When Jahangir ascended the Mughal throne in 1605, he inherited a confident, purposeful empire. It had recently been consolidated around its base in northern India and was continuing to expand on multiple fronts. Not long into his reign, Jahangir ordered “one of the intimates of the court to collect the ḥadīths of the Prophet … and bring [him] writings [on the subject] from everyone he has heard of”. “After much investigation and research”, the emissary came before ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq Dihlavī. ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq, a devoted Sufi, was already known as a leading scholar, with many works to his name, particularly on ḥadīth. Earlier in his life, he had travelled extensively, with prolonged stays in Gujarat and the shrine city of Mecca. His travels allowed him to go on pilgrimage and study with some of the most renowned scholars of his era. But once he had discovered “the hidden joyful tidings”, he returned to his homeland - “the familiar vaṭan” - of Delhi, and there he remained. Years later, when the intimate of Jahangir told him of the emperor's command, ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq divined its real value straightaway; it afforded a marvellous “opportunity … to be able to stand in the imposing presence” of Jahangir and his court, and more importantly be listened to. He seized this opportunity, and went well beyond the strict remit of the original decree. ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq “dared” to compose a treatise, the Risālah-i nūriyyah, “in the manner of the path of advice (naṣīḥat) and well-wishing”, which he then presented to Jahangir.Footnote 1
While the Mughal heartlands during Jahangir's reign were relatively secure, the same could not be said of the Ottoman heartlands of western Anatolia and the Balkans at the time. In the early seventeenth century, these areas experienced a spate of rebellions and widespread banditry. The difficulties caused were aggravated by recent losses on the frontiers, to the Austrian Hapsburgs in the west and the Safavids in the east. Galvanised, “everyone was submitting his articles of thought and reflection” to Murad IV, the reigning emperor. Koçi Bey, courtier and government official, followed suit. He “too was quick to communicate and submit” his own treatise, the Risāle. This he did in the form of a series of headed memoranda (ruḳʿa-ı sevād-ı ʿünvān), which was presented to the emperor in 1630. A product of the devşirme, the regular levy of young boys for the capital from rural Christian populations, Koçi Bey had many years ago entered the palace service in Istanbul. There he spent the whole of his working life, during which he become close to Murad IV. In 1630, well before his retirement, “the extreme instability and evil and tumult and sedition and depravity” of the prevailing circumstances had made Koçi Bey's “liver turn to blood”. These circumstances spurred him to investigate in his treatise not only “what is causing disorder in the world and causing changes to the situation of human beings”, but also “in what manner it is capable of being made sound”. None of this, Koçi Bey made a point of noting, was done “for my own happiness or to side with anyone in particular. [Rather], I am compelled to say that which benefits [the emperor and his regime] to the extent it reaches my feeble mind”.Footnote 2
Both these treatises cleaved to a tradition deeply embedded within South Asia and the Middle East. The tradition was a vehicle for preserving, debating, crafting and disseminating knowledge deemed relevant to the art of governance by ruling elites. ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq's Risālah-i nūriyyah and Koçi Bey's Risāle are replete with concepts, images and principles that framed routine, high-level governance in the regimes of their time; they express the desired ends, near and far, to which these regimes were, or ought to be, oriented; they bear witness to the heuristics that oiled their official machinery. Such matters are crucial for apprehending the historical nature and function of any sovereign regime.Footnote 3 This is undoubtedly true of the Mughal and Ottoman empires in the early seventeenth century, then the dominant sovereign realities in, respectively, the Indo-Gangetic plain of northern India and the eastern Mediterranean basin. The empires also ranked as two of the early modern world's greatest regimes on the basis of physical reach, material wealth, authoritative prestige, military power and sedentary population.Footnote 4 Yet, a good understanding of such matters is still wanting for these empires. This article, by analysing in juxtaposition the contemporaneous treatises by ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq and Koçi Bey, helps fill that gap.
For the early seventeenth century, and more generally for premodern times, scholarship on the art of governance in South Asia and the Middle East remains underdeveloped. In an influential work on kingship, Aziz al-Azmeh describes our knowledge of “medieval Muslim polities [as] almost uniformly poor. It is particularly wanting in the field of political theory”.Footnote 5 This is not, however, for lack of interest. Indeed, interest in the subject is at present considerable and growing. That is so both among specialists and among historians and historically-minded social scientists at large. The interest is being fanned by increasing recognition of the subject's importance for recapturing basic dimensions of the early modern world. At the vanguard has been research on comparative economic development, plural modernities and imperial regimes.Footnote 6 This is intersected by work on mobilities, encounters, connexions and entanglements that transgress hitherto established boundaries in the historiography.Footnote 7 Especially notable in this regard is the incipient field of global conceptual history, which promises to recapture the cognitive basis of not only circulations and exchanges that crossed various boundaries but also of the blockages and oppositions to them.Footnote 8 All this research has the potential to challenge (and transcend) standard views on the major polities of Eurasia over the past half-millennium.Footnote 9 The historical significance of these polities is rendered comprehensible for us via the narratives and paradigms embodying today's received wisdom. This wisdom has possibilities and limitations, both of which the recent work in global history has thrown into sharp relief.
One of the principal concerns of global history is to understand the early modern ‘step change’ that fundamentally transformed the capacities of human endeavour, with fateful consequences which endure down to the present. This secular phenomenon was driven, and arguably initiated too, by developments from the seventeenth century onwards within the three most populous, productive and powerful regions of the world - one extending from northwestern Europe into the Atlantic, a second centred on eastern China, and the third spanning much of South Asia and the Middle East. Cross-cutting developments internal to them were flows and interactions which enmeshed the regions in a shared globalisation.Footnote 10 This thesis is, of course, anchored in a polycentric conception of the world in the period, which has received a new lease of life in the field of global history.Footnote 11 The resulting scholarship on the first two of these regions is voluminous and currently rationalised within the frameworks of, on the one hand, European Exceptionalism and, on the other hand, the Great Divergence.Footnote 12 Scholarship on the third region, namely that of the present article, while not inconsiderable, falls short of its potential because it has yet to be framed appropriately.Footnote 13 My approach, which as detailed in the next section combines a regional perspective with a model suited to reconstructing sovereign governance in complex polities, is intended as a contribution towards building just such a framework. Though further work is required, this agenda is worth persevering with. Achieving it will open the way to reconciling and integrating the bodies of scholarship rooted in the three regions. The history of the region treated here can then be put alongside and enter into fruitful conversation with the histories of the other two regions pivoting on northwestern Europe and eastern China. Doing so is a sine qua non for grasping the global genesis of the modern world.
Therefore, research from a regional perspective contributes to global scales. This is echoed by its contributions to humbler scales. The latter are facilitated by the general trend to elucidate and employ geographies in keeping with the past which escape the anachronistic binds of modern continents, area studies and states, and of ‘golden age’ civilisations and empires.Footnote 14 The most relevant to this article are the Indo-Persian, Persianate and Islamicate worlds, and an emerging geography that bridges a longstanding historiographical divide between maritime Asia and continental Eurasia. Perhaps most importantly, research governed by such geographies can provide the additional grist needed for breaking decisively with the logic of the decline paradigm in interpreting the Mughal and Ottoman empires over the longue durée.Footnote 15 In part, this is by recovering the history of these empires on their own terms without being parochial. In part, it is by enabling a credible baseline for recapturing the continuities and changes that marked South Asia and the Middle East in moving from precolonial to colonial times, and hence the paths to modernity taken within the region.Footnote 16 Though these goals have been familiar to specialists for more than a generation, we still have a long way to go to reach them. Scholarship on the art of governance is a case in point.
