muhammed Şeybanî, şârih Şemsüleimme Serahsi, mütercim Mehmed Münib el-Ayintabî, Kostantiniyye: Tabhane-i Mamure, 1241, 2 cild, 357+373 s.
  7. Tercüme-i Siyerü'l-Halebî, İbrahim el-Halebî, mütercim Ahmed Asım, Kahire, 1832
  8. Tesîsü'n-Nazar ve Ruhu'l-Fıkh, Debbusî, mütercim İbnü'l-Hazm Ferid, Mizanü'l-Hukuk Matbaası, 1328, 108 s. {Hanefi fakihi Debbusî'nin (v. 430/1039) hilaf ilmine dair Tesîsü’n-Nazar fi İhtilâfi’l-Eimme kitabının tercemesidir.}
  9. Mecelle şerhleri
    • Dürerü’l-Hükkâm Şerhu Mecelleti’l-Ahkâm, Ali Haydar (Küçük Haydar) Efendi, İstanbul, 1330, 4 cild. {Mecelle'nin tam ve en meşhur şerhidir.} ekitap
    • Mirkatü'l-Mecelle, Ali Haydar Efendi. {Mecelle'nin 11. Kitabından sonuna kadar.}
    • Ruhü'l-Mecelle, Hacı Reşîd Paşa (Musul vâlisi), 1326-1328, 8 cild.  cild 1-4 ve cild 5-8
    • Mecelle-i Ahkâm-ı Adliyye Şerhi, Türkzâde Ziyaeddîn Efendi, 1312. 
    • Mecelle-i Ahkâm-ı Adliyye Şerhi, Kuyucaklızade Mehmed Atıf Bey (Evkâf-ı Hümâyûn İdare Meclisi reisi). {Mecelle'nin ilk dokuz kitabının şerhidir. Müellefin vefatı üzerine tamamlanamamıştır.}
    • Eserü's-Said fi Asrı'l-Hamid. {Mecelle'nin ilk kitabının, yani Kitâbül-Büyu'nun şerhidir.}
  10. Fetâvâ
    • Behcetü’l-Fetâvâ ma'an-Nükûl, Ebü’l-Fadl Abdullah b. M. el-Hanefi el-Yenişehri, Abdullah Efendi, Derleyen: M.Fıkhi el-Ayni. İstanbul: Muhammed Recai, 1266, 5+643 s. ekitap
    • Fetâvâ-ı Ali Efendi ma'an-Nükûl, Şeyhülislâm Çatalcalı Ali, Toplayan ve Düzenleyen: Salih b. Ahmed el-Kefevî, İstanbul, 1856. ekitap
    • Neticetü'l-Fetâvâ ma'an-Nükûl, Dürrizâde Mehmed Arif, Nükulleri İlave Eden: Mehmed Hafız
    • Fetâvâ-ı Feyziyye ma'an-Nükûl, Şeyhülislam Feyzullah  Efendi, İstanbul: Darü't-Tıbaatü'l-Amire, 1266. 572 s. ekitap
    • Fetâvâ-ı Abdürrahim, Menteşizâde Abdurrahim, Tashih: İbrahim Saib, Beldetü't-Tayyibeti'l-Kostantiniyye: Darü't-Tıbaati'l-Mamureti's-Sultaniye, 1243, 2 cild, 578+584 s.
    • Fetâvâ-ı Ankaravî, Mehmed Emin el-Ankaravî, Tashih: Muhammed es-Sabbağ, Bulak:Dârü't-Tıbaati'l-Mısriyye, 1281, 2 cild, 443+435 s.
    • Fetâvâ-ı İbn Nüceym ve Tercümesi, İbn-i Nüceym Zeynel Âbidin b. İbrahim, Terceme: es-Seyyid Hasan Refet, İstanbul: Şeyh Yahya Efendi Matbaası, 1289, 2+363 s. ekitap
    • Fetâvâ-ı Camiü'l-İcareteyn, Meşrebzâde Mehmed Ârif, İstanbul: Darüttıbaatü'l-Âmire, 1252, 427 s. ekitap
    • Hülasatü'l-Ecvibe, Çeşmîzâde Mehmed Halis, İstanbul: Matbaa-ı el-Hac Muharrem Efendi, 1286, 264 s. {Netîcetü'l-Fetâvâ, Fetâvâ-ı Ali Efendi, Behcetü’l-Fetâvâ, Fetâvâ-ı Abdürrahîm, Fetâvâ-ı Feyziyye ve Fetâvâ-ı İbn Nüceym’deki fetvalardan derleme} ekitap
  11. İlmihaller
    • el-Mecmuatü'z-Zühdiyye fi'l-Ahkami'd-Diniyye, Seyyid Ahmed Zühdü Paşa, İstanbul: Matba’a-ı Osmaniyye, 318+4 s.
    • Nimet-i İslam, Mehmed Zihni Efendi. ekitap
    • İslam Yolu, İskilibli Mehmed Âtıf Efendi, İstanbul: Evkâf-ı İslâmiye Matbaası, 1338
    • Envarü'l-Hamid fi Fıkhı Ehli't-Tevhid, Sabrizâde Ali Nureddin Abdullah, Dersaadet: 1317, 3 cild, 159+134+150 s.
    • Tercümeli İman ve İbâdet Dersleri, Mehmed Demir Hâfız, İstanbul: Ahmed Kamil Matbaası, 1926 (4. tab), 32 s.
    • İlm-i Hâl-i Sagîr, Süleyman Hüsnü Paşa, Konstantiniyye: Matbaa-i Ebu'l-Ziyâ, 1317 (13. tab), 48 s.
    • İlm-i Hâl-i Kebir, Süleyman Hüsnü Paşa, İstanbul: Mihrân Matbaası, 1300 (3. tab), 112 s.
    • Dürr-i Yekta Şerhi, İmamzâde Mehmed Esad, Derse'âdet: Matbaa-i Osmaniye, 1309, 211 s.
  12. Din-i İslam’da Men-i Müskirat, İskilipli Mehmed Âtıf Efendi, 1345, 32 s.
  13. Teshilü'l-Feraiz, Hoca Emin Efendizâde Ali Haydar, İstanbul, 1322, 234 s.
  14. Medhal-i Fıkh, Abdüssettar Kırımî, İstanbul: Mahmud Bey Matbaası, 1299, 31 s.
  15. Hamza Efendi’nin Bey’ ve Şira Risalesinin Şerhi, İsmail b. Osman b. Ebi Bekr b.Yusuf (Osmanpazari Müftüsü) eş-Şumnuvi, İstanbul: Matbaa-i Amire, 1260, 2+91 s.
  16. Elğâz-ı Fıkhıyye, Mehmed Zihni Efendi, İstanbul: Kasabar Matbaası, 1309, 232 s. {Fıkh kitaplarına göre tasnif edilmiş fıkhi bilmecelere dair} ekitap
  17. Vezaifü'l-Kudat Tercemesi, Hasan Sıdkı Efendi, Derse‘âdet, 1307.
  18. İltimasü'l-âlem alâ Mezhebi'l-İmami'l-Âzam, Kangırılı Hüseyn Reşad, Kostantiniyye: Matbaa-i Âmire, 1306, 86 s. {Hayvan kesimine dair fıkhi hükümler. Sonunda istidafe edilen kitapların listesi var.}
  19. Hulâsatu’l-Muhtâreyn, Süleyman Sırrı, Derse‘âdet: Mahmud Bey Matbaası, 1324, 126 s. {Reddü'l-Muhtar esas alınarak nikah ve talak bahislerini havidir}
  20. Muhtasar Dimâü’n-Nisâ, Abdullah Edib Ayntâbî, Derse‘âdet: Sada-ı Millet Matbaası, 1327, 40 s. {Hanefi mezhebine göre hayz ve nifas}
  21. Medhal-i Fıkh, Süleyman Sırrı, Konstantiniyye: Matbaa-i Ebu'z-Ziya, 1329, 120 s.
  22. Tesettür-i Şer'i, İskilibli Mehmed Atıf, İstanbul: Matbaa-i Âmire, 1339, 16 s.
  23. Tenvirü'l-Ahkâm fî Tebyin-i Müşkilâti'l-Hükkâm, Arabzâde Mehmed Emin, İstanbul: İbrahim Efendi Matbaası, 1290,  45 s. {Kudatın fazileti, âdâb-ı murafa'a ve muhakemeye dair}
  24. Miyar-ı Adâlet, Ömer Hilmi, İstanbul: Hacı Muharrem Efendi Matbaası, 1301, 86 s. {Cinayet ve diyete dair} ekitap

