Numbering over 3.9 million, the Aceh live on the northern tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Most Aceh are either farmers or fishermen. Traditionally, both men and women in Aceh wore a sarong, a modest and colorful skirt. However, in recent years there has been a move toward Islamic dress. The traditional Aceh weapon is the rencong, an ornate sword. Men wear it folded into the sarong as one of the accessories to their ceremonial dress. 

Women typically run the households, while men tend to stay out of domestic affairs, including child rearing. All children, even the youngest, are expected to help with the family work. Inheritance is settled according to Islamic law with men receiving a double portion, yet houses and land are always passed down to the women.

The Aceh are devout Muslims who inhabit a province that has special religious significance for its role in the spread of Islam throughout the country. he Aceh people are strict Sunni Muslims and have been very instrumental in spreading Islam throughout Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries. It is often stated that "to be Aceh is to be Muslim." The Aceh people have strongly and even violently opposed other Aceh people who converted to other religions. Because Aceh was the first province in Indonesia where Shari'a Islamic law was formally instituted, other strongly Islamic provinces are also seeking to implement Shari'a law. The law requires all women, even non-Muslims, to wear head coverings. Other ethnic groups living in Aceh province, however, may worship according to their own religion. Orthodox Islam for many Aceh people is combined with animistic beliefs in spirits and various superstitions. These beliefs center on seeking protection through magic by either appeasing or controlling both good and bad spirits.

Engagement // What’s Happening Now

The Aceh are over 99% Muslim, and efforts to spread the gospel among this people group have encountered considerable barriers.

Sustainability // The Bigger Story

Workers are currently ministering among the Aceh and bringing the hope of Christ to this unreached community one family at a time.

Partnership // Move Beyond

Please spend a few minutes in prayer for:

  • Pray for the alleviation of widespread poverty that persists long after the devastating tsunami.
  • Pray that this Islamic nation would see the light of Christ.
  • Pray that God would raise up workers and the Spirit would stir their hearts to minister among the Aceh.
  • Pray that spiritual strongholds would be broken down among those who practice animism and superstition in the Aceh province.

Photo and info source: Joshua Project