Chechen Ethics: Konakhallah
Chechen ethics has three levels:
1) Adamalla (humanity) – the system of universal human norms;
2) Nokhchalla (this word literally means “Chechen-ness”) – the system of particular Chechen norms;
3) Konakhalla (“konakh” means “noble man”, “konakhalla” is what makes him such) – the system of the highest ethical norms.
“Konakhalla” can be compared to Bushido and Confucius’s teachings. Like Bushido, it was originally warrior’s code of ethics. Although there are many similar traits between them, there is also a difference. Unlike feudal Japan, Chechnya was a democratic country. Chechen konakhs served their nation and Motherland. They highly valued their personal freedom and dignity. Although they were respectful to others, they considered other people equal to themselves. They did not commit ritual suicide because any suicide was against “Konakhalla”.
Who is a konakh?
1. For konakh, the main goal and meaning of life is service to his nation and his Motherland. For him, interests of the nation and Motherland are above his personal interests.
2. Konakh gives an oath to serve and serves only to Motherland. He is ready to sacrifice his life for Motherland, but never, in no circumstances, konakh gives up his personal dignity and honor.
3. The highest expression of konakh’s service is the defense of Motherland from enemy’s attacks. For konakh, death in the just war or at the defense of his honor and dignity is more preferable than life in dishonor and shame.
4. Creative labor for the benefit of Motherland in peaceful time is konakh’s duty in the same way as defense of his country during the war. Labor does not humiliate, but raises konakh’s dignity.
5. In any circumstances, konakh should respect his Motherland and his nation’s choice. He should be able to submit his personal desires and preferences to this choice, even if he has to go against his beliefs.
6. Konakh should remember that for him Motherland, personal dignity and honor are higher than life. However, when he has to choose between Motherland’s interests and his honor, konakh leaves Motherland.
7. Serving to Motherland, konakh does not expect thankfulness for his actions. For konakh, there is no higher reward than people’s thankful memory.
8. Konakh’s actions and emotions are controlled by his mind, and his heart helps him to avoid extremes. However, the basis of konakh’s attitude to the world is humanity. Everything beyond is not worthy for konakh.
9. The essence of humanity is wisdom, humanist attitude to the world and people, mercy, and compassion. Konakh’s humanity and mercy are expressed not only in compassion to people, but also in defending and helping them. First of all, konakh has to be merciful to week and powerless people.
10. Justice is the real measure of konakh’s relationships with people. He has to be fair to people in the same way as to himself. In his actions, konakh follows the principle of mutuality: “Do not do to others what may be unpleasant to you.”
11. Konakh’s nobility is expressed not only in justice, but also in respect toward people regardless of their age and social status. In communication with people, he should be very polite, restrained, and humble.
12. Konakh’s main riches are his honor and personal dignity. All the other benefits of this world may be regained after lost, but the lost honor may be regained only through the honorable death.
13. Spiritual purity is a mirror which reflects konakh’s inner essence and his actions. Without spiritual purity, there cannot be genuine humanity and compassion.
14. Genuine courage is expressed in patience and ability to control oneself and the situation. Unreasonable bravery is courage with closed eyes. It is forgivable for a young man who does not know the price of his nor other’s life. Konakh’s self-control is courage of the knowledgeable person, it is an acknowledged step toward death.
15. Genuine faith and justice are konakh’s highest spiritual goal. Konakh learns the essence of the world by his mind and heart. He learns the essence of faith by his heart and soul. In religious matters, konakh follows the Prophet’s words: “There is no compulsion in the religion”.
16. Konakh should always train his mind, comprehend wisdom and experience of others, learn sciences that give a key to understanding of the world because it is only through the knowledge that is possible to come to the genuine faith and comprehension of justice.
17. Konakh should be modest in religious rituals. He never emphasizes his religiousness and does not substitute the genuine faith with the form. For konakh, the inner essence of faith is always more important than its outward expression because the first is pleasant to God while the second is pleasant to people.
18. Konakh is ready to meet any tests that his destiny sends him. However, he always remembers that God always gives him a choice between good and evil and he is ready to be responsible for his choice before God and people.
19. Konakh never gives up trust in God. It helps him in unequal battle and in any hard circumstances. It is his source of his inner power and patience.
20. Konakh is tolerant to people of other religions. He does not force them to follow his views or living. Compulsion causes hypocrisy, and hypocrisy is incompatible with the genuine faith.
21. Konakh should not infringe on personal dignity and honor of other people. He should be lenient toward their weaknesses and errors.
22. Konakh should be able not only to defend his opinion, but also to listen to others’ opinion and agree with it if it is correct. To admit that somebody else is right, to give up in an argument or quarrel to a weaker opponent is not a weakness, but expression of nobility.