Usûl-ı Fıkh

  1. Teshil-i Mirkatü'l-Vusul ilâ İlmi'l-Usûl, Mehmed b. Feramuz Molla Hüsrev, mütercim: Gelibolulu Osman b. Mustafa Efendi ekitap
  2. Levâmiü'd-Dekâik fi Tercemeti Mecamii'l-Hakâik, Ebu Said Hadimi, terceme (Meclis-i Mearif azası) Ahmed Hamdi Şirvani, 1293, 312+24+18+42+8 s.
  3. Usûl-ı Fıkh Dersleri, Büyük Haydar Efendi, not tutan Hacı Adil Arda, İstanbul : Matbaa-i Amire, 1326, 558 s.
  4. Usûl-ı Fıkh, Mehmed Zihni Efendi
  5. Usûl-ı Fıkh, Mahmud Esad b. Emin Seydişehrî, İstanbul: Mekteb-i Sanayi Matbaası, 1302, 384 sahife (1. cild)
  6. Telhis-i Usûl-ı Fıkh, Mahmud Esad b. Emin Seydişehrî
  7. Türkçe Muhtasar Usûl-ı Fıkh, Ahmed Hamdi Şirvanî, İstanbul : Mihran Matbaası, 1301, 133+3 s. ekitap
  8. Usûl-ı Fıkh Sualleri, Dersaadet : Matbaa-i Hukukiyye, 1330, 8 s.
  9. ez-Zeriatü ilâ İlmi’ş-Şeria, Abdulkadir Saduddin, Dersaadet : Mahmud Bey Matbaası, 1311, 146 s.

Fıkh Tarihi

  1. Tarih-i İlm-i Fıkh (Darulfünun Ulum-i Şeriye Şubesi Ders Takriri), Kamil Miras, İstanbul,1331, 112 s.
  2. Mevâhibü'r-Rahman fi Menâkıbi'l-İmam Ebi Hanifeti'n-Numân, İbn Hacer Heytemii, terceme ve şerh Manastırlı İsmail Hakkı, Derseadet: Mahmud Bey Matbaası, 1310, 214 s.
  3. Tabakât-ı Fukaha, Mahmud Tevfik, İstanbul: İkbal Millet Matbaası, 1325, 20 s.
  4. Terceme-i Vasıyetnâme-i İmam Azam, terceme Şeyh İbrahim Nureddin, İstanbul : Darü't-Tıbaati'l-Âmire, 1264, 19 s.
  5. Meşâhir-i Ashâb-i Güzin ve Terâcim-i Ahval-i Fukâha, Hilmizâde İbrahim Rıfat, Darü'l-Hilafeti'l-Aliyye: Kütübhane-i Cihan, 1319, 176 s.
  6. el-Fevâyihü'l-Münife fi Tercümeti'n-Nasayıhi li Ebi Hanife, Müftizâde Mehmed Kamil, İstanbul: Nişan Berberyan Matbaası, 1312, 97 s. {İbn Nüceym hazretlerinin el-Eşbah ve'n-Nezâir kitabının bir kısmının tercümesi}

