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Acehnese in Indonesia – Religion – Customs

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Acehnese is a tribe in the province of Nangroe Aceh Darussalam, a province that located in the most western tip of Indonesia and the northernmost tip of the island of Sumatra.


Acehnese is famous with their Syariah rule in their daily activity. However, not all of Acehnese embrace Islam as their religion. Here we are going to expand more about Acehnese in Indonesia. You need to see these following paragraphs.

The origin of Acehnese

The ancestors of the Acehnese are historically originated from the descendants of various tribes, such as Cham, Arabs, Malays from Peninsular Malaysia, and India. Previously before the Acehnese embraced Islam, Hindu culture was once in the Acehnese society, seen from several Acehnese cultural traditions containing Hindu and Indian elements. Here are the further explanations of the origin descendants of Acehnese.

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  1. Indian

Indian descendants are scattered throughout Aceh. Because of the geographical location is across to the Indian, the descendants of India are quite dominant in Aceh. Yemeni traders from the province of Hadramaut have made many trade connections in Aceh. The traders from Yemen mostly settled and married Acehnese.

The evident from the descendants of the Yemeni people is the clans of al-Aydrus, al-Habsyi, al-Attas, al-Kathiri, Badjubier, Sungkar, Bawazier and others. Then the Indian peoples of Gujarat and Tamil are also the origin of Acehnese descendants, it could be seen from many Acehnese who look like Indians and Tamils, who have dark-skinned and curly hair.

  1. Chinese

Then the Chinese merchant also had a close relationship with the Acehnese, proved by the arrival of Admiral Cheng Ho, who had stopped by and rewarded Aceh with a big bell. Now it is known as the Cakra Donya Bell, stored in Banda Aceh. (Read also: History of Chinese in Indonesia)

  1. The middle east countries

There are also Persian (Iranian / Afghan) and Turkish, they have come at the invitation of the Kingdom of Aceh to become clerics, arms dealers, warrior trainers and war soldiers of Aceh kingdom, and now their descendants are mostly scattered in the region of Aceh Besar.

  1. Portuguese

In addition, there is also the descendant of the Portuguese, in the territory of Kuala Daya, Lam No (west coast of Aceh). They were descended from Portuguese sailors under the command of Captain Pinto, who sailed for Malacca (Malaysia), and had stopped and traded in the Lam No region, and most of them remained and settled in Lam No around 1492 -1511.

Therefore many Acehnese who interpret ACEH stands for the letter, “A” for Arabian, “C” for China, “E” for Europe, and “H” for Hindustan.

The language used by Acehnese

The most widely used local language in Aceh is the aceh language spoken by ethnic Aceh along the Aceh coast. The second largest language is Gayo Gayo highland, Alas plateau language, aneuk jamee language on the south west coast, singkil language and Pakpak language in Singkil land, Kluet language in South Aceh and Tamiang language in Tamiang. In northern Simeulue, sigulai and lekon language are found, while in the south use found devayan language. The language of haloban and nias language is found in Pulau Banyak.

Aceh language is one of the regional languages in the province of Aceh. Based on language mapping conducted since 2008 by Balai Bahasa Banda Aceh, it can be seen that the local language in Aceh Province about 8 languages. Acehnese language is one of the languages with a large number of speakers. The Aceh language use area covers almost the entire east coast of Aceh province from Langsa to Banda Aceh on the northern edge.

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The Religion of Acehnese

Most of the population in Aceh embraces to Islam as their religion. Among the 13 indigenous tribes in Aceh, it is only Nias tribes which inhabitants don’t embrace Islam at all. Another religion adopted by the population in Aceh is Christian religion embraced by Batak settlers and some Chinese people who mostly have Hakka tribes. Some others embrace Confucian.

In addition, Aceh province has a distinctive feature compared to other provinces, because in this province Shariah Islam is applied to most of its citizens who follow Islam, based on Law No.18 / 2001. The Acehnese intellectuals themselves are still debatable whether what is enacted in Aceh is really Shari’a or that it is only for political reasons.

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Customs for Acehnese

Since most of Acehnese’s work as farmer, the customs will not be so far with the customary rule in cultivation system. Here are the details.

  1. Cultivation Customs

The cultivation begins from land clearing. In this case, there is a customary institution / institution authorized, such as the uteuen commander under several other customary structures such as petua seuneubôk, keujruen blang, pawang glé, and so on. The forest is then used as a field. Therefore, the opening of seuneubôk land should always pay attention to environmental aspect so it will not cause negative impact for seuneubôk members and the environment itself.

  1. Opening the Land

For the Acehnese, there are a number of rules that have lived and developed since ancient times. The wisdom of the Acehnese is also in the prohibition of cutting trees at a radius of about 500 meters from the shore of the lake, 200 meters from the edge of the springs and left-right rivers on the swamp area, about 100 meters from the left-right bank of the river, about 50 meters from the edge of the river.

  1. Farming Rules for Acehnese

In paddy fields (meupadé), there are also provisions for the sake of comfort and safety of farming. It is like hanjeut teumeubang watèe padé mirah. The point is not to cut wood when the rice is about to be harvested. If this is violated, is believed to bring in pests of aphis (geusong). For the sake of avoiding the surrounding rice fields to participate aphis, for the violator of the provision was imposed a fine by the head of village (keujruen blang).

Those are about Acehnese in Indonesia. It might be important for those would like to visit Aceh. For further information about aceh, you could see Traditions in Aceh Indonesia.

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