Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

How Islamic Are Muslims?

August 1, 2014 1:49 pm 2 comments

Muslims praying in a Mosque in Syria. Wikipedia.

Islamic law demands much of Muslims; how successfully do they fulfill its precepts?

Scheherazade S. Rehman and Hossein Askari of Georgetown University provide an answer in a 2010 article, “How Islamic are Islamic Countries?” In it, they establish the Islamic teachings and then calculate how well these are applied in 208 countries and territories. They posit four separate indices (economics, the law and governance, human and political rights, international relations); then they combine these into a single overall index, which they call the IslamicityIndex.

Islamic Index. Photo: Daniel Pipes.

Perhaps surprisingly, the ten countries that top the list of Islamicity turn out to be, starting at the top, New Zealand, Luxemburg, Ireland, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Netherlands. The bottom ten are Mayotte, the West Bank and Gaza, Somalia, the Isle of Man, Eritrea, Sudan, the Channel Islands, Iraq, the Comoros, and Angola. Put differently, none of the top ten “Islamic” countries has a Muslim-majority, but in seven of the bottom ten, one-half or more of the population is Muslim.

Malaysia, a barely Muslim-majority country has the highest ranking in their list, coming in at #38 from the top. Kuwait, a fabulously rich oil exporter, has the highest ranking for a thoroughly Muslim-majority country, at #48. Jordan has the highest ranking for a thoroughly Muslim-majority country without oil wealth, at #77.

Taking the 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as a sample (and ignoring population sizes, so that the Maldives with 300,000 has the same weight as Indonesia with 237 million), their aggregate score is #139, or distinctly below the halfway mark of #104 (i.e., midway through the 208 countries surveyed). In other words, according to this study, the world as a whole willy-nilly abides by Islamic precepts better than do Muslim-majority countries.

The real aggregate Muslim number is probably well below #139, in part for technical and statistical reasons, in part because the survey was published in 2010, before the Turkish prime minister went rogue and before the Arab upheavals began: Turkey ranks a relatively high #103, Mali #130, and Syria #186; their current scores would certainly be much farther down the Islamicity scale. Combining these factors, I estimate the real aggregate score for Muslims today to be #175.

The IslamicityIndex helpfully quantifies my two-part theory (as presented in books published more than 30 years ago on slave soldiers and Islam in public life) about Islam and politics: (1) Islam’s demands are inherently too difficult for Muslim rulers to achieve, alienating Muslim populations from their governments, leading to a wide gulf between rulers and ruled, and to greedy autocrats who disdain their subjects’ interests. (2) Compounding this problem, since about 1800 Muslims have realized that they lag behind non-Muslims in nearly every sphere of human activity, causing such symptoms as despair, irrationality, conspiracism, and Islamism.

Asked about my thesis, Mr. Askari disagrees. In a letter to me, he blames “opportunistic religious leaders” who “have distorted Islamic teachings and have hijacked the religion for their own personal gains.” Their greed has enabled “oppressive and corrupt rulers to thwart the development of effective institutions,” he argues. Finally, colonial and imperial powers have “exploited these conditions for their own gains.” In other words, he sees an evil triad of religious, political, and Western forces creating a vicious circle that blocks progress.

My answer: When presented with the failure of a seemingly noble ideal (Communism, Islamic law), adherents instinctively blame human failure rather than ideals; we must try harder, do better. At a certain point, however, when the goal is never realized, it becomes logical and necessary to blame those ideals themselves. Fourteen centuries of failure should be a sufficiently thorough experiment.

Take the specific case of Saudi Arabia: If application of the Wahhabi doctrine for 2½ centuries, a stable government and control of Mecca and Medina for nearly a century, and unearned riches beyond the dreams of avarice still leave the country ranking a miserable #131, how can any society hope to attain Islamic ideals?

Askari blames Muslims; I blame Islam. This difference has enormous implications. If Muslims are the culprit, believers have no choice but to continue trying to fulfill Islamic teachings, as they have tried for more than a thousand years. If Islam is the problem, the solution lies in reconsidering the traditional interpretations of the faith and reinterpreting it in ways conducive to successful living. That effort might begin with an exploratory trip to New Zealand.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2014 All rights reserved by Daniel Pipes. This article was originally published by National Review Online.

2 Comments

  • Their is no scrutiny so obviously a goolge search won’t find this easily, just like you will not find any record of friendly fire or purposeful killing by Hamas to blame Israel in the main stream media, because Hams has a batter record than the US when it comes to friendly fire, according to the whole world press.

  • How many people know that Hamas is proud that they use child labor, and Hamas also very often molests the little girls they use on their Jew hating version of Mickey Mouse, before replacing the little girl after she is too used up from inappropriate molestation?

