In a survey conducted recently, New Zealand came out as the best Muslim country in the world. Iranian economist Hossein Askari based his research on Islamicity Indices which measure four key areas — economy, law and governance, human and political rights and international relations of a country.
Although Muslims comprise only 1% of the country’s population and 50% of the citizens are Christians, New Zealand ranked first because the government closely adheres to Quranic principles.
“I looked around at the key Islamic teachings. The Quran says there should be no poverty, so we look at all the poverty indexes,” Askari said. “Muslim countries do terribly. They jump around a lot year to year. Currently, Malaysia does the best overall, but problems still exist with corruption and human rights.”
“I think it’s a lesson that you can’t really separate East and West, you can’t separate the Muslim from the non-Muslim,” says Emran El-Badawi, director of the Middle Eastern studies program at the University of Houston and founding director of the International Qur’anic Studies Association.
“When we think about our Western imagination, we think of Thomas Jefferson, who coined the phrase ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ But there’s a growing body of literature about those same principles coming out of a dialogue with classical Islam. It is a constant dialogue, a cross-pollination,” he added.
New Zealand beats immigration-friendly European countries, such as Sweden – in second place – as well as the Netherlands, Iceland, Switzerland, Ireland and Denmark. France was 24th in ranking.
Saudi Arabia, a Muslim dominated country ranks at 45 while Yemen, where Islam is the state religion sits at 153.
Askari believes that the index should be viewed as a benchmark rather than an indictment:
“The whole idea is for a quantifiable measure so the people can go to a cleric and say, ‘We in this country do not do this and this comes from the Quran.”
“It gives you a measure of how you should reform where you are deficient. It becomes a vehicle to get peaceful reform and usher in meaningful change.”