New Zealand tops ratings for upholding Qur’anic principles

New Zealand’s population is only 1 per cent Muslim, but according to one analysis, it is the country that most closely follows Qur’anic principles.

The Islamicity Indices, compiled by the Islamicity Foundation, a US-based nonprofit, measure world governments by how well they adhere to the Islamic principles set forth in the Qur’an.

The indices measure four key areas — economy, law and governance, human and political rights, and international relations.

The indices don’t include the personal duties required of Muslims, like prayer, fasting and pilgrimages.

New Zealand scored high in several areas tracked by the index, including anti-corruption laws and provisions to alleviate poverty.

No Muslim-majority country made it into the top 40. The highest-ranking country with a Muslim majority is the United Arab Emirates at No. 45.

The lowest-ranked country is Yemen, where Islam is the state religion.

The survey was conducted by Hossein Askari, an Iranian-born professor of International Business and International Affairs, and Scheherazade Rehman, director of the EU Research Center at George Washington University.

Askari launched the index with a controversial motivation: “Soon after the death of the prophet, Islam was hijacked by clerics and rulers acting in their own interest,” he says.

Critics say that no one interpretation of the Qur’an is accepted widely throughout the world so any ranking is subjective.

“There’s somewhat of a progressive bias … of an index which has New Zealand at the top,” says Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute.

“Liberalism, as the West understands it, is not embraced by many of the world’s Muslim-majority countries,” he said.

The critics, don’t faze Askari. “Countries have looked at this data and it becomes very clear why they perform badly and it bothers them,” he says.

He added that data compiled by the Islamic Development Bank in response to the first indexes “vindicated” the Islamicity project.

Askari, who teaches at George Washington University, told the Tehran Times that “Our mission is to stimulate peaceful reform in Muslim countries by encouraging effective institutions, in the context of Islam and its recommended rules.”


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