On the Mughal side, the pertinent literature is extremely limited in scope and depth.Footnote 17 The existing scholarship on the subject is mostly due to Ottoman specialists. In some respects, this is highly developed; in others, as argued below, it is much less so.Footnote 18 The scholarship is characterised by several broad tendencies. Predominantly focused on the metropolitan heartlands of the Ottoman empire, these tendencies may be differentiated by their interpretive framework and methodology. The oldest espouses the decline paradigm in the vein of intellectual history, within which the Ottoman empire is portrayed as idiosyncratic.Footnote 19 The others, which have emerged since the 1980s, stand in opposition to that paradigm. One is philological or semantic in nature,Footnote 20 a second literary or discursive,Footnote 21 and a third socio-political or political-economic.Footnote 22 What these more recent tendencies have in common is acute consciousness of the critique of declinism as an interpretive framework and a desire to relate Ottoman history positively to the past of other parts of the world, above all Europe.Footnote 23 If we expand our horizons further, there comes into view an even larger body of work on themes that at least touch on high-level governance in the Mughal and Ottoman empires.Footnote 24 Taken as a whole, this might suggest the picture is quite rosy. The historical scholarship now harbours a wealth of information on the state and its relationship to society across South Asia and the Middle East. That stems from research undertaken over the past two generations on specific places lying between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean—the crossroads of Afro-Eurasia—at specific moments between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. This research has unlocked a myriad of stories which draw on a much more expansive suite of concepts, methods and sources than before.
But in their essentials these stories do not supersede their antecedents. The fields to which they contribute—particularly the Ottoman empire after Süleyman (r. 1520–1566) and the Mughal empire from the latter part of Aurangzeb's reign (r. 1658–1707)—have for some years been monopolised by analyses of two types: those that elaborate transformations between one age and another, intersected by crises and bouts of institutional reform; and those that highlight the growing dispersion of power among the ruling elites and towards the provinces and the frontiers, by virtue of flexible, adaptive social networks, which supported the rise of local magnates and their successor regimes. It is undeniable that the details of these stories differ from the earlier ones of decline (followed by European colonialism or dominance). However—and this is the crucial point—they remain beholden to the earlier logic. That is to say, their details are predicated on the devolution of sovereignty away from Istanbul or Delhi, and framed by narratives whose end point is the high-noon of European imperialism in the latter half of the nineteenth century. It follows axiomatically that, despite having been so heavily critiqued, the mainstream historical scholarship can offer no meaningful alternative to the older, inherited paradigm of decline. The engagement with that paradigm is at best agnostic; at worst it is unwittingly reinforced. This situation persists chiefly because of the constraints which characterise the approaches that have been adopted thus far. They confine attention either to matters wholly internal to a given empire, or to its parallels and linkages with Europe or a European-centred world economy. Hence, prevailing interpretations of both the Mughal and Ottoman empires are either parochial and idiosyncratic, or defined in terms of European Exceptionalism and the Rise of the West.Footnote 25
Approach and Sources
In order to escape these constraints, the approach of this article differs qualitatively from those adopted to date. Two contemporaneous advice-to-kings treatises are analysed in juxtaposition, that is to say in a reciprocally comparative manner. What distinguishes such an analysis from others is the absence of European historical experience as a referent.Footnote 26 Rather, it is the Mughal and Ottoman polities alone which lie on the two sides of the comparison. The choice of these is motivated by the claim, widely embraced by scholars, that their dominant sovereign regimes - the Mughal and Ottoman empires - belonged to a shared category.Footnote 27 For our analysis, this has the advantage of greatly reducing the number of variables in play. The comparison is further motivated by the existence of a coherent, distinct and autonomous region that spanned much of South Asia and the Middle East into the nineteenth century. This region was defined by an array of family resemblances and mutual dependencies. The family resemblances, which generations of scholars have reflected upon and sought to substantiate, were of several kinds, including ontological,Footnote 28 genealogical,Footnote 29 infrastructural,Footnote 30 sovereign,Footnote 31 artisticFootnote 32 and scholarly.Footnote 33 The mutual dependencies are most clearly discernible through complementarities between the region's polities from the standpoint of the Arid Zone or, more generally, physical geography.Footnote 34 In analysing the two treatises below, this regional perspective is invaluable for distancing us from eurocentric yardsticks, shielding us from unwarranted essentialisations and path dependencies, and enabling us to sidestep anachronistic premises.Footnote 35
To make the reciprocal comparison robust as well as practicable, a model is needed that, heuristically, allows us to differentiate between historical constants and historical contingencies.Footnote 36 The model deployed here is founded on the truism that anything of man-made significance is at root about social power.Footnote 37 Power is, of course, an abstraction which cannot be observed per se. But it is rendered observable through the functioning of resources—natural endowments, cognitive patterns, social actors and institutional mechanisms—marshalled to articulate it. That points to the two fundamental aspects of power: its anatomy and physiology, or, simply put, what is there and how it works. These two aspects are in reality inextricably entwined. But for analytical purposes they may be treated separately, as done in this article. Each aspect is characterised by certain near-universals. For complex polities—polities that were citied, literate and commercialised, not least those of the Mughals and Ottomans—the near-universals take the form of anatomical ‘conditions’ and physiological ‘problems’. Conditions refer to the basic resources that were available and moreover known in a polity,Footnote 38 whereas problems refer to the core needs of associational life met through marshalling specific resources.Footnote 39 All complex polities have historically been defined by the same conditions and confronted the same problems. In a given context, however, like that of the Mughal or Ottoman metropole in the early seventeenth century, a particular subset of these conditions and problems were invoked by contemporaries as consequential. By doing so, this subset was crystallised as ‘structures’ and ‘solutions’. Because these structures and solutions were grounded in given contexts, they are thus amenable to empirical research. So the model deployed here directs attention to, on the one hand, the structures out of which the historically consequential conditions were fashioned and, on the other hand, the solutions which addressed the historically consequential problems.Footnote 40
The foregoing summarises the approach adopted in this article. It permits the reconstruction of key features of the Mughal and Ottoman arts of governance before the onset of European domination. Documentary sources are essential for this at the level of the day-to-day practice of sovereign governance.Footnote 41 But because of their more reflective, capacious and future oriented character, a certain corpus of literary sources have greater immediate relevance to the subject of this article. These were generally written by and for the regime's elites, and are of four main types:
type I sources, exemplified by the akhlāq/aḫlāḳ (‘ethics’) genre, which advocated qualities for individuals and groups within the polity whose realisation would move it closer to an often salvationist ideal;Footnote 42
type II sources, exemplified by the naṣīḥat (‘advice’) genre, which aimed to sustain and where possible improve the regime's well-being by describing the current situation of the polity and offering proposals for handling issues of topical concern;Footnote 43
type III sources, exemplified by the dastūr al-ʿamal (‘rules of work’) and ḳānūn (‘law’) genres, which facilitated the administration of the regime's machinery by supplying bureaucratic guidelines and handbooks;Footnote 44 and
type IV sources, exemplified by epistolary collections, biographies and histories, which provided edification through communicating the character and fate of noteworthy past regimes and their ruling elites.Footnote 45
Much of the scholarship by Ottomanists on the art of governance has been stimulated by the first two of these types. Because of the extensive overlap between them, they are often grouped together and described as ‘advice-to-kings’ treatises.Footnote 46 From the mid sixteenth century, a substantial number of works in this vein were produced in the Ottoman metropole.Footnote 47 Among Mughalists, scholars interested in the art of governance have generally relied on the third and fourth types of sources. This reflects the apparent paucity of advice-to-kings treatises produced in Mughal India.Footnote 48 The noted historian John F. Richards went so far as to opine, “High level policy debate - never a strong point within the [Mughal] system - was pallid and ineffectual. Unlike contemporary Ottoman practice, we find no examples of clearly stated memorials to the throne”.Footnote 49