1 Mayıs 2015 Cuma

Golden City: Timbuktu

For some reason, the history of Africa is not interesting to Turkish academia. Some part of this continent was, however, inside the territory of the Ottoman State until recently. The topic of this article covers the history of Timbuktu, which was once one of the most important centers in Africa, and Europe's desire to Timbuktu.

“Salt comes from the north, gold from the south, and silver from the country of the white men, but the word of God and the treasures of wisdom are only to be found in Timbuctoo” says an old African (Tamasheq) proverb[1].

The life of Timbuktu, which today is inside the territory of Mali, began as a trading center of Tuareg people by the end of 11th century. Timbuktu, which became an important city by constant growth, has gained an international reputation as the center of trade and knowledge despite its different perception in the eyes of the Europeans [2]. Even though the exact location of Timbuktu was not known in Europe for many centuries, the city was believed to have houses which were made of gold [3]. The name of this city is variably called Tombuto, Tambucto, Tombuctoo or Timbuctoo in European languages.

Timbuktu was one of the important centers where Islamic sciences were taught. Although the region was ruled by different people, such as Mali, Songay and Mor, scholars uninterruptedly continued doing research and teaching students. Scholars in Timbuktu have been interested not only in tafsir (Quranic exegesis), hadith (Prophetic tradition), fiqh (Islamic law) and kalam (theology), but also linguistics, history, mathematics, logic and astronomy. A bibliographic dictionary, which was written by Ahmad Baba (1556-1627) and contains the biographies and works of scholars between the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century, demonstrates Timbuktu's high level in Islamic sciences and its close contact with Makka and Madina [5].

Sankore Madrasah in which scientific activity has lasted for centuries
Leos Africanus (Hasan bin Muhammad al-Wazzan al-Zayyati), who traveled around Africa upon the request of Pope in the 16th century, gives clues in his travel book regarding the intellectual life in Timbuktu [6]: “Here are great store of doctors, judges, priests, and other learned men, that are bountifully maintained at the kings cost and charges. And hither are brought diuers manuscripts or written bookes out of Barbarie, which are sold for more money than any other merchandize”.

Hunwick, an African historian, presents notable information about Timbuktu [7]. Timbuktu's being center of knowledge was the impetus for the increase in writing and trading of books from there. Timbuktu did not import manuscripts only from north Africa and Egypt. Scholars got education in Makka where they went to for religious pilgrimage and also in Cairo which was on their way back, bringing the books they copied in those places to their own libraries. There was an active copying tradition in Timbuktu, too. It can be realized from the colophons on the books written in Timbuktu that the writing process was a professional business. Hunwick mentions al-Quran al-Karim with 1420 date in the library of Mahmud Kati he encountered on August, 1999. The last page was written in Ottoman Turkish and al-Quran was recorded in the name of Sharifa Hadija Hanim foundation.

Thousands of manuscripts are waiting to be read
UNESCO added Timbuktu to the World Heritage List in 1988. By the support of the Ford Foundation, Timbuktu manuscripts project was initiated in order to protect these manuscripts by digitization in 2000. This project also is included in Memory of the World projects of UNESCO [8].

Few cities in the world are surrounded by legends as Timbuktu. The city is located at the intersection of the caravan trades in the Sahara. The fundamental commodity of the Saharan trade was gold. Throughout the Middle Ages, almost two-thirds of the gold need in the world were provided by the West Africa. Later on, since gold came from Guinea in the 17 and 18th centuries, gold currency was called “guinea”. A tremendous amount of gold was sent to the north and sold in the Timbuktu market. Gold was carried from here to Fez and Tripoli passing through the Sahara by camels. Most of this gold used to be sold to Europe. As time went on, the knowledge that the gold came from Timbuktu spread out over Europe. This played an important role in shaping the image of Timbuktu in Europe. Even though the gold trade passing through Timbuktu ended a long time ago, the myth of Timbuktu became bigger and more pervasive in Europe [4].

The European explorers who set out for new markets, new trade routes and new sources spread out all corners of the world in order to accomplish their purpose. Besides being an interesting place, Africa had significant natural resources. Some of these explorers had a desire to become the first European to reach Timbuktu. Few of them achieved their aim. This cultivated the image of Timbuktu as an unreachable city in addition to its image of golden city. The phrases, such as “To Timbuktu and back”, “It is a long way to Timbuktu”, “I will knock you clear to Timbuktu” and “Go to Timbuktu”, are the reflection of Timbuktu's image of unreachability on the language.

We can see the clues about how Europe imagines Africa in the article “Africa” in the 1778 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica [9]: “abounds with gold and silver in a greater degree . . . and it is surprising that neither the ancient or modern Europeans, notwithstanding their extraordinary and insatiable thirst after gold and silver, should have endeavoured to establish themselves effectively in a country much nearer to them than either America or the East Indies and where the objects of their desires are to be found in equal, if not greater, plenty”.

