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Adyghe Habze or Circassian Habze (Adyghe: Адыгэ Хабзэ /adəɣa xaːbza/), alternatively spelled Khabze, Khabza, or Xabze, also called Habzism, is the philosophy and worldview of the Adyghe people (called Circassians in English), a nation of North Pontic stock native to historical Circassia (modern-day Russia’s European federal subjects of Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, Krasnodar Krai, and Stavropol Krai). The native philosophy was influenced by Hellenic religion and philosophy.
The belief system takes its name from the Circassian epic Nart Saga, originally orally transmitted, which has heavily contributed to the shaping of Circassian values over the centuries. Although 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 Habzist worldview was supported by Circassian intellectuals, as part of a rise in nationalism and cultural identity in the 1990s and, more recently as a thwarting force against Wahhabism and other Islamic fundamentalism.
The movement has developed a following especially in Karachay-Cherkessia (12%) and Kabardino-Balkaria (3%), according to 2012 statistics. Practitioners and advocates have faced radical Islamist persecution.
On 29 December 2010, a prominent Kabard-Circassian ethnographer and Habze advocate, Arsen Tsipinov, was murdered by Islamist radical non-Circassians who had accused him of 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 unsympathetic to the cause of Islam) to stop “reviving” and diffusing the rituals of the original Circassian pre-Islamic faith.
On 11 May 2018, a book about 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 released. It was written by Circassian language expert Zarema Madin Gutchetl and translated by Nancy Hatkh.
“Habze” (Хабзэ) is a Circassian compound made up from хы “khy”, meaning “vast” or “universe”, and бзэ “bze”, meaning “speech”, “word”, “language”. Thus, its meaning is roughly “language of the universe” or “word of the cosmos”, comparable to the concept of Dharma.
An important element is the belief in the soul (psa) of the ancestors, who have the ability to observe and evaluate the affairs of their offspring. The concept of physical pain or pleasure in the Hereafter (Hedryhe) is absent: the soul is granted spiritual satisfaction or remorse for one’s chosen path in life in front of himself and his ancestors.
Therefore, the goal of man’s earthly existence is the perfection of the soul, which corresponds to the maintenance of honour (nape), manifestation of compassion (guschlegu), gratuitous help (psape), which, along with valour, and bravery of a warrior, enables the human soul to join the soul of the ancestors with a clear conscience (nape huzhkle).[unreliable source?] The souls of the ancestors require commemoration: funeral feasts are arranged (hedeus) and sacrifice or memorial meal preparations (zheryme) are practiced and distributed for the remembrance of the dead souls.
This article is part of Religion Ledger