The mere fact this article could be written shows that Richards overstated the case. Motivated and guided by the approach outlined above, the following section presents an analysis in juxtaposition of the two advice-to-kings treatises introduced at the beginning of the article. They have been chosen for being situated in, and relatively open about, the Mughal and Ottoman worlds of the early seventeenth century. No other pair of surviving advice-to-kings treatises is better suited to the task of a synchronic comparison of the art of governance in these two worlds.Footnote 50 The first, entitled Risālah-i nūriyyah, was composed in Persian by ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq Dihlavī (1551–1642), and dedicated to the Mughal ruler Jahangir (r. 1605–1627).Footnote 51 The other, entitled Risāle, was composed in Ottoman by Koçi Bey (d. circa 1650), and dedicated to the Ottoman ruler Murad IV (r. 1623–1640).Footnote 52 The authors of Risālah-i nūriyyah and Risāle resided in their imperial metropoles, and were recognised members of their respective elites. Though not remarked upon as makers or implementers of sovereign decisions in their own right, they were of high enough status to observe from close quarters the functioning of their regime's governing machinery. They were also high enough in status for their opinions to circulate among, and be given credence by, elite contemporaries.Footnote 53 Despite its exceptional value for Mughal history, Risālah-i nūriyyah has, to the best of my knowledge, never before been analysed as a historical source. Indeed, its existence is barely acknowledged in modern scholarship.Footnote 54 That is in marked contrast to Koçi Bey's Risāle, which has long been familiar to scholars as a notable work in the genre, especially for its policy orientation and exists in several editions.Footnote 55
These two treatises cover themes considered important for their proximate milieu. Because of the background, circumstances and interests of their authors, it is reasonable to take the treatises as representative of commonplace views regarding sovereign governance among the corporate body of elites to which the authors themselves belonged. The treatises both elucidate and reflect their own polities from the standpoint of the imperial metropole. Adopting the approach of this article allows us to analyse the two in juxtaposition so as to access the reservoir of knowledge tapped by high-level Mughal and Ottoman officials in the early seventeenth century. Though this knowledge imbues their reasoning, it is not obvious from a casual reading. Rather, it has to be systematically reconstructed, and this can only be done by deploying a model for differentiating historical constants and contingencies. Such a model is central to the approach of this article. By deploying it within a regional perspective, we learn in particular about the endowments, patterns, actors and mechanisms—resources, for short—that were available and known to contemporaries, and deemed historically consequential for their regimes. We also learn about how these resources could or should be marshalled in order to deal with specific problems thought critical for the well-being of those regimes.
The biographical differences between ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq and Koçi Bey are compounded, as noted in the opening section, by the differences in the situation of their respective empires in the early seventeenth century.Footnote 56 Differences between the two treatises are thus only to be expected. This is seen most clearly in the problems highlighted by the authors as especially significant or pressing, and the solutions—articulated variously as remedies (ʿilāj/ʿilāc, chārah/çāre, davā/devā), preparations (tadāruk/tedārük), improvements (iṣlāḥ) or corrections (taṣḥīḥ)—discussed to address them. In Risālah-i nūriyyah, ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq stressed above all tax demands on the general population (revenue problem), unity of purpose among officials and within the army (intelligence and chains-of-command problems), and dissemination of inherited past experience for effective sovereign governance in the present (memory problem). Koçi Bey, whose Risāle was principally concerned with the regime's bureaucracy and army, placed greatest stress on patronage channelling obedience (chains-of-command problem), venality dictating recruitment into the governing machinery (succession problem), the metropole as a clearing house for allocating income (revenue problem), and legitimate and illegitimate qualifications for official posts (strangers problem).
Without diminishing their importance, the focus of this article is not on the specific problems stressed by the authors of the two treatises.Footnote 57 It aims instead to recover the structures that conditioned routine, high-level governance in the Mughal and Ottoman empires of the time. This cannot be done merely by describing or summarising the two treatises. It is here that the problems come into their own: due to the interconnectedness of conditions and problems, the problems stressed by the authors offer a way of getting at the conditions. The treatises orient the reader towards the problems of acutest concern to ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq and Koçi Bey because of their innate significance or of their pressing nature. This then enables us to reconstruct their knowledge of the basic resources—expressed as concepts, images and principles—for the purposes of governing from the centre. Taken as a whole, these give us a tangible purchase on the principal structures of Mughal and Ottoman metropolitan rule in the early seventeenth century.
Risālah-i nūriyyah and Risāle: The Analysis
Risālah-i nūriyyah and Risāle are replete with knowledge germane to sovereign governance. This knowledge is at root divided between that bearing on the essential nature of the cosmos (universal knowledge) and that vested in the world of the here-and-now (temporal knowledge). Given the weighting of the text, ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq and Koçi Bey were mainly interested in the latter. But this does not gainsay the influence of the former, which shaped their approach to everything else.
The treatises depict the cosmos as consisting of this world (dunyā/dünyā) and the next world (ākhirat, ʿuḳbā), both created by God.Footnote 58 “The life-course (zindigānī) of this world and the transient life (ḥayāt-i mustaʿār) does not compare with the eternal kingdom (mulk-i jāvdānī) and the divine, restful paradise (naʿīm dhā al-qarār)”.Footnote 59 But alongside paradise there is also the prospect of “the fires of hell (cehennem)”.Footnote 60 Which of them lies in store for an individual is determined on the day of judgement (qaḍā, jizā), the bridge between the two worlds. Each individual's death (marg) has been predestined by God, and it is on that day and that day alone his life will be judged.Footnote 61 “Whoever devotes himself to the path of God (khudā), and supporting and strengthening religion (dīn)” shall be granted by God “the eternal kingdom and eternal life (ḥiyāt-i abadī). What could be a more profitable bargain than that?”Footnote 62 All temporal existence is girded, however, by the resurrection (qiyāmat/ḳıyāmet) at the end of time, which will be foreshadowed by “the disunity of a world in confusion”.Footnote 63
These perceived realities—the next world, the day of judgement, the resurrection—are foundational for the authors’ understanding of the cosmos. But they are not dwelt upon; they are treated as background presences. ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq's and Koçi Bey's proximate concern was with the situation of this world. That in turn was tied to what lay within the scope of fortune (ṭāliʿ, iqbāl/iḳbāl, bakht/baḫt) and what lay within the scope of human agency.Footnote 64 The significance of these notions derived from the ability of both to affect this world, the most salient parts of which were conceived as the polity, general population, regime, elites and ruler.
The overall situation of this world was revealed through the current state of the daulats and salṭanats to which it played host. These terms are frequently invoked in both treatises,Footnote 65 and are core to the reasoning, not just because they frame their author's principal interests but also because they render them intelligible.Footnote 66 As used by ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq and Koçi Bey, however, these terms are difficult if not impossible to translate directly into terms familiar to us today. Daulat and salṭanat have historically enjoyed wide currency in the many languages of the region, not least Arabic, Persian, Ottoman, Hindi and Urdu. They continue to do so today. Daulat is commonly apprehended as ‘government’, ‘state’ and ‘country’, with additional senses of ‘wealth’ and ‘felicity’. Salṭanat is commonly apprehended as ‘sultanate’, ‘dominion’ and ‘power’. While these meanings today overlap with the meanings given them in the treatises, the mapping is neither simple nor clear. So as not to misconstrue them, their meanings in the early seventeenth century are discerned here not by translating them directly, but through their functioning within the treatises.
