["DECLARATION OF THE OTTOMAN EUROPEANIZATION": THE 9TH ISLAMIC INCUNABULA] Usûlü'l-hikem fî nizâmi'l-ümem. [i.e. The origins of thought and the order of the nations]

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IBRAHIM MUTEFERRIKA, (The founder of the first printing house in the Islamic world), (1674-1745)., Dâru't-Tibâati'l-Ma'mûre [Muteferrika Printing House]., Kostantiniyye [Istanbul], [AH 1144, Evâsit-i Saban = February 1732].

Contemporary quarter dark burgundy leather bdg. Grey cloth boards. Four compartments at spine. Cr. 8vo. (20 x 14 cm). In Ottoman script (Old Turkish with Arabic letters). 96 p. [48 leaves]. 19 lines on each page. Printed on paper with European watermarks. A small tear up to the last page with no loss of text. Overall a fine copy.

The 9th incunable of the Islamic world, written by Ibrahim Müteferrika and printed in his legendary Basmahane. Known as the most significant work by Müteferrika, this incunable is a political and state-theoretical treatise composed in order to improve the Ottoman government. In his book, Ibrahim Müteferrika used the sources written in Latin in the Europe of his period, and he presented it to Sultan Mahmud I right after the Patrona Halil Revolt (1730). Müteferrika divided the state forms of government in Europe into three groups with the titles "monarkiya" [i.e. monarchy], "aristokrasiya" [i.e. aristocracy], and "demokrasiya] [i.e. democracy]. In the work, the importance of the sciences (physics, astronomy, and geography) in the state administration was emphasized, and it was stated that a solid-state order could not be established in a country where these sciences were not developed. In addition to this, he used the term "Nizâm-i Cedîd" [i.e. The New Order] for the first time and stated that the Ottoman Empire should definitely adopt and implement the new military orders of the 18th century Europe. In addition, this work is one of the earliest in which the "democracy" term is used in the Islamic world. The book was published in French in Vienna and Paris in 1769 (Traite de la tactique ou méthode artificielle pour l'ordonnance des troupes, Vienne, 1769. Translated by Karl Emerich Alexander von Reviczky von Revisnye [Baron Reviczki]), and was translated from French into Russian in 1777.

One of only 500 copies.

The volume appeared in 1732, about one and a half years after the uprising of Patrona Halil Revolt which had overthrown the system of Sultan Ahmed III and Grand Vizier Damad Ibrahim. The writing, recalling the characteristics of Ottoman siyâsetnâme [i.e. the book of politics], calls the attention of the Ottoman leaders to the results of the state and military development and to the reasons for the strategic superiority of the rival European powers, while strongly condemning the several centuries long disinterest of the Ottomans to the external world. An important feature of the work is to break with the hitherto prevailing nostalgic attitude to bygone golden ages. Although observes the stylistic conventions in as much he speaks contemptuously about the Christian nations, in the content, already turns away from the indifference referring to the superiority of Islam. It announces in a list organized by items the reasons for the state’s weakness and the conditions of rising.

In harmony with the main aspects of contemporary Ottoman reforms, the work mainly focuses on the necessity of the reorganization of the army. It also offers a broader historical background by describing after the Greek philosophers the various types of states (6v-7v), or by treating the origins and reasons for the success of the foundations of European culture, the Roman Empire (19v-20v). The concept “Nizâm-I Cedîd” (i.e. the New Order), which would be used for the newly organized military formations of Sultan Selîm III (1789-1807), appears here for the first time referring to the modernized European army (17v-18r).

"The utopistic optimism of Risâle-i Islâmîye may have had some rational basis, if one takes into account the Karlovci Treaty (1699) which was a rather positive correction in contrast to the previous series of Turkish failures in the Balkans, the European ‘internal wars’ of the first decade of the 18th century, and the experiences of the reform and peace years of the Tulip Period. However, the Usûl ül-hikem… was already inspired by the atmosphere after the Požarevac Treaty (1718) which was a further stroke on Turkish hopes, and later by the upheaval overthrowing the regime supporting Müteferrika and the terror of Patrona Halil in Istanbul.

In this book, he objectively and critically presents to the reader the recipe for recovering from the crisis, and the final triumph of the Ottoman house does not appear as the unconditional prediction of a prophecy, but as a possible result of the learning and reforms which had been postponed for centuries."

This book is the "declaration of the Europeanization movement". (Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar).

The importance of the book in the context of "book arts" is the use of the first "mihrabiyya" [i.e. decorative title] in the head title.

Three copies in MTAK one of which is from the bequest of Ármin Vámbéry: 768.439; 768.412; 770.153.; WorldCat: 470645744, 1158394041.; Özege 22315.

Sources: Yazmadan basmaya.; MTAK online (Magyar Tudomanyos Akademia Könyvtara).; TDV: Türk Diyanet Vakfi Islam ansiklopedisi.