An African map published in 1790 by the African Association
The European adventure in Africa dates back to very early times. After 18th century, this adventure, however, turned into a systematic exploration movement. In 1788, the African Association (with the full name, The Association for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa) was founded, whose purposes were to determine and map the route of the Niger River and more importantly to find the famous city Timbuktu. William Sinclair, grandchild of the association co-founder Sir John Sinclair, says the following in his article about the association [10]: “In 1788 he took a leading part in forming an association to promote discoveries in Africa. At that date the map of Africa, beyond the coast-line and Egypt, was almost a blank. Hitherto Europeans had visited that continent to plunder, oppress, and enslave: the share of this country in the slave-trade is the most astounding and disgraceful chapter in its history. The object of this society was to promote the cause of science and humanity, to explore the mysterious geography, to ascertain the resources, and to improve the condition of that ill-fated continent. In furtherance of their designs they employed able and experienced travellers to penetrate as far as they could into the interior, and collect information on all subjects interesting to the philosopher or the philanthropist. Towards the expenses of these missions each member paid an annual subscription. ... The result of their labours has thrown new lustre on the British name, and widely extended the boundaries of human knowledge. They have caused a solid and permanent glory, and have acquired higher claims to the admiration of mankind than many of those whose achievements fill the first place in the page of history”. At the end of his article, William Sinclair wishes this: “Had the Association continued its existence, it might have done much for the peaceful solution of many African problems, and for the general improvement of commerce and knowledge”. Later on, the areas under the investigation were colonized by France. Taking into account France's lack of administrative skill, Sinclair's wishes are convincing. These wishes, however, can unfortunately not be fulfilled as long as the West has the exploitative attitude towards the non-Western countries.

Europe's desire for Timbuktu also was reflected through poems. Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892), a poet laureate, won the “Chancellor's Gold Medal” from Cambridge University by his poem “Timbuctoo” at the age of 18. William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863), an English novelist, penned another poem titled “Timbuctoo” in order to satirize Alfred's poem [11].

West Africa was a French colony between 1893 and 1960. The traditional education keeps on in Timbuktu where an intense scientific activity continued until 18th century. Timbuktu now is far from the good old days and has become a place where thousands of manuscripts are in the storerooms of houses and the poverty prevails.

When the host in the documentary “The Lost Libraries of Timbuktu” of BBC saw the manuscripts about astronomy and mathematics in Timbuktu, she was very surprised at these books. Of course a person, coming from a wealthy country that has enslaved black people and exploited (with the West's innocent word 'colonize') their countries, will be surprised.

References and Notes

[1] Dubio Felix, Timbuctoo-The Mysterious, Translation from French by Diana White, London, 1896, p. 276.

[2] Y. G.-M. Lulat, A history of African higher education from antiquity to the present: a critical synthesis, London, 2005, p. 72.

[3] Brian Gardner, The Quest for Timbuctoo, London, 1968, p. 9.

[5] Ira Marvin Lapidus, A history of Islamic societies, Cambridge University Press, 2002 , p. 409. For the contributions of Islam to intellectual life in Africa, please refer to: Scott Steven Reese, The transmission of learning in Islamic Africa, Brill, 2004.

[6] Leo Africanus, The history and description of Africa: and of the notable things, Translated by John Pory, Prepared by Robert Brown, Hakluyt Society, London, 1896, vol. 3, p. 825. All the volumes can be downloaded here (vol. 1, vol. 2 and vol. 3).

[7] John O. Hunwick, West Africa, Islam, and the Arab world: studies in honor of Basil Davidson, Princton, 2006, pp. 41-42. Hunwick presents a comprehensive bibliography regarding Timbuktu: John O. Hunwick, “Timbuktu: a bibliography”, Sudanic Africa, vol.12, pp. 115-129 , 2001. This paper can be downloaded here.

[8] You can reach the Timbuktu website of UNESCO the World Heritage List here. You can also reach the detailed information about the Timbuktu Manuscripts Project here. The website of The Library of Congress provides some part of thousands digitized manuscripts. West African Arabic Manuscript Database Project has classified approximately 23,000 manuscripts based on their subjects. One of the catalogs published by Al-Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation presents 9000 manuscripts in the Ahmad Baba library, Timbuktu. The book titled Arabic Literature of Africa The Writings of Western Sudanic Africa edited by John O. Hunwick was published in 2003. Another valuable book about the intellectual life in Africa was published under the title The Trans-Saharan Book Trade : Manuscript Culture, Arabic Literacy and Intellectual History in Muslim Africa in 2010. The Meanings of Timbuktu (Editors  Shamil Jeppie and Souleymane Bachir Diagne) published in 2008 can be downloaded here.

[9] Robin Hallett, “The European approach to the interior of Africa in the eighteenth century”, The Journal of African History, vol. 4, no.2, pp. 191-206, 1963.

[10] William Sinclair, “The African Association of 1788”, Journal of the Royal African Society, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 145-149, 1901. The association used to publish the information they gathered under the title of Proceedings of the Association for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa. You can reach the pdf version of  the 1798  report. Robin Hallett published the association's records under the title of Records of the African Association in 1963,  London.

[11] William Makepeace Thacke, The works of William Makepeace Thacke, Kensington Edition, Volume XXX, New York, 1904, p. 457-460 or William Makepeace Thackeray, Essays, Reviews, Hesperides Press, 2008, p. 410-412. The 1904 edition of the book can be downloaded here.

