The 2nd International Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin Symposium on History of Science in Islam Proceedings Book
An Idiosyncratic Ottoman Scholar Encounters European Science, Enlightenment, and Modern Warfare: Shānīzāde Maḥmad ʻAṭā’ Allāh and the Niẓām-ı Ǧadīd Era Translation MovementAhmet Tarık Çaşkurlu
Shāniz̄āda Maḥmad ʻAṭā’ Allāh Efendi (d. 1826) was a traditionally trained ʻālim (religious and legal scholar). However, he was no prototypical member of the classical Ottoman ʻilmiyya corps, thanks to his foresighted intellectual pursuit of contemporary European learning, enabled by his peerless mastery of European languages. The scholar is best known as a pioneer of modern European medical knowledge among the Ottoman Muslim elites and as an official court historiographer (waqʻa-nuwis̄). In this paper however, I will present the lesser-known works of Shāniz̄āda in the domain of military-engineering and its auxiliary disciplines, geography and mathematics. Such works were a product of the “technology” policymaking and “translation movement” of the Niẓām-ı Ǧadid̄/New Order reformist cadres which thrived under Sultan Salim III in the first ̄ decade of the 19th century. Two specific translations in manuscript form which were written during this early career period of Shāniz̄āde, when he was affiliated with the Imperial School of Engineering (Muhandiskhāna), provide the main data for investigating how an Ottoman Islamic scholar regarded and retold topics which are historiographically defined as modern European science-technology, Enlightenment, and warfare. The first manuscript is Shāniz̄āda’s Wāṣāyānāma-i Safariyya, a translation of the book General-Principia vom Kriege by the Prussian King Frederick II on warfare and logistics. The second manuscript is Mufradāt-ı Kulliyya fi Sawāḥil al-Baḥriyya ̄ on naval geography and navigation, largely based on English geographer-cartographer John Hamilton Moore’s The New Practical Navigator.