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Adyghe Habze, also Circassian Habze or Habza (Adyghe: Адыгэ Хабзэ /adəɣa xaːbza/ ; derived from хы khy, meaning "order", plus бзэ bze, meaning "speech"), also spelled Khabze, Khabza or Xabze, also called Habzism, defines, philosophy and worldview of the Adyghe or Circassians, an ethnic group of North Caucasian stock inhabiting areas of Caucasia: the republic of Adygea, and the bordering republics of Karachay-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria (the Kabard subgroup), all three within the domains of Russia. The Adyghe Native Religion was influenced by Hellenic religion and philosophy at the time of Greek colonisation in the Caucasus.
The belief system takes its name from the Circassian epic Nart Saga, originally orally transmitted, which has heavily contributed to the shaping of Adyghe values over the centuries. Although historically Islamised, the period of the Soviet Union contributed to a severe weakening of Islam in the area, and especially among the Adyghe-Circassians. With the fall of the Soviet regime, the revival of Habzism was supported by Adyghe intellectuals as part of a rise in nationalism and cultural identity in the 1990s, and more recently as a thwarting force against Wahhabism and Islamic fundamentalism.
The movement has developed a following especially in Karachay-Cherkessia (12%) and Kabardino-Balkaria (3%), according to 2012 statistics. On the 29th of December 2010 a prominent Kabard-Circassian ethnographer and Habze advocate, Arsen Tsipinov, was killed by radical Muslims, who warned him months earlier to stop publicizing the rituals of the original Circassian faith.
"Habze" (Хабзэ) is an Abkhazian compound made up from хы "khy", meaning "vast" or "universe", plus 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 of the Circassian Native Religion is the belief in the soul (psa) of the ancestors, who have the ability to observe and evaluate the affairs of their offsprings. 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 valor, and bravery of a warrior, enables the human soul to join the soul of the ancestors with a clear conscience (nape huzhkle). The souls of the ancestors require commemoration, whereby funeral feasts are arranged (hedeus); sacrifice or memorial meal preparations (zheryme) are practiced and distributed for the remembrance of the dead souls.
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