[MANUSCRIPT / THE MEDIEVAL ISLAMIC GUILDS] Kitab-i fütûvvetnâme [with] serh-i dua-yi On Iki Imam

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N.A., n.d. [c. 1800 – Early 19th century].

Original full brown morocco with a miklep (flap). 12mo. (17 x 12 cm). In Ottoman script (Old Turkish with Arabic letters). [128] p.

Naskh script in black and red ink on polished paper, thirteen lines per page. Slight fluctuation on the title page which the blank verso is mounted to pastedown. Occasionally fading and stains on the margins; otherwise, a very good copy.

A rare manuscript copy of the book of Futuwwa written anonymously in the early 19th century in the Ottoman Empire, probably Constantinople. This copy with the annotation of "The Prayer of Twelve Imams" on the last two pages, includes the “Futuwwa” concept of Islamic guilds of artisans and merchants with mythological and historical accounts of the tradition in previous centuries of Islamic geography. This important manuscript gives an invaluable insight into the composition, structure, and social behavior of the Medieval Islamic guilds that gathered tradesmen and craftsmen (from tailors and carpentry to bookselling and jewelry, etc.) in the Imperial Ottoman covering Balkans, Anatolia, and Arab lands one roof from the 13th to the early 20th century. The text gives a detailed account of every profession’s history with their “pîrs” [i.e., masters].

“Futuwwa” was a conception of adolescent moral behavior around which myriad institutions of Medieval Islamic confraternity developed. With characteristics like “chivalry” and “virtue” in Medieval Europe, these communal associations of Arab men gained significant influence as stable social units that exerted religious, military, and political influence in much of the Islamic world.

The Akhism is the most important branch of the Futuwwa which is peculiar to Anatolia and Anatolian perspicacity of Islam. The Akhism is a Sufistic institution with a prominent economic aspect. Akhiyat al-Fityan, or Brotherhood of Youth, existed in every major city in Anatolia since the 13th century. These Akhi Brotherhoods rose to prominence in the 13th century in the wake of the fall of the Great Seljuk Empire. In the absence of a powerful central authority, these brotherhoods would exercise a stabilizing religious, political, economic, and military presence in Anatolia.

The necessity of Turkish artisanal unions to compete with Byzantine craftsmen in Asia Minor contributed greatly to the establishment of brotherhoods unified by common trades, and the marked influence of the Akhi Brotherhood on the Ottoman Empire can be seen in the integration of the Futuwwa tradition into the Ottoman guild system. Although the Akhi Brotherhood was originally open to men of varying professions, as the Ottomans consolidated their rule in Anatolia, the organization was reconstituted into guilds of artisans and merchants. During the Ottoman reign, the government did not train the public in matters of vocation. Vocational training was conducted by guilds, and Futuwwa treatises were used as the constitutions of the guilds of the Ottoman Empire.