Rohingya in Indonesia

Map Source:  People Group Location: Omid. Other geography / data: GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Rohingya
Country: Indonesia
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 1,000
World Population: 2,247,500
Primary Language: Rohingya
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Muslim - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Myanmar or Burmese government violently persecutes the Rohingya people. The Burmese calls the Rohingya "non-natives" because they are not Buddhists like the majority of Myanmar. Thousands of Rohingya had to flee for their lives. Some of them have gone to Indonesia for refuge.

In historical perspective Rakhine in northwest Myanmar, the home of the Rohingya people, is more a frontier province of eastern India than a province of Burma (now called Myanmar). Rakhine Province was an Indian land with a population similar to Bengal. The spread of Islam in Rakhine during those early times and the impact of Islamic civilization on Rakhine particularly after Bengal became Muslim in 1203 A.D. is accepted by historians.

According to history, Islam reached Rakhine in the late 8th century AD and attracted the local people to come to Islam in masse. Since then, Islam played an important role towards the advancement of civilization in Rakhine. Muslims ruled Rakhine between 1430 to 1638. The system of government (Muslim sultanates) was common in those days. It was an independent Muslim kingdom in the 14th and 15th centuries.

The primary language of the Rohingya is their own language of Rohingya. Only portions of the New Testament are available in Rohingya. Upon arrival in Indonesia, Rohingya must learn Bahasa Indonesian, the national language of Indonesia and find employment.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Many Rohingya in Indonesia live in tents in refugee camps. They are completely dependent on government, NGOs and UN aid. Even though Indonesia is a Muslim nation, many of its citizens see the Rohingya as outsiders and taking jobs and resources away from Indonesians. The Rohingya men have had to take the lowest jobs in sanitation and construction. Women frequently only find jobs as domestic servants. Schools are often unavailable for Rohingya children in the camps. Even though conditions in Indonesia are better than in Myanmar, life is still very challenging for the Rohingya in their new home.

The Rohingya in Malaysia marry among themselves. A man may have up to four wives, but one wife is the norm. Traditionally, the Rohingya have many children as they are seen as Allah's blessing. Due to the disruptions in their lives, marriage and having children are often put off until the Rohingya gain more stable living conditions.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Rohingyas are staunch followers of Sunni Islam. There are mosques and Madrassahs (religious schools) in every quarter and village. The men pray in congregation, whereas the female pray at home. Sunnis try to obey the teachings of the Koran and the prophet Mohammad. Sunnis believe that by following the Five Pillars of Islam that they will attain heaven when they die. However, Allah, the supreme God of the universe, determines who enters paradise. Sunnis pray five times a day facing Mecca. They fast the month of Ramadan. They attend mosque services on Friday. If a Muslim has the means, he or she will make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his or her lifetime. Muslims are also prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, using deceit, slandering, and making idols.

The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah.

What Are Their Needs?

The Rohingyas need a safe place to live and raise their children. They need freedom from violent oppression, the opportunity to earn a living, and have their children get an education. Most of all, the Rohingya need to hear and respond to the good news of Jesus Christ. He alone can forgive their sins and give them hope for the future.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Rohingya people to find safe refuge in Malaysia, Indonesia and other nations.

Pray for them to find good jobs and schools for their children.

Pray for the Rohingyas to be reached by the Lord through dreams, visions and through Christian materials on the internet.

Pray for the Lord to raise up a church planting movement among the Rohingya people in Indonesia.

Ask the Lord to send Christian workers to the camps where many Rohingya live in Indonesia.

Text Source:   Joshua Project