Two men, one in Isfahan, and the other in Saint Andrea, with a time difference of 500 years, but they have the same purpose, to write a guide on which the ruler relies in the management of the affairs of his kingdom, each according to his authority and goals, which advise the ruler what he should be and what he should do.
Nizam al-Malik al-Tusi, who wrote “Siyasat-nama” or “The Lives of the Kings”, and “Niccol Machiavelli” and his famous book “The Prince”: How Do They differ? And how much do they agree? How does each of them see the role of the ruler?
Tusi en Machiavelli
Nizam al-Malik al-Tusi, born in 480 AH in the Khorasani city of Tus (located in present-day Iran), is the most famous target in the Seljuk state. He was a minister during the reign of Sultan Alp Arslan and his son of Sultan Malik Shah.
Al-Tusi wrote this book at the request of Sultan Malik Shah, who asked the scholars and sages of his state to make a constitution for the rule that includes the palaces of kingdoms and the lives of kings, around this constitution ‘ to make a reference to The Sultan selected Al-Tusi’s book from the books submitted to him.
As for Nicola Machiavelli, he was born in Florence in 1496 AD, and he is an Italian politician and diplomat. He dedicated his book “The Prince” to Lorenzo de Medici, Prince of Florence, in the hope that the book would be a guide for the Prince in the unification of Italy, and in the hope that Machiavelli would return to his denial after Florence and political work.
context of the two books
When the two books are compared, the context that came with each of them can not be overlooked.The book “Siyasat Namah” is the product of a powerful state, whose author addresses the Sultan as “the master of the world . ” Despite this, they faced threats from the Assassins and the Crusades.
As for the book “The Prince”, it is the product of a broken state prone to robbery and plunder, whose princes across kingdoms struggle to expand their influence. Machiavelli says about the situation at the time:
It is therefore possible to explain Machiavelli’s tendency to talk about war, to ensure the loyalty of soldiers and to control the country, while these ideas do not take up the same space from the book “Siyasat Namah”, which focuses on the role of the Sultan with regard to his subjects, and the establishment of systems to preserve the cohesion of the state, without fail to speak of esotericism as the greatest threat to the state.
Both books were based on the biographies of previous kings, each according to his idea. Machiavelli relied on waging wars and stories of victories, and al-Tusi relied on the stories of kings famous for their justice and wisdom in the dealing with the topics and managing the government affairs.
Despite the different circumstances, it is possible to compare the principles that govern Eastern politics with Western politics, and to know the vision of both Tusi and Machiavelli of what the ruler should be.
Learn the ruler and his qualities
The two men differ on the ruler’s priorities in education, a difference that can be explained by the different location of each of the Sultan and the Prince, and the circumstances around them, but it also explains the priorities of the two men. so that the sultan may know the terms of the Sharia, and thus his life and the afterlife will be upright with a just decision.
As for Machiavelli, he advises the prince on the art of war and fighting. He has no need for any other art to remain in his power, even when called upon to read history. History according to Machiavelli is the stories of the victory of princes and their takeover of power, and according to al-Tusi it is the stories of prophets and righteous people or kings.
When mentioning the qualities that a ruler should possess, Machiavelli does not see virtues and vices, but rather sees what benefits the prince and what harms him.Some virtues – according to him – are fatal, and some vices bring security and happiness. It does not matter what the emir is actually characterized by. What is rather important is what the people see and bring their approval, and the most important thing is what ensures the emir’s continued rule.
As for al-Tusi, his reference is Islamic in morals and virtues. The Sultan must follow the prophetic approach by mediating in everything, obeying divine commands and applying the pronouncements of Sharia, so that it is the only criterion for his actions .
Another point of difference is possession and accumulating money, as Machiavelli sees that the love of possession is human nature, and there is no shame in the prince wanting to own more things, whether land or money, while Al-Tusi the encouragement of prominent men in court on a similar principle as money accumulation.The stories are what confirm the subjects’ right to money, and that their deprivation of their rights is a guarantee of justice and thus the continuation of the king.
The two do not differ on the necessity of the ruler to choose with whom they become friends, and who spends his time with them. Machiavelli evaluates the ruler with those around him of men, and evaluating the competence of these men of trustees and ministers is their interest in the interest of the prince before their own, and Machiavelli advises the prince to change the opinion of the sages take and give them freedom to tell the facts, even He can then make decisions.
According to al-Tusi, however, the case is stricter. Choosing the courtiers out of the way is a foregone conclusion, but he sees the need for the sultan to take friends for himself, who do not have official duties in the state, but they have knowledge, wisdom and good manners that allow them to sit and debate with the sultan without interfering in state affairs.It is left to the people of opinion and experience.
Dealing with the people
The people, in Machiavelli’s definition, are the prince’s refuge, and the prince must ensure the people’s satisfaction in the way that suits his circumstances, and he must avoid what makes them angry, and provide them with the necessary security to do their job. practice whatever it is. is, and it is the prince’s responsibility to care for and honor the creators of his people.
Al-Tusi agrees with Machiavelli on the role of the ruler towards his people, especially the interest in those skilled in any field and those with expertise. And Al-Tusi is increasing, so the Sultan recommends allocating two days a week to respond to grievances, and he mentioned in more than one place in his book stories that indicate the zeal of kings to respond to grievances , even if the rulers did so, but rather their efforts to find out the requests of the subjects and listen to their grievances.
army and war
Machiavelli stresses the need to use a one-generation national army to ensure his loyalty to the prince, and warns against mercenaries and even auxiliary forces, because their loyalty is either to money or to other princes. As for al-Tusi, he did not need to advise the “king of Shah” with similar advice, as he did have a strong army, but the advice that Machiavelli contradicted was to form a multinational army, which is consistent with the vast Seljuk state that included the Persians, Turks, and Turkmens. Rather, he warns that the formation of the one-generation army is a cause of ruin and corruption, and his argument is that the competition between these groups makes each of them desire to perform better, and is not accused of laziness compared to the others do not. groups.
Although Machiavelli said that the love of the people was more important than the power of the army when controlling any country that was not under the control of the prince, he preferred the model of colonies, acknowledging the existence of those who is harmed by those whose property has been taken, and his advice is that the prince preserve the weakness and poverty of those affected, so that they are not able to rebel against him, and the people have two solutions : either conquest or extermination, and the only solution for cities according to Machiavelli is destruction, otherwise they will be a danger to the prince.
While Machiavelli encourages the prince to get rid of enemies by extermination, al-Tusi encourages the consideration of peace in case of war, and war taken into account in case of peace, and the role of the sultan with him, who he has repeatedly emphasized is to rectify grievances, not to enforce them.