A Translated Defense Article about the Military Reforms of Mahmud II: al-Kavkab al-Masud fi Kavkabat al-Junud
The Ottoman modernization started with western-style reforms in the military system fol-lowing an increase in military defeats and loss of land. These reforms, embarked upon sin-ce the second half of the 18th century in particular, required the central government to utili-ze ulamas high public esteem in order to establish legitimacy in both the public eye and the view of opponents. The ulama performed incurring responsibilities by both executing these reforms in various management positions themselves and also writing defensive li-terature in support of the legitimacy and necessity of the reforms. One example of this lite-rature is the pamphlet titled al-Say al-Mahmud fi Nizam al-Junud that was written in Ara-bic in Egypt to defend Mahmud IIs military reforms by Algerian-born Ibn al-Annabi (1775-1851), who also served as a Hanafi judge in Algeria and as a mufti in Alexandria. Sahhâflar Şeyhizâde Asad Efendi (1789-1848), who held important positions in the ilmi-ye organization, translated this pamphlet into Turkish with a substantial number of additi-ons under the title al-Kavkab al-Masud fi Kavkabat al-Junud. The Arabic original had been published in Jan-Feb 1827; it was not until April 26th, 1829 that the proofread trans-lation was presented to the Sultan. It was both a reform document in which military re-forms were defended with reference to Quranic verses, prophetic hadiths and the early Is-lamic history applications, and a war chronicle depicting the wars in detail during the Prophets reign. In this article, biographies of Asad Efendi and Ibn al-Annabi are briefly presented, other reform documents of the period are listed; and the text of al-Kavkab is int-roduced and critiqued.
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