23. When somebody makes good to konakh, he repays many times more because thankfulness is an attribute of a noble person. However, he does not expect thankfulness when he makes good.
24. Konakh should behave himself with dignity both in joy and in sorrow. Shadow of sadness on one’s face and gloomy silence are inappropriate in a feast in the same way as laugh and talkativeness in a funeral. In any situation, he has to express self-control and calmness.
25. Konakh should respect and honor his parents, take care for them, and give them provision when they are old. He has to share with them not only lodging and bread, but also joy and sorrow.
26. In his family, konakh should be as just as in society. In both punishment and reward, he has to be stable and self-controlled. He should not offend or use physical punishment toward his family members.
27. Konakh should be modest in life, everyday living, and social matters. Konakh’s intelligence, courage, and actions first of all should be evaluated by others. However, even subjectivity of this evaluation does not give him right to praise himself.
28. Honor and dignity of a woman are inviolable for konakh. Konakh will never allow anyone to offend a woman in his presence.
29. A woman’s life is double inviolable for konakh. Under no circumstances, konakh will use an armor against her or will threaten to use it.
30. Konakh will never cause a child pain or suffering. There is no goal which would cause konakh to sacrifice life or health of children.
31. For konakh, guest’s life and freedom is more precious than his own life. However, he is not responsible for the guest who committed a crime.
32. In a foreign country, konakh should not only keep its laws, but also to respect its customs and traditions and follow them if it does not contradict his national dignity. In this way, he expresses his thankfulness of this country’s air and bread.
33. Konakh’s nobility is expressed in the ethics of his behavior. No circumstances are able to make konakh violate the etiquette.
34. For konakh, friendship is sacred. Konakh is ready to sacrifice everything for the sake of friendship. He loves genuine friend like a brother, respects like a father and honors like a dear guest.
35. In friendship, konakh should be faithful and devoted. Defending his friend, konakh does not spare his life. He is equally known by friendship and enmity.
36. Generosity is the measure of konakh’s attitude to his enemy.
37. At the war, konakh should not go beyond what is permissible toward an enemy. He should not give a freedom to his feeling of anger and malice.
38. Konakh expresses nobility and mercy toward a defeated enemy. He prefers a noble enemy to an unfaithful friend.
39. Konakh should not use an armor against an unarmed enemy. He is obligated to render help to a seriously wounded enemy in the same way as he would do it to any other person.
40. Konakh should do his best to avoid battle against a weaker enemy because any result of such a battle will not give him glory, but may disgrace his name. If he is unable to avoid it, he should give the enemy an opportunity to choose an armor and to be lenient to him.
41. Konakh should not avoid battle against a stronger enemy. However, he always prefers peace if it is possible without a damage to the nation’s interests, his honor and personal dignity.
42. Konakh should keep best traditions of his family, remember his ancestors, respect his background and his nation’s history.
43. Konakh should perfect his spirit and body his whole life in order to serve his nation with the highest benefit.
44. Konakh is responsible for his words and actions. He always fulfills his promises given to other people and never violates his promises, even at the cost of his life.
45. Konakh may have healthy ambition, but jealousy to other’s glory or riches is unworthy of him. It makes mind not clear and fills heart with poison. Where there is jealousy, there is no humanity and no mercy.
46. Feeling of competition may help konakh to reach goal more quickly, but it is inappropriate toward a friend or a brother. Competition for Motherland is noble, but competition for personal glory is unworthy.
47. Konakh should avoid lie and slander as well as people who spread them. He never says about people what he would not say in their presence. About dead people or people in trouble, konakh says good or nothing.
48. Konakh’s truthfulness and sincerity come from courage. However, there is nothing more unworthy for him than hypocrisy. It comes from baseness and cowardice and almost always cause treachery.
49. Politeness and respect should not become ingratiation and sycophancy toward rich and mighty people. Konakh should express a special respect only to women and elderly people. Respectful attitude toward older people is an expression of good manners, respectful attitude toward women is an expression of manliness, and respectful attitude toward younger people is an expression of nobility.
50. Under no circumstances, konakh should infringe other’s property.
51. Konakh is permitted to accumulate riches. Accumulated through the righteous way, riches of genuine konakh can serve not only his interests, but also interests of his nation and Motherland. Greediness and meanness are able to make useless the best attributes of any person in the same way as the excessive extravagance is able to impoverish the most rich person. Generosity increases both konakh’s glory and his wellbeing.
52. Konakh should courageously bear all the hardships of life that he has, including physical sufferings.
53. Konakh has a respectful attitude to his armor, he respects it, do not use it without a need, never uses it for gain or unrighteous deed.
54. Konakh should be ready to die at any moment because there is nothing eternal in this world. However, konakh should not pursue death and risk his life without necessity because life is the God’s highest gift to a human being.
55. Konakh’s death should be as dignified as his life.