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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Sports Israeli Fans Mob, Dance With Basketball Player Amar’e Stoudemire at First Jerusalem Team Practice (VIDEO)

    Israeli Fans Mob, Dance With Basketball Player Amar’e Stoudemire at First Jerusalem Team Practice (VIDEO)

    Israeli basketball fans mobbed Hapoel Jerusalem’s newest player, American pro Amar’e Stoudemire, dancing around and with him during a practice open to the public. On Friday, the team posted a video on Twitter of the happy romp with fans jumping around Stoudemire, while chanting in Hebrew. Unfamiliar with the lyrics, Stoudemire pumps his fist in the air. The basketball player, who has Jewish roots on his mother’s side, also waved a flag emblazoned with Hapoel Jerusalem’s logo. The former New York Knicks forward retired from the NBA […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Playboy Columnist Calls Israel’s ‘Burning Man’ Festival ‘Ultimate Revenge on Hitler’

    Playboy Columnist Calls Israel’s ‘Burning Man’ Festival ‘Ultimate Revenge on Hitler’

    The Israeli version of the famed American Burning Man music festival is the “ultimate revenge on Hitler,” according to a column in Playboy magazine on Thursday. In his column, Jeff Weiss also took note of the fact that Midburn — a five-day bacchanal in the Negev Desert, self-described as an event celebrating “a communal life style, creativity, art and radical self-expression” — began on June 8, the day of the Sarona Market terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, which left four people dead. Weiss asked rhetorically, “What could needle the mustached […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)

    Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)

    Some punk rockers integrate their Jewish identity into their music through food, the author of a new book on the topic told The Algemeiner on Wednesday. Michael Croland, author of Oy Oy Oy Gevalt! Jews and Punk, described the way different musicians express this connection. “One band is known for throwing gefilte fish in the mosh pit, and people at its concert slide around on it while dancing,” he recounted. “Another used to drink Manischewitz [sweet kosher] wine out of a shofar [the ram […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Club Manager Hails ‘Fantastic’ Jewish-State Visit After Victory Over Israeli Team (VIDEO)

    Scottish Soccer Club Manager Hails ‘Fantastic’ Jewish-State Visit After Victory Over Israeli Team (VIDEO)

    The manager of Scotland’s Celtic soccer club lauded Israel, after his team won a match against the Jewish state’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night. Brendan Rodgers said at a post-match press conference: On behalf of the players, the people of Celtic and Scotland, Israel’s been fantastic for us. We came out here on Sunday, [and from] the hotel, the staff, we’ve been very, very warmly received. The atmosphere at the game was amazing and, obviously, one team has to lose, but you have a wonderful team here, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    For the second time, Israel will host the Jaffa Jazz Festival, according to Broadwayworld.com. The festival will unite 43 Israeli musicians and eight international artists for a three-day event. The program will include a special performance by an ensemble of top jazz students studying at Belgium’s Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp, the Belgrade Music Academy in Serbia, Israel’s Rimon School of Music and the jazz program of the Israel Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv. There will also be a jazz show for children led by Israeli saxophonist […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    JNS.org – As a young boy growing up in Ashdod, Israel, Alon Day got his first go-kart at age 9. By 15, he was racing them. Less than a decade later, Day has become the first Israeli professional race car driver on the NASCAR circuit. He made history by competing in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 13. “Driving a race car is not like any other sport,” Day told JNS.org. “You are actually almost flying […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    The writer of a popular children’s television series will premiere an off-Broadway solo show called “Not That Jewish,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Written and performed by Monica Piper — the Emmy Award-winning showrunner of Nickelodeon’s “Rugrats” — the show is described as “the autobiographical telling of a Jew…’ish’ girl’s life.” “Not That Jewish” explores Piper’s Bronx upbringing in a show-business family, her comedy-club debut and her “almost” night with former Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. “Audiences can expect to leave laughed-out, a little teary-eyed and […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scotland’s Celtic soccer club will fly to Israel with the same private jet Madonna used while on tour, The Scotsman reported on Monday. According to the report, the team is heading for the Jewish state to compete against Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night, and will be transported in the customized, luxurious Boeing 757-200 that the pop icon used in New Zealand for her six-month Rebel Heart tour, which wrapped up in March. The plane is on loan from Greece-based GainJet Aviation and can accommodate 62 passengers. The […]

    Read more →