Daulat and salṭanat are often invoked as autonomous concepts: “the powerful majesty of the daulat”,Footnote 67 “the devlet being in perfect strength”,Footnote 68 “the elevator of the throne of the salṭanat”,Footnote 69 “in the period of his sublime salṭanat”.Footnote 70 Just as often, however, they are invoked in pairs. ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq usually paired them directly together in configurations such as “this great daulat and grand salṭanat” and “obtaining the daulat and salṭanat of the next world”.Footnote 71 Koçi Bey tended instead to pair daulat with dīn (‘religion’), especially in the canonical form “dīn ve devlet”.Footnote 72 Several other pairings are seen, like “devlet ve iḳbāl (fortune)”, “niʿmat (prosperity) va daulat” and “salṭanat va pādshāhī (sovereignty)”.Footnote 73 But these are rare. Be they in isolation or in pairs, the two terms were always associated with identifiable individuals or collectives, exemplified by the ruler and his dynasty. Gifts were carefully selected to be “appropriate for the consideration of the daulat of the presence of the sovereign”.Footnote 74 The Ottoman dynasty (āl-ı ʿos̱mān) was described as having “a great, exalted devlet”, and its princes (şahzādeler) were “the freshly ripe saplings and the new rose trees of the household (ḫāndān) of the sublime salṭanat”.Footnote 75 ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq put it most explicitly: God “granted human beings (ādimiyān) a daulat and a salṭanat. He gave to some daulat and salṭanat of this world and the next world, and to some He forbade both, and to some He gave one and not the other”.Footnote 76 So, at any given moment in this world, there could be multiple daulats and salṭanats, which in principle were not a preserve of ruling elites and rulers alone. That knowledge impelled Koçi Bey to highlight qualitative differences between the Islamic dominions (memālik-i islāmiyye) and “the rest of the devlets”.Footnote 77 He went on to observe, “In whichever devlet oppression and bribery (rişvet) appear and are manifest, that devlet becomes ruined and destroyed”.Footnote 78 For his part, ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq talked about “the wisdom (ḥikmat) [vested in] sovereigns and the elevation of the foundation of [their] salṭanat”.Footnote 79 Both authors were open in acknowledging the existence of multiple daulats and salṭanats in the present. The past was no different in that respect. Koçi Bey gave prominence to those from the recent past, of the Safavid ruler ʿAbbās I (r. 1588–1629) and of the Ottoman rulers Selim I (r. 1512–1520) and Süleyman I (r. 1520–1566).Footnote 80 ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq preferred instead to highlight the general value of studying what past rulers and their officials had done that affected their daulat and salṭanat.Footnote 81
How the two terms relate to one another is thrown into sharpest relief by considering entities characterised by both simultaneously. Doing so reveals daulat as a singular and indivisible state of being. It was possessed by particular individuals (arbāb-i daulat), with Iskandar's daulat being proverbial.Footnote 82At the same time, it projected beyond that individual, potentially to embrace others within its ambit. Those who did not possess it themselves could be “under [its] shadow”, “gather within [it]”, even “grow up in [it]”.Footnote 83 It could be served by a variety of people, by Muslims at large, scholars, ministers, groups specialised in particular forms of warfare, and local elites.Footnote 84 It could be interfered with by “the intimates and servants” of the imperial household, and opposed by enemies from within or without.Footnote 85 It could be harmed or troubled or ruined.Footnote 86 Or it could be made durable, systematically organised and rendered auspicious.Footnote 87Daulat per se did not act; it just was. Actions for or against it were typically carried out by the more tangible salṭanat. Thus salṭanat could be in good order or it could be disrupted.Footnote 88 It could have a firm basis and be strong, or it could be unstable and weak.Footnote 89Salṭanat was constructed from an array of visible elements. In concert, these formed its “building” or “workshop”.Footnote 90 They are what enabled it to undertake given tasks rooted in this world, aided by fear and respect, by punishing and rewarding.Footnote 91
Within the reasoning of the treatises, daulat and salṭanat function as measurable metrics or dimensions for ascertaining the prevailing situation in this world. That was the practical import of the terms; they offered a means of systematically comparing the various types of sovereign governance past and present, and so determine what could or should be changed in the author's own polity. This of course only applied to that which fell within man's competence. Hence the significance of fortune, which defined the possibilities of human agency, or, in ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq's words, “the scope of the circle of materials and tools”.Footnote 92 The distinction between the scope of fortune and the scope of human agency was obviously crucial to the outcome of the day of judgement. ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq and Koçi Bey were at one about this outcome being the supreme concern at the level of the individual. They maintained that the day of judgement is applicable to everyone. Given their avowed purpose, however, the authors made the point most forcefully for rulers. “The kings (mulūk) … who are the just sovereigns (pādshāhān) … gain recompense and reward in the next world. They become the gatherers of the pleasures of this world and the next world, and acquirers of the external and internal perfection”.Footnote 93 By the same token, “if a tiny amount of oppression were to happen to an individual in one of the Islamic dominions, questions would be asked of [their] kings on the day of judgement. The ministers would not be asked”.Footnote 94 Alongside this, and operating in a similar manner, Koçi Bey mentioned a form of judgement specific to the ruler. He argued that the ruler should be mindful of his worldly qualities and actions because of how posterity would judge him. If the ruler enabled justice and eradicated oppression, “fables of his sublime salṭanat will be composed in the languages [of the world] and his beautiful, auspicious works will be written about in the books of history and biographies”.Footnote 95 So the ultimate goal for individuals was to pass the day of judgement well (and, for rulers especially, to be well remembered by posterity).
ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq and Koçi Bey highlighted two policies by means of which this goal could be achieved. One was to advance the cause of religion. Religion (dīn) was thus a signal concern, though without being overbearing. “All the community (ummat) has to join [the sovereigns] in supporting and promoting religion”, to “increase … the luminosity of religion from day to day”.Footnote 96 Guidance on this was available through “the divine law of the Prophets”, fidelity to which was enjoined.Footnote 97 However, religion or divine law (sharīʿat/şerīʿat, sharʿ/şerʿ) were seldom marshalled in a narrow, juridical sense.Footnote 98 Rather, they were marshalled for their capacity to act as a social glue. ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq noted that “unity and agreement” within polities in the past resulted from “the orientation of society (jāmiʿah) [being] towards religion”.Footnote 99 It also helped ensure that the everyday rights (ḥuqūq/ḥuḳūḳ) of subjects were protected, particularly regarding taxation and expenditure,Footnote 100 as well as privacy within the home (khānah) and punishment for transgressions by officials (ẓulm/ẓülm, fisād/fesād).Footnote 101 Intriguingly, ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq, the jurist, rarely discussed religion or divine law in terms of Islam per se, whereas Koçi Bey, the bureaucrat, made the link on several occasions, most explicitly through stock expressions such as “the divine law of Muḥammad” and “the religion of Muḥammad”.Footnote 102
