New Zealand, Luxemburg, Ireland ‘the Most Truly Islamic’ Countries in the World

Even in our closely internet-connected Global Village, some information does take time to travel. For most Indians the scantily reported findings of a six-year-old research may come as ‘Breaking News’.  

How Islamic are Islamic countries?

Surprising as it might seem, "the most truly Islamic” countries in the world are not Saudi Arabia, Iran or other Muslim-majority countries. Instead, New Zealand, Luxemburg, Ireland, Iceland and Finland are on top of the list of the most ‘Islam complaint’ countries.

Not a single majority Muslim country made the top 25 and no Arab country is in the top 50 in the researchers’ list.

Only Malaysia (38) and Kuwait (48) featured in its top 50 countries, compared to the US at 15, as is the Netherlands, while France is at 17.

The findings of the research first published in the Global Economy Journal in 2010 (‘How Islamic are Islamic countries?’) made it to the mainline media in 2014 following an interview given by one of the authors, Hossein Askari, to BBC. A Google search indicates that even after that the findings were not widely reported, at least in English language media.  

How did the two Muslim authors-researchers – Scheherazade S Rahman and Hossein Askari, both professors at George Washington University – arrive at this apparently highly intriguing finding? They evolved four different indices based on economic factors, governance, human and political rights, and international relations to arrive at an ‘Overall Islamicity index’ which was then applied to grade each country.

The country which emerged as the most faithful to the values of the Quran was Ireland, the Iran-born Askari told BBC in his 2014 interview.

Professor Askari noted that “many countries that profess Islam and are called Islamic are unjust, corrupt, and underdeveloped and are in fact not ‘Islamic’ by any stretch of the imagination.”

On the index of ‘Economic Islamicity’, applied to analyse how closely the policies and achievements of countries reflect Islamic economic teachings, Ireland, Denmark, Luxembourg, Sweden, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Singapore, Finland, Norway and Belgium made it to the top 10.

In their ‘Overall Islamicity Index’, the rankings were much the same: New Zealand, Luxembourg, Ireland, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Netherlands.

“If a country, society, or community displays characteristics such as unelected, corrupt, oppressive, unjust rulers, inequality before the law, unequal opportunities for human development, absence of freedom of choice (including that of religion), opulence alongside poverty, force, and aggression as the instruments of conflict resolution as opposed to dialogue and reconciliation, and, above all, the prevalence of injustice of any kind, it is prima facie evidence that it is not an Islamic community,” professor Askari said.

“Islam is, and has been for centuries, the articulation of the universal love of Allah for his creation and for its unity, and all that this implies for all-encompassing human and economic development,” he concluded.

The full report published in the Global Economy Journal may be accessed here.



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