Staunton, March 28 – Madina Khakuasheva, a scholar at Nalchik’s Kabardino-Balkar Institute for the Humanities, says that the moral code of the Circassians, known as adyge habze, which has been the basis for the survival of the nation in the past must occupy a central place in the formation of a Circassian national agenda for the future.
She made that argument during the international online “Circassian Circle” (aheku.net/news/society/cherkesskij-krug madina). This is the second in a series of articles about this event. The first was posted yesterday (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/03/online-circassian-circle-brings.html).
Khakuasheva says that the Circassians lack many of the features that define other nations like compact residence in a common territory or a common language and they also currently lack “a single national agenda.” But they do have a common moral code, the adgye habze, which has been the basis of their identity for centuries.
“The special feature and indeed uniqueness of Circassian culture consists in the fact that we have an obligatory etiquette … universal and in principle like a moral code” that others have but that is fundamentally different because “adygey habze presupposes the obligatory fulfillment of all its provisions while those of other peoples are only recommendations.”
Moreover, Khakuasheva continues, this code governs “all sides of life: physical, social, moral-ethical, and spiritual. These special features transform our etiquette into an important and defining strength of the people which nothing is capable of standing up to.”
As recently as 2012, many Russian commentators suggested that adyge habze dying out, the result of globalization and the policies of the Soviet and Russian government, an argument that led many outside analysts and even some Circassians to neglect them (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/01/window-on-eurasia-circassians-caught.html).
There were good reasons then to believe such Russian suggestions were less a description of reality than of the hopes of the imperial center that beliefs which had informed the Circassian struggle against the Russian advance in earlier centuries were dying out. Now, thanks to the work of Circassian scholars like Khakuasheva, there are even more compelling reasons for rejecting their claims.
And the new findings are important politically because they mean that Moscow’s longstanding effort to divide the Circassian nation into a variety of “nationalities” including Adgyeys, Kabardins, Cherkess, and Shapsugs has failed and that what the Circassians shared in common before the Russians came is recovering its importance as a source of unity.
In a recent 5,000-word article, she details the way in which this code affects gender, arguing that it defines not only what people do but how they define it and provides a model for the discussion of other aspects of Circassian history, something she argued then and argues now is underdeveloped (natpressru.info/index.php?newsid=11707).
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