Fiqh/Law and Handasa/Geometry

While reading Sadri Maksudi's Hukuk Tarihi Dersleri (Lectures of Legal History) in Ottoman-Turkish, the section titled “Leibniz'in Hukuk Tarihine Hizmeti (Leibniz's service to legal history)” drew attention to me [1]. I checked whether there was any recent study dealing with the same topic. I encountered the paper titled “Law & Geometry: Legal Science from Leibniz to Langdell” [2], which reminded me of an old Turkish couplet [3]:

Hendese ilm-i fıkhın mizanıdır 
Kim anı kem eyleye, nasın çinganıdır. 

Handasa (geometry) is the balance of the science of fiqh
Whoever looks down to it or neglects it is the most inferior of people.

Geometry is deemed a balance for fiqh in this couplet. Those who ignore geometry are criticized. “Islamic law” terminology is commonly used instead of fiqh, but does not wholly cover the meaning of fiqh. This couplet establishes a relationship between law and geometry. In geometry, definite knowledge is obtained through proving theorems, which is mentioned in Tahafut al-Falasifa by Imam Ghazali. Because of this importance, geometry kept its position in the curriculum until the Ottoman madrasas were abolished. Toderini, an Italian Jesuit, could not fail to mention the importance of geometry in the madrasas [4].

References and Notes

[1] Sadri Maksudi, İkinci Sene Hukuk Tarihi Dersleri, 1926-1927 sene-i tedrisiyesinde takrir edilen ders notları, Ankara Hukuk Mektebi, p. 9.  The book can be downloaded here.

[2] M. H. Hoeflich, "Law & Geometry: Legal Science from Leibniz to Langdell", The American Journal of Legal History, vol. 30, no. 2 (Apr., 1986), pp. 95-121.

[3] Prof. Ekrem Bugra Ekinci said on a radio program that this couplet was hung on the wall in Darü'ş-Şafaka High School in the Ottoman era.

[4] Giambatista Toderini, Türklerin Yazılı Kültürü [Turkish Literature], Translation from French into Turkish by Ali Berktay, İstanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2012, p.65-67. 

22 Nisan 2015 Çarşamba

Copernicus and Ottoman

Copernicus introduced the general outline of his new theory in his treatise titled Commentariolus. He stated in this treatise that the Earth is only the center of the orbit of the Moon, not the center of the solar system, and that all the planets revolve around the Sun. He, however, left many deficits in his theory. He died after a few hours when he saw the first edition of his book, De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium, on May 24, 1543 [1].

To the best of my knowledge, the Islamic world had first contact with Copernicus astronomy through Tazkiraji Kosa Ibrahim Effendi of Zigatwar's Arabic translation of Noel Duret's Latin text Novae Motuum Caelestium Ephemerides Rischelianae with corrections and additions under the title of Sajanja al-Aflaq fi Gayrat al-Idraq. He later translated into Ottoman Turkish. The heliocentric model, which led to the conflict between science and religion in Europe, was considered merely a scientific issue among the Ottoman scholars, who then preferred this model over the geocentric model, a.k.a. the Ptolemaic model [2].

The transition from the geocentric model to the heliocentric model resulted in the coordinate change, which did not have an effect in terms of the astronomical calculations. Tazkiraji Kosa Ibrahim Effendi says in his work [3]:

 “In 1461, Peurbach and Regiomontaus, German scholars,  determined the errors of Alfonso's Zij (astronomical table). Although Regiomontaus had begun to make observations in order to correct this zij, he died before completing his study. A few years later Nicolaus Copernicus established a new method in 1525, determining the errors of Alfonso's Zij and finding its basis unsound.

Copernicus, establishing a new basis, constructed a small new zij by assuming that the Earth was moving. This zij was in use for 60 years until the time of Tycho Brahe. 

While Tycho Brahe, in the coasts of Reine, was correcting Copernicus's Zij through observations with a great number of more accurate devices, the Bohemian military expedition began. Even though he desired to publish the drafts of his zij,  his life was not sufficiently long to finish that. The zij as good as Tycho's zij was eventually produced by his contemporary Longomontanus of Daina. 

After that, Johannes Kepler (d. 1630), who was working in the palace of the Spain King Rudolph, prepared an original zij to contain all the stars based on Tycho's observations, and called it Zij of Rudolph. As stated by Kepler, this zij was not consistent with all the observations because the positions of the stars Ptotemy observed did not match up to the positions in this zij. The solar and lunar eclipses also showed incongruity with this zij. Eventually Duret constructed a zij based on Lansberge's zij using 30 years of observations. I, Ibrahim al-Zigatwari and also known as Tazkiraji, had Duret's work brought from abroad and translated this work”.


[1] Robert B. Downs, Dünyayı Değiştiren Kitaplar [Books That Changed the World], Translation into Turkish by Erol Güngör, İstanbul, 2008, p.187,190. 

[2] Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Osmanlılar ve Bilim [Ottomans and Science], İstanbul, 2003, p. 37. 

[3] Ibid., p. 166-168.

14 Nisan 2015 Salı

Riddles in Islamic Teaching Tradition

Since ilm (knowledge) has been one of the primary focuses of Islamic civilization, books, one of the transmission media of ilm, have drawn much attention. While transferring knowledge into books, not only prose form but also verse form has been used. 

Today's scholars are doing research on how to get young generation to like ilm and how to avoid making them bored while they are studying difficult and uninteresting books in the first stages of their education life. Fortunately, through computer technology, books have recently become interactive and subjects of  courses are being taught with video and animations.

Centuries ago, Islamic scholars produced different mediums to the extent that they could do so as to increase the curiosity of the new learners and to enable them to learn with fun. One of these mediums is the riddle. Arabic word “Algaz” is a plural form of lugz (lam gayn za) and means riddles.

