Mandailing in Malaysia

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People Name: Mandailing
Country: Malaysia
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 33,000
World Population: 1,308,000
Primary Language: Batak Mandailing
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Batak-Nias of Sumatra
Affinity Bloc: Malay Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Mandailing are often called the South Tapanuli, after their main home area. This name (Tapanuli Selatan) is sometimes shortened to Tapsel. The Mandailing language is different than languages spoken by the surrounding people groups in the Batak cluster, such as the Angkola, Dairi, Toba, Simalungun, Karo, etc.

Where Are they Located?

The Mandailing are part of the Batak cluster in Indonesia's North Sumatra Province. The Mandailing are a majority in the regencies of South Tapanuli and Mandailing Natal and also in a few districts of Labuhan Batu Regency. They also live in the neighboring areas of Rokan Hulu, Riau Province and Pasaman, West Sumatra Province. A smaller number live in Malaysia.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Most Mandailing people are wet rice farmers. A Mandailing person who leaves home will look for land and a house as expressed in the proverb "halului anak halului tana" (children and land). Children and land are viewed as sources of personal pride (sahala hasangapon) that cause one to receive status and respect. Someone who successfully settles in another area is esteemed very highly. Mandailing villages are called huta. Traditionally, the huta leader holds control of the land and only gives permission to members of the village to work the land. Members who own land are only allowed to work it; they are not allowed to sell it without permission from the leader and a discussion with other community residents.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Mandailing people's religion in ancient times was a mixture of Hindu beliefs and a local traditional religion called Parmalin. Almost all Mandailing have been Muslims ever since Minangkabau Muslims forcibly introduced Islam. Many of their traditions have been adapted to Islam. The Batak peoples generally have three key ideas about the body and soul. First, tondi is the spirit of a person. The tondi can be temporarily separated from the body if a stronger and greater being (sombaon) takes it away. If this happens, a special ceremony is performed to return the tondi to the body of its owner. Second, sahala is the quality and amount of spiritual power that a person has. Third, begu are the spirits of the dead. They live in a reverse world: What people do during the day, the begu do at night. The Mandailing strongly identify themselves with the Islamic religion. This is a distinct departure from other Batak people groups which are predominantly Christian.

What Are Their Needs?

The Mandailing need to develop agriculture and education. Many are leaving their home area to continue studies or to find a better life. The area is rich in natural resources such as zinc, sulphur, limestone, granite, gold, copper, tin, petroleum, and kaolin. There is tremendous potential that should be professionally developed, but they first need investments before this can happen.

Prayer Points

Pray for His kingdom to come and His will to be done among the Mandailing people in both Indonesia and in Malaysia.
Pray for a movement of Mandailing households to study the Bible and accept the blessings of Christ.
Pray for a spiritual hunger that will drive the Mandailing people to the arms of Jesus.
Pray for workers who are filled with the fruit and the power of the Holy Spirit to go to the Mandailing people.

Text Source:   Keith Carey