A searching mind would wish to compare Muslim Majority Countries (MMCs) objectively on the Islamic state of their citizens that would be valuable to gain an indication, which would help Muslim leaders plan for their citizens’ improvement.
My article, “A New Islamic Rating Index of Well-Being for Muslim Countries [IWI-MMC]” was published in 2013. It is drawing much attention and receives 100 views weekly on www.researchgate.net
Top countries then were: Malaysia (1), Indonesia (2), Senegal (3), Palestinian Territories (4) and Bangladesh (5). The index reflects average conditions of Muslim citizens but not necessarily applies to a specific person from that country.
The concept of ‘Islamic well-being’ is reflected in Qur’anic passages. Achieving Allah’s ‘good pleasure’ (89:28) and ‘blessedness’ (13:29), I interpret as well-being.
It leads to a ‘goodly return’ and entry to ‘His Heaven,’ which are synonymous and the seeker’s ultimate success (falah).
Six years after initial publication it is timely to revisit the Index and re-crunch the numbers to find the current status of Muslim countries.
The 2019 Index benefits from improvements in computing the Index by adopting advices from scholars, including Mohammed Hashim Kamali, Jasser Auda, Ahmad Syarif Maarif, Feisal Abdul Rauf, and Recep Senturk, who deliberated on how to define Islamic Statehood using a Maqasid al-Shari’ah (higher objectives of Islamic law) approach.
Their book was published in 2015 as “Defining Islamic Statehood: Measuring and Indexing Contemporary Muslim States.”
Abu Hamid Ghazali (d. 1111) noted, “The objective of the Shari’ah is to produce the well-being of all mankind.”
The 2019 Approach identifies parameters that reflect the condition of citizens in terms of five essential Maqasid elements: protecting life, religion, intellect, progeny (or family) and wealth.
‘Religion’ was taken as reflected in terms of ‘acts of worship (ibadat)’ and based on surveys conducted by the Pew Centre and Gallup Poll questioning people on the strength of their religious convictions.
Out of 50 MMCs, survey data on ‘Religion’ was only available for 30 (ie not including most ‘Oil Sheikhdoms’).
Data for assessing the four ‘non-ibadat’ factors was derived from the UN, World Bank and published indices (eg ‘Corruption Perceptions Index.’). For these, data was available for all MMCs.
Calculating the IWI-MMC 2019, the top ten were found to be: Indonesia (1), Jordan (2), Malaysia (3), Morocco (4), Tunisia (5), Burkina Faso (6), Palestinian Territories (7), Egypt (8), Algeria (9) and Iran (10).
Congratulations Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, and Jordan who overtook Malaysia, which suffered from political turmoil.
The most significant negative changes (and positional change) are for Afghanistan (-24), Tajikistan (-20), Nigeria (-16) and Iraq (-13), while most important improvements are for Kosovo (+9), Turkey, Morocco and Jordan (+7).
A surprising finding is that top countries in terms of Ibadat are often worst in terms of non-Ibadat parameters.
This applies particularly to some west African countries with high corruption levels reflecting a narrow understanding of ‘worship.’
It was found that rather than people benefiting most from Islamic teachings in the Middle East where Islam originated, Muslims in Southeast Asia exemplified the highest IWI levels, followed by Middle East, Turkey, Africa and the Sub-continent, and finally former Soviet countries.
The top three countries (in order) in the Maqasid fields were: Religion – Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Djibouti; Life – Qatar, Brunei, Malaysia; Mind – UAE, Malaysia, Kuwait; Family – Syria, Libya, Uzbekistan; Wealth – Malaysia, UAE, Brunei.
Life is difficult in Syria and Libya, which however, promotes strong resilient families there.
Benefits of the index include identifying role model countries, and whether State policies have led to improvements between survey years.