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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An artistic depiction of the Circassian Hammer-cross, a symbol of Xabze.
An artistic depiction of the Circassian Hammer-cross, a symbol of Xabze.

The Adyghe Xabze or Circassian Xabze[I] (Adyghe: Адыгэ Хабзэ, romanized: Adıgə Xabzə, IPA: [adəɣa xaːbza]; Turkish: Adige Kabze; Arabic: اديغة خابزة‎) is the worldview, moral code and life doctrine of the Circassian people,[2][3] a nation native to historical Circassia. According to Circassian customs, a Circassian must always live according to a set of unwritten rules defined by the Xabze. Some of the main rules of Adyghe Xabze include extra respect shown for elders and females, the ban on marrying non-Circassians, as well as the importance of truthfullness, honor and valor. In regions where Circassians live, Xabze rules can only be altered by the local Adyghe Xase (Circassian Community) usually led by a Thamade (regional elder). Xabze is often paired with Circassian nationalism.

Xabze, as a set of unwritten laws, includes both the norms and moral principles that determine the behavior of an individual. It represents a spectrum of social rules in all areas of life, regulates the simplest everyday situations and decisions of state importance. For a long time Circassian leaders had two sources of importance, the Quran and the Xabze. However, the set of rules and regulations of Xabze are not a static unchanging system and for a long time they were not fixed in any sources. Xabze almost ceased to exist in Circassia after the Circassian genocide.

Although it was previously influenced by Circassian paganism, today, it is used to represent the current customs and traditions of the Circassians.[3] The native philosophy was also influenced by hellenistic philosophy


"Xabze" (Хабзэ) is a Circassian compound made up from хы "xı", meaning "vast" or "universe",[4] and бзэ "bzə", meaning "speech", "word", "language".[5][6] Thus, its meaning is roughly "language of the universe" or "word of the cosmos", comparable to the concept of Dharma. Over time, the word Xabze gained meanings such as "rule, custom, and tradition" in the Circassian language.[7]


Adyghe Xabze desing by Pshmaf Komok
A Circassian nationalist poster about the Xabze

Xabze is a set of unwritten social rules that ensure effective sanctions in case of violation. It is one of the oldest products of Circassian history dating back to at least 3000 BC. The simplest sanction that can be applied to those who act against Xabze is to exclude them from society. Excluding someone from society, not attending their funeral or wedding, and completely ignoring their existence is a tiring punishment, and for this reason Circassians act with an auto-control mechanism to avoid this sanction. This deterrent effect of Xabze has brought along practices that are unlike other nations in the life of Circassian society.[8]

The Adyghe "hammer cross" representing Xabze
The Adyghe "hammer cross" representing Xabze

The goal of a person practicing Xabze is to live as honorably as possible. In Circassian society, the individual who behaves in accordance with Xabze becomes respected in the society, and is also consulted in social events. Knowing and practicing Xabze well is a very important cause of fame for a Circassian. People known for this aspect are respected and loved.

Every Circassian stands up when someone enters the room, providing a place for the person entering and allowing the newcomer to speak before everyone else during the conversation. In the presence of elders and women respectful conversation and conduct are essential. Women are especially respected, and disputes are stopped in the presence of women as to not disturb them. A woman can demand disputing families or people to reconcile and they must obey her request.

The Xabze requires that all Circassians are taught courage, reliability and generosity. Greed, desire for possessions, wealth and ostentation are considered disgraceful by the Xabze code. In accordance with Xabze, hospitality is particularly pronounced among the Circassians. A guest is not only a guest of the host family, but equally a guest of the whole village and clan. Even enemies are regarded as guests if they enter the home, and being hospitable to them as one would with any other guest is a sacred duty. Circassians consider the host to be like a slave to the guest in that the host is expected to tend to the guest's every need and want. A guest must never be permitted to labour in any way, this is considered a major disgrace on the host.