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Theater Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie: ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’ (VIDEO)

    Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie: ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’ (VIDEO)

    Actor Seth Rogen on Tuesday released the trailer of a new Christmas film produced by Jews and set to be released on Thanksgiving. “Here’s the trailer for #TheNightBefore which was made by Jews, is about Christmas, and opens on Thanksgiving,” Rogen tweeted. The Night Before is about three “ride or die homies” celebrating one last debauchery-filled Christmas Eve reunion before they become too busy to keep up the tradition. In an effort to make the night as memorable as possible, they set out to find […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish History Art Can Inspire Faith; It Can Also Empower Destructive Ideologies

    Art Can Inspire Faith; It Can Also Empower Destructive Ideologies

    A June 2015 art exhibit, “The Transformative Power of Art,” at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, harnessed the universal language of art to convey an important message: “Our fragile Mother Earth faces the devastating consequences of climate change, a defining challenge of our time.” The exhibit also included sixteen portraits of people from all over the world who have “contributed to the common good of humanity in one way or another and have transformed the way we […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports Israeli Muslim Cage Fighter Says He’s Proud to Fight Under Jewish State’s Flag

    Israeli Muslim Cage Fighter Says He’s Proud to Fight Under Jewish State’s Flag

    A 32-year-old Circassian Israeli Muslim Mixed Martial Arts fighter from Abu Ghosh says he takes pride in fighting under the Israeli flag, Israel’s Walla reported on Sunday. Like most Circassian Israelis, Jackie “the Punishment” Gosh was born Sunni Muslim. He became observant about eight years ago, and is now scrupulous in following his religion’s tenets, praying five times a day and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Gosh is also very proud of his Israeli nationality, and sees no contradiction between […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music New Mark Skinner Documentary Explores Jewish, Arab Rap Scene in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Mark Skinner Documentary Explores Jewish, Arab Rap Scene in Israel (VIDEO)

    A new documentary explores the lives and work of Jewish and Arab rappers in Israel and how the ongoing conflict in the region has impacted their lyrics, the U.K.’s Jewish Chronicle reported on Thursday. Hip Hop in the Holy Land is a six-part series co-directed by Mike Skinner, the British frontman of hip-hop group The Streets, and produced by Noisey, a music channel published by Vice news. The first episode, published last week, shows Skinner meeting with Tamer Nafar, the founder of one of […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada 49ers Running Back Jarryd Hayne Apologizes for ‘Hurtful’ Jesus Tweets

    49ers Running Back Jarryd Hayne Apologizes for ‘Hurtful’ Jesus Tweets

    New 49ers running back and Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne apologized on Wednesday for a tweet in which he raised the age-old myth that Jews were historically responsible for Jesus Christ’s death. Reaching out to his Jewish fans, and the chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, Hayne tweeted: “To the Jewish community @DvirAbramovich #WeAreAllOne.” Underneath, he keenly included a screenshot of a text message to elaborate on his apology: “I sincerely apologize for my tweets on July 1. I […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Recalls Being ‘Extremely Surprised’ at Winning Miss Israel Contest

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Recalls Being ‘Extremely Surprised’ at Winning Miss Israel Contest

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot reminisced about her childhood in Israel during an interview published in this month’s edition of Vanity Fair. “I don’t remember this, but my mom told me that when I was three they threw a party on the rooftop of the house. They put me to bed, and I heard people coming into the house and no one came to me. I went to the rooftop and took a hose and I started to spray water on everyone, just […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Wounded Israeli Soldiers Unite With American Veterans to Help Their ‘Brothers for Life’ Heal (INTERVIEW)

    Wounded Israeli Soldiers Unite With American Veterans to Help Their ‘Brothers for Life’ Heal (INTERVIEW)

    An Israeli organization is helping wounded U.S. veterans move past their physical and psychological challenges by connecting them with injured Israeli soldiers who understand what they’ve been through. “What we discovered very early is that there’s no ‘professional, psychiatrist, social worker’ or anything like that [or] pills that can come even close to helping a soldier who fought in combat, who was wounded, who lost his friends. No one can help him like another person who’s been through exactly what he has,” Rabbi Chaim Levine, […]

    Read more →
  • Relationships World Researchers Say Women Less Likely Than Men to Kill Hitler, if They Could Travel Back in Time

    Researchers Say Women Less Likely Than Men to Kill Hitler, if They Could Travel Back in Time

    Women are less likely than men to want to kill Nazi leader Adolph Hitler if given the ability to travel back in time, a recently published research paper revealed. The paper analyzed 40 studies involving 6,100 respondents in a time-travel thought experiment, the New York Post reported on Friday. While 60 percent of men said they would theoretically be willing to kill Hitler, only 55 percent of women said they would be comfortable doing the same. The paper was published in the Personality and […]

    Read more →