Into Their World…The Aceh of Indonesia

It is often said that “to
be Aceh is to be Muslim.”

The Aceh people, who live on the northern tip of the island of Sumatera in the province of Aceh, are strict Sunni Muslims and have been very instrumental in spreading Islam throughout Indonesia and other parts of Southeastern Asia. In fact, it is often said that “to be Aceh is to be Muslim” and the Aceh have been known to strongly and even violently oppose other religions. The Aceh Province is the only province in Indonesia where Shari’a Islamic law has been formally instituted.

The provincial capital of Banda Aceh is commonly known as the “Veranda of Mecca” because it is a stopping place for Southeast Asian Muslims journeying by ship to Mecca, their holy city in Saudi Arabia. The Aceh are a blend of many races; however, they speak one language. Many Aceh also speak the national Indonesian language.

Most Aceh are farmers or fishers. Although there has been a trend toward building modern, cement homes, many Aceh still live in homes made of bamboo, wood, clay tiles and thatch which stand on stilts that are roughly two meters high. The families often use the space under the house for cattle stalls, chicken coops or to store tools and firewood.

Aceh women run the households. They often wear the traditional Islam dress, complete with head covering, even in their daily activities. Men have little to no say in matters that deal with the home or child-raising and the children in the house are expected to help with family work.

The province of Aceh is rich in natural resources and tourism is a potential industry that could be effective in bringing money to the area if infrastructure were improved. However, unrest and violence associated with an independent movement have kept the improvement of society from becoming a reality.

Pray the Aceh of Indonesia will see the brilliance of Jesus Christ through creation, dreams, witness and other means. Pray that God will turn them from darkness and into his marvelous light.

For more information on the Aceh of Indonesia, visit:

(Information compiled from


(Note: The website links above are intended to provide you with more information about this people group. Some of the links are to groups that are not religious in nature but who provide information and background that may be helpful in researching this people group. The content of each of the websites linked to is the sole responsibility of the linked-to organization. Views expressed on these websites do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of the staff or writers of Lausanne World Pulse or those of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, Institute of Strategic Evangelism, Evangelism and Missions Information Service or Intercultural Studies Department.)

Laurie Fortunak Nichols is editorial coordinator of Lausanne World Pulse. She also serves as editorial coordinator for the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College and managing editor and book review editor of Evangelical Missions Quarterly (EMQ). She has edited a number of books, including the recent Extending God's Kingdom: Church Planting Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, with A. Scott Moreau and Gary R. Corwin.