Adyghe Xabze

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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 Organisation) 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 importantce, 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]


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 3000 BC.[8] In a Circassian society, defined by some as the anarchic utopia, the simplest sanction that can be applied to those who act against Xabze is to exclude them from society.[8] In a Circassian society, where sociality is very important, excluding someone from society, not attending their funeral or wedding is the worst thing to do, and for this reason Circassians act with an auto-control mechanism to avoid this sanction.[8] 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 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.[8] People known for this aspect are respected and loved.[8] People who practice the Xabze rise to Thamade (elder) status when their age reaches a certain maturity and they start to have a bigger say in the society.[8] This is the best possible prize for a Circassian, the most unique occasion of prestige.[8] As long as he/she does not make a big mistake, almost every Circassian will achieve this status eventually.[8]

Ancient native beliefs[edit]

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[edit]

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 Gutchetl and senior ICCA member Nancy Hatkh.[15]

Russian State television presenter Mikhail Leontiev, who was disturbed by the demolition of the monument, which was built in Adler near Sochi and glorifying the leaders who committed massacres during the Circassian genocide, made controversial statements.[16] Senior politicians and administrators made insults against Circassians. The directors of the Russian state-owned companies Gazprom and Rumsfelt and various politicians made statements containing severe insults to the Circassians over the removed monument. Russian technology designer Artemy Lebedev made statements with heavy insults and genocide implications against Circassians.[17] Immediately after, Lebedev was given the "Homeland Order of Merit", one of the top-ranking decorations in Russia, which raised the suspicion that these people were being protected by the state.[17]

See also[edit]


  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 c d e f g h i "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.
  16. ^ "RUS TELEVİZYONU'NDAN ÇERKESLERE YENİ BİR SOYKIRIM TEHDİTİ!". Archived from the original on 5 August 2020.
  17. ^ a b "Soykırım çağrısı yaptı, liyakat nişanı aldı - Son dakika haberler". Retrieved 2021-01-07.
  1. ^ Alternatively spelled Khabze, Khabza, or Habze, also called Habzism[1]


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