Ever since the year 2010, two academicians at George Washington University, Scheherazade Rehman and Hossein Askari, have been publishing a study called the “Islamicity Index” based on how a country’s economics, legal and governance, human and political rights, and international relations adhere to Islamic principles.
In other words, they are ranking how Islamic, Islamic countries actually are.
In addition to the index determined to measure the Islamicity of countries, they use 12 basic economic principles to rank countries every year.
These principles are fundamentally about equal economic opportunities, education and equal opportunity for employment for all, poverty reduction and prevention, and continuous social and intellectual development.
I will share the prominent points in this study with you.
So, what are the rankings like?
One hundred and fifty-three countries are the focus of this study. In the first 40 countries of the index’s ranking, there is not one Muslim country. Turkey on the other hand is number 95 on the list.
Wealthy non-Muslim countries such as New Zealand, Sweden and the Netherlands dominate the top spots on the index.
New Zealand has a per capita income of $41,000, while Sweden has an income of $53,000 per person. The fact that these countries are in the top spot of the Islamicity Index with their per capita income, is an indication of the strong connection between Islamic principles and economic wealth and justice.
It is interesting that Muslim countries with a high income per capita but with a poor income distribution barely make the top 40, while non-Muslim countries with high income per capita rank at the top.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) ranked first among all Muslim countries and 45th amid the whole. It seems clear that one of the main subjects that need to be discussed is a country’s unfair income distribution despite its high per capita income.
According to this study, most Muslim countries cannot progress because they have been moving away from Islamic principles. Justice and sustainable growth, wealth-fare and employment, Islamic economy and financial practices suggest that economic progress can be achieved through Islamic principles.
However, this study is criticized by many factions that question to what extent the index correlates to Islamic teachings.
The Islamicity Index is being criticized too
The index begs the question whether the fact that non-Muslim countries that ignore one of Islam’s basic prohibitions, the interest rate, rank high on the list.
We need to ask whether the Muslim countries that outshine the others on the list but have a bad reputation in the Muslim world truly represent Muslims.
The fact that the index was prepared by ignoring certain facts as Muslim prayer, fasting, hajj and alms-giving, brings with it criticisms that it was prepared with a euro-centric perspective.
Therefore, one of the basic perceptions that this index will create, even if it is inadvertently so, will be to propagate the problematic point of view and perception of Islam as a way of isolating Islam from the general public and limiting it only to the areas of worship.