Yakan in Malaysia

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

Yakan people may be the original inhabitants of Basilan, an island just off the southwestern point of Mindanao Island of the Philippines. They live mostly in the central and southwestern mountainous interior. A small Yakan community also lives on Sacol Island. About one percent of the Yakan people have migrated to the nearby nation of Malaysia.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Yakan people in Malaysia are primarily farmers who use plows drawn by water buffaloes to cultivate the soil. Rice is their principal crop; they also grow cassava and coconut. Sadly, few people grow enough rice to last from season to season.

Yakan people live in settlements based on mosque affiliation. The mosque is the center of the Yakan community. Yakan houses are usually scattered among the fields, and it is difficult to see where one settlement ends and the next begins. Inhabitants of a settlement may or may not be of the same clan.

Nuclear families usually live together in rectangular-shaped homes built on stilts. They traditionally built homes with thatched roofs. Today they use corrugated iron for their roofs. A house usually has only one large room containing no special quarters for the women. A kitchen adjoins the house.

As Muslims, Yakan men may have four wives, but this practice is becoming rare. At one time they arranged all marriages, but now parents must take into consideration the desires of their children. The groom's family still pays a bride price to the bride's family. Newlyweds usually live with the parents of the bride or the groom. Later, they form their own household on land belonging to either of them. The husband or the wife can initiate divorce, and this is common.

The nuclear family, comprising the husband, his wife, and their unmarried children, is the most common domestic unit. They divided property equally between children, despite teachings in the Koran, which state that a daughter should only inherit half as much as a son.

Yakan people in Malaysia enjoy playing musical instruments. They play flutes, Jew's harps, and percussion instruments at births, weddings, and funerals. They play music for the growing rice, hoping to "make it happy." They believe this will help them have a bountiful harvest.

Yakan people are primarily farmers using plows drawn by water buffaloes to cultivate the soil. Sadly, few people grow enough rice to last from season to season.
What Are Their Beliefs?

The Yakan people in Malaysia are solidly Muslim, and they have been since Muslim traders brought this monotheistic religion to their region in the 13th century. The imam is the religious leader of the community, and he conducts various Muslim ceremonies. They follow the Islamic calendar and celebrate the annual Muslim feasts, such as the birthday of Mohammed. The Yakans hold ceremonies in connection with births, completion of Koranic studies, weddings, and burials.

These Muslims depend upon good works to pay the penalty for their sins. They depend upon the spirit world for their daily needs because they regard Allah as too distant. The Yakan people believe Allah may determine their eternal salvation, but the spirits determine how well they live in their daily lives. They must appease the spirits. They often use charms and amulets to help them deal with spiritual forces.

What Are Their Needs?

The primary need of Yakan people in Malaysia is to be liberated from traditions that hinder them from receiving the Savior who died in their place. They need to receive new believers into their community. There are audio, visual and written Christian resources in the Yakan language. Someone must earn the trust of these people to introduce them to Christ's vital truth.

Prayer Points

Pray for Yakan people in Malaysia to have open and receptive hearts, and that they would encounter the King of kings.

Pray that movements to Christ would explode, as followers make followers, and that they would place their identity in Christ.

Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil through worship and intercession.

Ask the Lord to bring forth a vigorous Yakan in Malaysia church for the glory of his name!

Scripture Prayers for the Yakan in Malaysia.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Yakan
People Name in Country Yakan
Pronunciation YAH-kahn
Alternate Names Yacan
Population this Country 1,300
Population all Countries 207,000
Total Countries 2
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
GSEC 1  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
People ID 15956
ROP3 Code 110934
ROP25 Code 308904
ROP25 Name Yakan
Country Malaysia
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 49  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Country Malaysia
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 49  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)

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Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
100.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Yakan (1,300 speakers)
Language Code yka   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Yakan (1,300 speakers)
Language Code yka   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Yakan
Photo Source Jaime J. A. Rivera - Wikimedia  Creative Commons 
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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