[ARAB MACCHIAVELLI / THE MIDDLE EASTERN “PRINCE"] Tercüme-yi Silvân al-Muta’ fî Udwân al-Atbâ [i.e., Consolation for the Ruler during the Hostility of his Subjects]. Translated by Mehmed Said b. Kara Halil.

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AL-SIQILLI, HUJJAT IBN ZAFAR, (1104-1170), Seyh Mehmed Sadik Buhari Matbaasi, Istanbul, AH 1285 = [1869].

Contemporary quarter calf with gilt decorations on spine, green boards. Slightly worn to extremities. Otherwise, a very good copy.

Rare first printed Ottoman edition of the magnum opus by Ibn Zafar, considered as ‘Eastern Macchiavelli’ lived four centuries before Macchiavelli.

The treatise is a form of wisdom literature with a long Arabian and Persian tradition, called "mirrors for princes", which purported to be handbooks for princes and caliphs offering counsel on the proper use of power, good governance, and the conduct of commerce and trade. Ibn Zafar dedicated the first edition of Sulwan to an unknown king facing revolt - possibly the ruler of Damascus expelled by Nur ad-Din - and the second edition to his patron Abu'l-Qasim ibn Hammud ibn al-Hajar. (Wikipedia).

This edition is the first printed Turkish edition, published in a printing house established in the name of Sadik Mehmed Efendi, the sheikh of the Lodge of Uzbeks [Özbekler Tekkesi] in 1846, which was founded in Üsküdar (Scutari) in 1752 by the Naqshbandi dervishes of Bukhara in the tradition of Ahmet Yesevi and was religiously and politically active in the 19th century Ottoman Empire.

The book is an 800-year-old handbook for statesmen written by a Sicilian Arab who presented this advice to a 'just prince' based on Islamic morality, European realism, and a broad-ranging knowledge of different cultures. Warm, wise, and witty, the work is explicated using straight philosophical discourse as well as the delirious narrative whirl of fables-within-fables so beloved of ancient and medieval Oriental literature. (Kechichian & Dekmejian).


Ibn Zafar was said to be physically small and frail. His nisbah "al-Siqillī" indicates he was born in Sicily, but the patronym "al-Makkī" suggests his family origins were in Mecca, where he is believed to have been raised and educated. Nicknamed 'The Wanderer', the precise chronology of his travels is uncertain. He probably spent his youth in Fatimid Egypt and Mahdia in Tunisia but left there in 1148 when it fell to the Normans. After a period in Sicily, Ibn Zafar first went to Egypt, then to Aleppo in 1146, where he taught at the Madrasa ibn Abi Asrun under the patronage of Safi al-Din. In 1154 he returned to Sicily under the patronage of Abu'l-Qasim ibn Hammud ibn al-Hajar, a Sicilian Arab noble. Due to the civil unrest of the Muslim population sometime later, Ibn Zafar left Sicily definitively and took refuge in Hamat, Syria, where he died in poverty in 1170 or 1172. The geographer Yaqut al-Hamawi referred to him as a 'refined philologist', and both Shams al-Din al-Dhahabi and Ibn Khallikan praised his scholarship and thought.

Özege 18444, 20675.; As of December 2023, we could not trace any copies in the OCLC and KVK.