The writer of many works, including primarily Şakaiku’n-nu‘maniye, which contained biographies of various Ottoman scholars and Sufi masters, and Miftahü’s-sa‘ade, which dealt with the classification of sciences, Taşköprülüzade Ahmed Efendi played an important role in the Ottoman history of science. His autobiography represented the first example of its kind in the Ottoman history of science. Significant stages in his education and teaching life as an Istanbulite scholar can be tracked through the autobiography:
Almost a month before my birth, my father, who was about to leave Bursa for Istanbul, had a dream and saw a sheikh with a divine light on his face. The sheikh told my father that he would have a son and that he should name Ahmed. I was born during the night of Rabi‘ al-Awwal 14, 901 AH [December 2, 1495]. We moved to Ankara when I reached puberty. I started to read the Quran. My father gave me the nickname İsameddin and the epithet Ebu’l-Hayr. He gave my two-year older brother, Mehmed, the nickname Nizameddin and the epithet Ebu Said. When I completed reading the Quran from cover to cover, my parents came back to Bursa. After teaching me Arabic for a while, my father had to go to Istanbul due to his duty. He entrusted me to the care of the scholar Molla Alaeddin Yetim. Thanks to this scholar, I read the grammar works titled Maksud, İzzi and Merahu’l-ervah on the subject of morphology (sarf). Regarding the subject of syntax (nahiv), I read the following works under the same scholar; Muhtasarü’l-mi’e by Şeyh Abdülkadir Cürcanî, Kitabü’l-Misbah by İmam Mutarrizi and Kitabü’l-Kafiye by İbn Hacib. My elder brother and I followed all of these classes together.
We later read el-Vafiye fi Şerhi’l-Kafiye until the chapter called “Merfuat.” Meanwhile, my paternal uncle, Kıvameddin Kasım, started to work as a teacher at Molla Hüsrev Madrasa in Bursa.
At that time, my brother contracted a chronic disease and I had to quit the classes because he wanted me to do so until he recovered from it. In the meantime, under the supervision of my uncle, I read books such as Haruniyye on the subject of sarf and el-Elfiyye by İbn Malik on nahiv, and learned el-Elfiyye by heart. In 914 AH (1508), my brother passed away. I studied Dav’ü’l-misbah under my uncle, and wrote it down making some corrections.
Later, on the subject of logic (mantık), I read the book titled Muhtasaru İsagoci with its commentary by Hüsameddin Kati. I also studied parts of Şerhu’ş-Şemsiyye by Allame Razi under uncle.
At that time my father came to Bursa from Istanbul. When he was appointed as a teacher of the Amasya Hüseyniye Madrasa, I went to Amasya with him. He taught me the whole of Şerhu’ş-Şemsiyye, together with its commentary written by Seyyid Şerif Cürcani. Then, I read Şerhu’l-Akaid by Allame Taftazani, with its commentary written by Molla Hayali. I read to my father the work entitled Hidayetü’l-hikme by Mevlanazade, together with its commentary written by Molla Hocazade. Afterwards, I read Adabü’l-bahs by Mevlana Mesud Rumi, as well as the book entitled Şerhu’t-Tavali by Allame İsfahani with the commentary written by Seyyid Şerif. After this, I read the work titled eş-Şerhu’l-Mutavvel li’t-Telhis by Allame Taftazani, together with its commentary written by Seyyid Şerif. I read the last work meticulously.
Eventually my late father told me: “I have fulfilled my duty as a father, the rest is up to you.” After having told me this, he did not teach me any other subjects. So, I studied Şerhu’t-Tecrid by Seyyid Şerif from my maternal uncle and read it in a meticulous and solid manner until the chapter of “Vücub ve İmkan”.
After that, I read the work titled Şerhu’l-Miftah by Seyyid Şerif until the end of the chapter of “Fasl ve Vasl” under Molla Muhyiddin Fenari. I later read the book entitled Şerhu’l-Mevakıf by Seyyid Şerif elaborating on between the chapters “İlahiyat” and “Nübüvvet” under the supervision of Molla Muhyiddin Seyyidi Kocavi who is a scholar full of virtue, maturity and wisdom. Under him, I also studied the chapter of the Quran “Nisa” from the exegetical work Keşşaf. Molla Bedreddin Mahmud b. Mehmed b. Kadızade Rumi, who is a scholar full of wisdom and who is known for his nickname Mirim Çelebi, taught me Kitabü’l-Fethiyye, written by Molla Ali Kuşçu on the subject of astronomy (heyet). While I was reading the book, my teacher was writing commentary on it. He gave the commentary to Sultan Selim II, and in return he appointed him as the kadıasker (chief judge) of Anatolia.
The precious scholar, Şeyh Mehmed Tunusi, taught me Sahih-i Buhari and some of the chapters of eş-Şifa of Kadı İyaz. Under him, I also studied the subjects of dialectics (cedel) and polemics (hilaf). I improved my knowledge on rational sciences and Arabic language by having discussions with him. Finally, he gave me the license (icazet) to transmit the knowledge on Quranic commentary (tafsir), Hadith (reports of the Prophetic tradition) and other subjects both orally and in writing. The license involved the subjects on which he had been authorized to teach. He had been authorized by Veliyyullah Şihabüddin Ahmed Bekki who had taken on Hadith from Şihabüddin Ahmed b. Hacer Askalani.
