I went the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I got back to the East and saw Muslims, but no Islam.
By Edib Smolo
Islamic indices is a joint research effort by leading scholars around the world and is managed by the non-profit Islamicity Foundation. The project is founded by Hossein Askari, Emeritus Professor of International Business and International Affairs at the George Washington University. He has already united scholars in 15 Muslim countries, representing about 50 percent of the global Muslim population.
Islamic Indices are the joint research work of leading scientists around the world, managed by a non-profit Islamicity Foundation. The project was founded by Hossein Askari, a professor of international business and international business at George Washington University, and has already united experts from 15 Muslim countries, representing about 50 percent of the world’s Muslim population.
Islamicity Indices are a multidimensional benchmark aimed at assessing a society’s adherence to the teachings of the Qur’an and the practice of the prophet Mohammad. They provide a compass and a benchmark for countries to build effective institutions to improve their social, economic and human rights performance.
As quantitative measures of adherence to Islamic values and institutions, these indices provide a basis for discussion of reforms that cannot be easily dismissed by clerics and rulers.
The indices also serve as a simple way to familiarize non-Muslims with Islam, something that is needed to diminish suspicion and narrow the growing East-West divide. The indices, estimated since 2000, assess 153 countries along four broad dimensions—economic, legal and governance, human and political rights, and international relations and are all combined into a fifth overall index.
According to the latest index results for 2018, New Zealand is at the top of the list with the best results as it was the case last year. It is followed by Sweden, the Netherlands, Iceland, Switzerland and Ireland.
The top 20 countries are those of Northern Europe, New Zealand, Canada, Australia and Japan. In other words, these countries follow the rules of Islam far more closely compared to Muslim countries who call on Islam and preach Islam as one of the guiding principles of governance.
Position of Albania and Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH)
As was the case in 2017, countries with Muslim majority did not perform well and according to the results their practice and values do not reflect Islamic teachings of the Quran and Hadith (the tradition of Prophet Muhammad).
The top five performing Muslim countries are: the UAE (45), Albania (46), Malaysia (47), Qatar (48) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (60).
Median Islamicity Scores in 2018
|Description||Overall||Economy||Legal & Governance||Human & Political Rights||International Relations
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||5.15||5.42||3.89||6.00||5.56
|Percentage Change Relative to 2017 for all Countries||1.60||1.54||2.47||0.40||1.66
|Percentage Change Relative to 2017 for Muslim Countries||1.21||-0.87||1.03||4.88||-2.16|
Most Muslim countries are in the bottom half with Sudan (152) and Yemen (153) at the bottom.
While the performance of Muslim countries in the overall index is bad, their performance on the Human and Political Rights Index is even worse with the highest ranking Muslim countries: Albania (43), Bosnia and Herzegovina (50), Kyrgyz Republic (76), Malaysia (79) and Lebanon (80).
These results bring to life the words of Mohammad Abduh uttered over a century ago “I went the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I got back to the East and saw Muslims, but no Islam.”
These indices do not assess personal requirements of a Muslim (such as daily prayers, fasting and the like) or belief commitments, they are premised instead on Qur’anic goals and the extent of a society’s adherence to its institutional recommendations and governance.
In a rule-abiding Muslim community there must be political and individual freedom, no poverty alongside wealth, equal opportunities for self-development (education, healthcare, basic needs), economic prosperity, accountability of rulers and governments, and socio-economic justice.
Interestingly, Bosnia and Herzegovina occupies a fairly high position, at least in relation to other countries with the majority Muslim population. The average ratings of the Islamic indices for Bosnia and Herzegovina are well above the average ratings of other Muslim-majority countries covered by this analysis.
What’s more, Bosnia and Herzegovina is relatively better positioned than the average of non-Muslim countries in three dimensions: the dimension of economics, human and political rights, and international relations.
Given the fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina is often listed at the bottom of most indicators and rankings lately, these data – although far from being satisfactory – are encouraging and sending a positive image to the world.
A devastating situation
Nevertheless, in the global context, the situation is devastating and the results tell us that countries with a Muslim majority, even those who proclaim themselves as “Islamic”, are far from the essence of Islam. Thus radical changes are needed to fundamentally change the current situation.
In short, from this analysis, it can be concluded that the socio-economic progress of a country requires the best implementation of rules, regulations and guidelines of Islam and the teachings of the Qur’an and the Hadith. This is particularly true for countries with a Muslim majority.
This is a recipe for building more effective institutions and improving their management practices. Only when these countries adopt effective institutions that embody freedom and are fair, just, economically progressive, respective of human and political rights and in harmony with the international community, will they truly internalize and execute Islamic standards of governance.
Until then, we can say that New Zealand, Sweden, the Netherlands, Iceland, Switzerland and Ireland, among others, are more Islamic and far closer to the principles of Islam than all Muslim-majority countries.
The complete indices may be found at www.islamicityindices.org.
Edib Smolo is the Founder and CEO of SARAYCON – Saray Consultancy for Socially Responsible & Ethical Finance. He has extensive experience in fields of Islamic banking and finance.
He is a PhD candidate, holding a Master of Economics degree, a theologian. He is an expert on Islamic finance and banking. In addition to a large number of scientific papers, he is also the author of the book “Introduction to Islamic Economics and Finance: Theory and Practice” (in Bosnian language) published in 2013.