The titles of some riddle books on different topics are given below:

Nahw (Syntax)
al-Azharî, al-Alğazu al-Nahwiyya fî Ilm al-Arabiyya
Suyutî, al-Tirâz fi al-Alğâz
Zamahsharî, al-Muhâjât bi al-Masâil al-Nahwiyya
Abu al-Ma'âlî al-Varrâk, al-İcâz fi al-Ahâcî wa al-Alğaz
Abu al-Kâsım al-Harîrî, Alğâzu al-Harîrî wa  Ahâcîhî fi Mâkâmâtihî
Ibn Hisham, al-Alğâzu al-Nahwiyya

Fiqh (Islamic Law)
Abdalaziz al-Jîlî, al-İcâz fi al-Alğâz
Ibn Fârid al-Hamawî, al-Alğâz
Ibn Farhûn, Durretu al-Ğavâs fi Muhadarat al-Havâs
al-Jarrâ'î, Hilyatu al-Tirâz fi Halli Masâil al-Alğâz
Sadruddin İbnu al-İzz al-Hanafî, al-Tazhîb li Zihni al-Labîb
Ibnu al-Shihna (d. 890/1485), al-Zahairu al-Ashrafiyya fi al-Alğaz al-Hanafiyya. It was published.
Ibn Ğalbûnn,  al-Tuhfa fî İlmi al-Mawârîs
Karaçelebizâde Abdülazîz Efendi (d. 1068/1658), Kitâb al-Algaz fî Fiqh al-Hanafiyya. He was the 33th grand mufti of the Ottoman Empire. I could not access the manuscript form of this book.
Mehmed Zihni Efendi (d. 1332/1913), Algâz-i Fiqhiyya. Zihni Efendi has knowledge on literature and fiqh. His book titled Nimet-i Islam is well-known catechism. Even today it is among the books which are frequently referred in Turkey. Algaz-i Fiqhiyya was written in Ottoman-Turkish language in the form of translation-sharh (commentary). Even though Algaz-i Fiqhiyya is dedicated to fiqh, it contains riddles related to arithmetic and intelligence. The book is based on algaz section of Hanafi faqih Ibn Nucaym's Ashbah. Algaz-i Fiqhiyya also was published in modern Turkish with unnecessary simplifications.

Qiraat (Quran reading)
Shamsaddin b. Muhammad al-Jazarî, Alğâz al-Jazarî or al-Aqdu al-Samîn fi Alğâz al-Qur’ân al-Mubîn
Alaaddin b. Nasır al-Trablûsî, Alğâz al-Alâiyye
Omar al-Askâtî, Kitabu Ajwibah al-Masâil fî Ilm al-Qiraât

Hasab (Arithmetic)
Musa al-Harizmî, Kitâb al-Mukhtasar fî Hisab al-Jabr wa al-Mukâbala
Abû Abdillah b. Gâzî al-Miknâsî, Buğyet al-Tullâb fî Sharh Munyat al-Hisâb

11 Nisan 2015 Cumartesi

Introduction of Modernism into Islamic World

When speaking about the Modernist movement in Islamic world, one of the places that comes to the mind first is Egypt. When we look to the Islamic history over the last two centuries, we realize that the pioneers of the Modernist movement came from Egypt and their thoughts spread over Islamic world. Since the movement began in Egypt, it is important to read the history of modernism in Islamic world from an Egyptian author. I will share some noteworthy parts of the book, al-lslam wa al-Hadarah al-Gharbiyyah, which was written by Prof. Muhammad Mahmud Husayn, and also translated into Turkish.

Rifaa Tahtawi and Hayraddin Tunusi

According to the author,  the modernist wind started blowing when  Egypt, under the ruling of Qawalali Mahmad Ali Pasha, began to bring the science and technology from Europe. To realize his goal, Mahmad Ali Pasha brought foreign experts to his country and sent students to the European countries to get a good education. The foreign experts brought their families, schools, and hospitals with themselves. The author deals with this event as follows: It was an obvious danger for Egyptians to live together with these foreigners. The same danger was valid for the students being sent to Europe for education. How much these students are affected by European thought and movements can be understood from their writings when in Europe or after coming back to Egypt. Rifaa Tahtawi,  staying in Paris between 1826-1831, and Hayraddin Tunusi, staying in Paris between 1852-1856 can be given as an example for this,  [page 17].

These two people planted quickly the seeds, which they obtained from Europe, in  the Islamic world [page 18].  It can be seen in their works that they lowered themselves before Europe and  imitated Europe blindly. The author reveals their structures of thought through citing their works.

Lord Cromer and Lord Lloyd

Lord Cromer, a colonial governor of England in Egypt, says that  the severe conflict and difference between Muslims and colonizer Europeans  stem from the difference between religious and moral values, traditions and customs, language, art, and music. Cromer suggests two ways to remove this conflict: One way is to raise modern and privately educated generation in order to approach Egyptians to Europeans, especially to English in terms of thought and behavior. He established Victoria College due to this opinion. The second way is to develop an Islamic understanding which is consistent with Western civilization or at least close to it and does not  conflict with it, and subject to Islam to a new interpretation [page 41]. According to Lord Lloyd, the latter way was more effective than the former. 

Afghani – Abduh – Rashid Rida

The third section of the book is about Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Abduh. According to the author, it is suspicious that al-Afghani's identity is not clear. al-Afghani says that he is an Afghani Sunni. However, the research conducted reveals that he is an Iranian Shiite. This can also be easily understood from the book of his sister's son Mirza Lutfullah Khan, from whom al-Afghani never kept away during his visits to Iran. Since the Afghani people in the Ottoman state were Sunni, al-Afghani concealed that he was Shiite. The lack of both a representative abroad and an ambassador of Iran facilitated al-Afghani's concealing his original identity. He could make people believe that he was from Afghanistan because Afghanistan did not have any representative abroad.