A key figure in Circassian culture is the person known as the "Thamade" (Adyghe: Тхьэмадэ), who is often an elder but also the person who carries the responsibility for functions like weddings. This person must always comply with all the rules of Xabze in all areas of his life. People who practice the Xabze rise to Thamade status when their age reaches a certain maturity and they start to have a bigger say in the society. This is the best possible prize for a Circassian, the most unique occasion of prestige. As long as he/she does not make a big mistake, almost every Circassian will achieve this status eventually.[8]

Ancient native beliefs

Circassia was one of the places in Europe that retained its native religious traditions for the longest time, with almost a continuity between the ancient traditions and the modern religiosity and world-view (Xabze), which syncrethized and maintained many of its native elements even in Islamic times.

The Xabzeist-nationalist movement

The system was initially shaped around the laws of the Narts in the Circassian epic Nart Saga, originally orally transmitted, which has heavily contributed to the shaping of Circassian values over the centuries. Although Circassians were historically Christianised and Islamised, the period of the Soviet Union contributed to a severe weakening of religions in the area, especially among the Circassians. During this time and after the fall of the Soviet regime, the revival of Xabzeist Muslim worldview was supported by Circassian intellectuals, as part of a rise in nationalism and cultural identity in the 1990s[9] and, more recently as a thwarting force against Wahhabism and other Islamic extremism.[10][11]

On 29 December 2010, a prominent Kabardian Circassian ethnographer and Xabze advocate, Arsen Tsipinov,[12] was murdered by radical Islamist terrorists who had accused him of being a mushrik (idolatrous disbelief in Islamic monotheism) and months earlier threatened him and others they accused as idolaters and munafiqun ("hypocrites" who are said are outwardly Muslims but secretly deny Islam) to stop "reviving" and diffusing the rituals of the original Circassian pre-Islamic traditions.[13][14]

On 11 May 2018, a book about the Habze (with focus on the code of conduct, code of honour, and traditions of the Circassian people) entitled 'الاديغة هابزة-العادات الشركسية' or 'Адыгэ хабзэ' (in Circassian) was published in Jordan by the International Circassian Cultural Academy's Circassian language teacher Zarema Madin Gutchetl and senior ICCA member Nancy Hatkh.[15]

See also


  1. ^ «Хабзисты». Кто они?
  2. ^ Khabze: the religious system of Circassians.
  3. ^ a b "Xabze Nedir?". 2018. Archived from the original on 12 April 2020.
  4. ^ "Çerkesce Destek Merkezi | |Aдыгэбзэ Sözlük". Retrieved 2021-01-07.
  5. ^ What is Khabze?
  6. ^ "Çerkesce Destek Merkezi | бзэ |Aдыгэбзэ Sözlük". Retrieved 2021-01-07.
  7. ^ "Çerkesce Destek Merkezi | |Aдыгэбзэ Sözlük". Retrieved 2021-01-07.
  8. ^ a b "Xabze Nedir?". 2018. Archived from the original on 12 April 2020.
  9. ^ Paul Golbe. Window on Eurasia: Circassians Caught Between Two Globalizing "Mill Stones", Russian Commentator Says. On Windows on Eurasia, January 2013.
  10. ^ Авраам Шмулевич. Хабзэ против Ислама. Промежуточный манифест.
  11. ^ Paul Golbe. Window on Eurasia: Circassians Caught Between Two Globalizing "Mill Stones", Russian Commentator Says. On Windows on Eurasia, January 2013.
  12. ^ Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst Archived July 7, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Vol. 3, No. 4. 21-03-2011. p.4
  13. ^ North Caucasus Insurgency Admits Killing Circassian Ethnographer. Caucasus Report, 2010. Retrieved 24-09-2012.
  14. ^ Valery Dzutsev. High-profile Murders in Kabardino-Balkaria Underscore the Government’s Inability to Control Situation in the Republic. Eurasia Daily Monitor, volume 8, issue 1, 2011. Retrieved 24-09-2012.
  15. ^ "International Circassian Cultural Academy- ICCA". Retrieved 2020-06-28.
  1. ^ Alternatively spelled Khabze, Khabza, or Habze, also called Habzism[1]


External links

This page was last edited on 7 September 2021, at 15:07
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