The second policy was to be just and promote justice. Justice was an umbrella concept which embraced equity and mercy, and extended to the removal or absence of oppression, assault and evil.Footnote 103 Great emphasis is placed on these notions in both treatises. Just sovereigns were those who acted with “righteousness and kindness and care for subjects and equity, and obedience to and ensuring God's will, and compassion and affection for the slaves of God (bandah-hā-yi khudā)”.Footnote 104 More specifically, to undertake justice was to “repel oppression and violence from the people, and respect their rights, so that no one experiences violence and injustice, and the right of no one is trampled upon”.Footnote 105 The authors recognised that pursuing justice could advance the cause of religion at the same time. But being just and promoting justice was certainly not confined to Islam or, indeed, religion,Footnote 106 for while “the world endures with unbelief (küfr), the world does not endure with oppression”.Footnote 107 ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq pointed out that the “ideal [of justice] is not a peculiarity of the religion of Islam (dīn-i islām) … Anushirvan, whom they call the just, had this ideal. Although he was not a Muslim, he had justice (ʿadālat)”.Footnote 108 Koçi Bey too invoked a pre-Islamic figure, in the form of Iskandar, as a laudable predecessor for the Ottoman emperor to compare himself to, particularly as a military leader. If the Ottoman army were appropriately reformed, then “like Iskandar's, the sword of Islam would be capable of reaching from world's end to world's end”.Footnote 109 In invoking the Safavid ruler ʿAbbās I, Koçi Bey drew attention to a non-Sunni—and to his mind heretical—figure much closer to the present. Even one as beyond the pale as ʿAbbās offered lessons for the Ottomans: despite “being irreligion (bī-dīn) and uncivilised (bī-mürüvvet), by virtue of undertaking justice and equity, in this fashion the [Safavid] Shah will become eternal”.Footnote 110
To implement these general policies, the treatises focus on two matters grounded in this world: prosperity and order. If the day of judgement was the ultimate goal at the level of the individual, then these two matters, which Koçi Bey tended to gloss as maṣlaḥat,Footnote 111 were the ultimate goals to which their empire was—or should be—oriented. Much of Koçi Bey's advice turned on increasing the prosperity of the Islamic dominions (memālik-i islāmiyye)Footnote 112 and that of the imperial daulat.Footnote 113 ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq argued that rulers ought to show a concern for “temporal prosperity” and strive to “bring about an increase in … the prosperity of the provinces (vilāyat)”.Footnote 114 This was best facilitated through gainful business, “the workshop of existence and [the reason for] the durability of the world”.Footnote 115 Because “sovereigns [have in their] power and care … the business (kārūbār) of ordinary people”, he urged the Mughal emperor and his highest officials to do whatever necessary “for the busy-ness (mashghūlī) of the world and for [its] success”.Footnote 116 As prosperity depended on the world being suitably ordered (intiẓām, niẓām), unsurprisingly the matter of order took up much of ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq's and Koçi Bey's attention.Footnote 117 Order encompassed “the important affairs” of their world, of ordinary people and of the regimes presiding over them.Footnote 118 It was a capacious notion, with several intersecting attributes. These attributes are discussed in the treatises in either a positive or negative vein, one to foster, the other to prevent:
The progress that had been made towards reaching these goals, and the distance that remained to be covered, was measurable through the present state of the daulat and/or salṭanat in question. Reducing the distance and making further progress was predicated on collective action and co-ordination.Footnote 119 In both treatises, the benefits of collective action are set off against the actions of individuals working in isolation. ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq put it in the form of a simile: “Whatever a [single] person may bring about cannot have other than what relation a drop has to an ocean”.Footnote 120 Koçi Bey made the same point in a historical register: “A man [on his own] cannot perform the service suited to religion and devlet. And he cannot conquer a country, not even a village. For many centuries previously, men conquered only by being an intimate of the sovereign”.Footnote 121 As for coordination, this amounted to the various parts of the body social fulfilling their designated, valued roles. “Scholars [have to] circulate knowledge and explain divine law, and the dervishes have to perform the ceremonies and worship, and soldiers have to be engaged in warfare and struggle, still more the others, the artisans and craftsmen”.Footnote 122 The alternative was “Muslims (ümmat-i Muḥammad) say ‘myself, myself’, [and] the people are completely ruined”.Footnote 123
Though universal knowledge permeates and renders coherent the overall reasoning, we seldom see explicit discussion of it in the two treatises, or of the ultimate goals related to it. By far the greatest portion of each is devoted to what in this world fell within the domain of human agency and so was “capable of being made sound (ṣalāḥ-peẕīr)” through recourse to “materials and tools”.Footnote 124 Of special utility for this was temporal knowledge, which, as both authors indicated, was widely dispersed. According to ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq,
all created beings (khalāʾiq) need reason (ʿaql), and reason needs experience (tajribah), and for experiences a long period is necessary and a long life and free time and ease of mind. So when the sages of the world saw that the length of the transitory life does not suffice for that, they devised a remedy and made a plan to constrain this loss and compensate for this privation. So they recorded in books and chronicles the news of the rulers (mulūk va salāṭīn) and the circumstances of the nobles (umarāʾ) and ministers (vuzarāʾ) and the words of the scholars (ʿulamāʾ) and philosophers (hukamāʾ). And they put down in writing the stories and annals of those who lived in the past for the benefit of those to come [and] to rouse the heedless ones … That which is not acquired concerning the properties of the world (rūzgār) and the properties of the time (zamānah) and their people (ahl) through experiences and choices over the length of a long life and after undertaking long and distant journeys and associating with different sorts of people and measuring their actions and works—in a short time [all this] is acquired [through the aforesaid writings]. The wise man (ʿāqil) must not be deprived of the share of lessons and expertise (ʿibrat va khibrat), and must balance it up for himself and his own circumstances.Footnote 125
This temporal knowledge was necessary for effective sovereign governance. The treatises distil the “lessons and expertise” contained within it for the purposes of high-level decision-making and implementation by describing the character of this world and its most significant parts, and the ends to which they should be directed. For convenience, I label these parts the polity, general population, regime, elites and ruler, and examine them below in turn.
As ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq and Koçi Bey conceived it, their ambient polities were structured by a number of basic endowments, patterns, actors and mechanisms, and the systemic relationships between them. The territories their polities straddled were ‘Islamic domains’ populated by what are variously termed banī ādam/benī ādem, adamiyān, merdān and ricāl. These terms are used synonymously, and may be thought of as human beings at large.Footnote 126 For ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq, human beings were internally distinguished by particular combinations of daulat and salṭanat.Footnote 127 It appears that these characteristics could rarely, if ever, be acquired by an individual (or collective) through his own effort or choice; typically, they were inherited genetically or conferred from above. They could also be lost. This underlay Koçi Bey's lament that in the current situation “the most sublime [people] stay in abjectness, the lowest reach the devlet”.Footnote 128 The great majority of human beings were placed within the category of the general population (jamʿiyyat, khalq/ḫalḳ, ʿāmmah-i khalāʾiq, ʿāmme-i ḫalḳ, ḫalḳ-ı ʿālem),Footnote 129 most of whom were peasants (raʿīyat, reʿāyā).Footnote 130 Alongside peasants, the treatises note the presence of free individuals not directly bound to the land (barāyā/berāyā).Footnote 131 These encompassed craftsmen, tradesmen and shopkeepers (arbāb-i ṣanʿāt, ahl-i ḥirf, ehl-i sūḳ),Footnote 132 with glancing references to merchants (bāzergān, maḳūle-i māl ve menāl).Footnote 133 For both authors, scholars (ʿulamāʾ/ʿulemāʾ), clerics (ʿulemāʾ-ı dīn) and dervishes (darvīshān) formed highly significant groups of individuals,Footnote 134 who, through their “care for the condition of peasants and free individuals”, had one foot within the general population.Footnote 135 Prominence was given to the imperial army (lashkar/leşker, ʿasker),Footnote 136 which Koçi Bey much more than ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq evoked in an Islamic tenor as “the army of Islam” or “the sword of Islam”, or as composed of “religious warriors”.Footnote 137 As for the centre of the Mughal and Ottoman polities, it was constituted by the elites, a subset of whom furnished the sovereign decision-makers and implementers.