Another license for the subjects of Quranic commentary and Hadiths was given to me by my father. My father had been licensed by my grandfather, who had received the license from Molla Yegan, who in turn had received it from Molla Fenari, who had received it from Cemaleddin Aksarayi, who had received it from Sheikh Ekmeleddin. My father also received license for both subjects through the channel of Molla Hocazade, Molla Fahreddin Acemi, Molla Haydar Allame, and Molla Sadeddin Taftazani. Molla Seyyid Muhyiddin was another scholar who gave me the license for the subjects of the Quranic commentary and Hadith, and he took lessons from an important scholar with the great knowledge, Molla Hasan Çelebi Fenari, who had studied under the students of the great scholar Şeyh Şihabeddin Ahmed b. Hacer.
Poor me, I was appointed for the first time as the teacher of the Dimetoka Madrasa at the end of Rajab 931 AH [May 1525]. There I taught eş-Şerhu’l-Mutavvel li’t-Telhis starting from the section “Beyan” until the chapter of “İstiare,” as well as Havaşi Şerhi’t-Tecrid to the end of the chapter “Umur-ı amme”.
In addition, I taught Şerhu’l-Feraiz by Seyyid Şerif. I was later appointed to the Molla İbn Hacı Hasan Madrasa in Istanbul in Rajab 933 AH [May 1527]. Here, I taught Şerhü’l-Vikaye by Sadrüş?eria from the beginning of the book to the topic of ?Transactions.? I also taught şeria from the beginning of the book to the topic of “Transactions.” I also taught Şerhü’l-Miftah from the beginning of the book until the chapter entitled “İcaz ve İtnab”. I had them read Şerhü’t-Tecrid between the chapters of “Umur-ı amme” and “Vücub ve İmkan”.
On the study of Hadith, I had them read Kitabü’l-Mesabih from beginning to end twice. When I finished it, my late father passed away in Istanbul during the mid-morning on Shawwal 12, 935 AH [June 8, 1529].
On Dhu al-Hijja 936 AH [July 1530], I was appointed to the İshak Pasha Madrasa in Skopje where I taught Kitabü’l-Mesabih and Kitabü’l-Meşarık from the beginning to the end in Ramadan. I also instructed the whole of et-Tavzih, as well as Şerhü’l-Vikaye of Sadrüşşeria from the chapter “Transactions” to the end. In addition, I taught Şerhü’l-Feraiz by Seyyid Şerif. Şerhü’l-Miftah was instructed from the section “Beyan” to the end of the book.
I returned to Istanbul later and I started to teach at the Kalenderhane Madrasa on Shawwal 942 [March 1536]. I taught Kitabü’l-Mesabih from the beginning to the chapter of “transactions.” I began to teach Şerhü’l-Mevakıf. Moreover, I had them read some parts from Şerhü’l-Vikaye and Şerhü’l-Miftah by Seyyid Şerif.
On Rabi‘ al-Thani 21, 944 AH [September 27, 1537], I started to teach at Mustafa Pasha Madrasa in Istanbul. Here I taught Kitabü’l-Mesabih from the chapter “Transactions” to the end. I also taught el-Hidaye from the beginning to the chapter “Zekat.” Moreover, I instructed some parts related to theology from Şerhü’l-Mevakıf.
On Dhu al-Qa‘dah 4, 945 AH [March 24, 1539], I was appointed to be a professorship in Edirne.
On Rabi‘ al-Thani 23, 946 AH [7 September 1539], I started to teach at one of the Sahn madrasas. In these madrasas, I taught Sahih-i Buhari from the beginning to the end twice. I also instructed the chapter of the Quran entitled “Bakara” from the exegetical work of Kadı Beyzavi. el-Hidaye was read from the chapter “Nikah” to the chapter of “Transactions.” Kitabü’t-Telvih was also instructed until the chapter of “Ahkam.”
On Shawwal 11, 951 AH [December 26, 1544], I was appointed as the professor of the Edirne Sultan Bayezit Madrasa where I taught various chapters from Sahih-i Buhari, el-Hidaye, et-Telvih, and Şerhü’l-Feraiz by Seyyid Şerif.
I later started to work as judge. On Ramadan 26, 952 AH [December 1, 1545], I was appointed as the judge of Bursa. These were such hard days.
On Rajab 18, 954 AH [September 3, 1547], I was again appointed as the professor of one of the Sahn madrasas in Istanbul. I taught the aforementioned books here.
On Shawwal 17, 958 AH [October 18, 1551], I became the judge of Istanbul. The judgeship was a hindrance for my scientific practices to a great extent.
On Rabi‘ al-Awwal 17, 961 AH [February 20, 1554], my eyes saw the divine white light. My eyes were so affected by it that they could not see anymore. Allah granted me the opportunity to write some books in the fields of Quranic commentary, principles of faith (usul-i din), legal theory and methodology (usul-i fıkıh) and Arabic language. I finished writing the book titled Şakaik on the biographies of some scholars and sheikhs at the end of Ramadan 965 [July 1558]. Let Allah protect the city of Istanbul from any kind of disaster under the shadow of its administrators.
Taşköprizâde, eş-Şekâiku’n-Nu‘mâniyye: Osmanlı Bilginleri, tr. Muharrem Tan, Istanbul: İz Yayıncılık, 2007, pp. 377-380.