Hasan Fahmi Effendi, shaykh al-islam of the Ottoman state, stated that he had to struggle with al-Afgani when in his first visit to Istanbul he talked scandalously, treating prophethood (nubuwwah) as an art of the arts and equating prophets with philosophers. As a result of this struggle al-Afgani was removed from Istanbul [p. 61].

The opinions of Yusuf al-Nabhani, who came to know Abduh and al-Afgani and lived together with them, should be taken into consideration. He explained his opinions about them in the many parts of his  works in both verse and prose form. He witnessed that Abduh deliberately did not perform prayer (salat) [73]. In the third section of his work, al-Uqud al-Luluiyyah fi al-Madaih al-Nabawiyya, al-Nabhani says this  about those who have an affiliation with  Abduh  and his student Rashid Rida, “Although these ahl al-bidah (those who follow innovations in the religion) willingly imitated protestants, they, somehow, could not imitate the imams and elders of Muhammad's Ummah (followers), whose tracks have been followed for more than one thousand years” [p. 75]

Mustafa Sabri Effendi, shaykh al-islam of the Ottoman state, is one of the scholars who drew attention to  the danger of Abduh. Mustafa Sabri Effendi declares the following in his book, Mawqif al-Aql wa al-Alim min Rabb al-Alamin wa Ibadih al-Mursalin, “Abduh had a harmful effect on Islam and  those scholars distanced from the Islamic culture, who succeeded Abduh. His thoughts which I criticized in this book were blown up like a balloon. Due to his thoughts, undoubtedly supported by the propaganda of the Masons,  he was put in a high place among the ulama (scholars). This kind of situation led some of elderly scholars and a  lot of young people, who wanted to shine quickly  and become  famous, and to give speeches contrary to traditional knowledge.”

Mustafa Sabri Effendi says in another part of the book, “Abduh and his master al-Afgani might want to play the same role in Islam as Luther and Calvin played  in Christianity. But they did not have the opportunity to establish a new sect even though Luther and Calvin established a new sect. Their efforts merely helped the modernist movement, which wore the thought of irreligion.”

The attempt to westernize Islam was based on the reports of Lord Cromer and later that of Lord Lloyd. According to their reports, al-Azhar University was the center of the propaganda against Britain and would continue this attitude of anti-colonialism if it maintained its traditional structure. 

Fears of colonists

Professor Muhammad Husayn speaks of the colonists' fears that: “Islam will continue to maintain its authenticity even though it has lost its activity. One day Islam will establish its dominance again and remove Western values. As a result of this fear, Westerners and their local followers were talking about the approximation and interaction of the two civilizations in order to distort the authenticity of Islam. Their ultimate goal was to realize this.” [p. 103]

Alliance of religions

As to the alliance between the religions, especially between Islam and Christianity, the approximation the two religions to each other began with an agreement between English pastor Isac Taylor and Abduh and some of his friends in 1883 when Abduh was exiled to Dimashq. [p. 155]

Blind imitation

The blind imitation of the intellectuals, who have been affected by the reformist movement in Europe and the French Revolution, reminds us of this symbolic story about two donkeys: One donkey is carrying salt and the other sponges. The donkey with sponges sees his friend going into water, hence lessening his load by melting some of salt. Suddenly it comes to his mind that he might do the same, and he does so. But, he faces the inverse effect. The donkey going into the water with his load of sponges pays tragically  for his reckless mistake. A blind imitation might be deadly for a society. [p. 184]


When weak societies abandon their own culture and civilization and adapt to the culture and civilization of colonists, these societies lose their soul. Eventually they will excessively admire those who exploit them. Because they have forgotten the feeling that the colonists exploit them, they have no longer  a lively soul, saving them from this slavery and exploitation,  Under these circumstances, they see the exploiters as those who are superior to them, release them from the dark to the light, and bring them from brutality to 'contemporary civilization'. Here is the secret of the western countries which exploit different countries from East to West and desire to spread their religion, civilization, language, and culture. Here is the westernization politicians and orientalists have often remarked. [p. 188]

31 Mart 2015 Salı

The Duty of Conscience

Isak Jerusalmi, son of David Effendi working as a translator for Mahmad Sadik Rifat Pasha, has transliterated Pasha's Risale-i Ahlaq (an Ottoman Turkish treatise on ethics taught in the Ottoman schools) into Latin alphabet. Isak writes in the preface of the book [1]: “Yellowish pages of fair amount of 'old' books were sold to shops of dried fruits by miserable people and after being used for a paper bag, these pages were thrown into the trash bin. The existing publications from the Ottoman period constitute very small amount of the total publications from that period. The books have been waiting, locked up in the cabinets of famous libraries. This tragic waiting has lasted over a century. Who will read and evaluate these books, which have not seen sunlight? Unfortunately, there is a lack of experts”.
The cover page of the treatise

Isak Effendi, born in Uskudar district of Istanbul, tells us so and asks the uncomfortable question: Who will read these books in Ottoman Turkish?