While there are several differences in detail, the image that ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq and Koçi Bey had of their polity was marked by a similar four-fold division.Footnote 138 Even if the lion's share of their attention was taken up by the army and the elites, both argued that all these components of the polity were crucial for each other's daulat and/or salṭanat, performing distinctive yet mutually reinforcing roles.Footnote 139 In ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq's account, “the cause for the revenue collection of the treasury is the tranquillity of the peasantry, and the cause for the assembling of the army is the treasury … And in truth in the same way that the treasury is the cause for the assembling of the army, the assembling of the army also is the cause for the treasury, because however-so-much the assembled army conquers more countries and increases the [regime's] dominions, the revenue of the treasury becomes greater”.Footnote 140 Likewise, Koçi Bey pointed out that “the strength and glory of the sublime salṭanat is on account of the army and the durability of the army is on account of the treasury. And the revenue collection of the treasury is on account of peasants. And the durability of peasants is on account of justice and equity”.Footnote 141 The relationship between these components was envisaged either mechanically, with the ruler at the apex as “the upholder and preserver of this chain”,Footnote 142 or organically, with the ruler as the spirit or heart and the surrounding polity as the body.Footnote 143
Neither ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq nor Koçi Bey spent much time on the general population in its own right. Whether as free individuals or as peasants, it figures mainly in relation to the elites or the ruler. Both authors were of the opinion that the general population ought to be a primary concern of sovereign governance. “May all the people … be under the shadow of this great daulat and grand salṭanat”, wrote ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq.Footnote 144 Koçi Bey echoed this sentiment. “The peasants and free individuals will be put in a condition of ease [when officials] protect and guard their own peasants as they do their children”.Footnote 145 If properly managed, the general population would then have a value “akin to gold and silver and copper”.Footnote 146 This value was facilitated by there being dispersed among the general population knowledge suited to its station within the polity. Some of this was contained in “books of warning (ʿibrat-nāmah) for the people”, a repository of exemplary behaviour, buttressed by anecdotes from earlier generations.Footnote 147 Some was preserved by religious scholars who were engaged “were engaged in learning in [their] homes [as well as] those who went out either to a lesson or to the mosque or on pilgrimage”.Footnote 148 The general population was subdivided by the authors into smaller categories, such as “the class (zumrah) of the people of Islam”, “the classes (zümreler) of yeomen and heralds and scribes”, “the orders (aṣnāf) of created beings”.Footnote 149 Because each had, according to Koçi Bey, a capacity for undertaking both “admirable acts” and “wicked acts”, these groups needed to be monitored with care.Footnote 150
The general population stood apart from the regime proper, even as both depended on one another. That is because “[only] through freedom from care and welfare of the condition and ease of mind in the period [are peasants] busy in agriculture and bring about an increase in the produce of the land and the necessary wealth (māl). And this will cause an increase of the treasury”.Footnote 151 ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq distinguished between “the special (khāṣṣ) and the common (ʿāmm)” people, which paralleled Koçi Bey's distinction between those “inside (īç) and outside (ṭaşra)”.Footnote 152 The significance of this distinction was that, when a special one lost his position inside the regime, even “if he were capable of [another] occupation (ṣanʿat)”, he would not be “suited to mixing with the occupation of peasants”.Footnote 153 What fundamentally separated the two sides is that the general population did not have salṭanat. Furthermore, its plural nature meant that free individuals (and perhaps the peasants as well) were organised laterally in their specialised occupations, be they as tailors, grocers or druggists.Footnote 154 These qualities marked the general population off from the Mughal and Ottoman regimes, which in contrast were characterised by both salṭanat and a visible hierarchy.
The Mughal and Ottoman regimes had a definite centre. It was at once physical and relational. For ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq, the physical centre was the “unsullied area (khiṭṭah) of Delhi”, within which was located “the abode (maqarr) of the community of the intimates of the court (dargāh)”.Footnote 155 For Koçi Bey, the physical centre pivoted on the “threshold (āsitāne) of auspiciousness” and the “door (der) of the devlet”.Footnote 156 For both, the ruler was the relational focal point of the regime. This regime was built out of several basic resources, on which ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq and Koçi Bey generally concurred. ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq's treatise gives the more explicit account of its construction. At the regime's core were “the pillars (arkān) of the salṭanat … the building of the house of the salṭanat has four pillars (sutūn) [and] if one of them does not exist this building falls and is not capable of solidity. One is the treasury (khazīnah). The second is the army (lashkar). The third is agreement (ittifāq) within the army. The fourth is justice (ʿadl) and removal of oppression and violence (ẓulm va sitam) over the people”.Footnote 157 The principal actors in this were the treasury and the army, and the principal mechanisms agreement and justice.Footnote 158 Koçi Bey likewise mentioned the treasury and the army as actors core to his regime, and justice as one of the key mechanisms.Footnote 159 The other mechanism, however, took the form of being worthy (ehl) or entitled (müstaḥıḳḳ). This is a notable difference, and shaped how each author addressed the urgent problems confronting the Mughal and Ottoman empires in the early seventeenth century. Even so, within the reasoning as a whole, ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq's agreement mechanism operates in a similar way to Koçi Bey's worthy/entitled mechanism. Moreover, both these mechanisms, facilitated by a particular kind of knowledge (ʿilm),Footnote 160 sought the same ends: to foster an effective imperial army and obedience to sovereign decrees.Footnote 161 That suggests a functional equivalence between them.
These actors and mechanisms were situated within a hierarchy, with various bi-directional linkages between them. “Each of [them] differs in strength (quvvat) and degree (martabah)”, which for ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq defined their relative positions.Footnote 162 He argued that “the army is a stronger pillar than the treasury [,] agreement within the army is a stronger pillar than the existence of the army [,] but justice and the removal of oppression and violence is stronger than agreement”.Footnote 163 For Koçi Bey, the actors, who included the gentlemen of learning and wisdom, government managers and collectors, prebendal cavalrymen and janissaries of the standing army, were marked by their degree (mertebe).Footnote 164 When in office, they occupied a specific rank (manṣab). Buttressed by canonical tradition, it is “obligatory and important for both the ranks of divine law and government (şerīʿat ve ḥükūmet) and the ranks of the sword and punishment (seyf ve siyāset) to be given to those worthy of them (ehl)”.Footnote 165 Perhaps the most substantive difference between the two treatises over the regime's hierarchy concerns the relative positions of the treasury and the army. While Koçi Bey did not openly elevate one over the other, the latter was accorded more importance by ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq. He justified it as follows: “What if supposedly there is the treasury and not the army. [Then] the goal and aim of the salṭanat … are not obtained. [But] if there is the army and not the treasury, this goal is capable of being obtained”. However, he was quick to concede that “if there are both, certainly it would be the most perfect and complete [situation], and the goal is obtained more quickly and completely”.Footnote 166
The elites of the Mughal and Ottoman regimes formed a corporate body.Footnote 167 ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq described the Mughal elites as “the people of daulat and salṭanat” and “the intimates (muqarribān) of the court (dargāh)”. Among them figured grandees (kabāʾir) and nobles (khavāṣṣ, khāṣṣigān), as well as “the attendants (mulazimān) of the court”.Footnote 168 Koçi Bey described the Ottoman elites as composed of scholars (ʿulemāʾ), slaves (ḳūllar), ministers (vüzerāʾ) and “the people of the court” (ehl-i dīvān), together with “the inside people (īç ḫalḳı)” of the imperial household, embracing intimates (muḳarrebān), boon-companions (nüdemāʾ, müṣāḥebān) and servants (ḫüdemāʾ).Footnote 169 In addition, there were metropolitan “grandees and notables (ekābir ve aʿyān)”, with their own households and dependents (tevābiʿ, müteʿalliḳāt).Footnote 170 Both authors envisaged these elites as organised into a hierarchy calibrated, as noted above, by degree or rank. With their positions came specified duties and rights. Because members of the elites had the capacity, acquired through birth or conferred from on high, to affect lives within the general population, quite naturally it was from this group that “leaders and commanders (āmir va raʾīs) [emerged] who manage and govern and improve the state [of] human beings”.Footnote 171 Their basic duty (farż-ı ʿayn, ʿayn-ı farż) was to make sovereign decisions and, what is more, ensure their implementation (amr/emr, kār, īş, maṣlaḥat).Footnote 172 These decisions could be in keeping with existing practice, especially where it was good (ḍabṭ/żabṭ, siyāsat/siyāset, tadbīr/tedbīr).Footnote 173 But if the situation fell short of the ideal, the authors advised changes in the form of remedies (ʿilāj/ʿilāc, chārah/çāre, davā/devā), preparations (tadāruk/tedārük), improvements (iṣlāḥ) or corrections (taṣḥīḥ).Footnote 174 In recompense for carrying out their duties, the ruling elites had certain privileges or rights (ḥaqq/ḥaḳḳ). These entailed an appropriate level of income or its equivalent.Footnote 175 The source for this was, of course, the surplus produced by the general population which entered the regime's purview. That is why Koçi Bey urged the Ottoman ruler not to allow the wealth of the general treasury held in trust for the people (beytü’l-māl) to be wasted,Footnote 176 and why ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq urged the Mughal ruler to spend that wealth and the wealth of his privy purse not just wisely but generously, too.Footnote 177
