IV. The Early Modern Period, 1500–1800 > D. South and Southeast Asia, 1500–1800 > 2. Southeast Asia, 1500–1800 > c. Aceh
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
c. Aceh
Rise of Aceh clearly demonstrates impact of Islam and trade in contestation with Europeans. Portuguese efforts to intervene in Pasai and Pidie, and takeover of Melaka across the straits, drove elements interested in Islam, commerce, or local patriotism to unite in support of Sultan Ali Mughayat Syah.  1
Sultan worked to unite the north Sumatran coast into a new and explicitly anti-Portuguese kingdom; ideological identity and authority of Aceh competed directly with Portuguese Melaka as center of Islamic spice route. (Similarly, Banten in western Java emerged as an Islamic kingdom in competition with the Hindu port of Sunda Kelapa, ruled by a Portuguese ally.)  2
Ottoman expansion (first to Egypt, Syria, and the Hejaz in 1516–17, then to Iraq in 1534–35) provided new military defense of Muslim spice-trading route in the Indian Ocean. First Ottoman fleet to combat the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean was launched by the governor of Egypt in 1537–38; this failed.  3
Establishment of direct commercial and diplomatic relations between Ottomans and Aceh; this led to concept of pan-Islamic counter-crusade against the Portuguese in Southeast Asia (e.g., 1566 petition for assistance, sent from sultan of Aceh to Ottoman sultan).  4
High point for Islamic military success in Southeast Asia and for Muslim-Christian polarization in the region.  5
Early 1600s
Evidence that Shari'a courts in use in Aceh, to apply Islamic law in enforcing precepts relating to prayer, fasting, and religious orthodoxy and to deal with civil matters of debt, marriage, divorce, and inheritance as well as criminal matters of theft, drunkenness, and so on. Introduction of the kadi (law officer, an important figure in urban governance) dates from the 1580s. A number of Islamic leaders, from various parts of the archipelago, centered in Aceh during the 17th century, writing voluminously on religious topics both in Arabic and Malay. The last great mystic was ‘Abd al-Ra'uf of Singkel, born around 1615. After studying in the Middle East, he returned to Aceh, served the sultan as secretary, and wrote widely on law and religion. His fame as a religious reformer spread widely, before and after his death sometime following 1693. (See The Malayan Archipelago, 1798–1908)  6
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.