At the end of the preface, he writes that on March 4, 1924, after the abolition of the Caliphate, it was decided that Abdulmajid II would go to Çatalca from Istanbul by car and from there to Europe by train. His private secretary, Salih Nigar, narrates the arrival of the convoy to the train station in his book [2]: “The manager of the station of Rumali Railway Corporation was a Jewish citizen. Since there was no convenient place where His Excellency and his family could rest, the manager assigned his building to the high guests and the manager and his family treated them with respect and served. When His Excellency thanked him for the sincere respect and help, the manager said 'the Ottoman dynasty is the benefactor of the Jewish people. When our ancestors, being exiled from Spain, were looking for a country to protect themselves, the Ottoman dynasty saved them from vanishing and provided them with safety of life, honor and property, and freedom of religion and language. In the time of troubles, it is a duty of conscience for us to serve them as good as we can'. These words filled us with tears”.


[1] Mehmed Sadik Rifat Pasa, Risale-i Ahlak, prepared by Isak Jerusalmi, Cincinnati, 1990. The book contains Ottoman text along with its transliteration. This book can be downloaded here.                  

[2] Salih Nigar, Halife İkinci Abdülmecid, İstanbul, 1964, p. 8.

27 Mart 2015 Cuma

How can Ottoman Intellectual Life be understood?

How advanced was the intellectual life in the Ottoman state, which lasted six centuries and has shaped the world history? How should research be conducted on this issue? What are the minimum requirements for researchers?

A system can be thoroughly understood through learning its characteristics. If this system is a state, it is essential to do research on common social and moral values and mind-set of people in this state. Researchers should refer to the existing written materials so as to succeed in their research. The ability to read and understand these materials can be gained  via learning grammar of the language in which the materials were written. However, learning only the language does not guarantee that one can correctly understand these works with different scientific levels. Since the works were written by the scholars who were risen from madrasas (higher educational institution in the Ottoman state), it is necessary for researchers to be equipped with the knowledge of fundamental sciences in the time when these works were written. Tahsin Gorgun wrote about the requirements for understanding works of Ottoman scholars [1]: “having good knowledge of philology and philosophy of language in both classical and modern senses; having good education on logic and metaphysics;  knowing principles of Islamic jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh) and knowing well at least one of the fundamental fiqh books, such as Hidaya, Durar [2]. What the word 'good' means here is that one should have sufficiently read classical works on linguistics, such as Maqsud [3] and its commentaries and super-commentaries on sarf (morphology) and should have mastered on commentary of Molla Jami's Kafiya (al-Fawaid al-Ziyaiyya) [4] and al-Mutawwal [5]; known at least Fanari [6] and sufficient parts of its super-commentaries on logic; read at least Matali [7] and Sharh al-Mawaqif [8] on metaphysics. Without knowing these sciences, one would not have any opportunity to understand even  the most basic treatise of an Ottoman scholar, as well as what his/her opinions on Ottoman intellectual life would not have any scientific value. What those who do not satisfy the aforementioned requirements for understanding Ottoman thought say or write about Ottoman intellectual life will be only made up of some words, which are not known in terms of how meaningful they are. … Taking all these statements into account, we can say that  approaching Ottoman thought is possible only through considering its presence. The presence of a thought is directly related to the presence of those who carry this thought. Since the carriers of the thought are not naturally carrier before getting formal education, they take this role afterwards. A must-have prerequisite for understanding Ottoman thought is to pass through stages which the carriers experienced”. 

Reference and Notes

[1] Tahsin Gorgun, “Osmanli Dusuncesi Nasil Anlasilir? - Osmanli Dusuncesi'nin Arastirilmasinda Karsilasilan Bazi Zorluklar Uzerine”, Türklük Araştırmaları Dergisi, no 13-14, İstanbul, 2003, p. 29-46. This paper can be downloaded here.

[2]  Ekrem Bugra Ekinci, Islam Hukuku Tarihi (Istanbul, 2006, p. 154-155). 
al-Hidaya was penned by Marginani (d. 593/1197). Marginani first wrote 80 volumes of Kifaya al-Muntahi based on Imam Muhammad's al-Jami al-Sagir and Quduri's Mukhtasar. Since he then found his book too long, before completing it, he abridged it under the title of al-Bidaya. Later, he commented on al-Bidaya under the title of al-Hidaya. al-Hidaya has been highly respected as in Ottoman as  in Turkestan because its topics are well-organized and its literary style is good. There are special expressions in this work to warn  students who are in the early stage of learning. 
Durar al-Hukkam was written by Molla Husraw (d. 885/1480),  grand mufti in the Ottoman State. The writer commented on his own work, Gurar al-Ahkam, under the title of Durar al-Hukkam. This work was one of the works which were used in Ottoman madrasas and courts. Durar al-Hukkam was translated into Ottoman Turkish under the title of Tarjuma al-Gurar wa al-Durar. This translation can be downloaded here.

[3] Maqsud, sarf (morphology) book, was taught after Amsila and Bina. Imam Birgiwi stated that Maqsud penned by Imam Abu Hanifa. 

[4] Kafiya, on nahv (syntax), is the work of Ibn Hacib (d. 646/1248)

[5] al-Mutawwal ala al-Talhis, on balagat (rhetoric), is a commentary which Sadaddin Taftazani wrote on Talhis al-Miftah

[6] Fanari ala Isagoji, on logic,  is  a commentary which Molla Fanari, Ottoman grand mufti, wrote on Isagoji

[7] Matali, on kalam (Islamic theology), is a commentary which Shams al-Din al-Isfahani (d. 746/1345) wrote on Tavaliu al-Anwar of Qadi Baydawi (d. 692/1292).

[8] Sharh al-Mawaqif, on kalam, is a commentary which Sayyid Sharif al-Jurjani (d. 816/1413) wrote on al-Mawaqif of Adud al-Din al-Iji (d. 756/1355).