Both treatises emphasise that not all members of the elites, let alone the population at large, were suited to sovereign governance. Sovereign governance ought to be in the hands of those endowed with certain personal qualities (khaṣlat)Footnote 178 and free of undesirable ones.Footnote 179 This accounts for the antipathy of the authors towards interference in the affairs of daulat and salṭanat by metropolitan grandees and notables, or by those belonging to the imperial household and their clients.Footnote 180 ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq blamed Mughal grandees as “the cause of the iniquities and perversion of religion and the world”.Footnote 181 Koçi Bey for his part distinguished repeatedly between the worthy (ehl) and unworthy (nā-ehl), and between the entitled (müstaḥıḳḳ) and unentitled (nā-müstaḥıḳḳ). This was in accord with his argument that government positions should be allocated to those suited to them because of their biological patrimony or because of their institutionalised apprenticeship. To his mind, these were the sole objective and tried-and-trusted grounds for recruitment of officials to man the civil and military machinery of the Ottoman empire. Koçi Bey's stress on a current or would-be official's lineage or ethnicity (cins, aṣl, neseb, ḥaseb, millet), or that individual's training or education (yol, ṭarīḳ, sebīl, icāzet, istiʿdād, hüner), went hand-in-hand with his condemnation of patronage (şefāʿat), auctions (mezād) and bribes (rişvet, irtişāʾ) as alternative mechanisms for recruitment.Footnote 182 Though without the pointed insistence, ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq broadly agreed with Koçi Bey, arguing against “the training of base people” for officialdom.Footnote 183 Both authors also agreed on the value of knowledge for the ruling elites to enable them to exercise their reason (ʿaql/ʿaḳl). Koçi Bey castigated those who lacked knowledge or were ignorant,Footnote 184 flagging the importance of prior experience at lower levels for official positions in the metropole.Footnote 185 ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq was keen that “those present in the court … hear the words of the great ones of the people of religion and the biographies of the justly ruling sovereigns”.Footnote 186 To that end, digests in the form of dastūr al-ʿamals had been composed “for the nobles and the sultans on the face of the world”.Footnote 187 The supreme value of studying such material was that the ruling elites would then be able to
infer and acquire … three things: first, attentiveness to what [past ruling elites] did which affected the daulat and the salṭanat; and [second], what caused the durability of the daulat and the arrangement of the important affairs of the salṭanat; and [third], what was the reason for [their] decline and disorder (zavāl va ikhtilāl). This learning and wisdom is sufficient for rulers. More is not necessary.Footnote 188
The treatises were dedicated to the reigning emperors - Jahangir and Murad IV - whom the authors hoped to count among their readers. It is hardly surprising therefore that ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq and Koçi Bey took care to direct and relate their remarks to the ruler. But there is another reason why the ruler was at the centre of their concerns. It is to do with how a ruler was understood as being systemically integrated into this world. Both treatises evidence a positive correlation between the ruler's goodness (ṣalāḥ) or badness (fasād/fesād), and the goodness or badness of the regime's pillars and population.Footnote 189 Analogous arguments are presented for there being a positive correlation between the safety (amān) of the ruler's person and the safety of his religion and kingdom,Footnote 190 and between the ruler being good (ṣāliḥ) and the world's order being good.Footnote 191 Such correlations gave heft to the notion that “the very being of sovereigns is an influential talisman”.Footnote 192
These correlations resonated with the ruler's jurisdiction over sovereign governance, and account for the duties and rights uniquely vested in him. Rulers were, of course, the exemplary possessors of both daulat and salṭanat.Footnote 193 It was they who had final responsibility for sustaining the livelihoods of their subjects and for handling the principal affairs of their polity.Footnote 194 This necessitated “putting the weight of the people on [themselves] and leaving aside [their] ease and repose and being dedicated to the comfort of the people”.Footnote 195 They “must be busy working for the people during the day and [only] at night [may they work] for themselves”.Footnote 196 Such burdens were matched, and rendered manageable, by a ruler's peerless authority. He undertook “the matters of government and sovereignty … as the pivot of the actions of [his] reign and leadership and command and rule”.Footnote 197 There was no one like the ruler in being able to “order someone anywhere [and for] the barrier to be absent”.Footnote 198 Indeed, “if [the ruler] orders the kings to be attentive to goodness, the world from head to foot will find order. If he directs [them] to badness, the situation will become vexed”.Footnote 199 Alongside these maxims, the treatises mention key principles for facilitating effective decision-making and implementation at the apex of the regime. The most crucial of these, remarked upon especially by ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq, was mediation (tavassuṭ) or equilibrium (iʿtidāl) between, for example, fear and hope among the ruler's soldiers, and too little and too much coordination among his officials.Footnote 200 To make and implement the decisions expected of him, the ruler also needed to have particular qualities and knowledge. There is little discussion of these in Koçi Bey's treatise beyond noting the usefulness of fishing, hunting, walking and riding for a ruler's well-being, and of staying abreast of the current situation by, say, holding court in person, questioning his companions and receiving petitions from his subjects without hinderance.Footnote 201 ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq was more expansive. In addition to having the manners (ādāb) appropriate to sovereignty and accurate, up-to-date information about his regime,Footnote 202 the success or otherwise of a ruler's reign depended on “the strength of [his] intellect”.Footnote 203 For this, he needed to “reflect on the works of rules and regulations (qavāʿid va qavānīn) concerning moderation and tranquillity (maʿdalat va amnīyat) … and keep in view the biographies of the just sovereigns, and listen to their stories and reports, and make the mind accord with divine law and desire follow religion”.Footnote 204 By doing so, he would become “the just, pious sovereign”. ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq reserved the greatest praise for such a ruler, expressing and embodying the ultimate goals to which his regime and polity were oriented.Footnote 205
Through the prism of sovereign governance within the region at the time, the findings of this article shed new light on the history of early modern South Asia and the Middle East. The specific findings—to do with, among others, religion, justice, prosperity, order, experience, scholarship, peasants, free individuals, the treasury, the army, hierarchy, official recruitment—are detailed within the analysis of the previous section. Amidst them, however, are two of a more general nature, which merit elaboration. The first derives from the striking extent to which the treatises of ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq and Koçi Bey concur on the reigning conditions of routine, high-level governance at the centre of the Mughal and Ottoman empires in the early seventeenth century. These similarities are all the more striking for being unexpected. In several respects, the situations of the Mughal and Ottoman metropoles at the time were in marked contrast to one another. That contrast is reflected in the different clusters of problems stressed in the two treatises and the solutions discussed to address them. Furthermore, the biographies of ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq and Koçi Bey are very different. And yet the description of the structures conditioning the empires are broadly the same. This is clear evidence in favour of the thesis that the similarities between the two treatises result from views independently held in common by their authors. It also points towards their views being widely dispersed within the region of the Mughal and Ottoman empires, and being taken seriously by those with a manifest stake in sovereign governance.
Of course, the forgoing begs the question of how to account for the striking similarities between these treatises. One reason must lie in the enormous prestige of the Perso-Islamic literary canon throughout the region, with which elites of all kinds (and perhaps non-elites too) were expected to be familiar.Footnote 206 Another stems from the overlapping genealogy of core elements of the Mughal and Ottoman governing machineries, perhaps most famously the prebendal jāgīr and the tīmār with common roots in the Seljuk-era iqṭāʿ.Footnote 207 These reasons have been used by scholars to claim that treatises such as ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq's and Koçi Bey's lacked innovation.Footnote 208 They, so the argument goes, drew on a collective well of mostly inherited notions. But that is a hasty judgement; it is asserted rather than substantiated. There are in fact promising grounds for an alternative position. This is based on the twinned observation that, even as the meanings of these notions changed over time, at any given moment contemporaries like ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq and Koçi Bey invoked them because, in their particular configuration, they were deemed relevant for their immediate milieu. Unfortunately, we have little more than informed speculation about how the meanings ascribed to these notions in the early seventeenth century compare with before and after within the region; the whole matter is in sore need of far greater attention than it has received thus far.Footnote 209
The matter is linked to a third—and perhaps the most intriguing—rationale for the similarities between the treatises. It pivots on the category of empire to which those of Mughals and Ottomans belonged, and on the phase in the region's history in which they found themselves in the early seventeenth century.Footnote 210 Both their empires were composites, with layered governance, and provinces ruled indirectly. They were territorial, agrarian, extensive and contiguous. They presided over highly plural populations which lived at considerable remove from the metropole, and with which they interacted episodically via an array of intermediaries. They had consolidated bureaucratic-military institutions at the centre. And in their ruling ideology they were unbounded, world dominating and peerless. Given these commonalities, one might expect the framing concepts, images and principles of sovereign governance—the art of governance—to be similar across the empires. This reasoning, avowedly typological in character, dovetails with a historical argument.Footnote 211
From a regional perspective, there were remarkable parallels in the kaleidoscope of sovereign regimes which succeeded one another in northern India and the eastern Mediterranean between the thirteenth and nineteenth centuries. That succession was marked by distinct, roughly coterminous phases. The one in which ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq and Koçi Bey were embedded was the ‘imperial’ phase, lasting from the middle of the sixteenth to the late seventeenth centuries. This was the phase in which the Mughal and Ottoman regimes unquestionably became world empires, attaining their greatest physical reach. Developments in this phase were moulded by mutual dependencies between the region's ‘centre-of-gravity’ polities in northern India and the eastern Mediterranean, and ‘hub’ polities around the Persian Gulf and Red Sea.Footnote 212 Each polity thus had a sui generis relationship to contemporary global flows and interactions, while performing distinct roles in a shared regional world. The polities of the Mughal and Ottoman metropoles in the early seventeenth century were no exception. Their particular situation is flagged in this article by the specific solutions which were proposed, attempted or enacted to the set of problems considered especially pressing or significant at the time. But such differences were of degree, not of kind, because, as shown by the analysis of the two treatises, the structures known to govern decision-making and implementation by the ruling elites were strikingly similar.
The typological-historical rationale above is presented as a hypothesis. It may be tested (and elaborated) in two ways. Adopting mutatis mutandis the approach of this article, one is to reconstruct the art of governance in the citied, literate and commercialised polities of China and Europe, and compare the results for insights into their specific trajectories.Footnote 213 A second way is to use the findings of this article to identify the notions—say, business, class, entitlement, duty, corruption, equilibrium, foreigner, grandee, inside/outside—most actively in play within the globalisation in which the sovereign regimes of the three regions were enmeshed, so as to recapture the cognitive dimensions of its historical circulations, exchanges, blockages and oppositions.
Turning to the article's second general finding, this stems from the emphasis placed on daulat and salṭanat in the treatises. How these terms are invoked leaves no doubt that the authors considered them foundational. For both ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq and Koçi Bey, daulat and salṭanat functioned as measurable metrics or dimensions onto which the current situation of their regime, and the broader polity, could be collapsed, and therefore compared with that of other daulats and salṭanats, past and present. This enabled the current situation to be evaluated systematically for possible future action. Conceptually, daulat and salṭanat were formative for the author's description of sovereign governance and the ends to which it was—or should be—oriented. By extension, they were formative for understandings of sovereign governance dispersed within the region more broadly. Without giving daulat and salṭanat their due as rooted, generative concepts, the arguments of ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq and Koçi Bey do not cohere.Footnote 214 But modern scholarship on either the Mughal empire or the Ottoman empire has yet to do this. To wit, neither daulat nor salṭanat are defined in the glossaries or entered in the indices of any of the standard reference works on these regimes.Footnote 215 Where the terms are mentioned in the main text, they are simply translated as, or used synonymously for, ‘state’ or ‘empire’. As the analysis of the previous section argues, to do that is to distort or misinterpret their meanings profoundly, and of the ambient reasoning within which they are invoked.
Daulat and salṭanat are salient to the longstanding debate over the historical nature and role of the state. That is the imperative for giving them their due as concepts. Throughout this article, the term ‘state’ has been eschewed in favour of the more open-ended terms ‘polity’ and ‘regime’, which can be related more faithfully to the sources examined. By doing so, the resulting analysis is less likely to prejudge sovereign governance in the Mughal and Ottoman metropoles in the early seventeenth century. Because of the heavily modernist and Europe-centred connotations of the state as a concept, making a priori use of it would have veiled the historically consequential structures framing the art of governance. Nevertheless, the state will at some point have to be brought back in.Footnote 216 This is because the mainstream paradigms and narratives, above all those vested in European Exceptionalism and the Rise of the West, hinge on the entity. They make influential claims about premodern states and their modern heirs, about the relationship of different types of states to their societies, and about the influence of states on the specific paths to modernity embarked upon around the world.Footnote 217 However, in bringing back the state, we must move beyond hoary nostrums like the centrality of ‘the circle of justice’ to governance or the absence of a theory of the state within the region in premodern times.Footnote 218 These nostrums might well be true, but merely in a trivial sense. More apropos, they are insidious in that they help perpetuate the logic of decline in apprehending the region's history in moving from precolonial to colonial times. The art of governance was a highly evolved field in South Asia and the Middle East, operating on both theoretical and practical planes, each in dialogue with the other. And at the heart of this field lay daulat and salṭanat. The state is to be discerned within the nexus formed by them.
Stepping back from the findings, there is a larger issue raised by the very presence of this article: Why does it represent the first systematic attempt to analyse in juxtaposition Mughal and Ottoman sources on the art of governance? While the availability of pertinent sources and the necessary linguistic wherewithal admittedly pose major challenges, they are far from the whole explanation. The main cause lies elsewhere; it is less to do with the workaday practicalities of research and more with the horizons within which that research has traditionally been carried out and the hitherto prevailing methodologies. Historiographically, these horizons have been narrow or broad, obscuring the shared region of the Mughal and Ottoman empires in favour of the imperial polity looking inwards or of the European world economy looking outwards. This has fostered interpretations which are unwittingly anachronistic and ethnocentric (be it of the idiosyncratic variety or of the eurocentric). In these interpretations, many features of the treatises analysed here have at worst been dismissed as rhetoric or at best confined to the realm of discourse.Footnote 219 The analysis of this article parts company with the received historiography by embracing an avowedly regional perspective. But to transcend the unwitting anachronisms and ethnocentrisms, and so get at the consequential developments, parting company is not enough; an appropriate set of heuristics is required to differentiate between historical constants and historical contingencies. This set underlies the conditions-problems model deployed for analysing the treatises by ʿAbd al-Ḥaqq and Koçi Bey. That, in concert with the regional perspective, constitutes the approach of this article. If the novelty and value of the findings generated by it gain acceptance, then they and their approach raise the prospect of furnishing a more robust basis for future research that aims to recapture the character and trajectories of the sovereign regimes populating South Asia and the Middle East, and thereby the region's role in the global genesis of the modern world.