Wednesday, 27 July 2022 11:29

The 2022 Islamic Well-Being Index and Muslim Countries: A Comment

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Foyasal Khan: It was indeed a great opportunity for me to attend virtually   a seminar organized by International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia, a reputed independent Islamic think-tank based in Kuala Lumpur, held on Friday, July 15, 2022, that internationally launched the 2022 Islamic Well-Being Index (IWI 3.0-2022). The full Index included 33 Muslim majority counties for which data on religiosity (Deen) is available from World Values Surveys. Maldives, an archipelagic country located in Southern Asia with 540,542 population, stood first in the index with a score of 0.736 while Malaysia and Indonesia shared second place with a score of 0.735. One of interesting features is that women are seen to play large roles in contributing to societal well-being in these three societies.

Genesis of the Islamic Well-Being Index: The index is based on the research conducted by Dr. Daud Abdul-Fattah Batchelor, an Adjunct Fellow at IAIS Malaysia. The approach taken to calculate the Index follows has been detailed in this author’s 2021 article “An Enhanced Islamic Well-Being Index (IWI 2.0-2021) for Muslim Countries,” based on the Higher objectives of Islamic Law (Maqāṣid al-Sharīʿah) published in Volume 12(2) of Islam and Civilisational Renewal, the flagship journal of IAIS Malaysia. This is a much-enhanced version of “A New Islamic Rating Index of Well-Being for Muslim Countries,” published in 2013 in   the same journal. In 2021, Indonesia, Tunisia, and Malaysia became the top three performing countries in the index.

International launches Event of IWI: A world-renowned scholar of Islamic jurisprudence Professor Dato’ Dr. Mohammad Hashim Kamali, Founding CEO of IAIS Malaysia delivered welcoming remarks while Mr.  Ahmad Badri bin Abdullah, the Acting Deputy CEO of IAIS Malaysia, moderated the discussion. After a 45-minutes keynote presentation by Dr. Daud, four designated discussants shared their observations and remarks. They  were: Prof. Dr. Abdelaziz Berghout , a Former Deputy Rector  and presently Dean of International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation (ISTAC) of IIUM Malaysia; Mr. Azizi Bin Che Seman, Department of Syariah & Economics, Academy of Islamic Studies, University of Malaya; Dr. Alwani Binti Ghazali, Senior Lecturer, Department of Akidah & Islamic Thought, Academy of Islamic Studies; and Dato’  Dr.Ghazali Dato Yusoff,  a leading businessman from Malaysia and chairman of IRAN-ASEAN Business Council. All the discussants congratulated Dr. Daud for his huge efforts in quantifying Islamic Well-Being beside highlighting some limitations and suggesting some points for further improvement of the index. They also thanked IAIS Malaysia for organizing this seminar.

Prof. Hashim Kamali said, in his welcoming remark, that this data-driven index to evaluate the Islamic Well-Being of Muslim Majority Countries, which was first released in 2013, is done based on a more up-to-date approach rooted in the core principles of Maqāṣid al-Sharīʿah, as articulated by Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali. It provides insights and practical guidelines for countries seeking to advance to higher levels of development. He expects that the IWI will provide practical insights for countries that aspire to move to a higher state, and leading countries in   the Maqāṣid fields could serve as role models for lagging counties. On behalf of IAIS Malaysia, he expressed his willingness to provide all support for the publication of this index on an annual basis with much updated methods and data.

Major findings of the 2022 IWI: The composite index has been calculated using each of the parameters chosen to represent each  maqsad (objective). Five components of Maqāṣid al-Sharīʿah i.e Religion, life, Intellect, family and wealth have been presented into two broad dimensions: Deen (religiosity) and non-Deen constituted by other four components. In the overall composite index, among the 33 counties, 5 countries scored more than 0.70, 13 countries scored between 0.60 and 0.69, 14 countries scored between 0.50 and 0.59, and Albania appeared as the least performing country with a score of 0.486. The performance of Bangladesh, the 3rd largest Muslim country in the world, with a score of 0.603 is better than Pakistan and Turkey.

2022 IWI FOR SELECTED MUSLIM COUNTRIES

 

  RANK  

  TOTAL  

  DEEN  

  NON-DEEN  

MALDIVES

1

0.736

0.807

0.701

INDONESIA

2

0.735

0.85

0.678

MALAYSIA

3

0.735

0.768

0.718

BANGLADESH

18

0.603

0.604

0.603

PAKISTAN

26

0.540

0.677

0.471

TURKEY

29

0.521

0.484

0.561

Non-Deen dimensions of the index included fifty majority Muslim countries. These countries were assessed for the four Maqasid fields of Life, Intellect, Family and Wealth. Based on the composite average value for these Non-Deen Maqasid, the top five performing countries were: Kazakhstan (1), Tunisia (2), Kosovo (3), Kyrgyzstan (4) and Albania (5). Top three countries in the Protection of Life Objective are UAE  (1),  Albania (2) and Jordan (3). Top three countries in the Protection of the Intellect Objective are Kyrgyzstan (1), Albania (2), and Bosnia and Herzegovina (3). Top three countries in the Protection of the Family Objective are Tunisia (1), Iran (2), Kazakhstan and Syria (both 3). Top three countries in the Protection of Wealth Objective are Palestine (1), Burkina Faso (2), Malaysia and UAE (both 3).

Non-Deen Average Index in IWI 3.0 and HDI: To date, the Human Development Index (HDI) is the most accepted index that measures key dimensions of human development since the 1990s. Therefore, the Non- Deen Average Index in IWI 3.0 should have a correlation with HDI results. But we find a clear departure from this trend. Rather we find some surprising results that are hardly convincing. For example, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are significantly ahead of Tunisia and Senegal in terms of HDI scores. In 1990, Saudi Arabia and Turkey scored 0.70 and 0.58 respectively while Tunisia and Senegal scored 0.57 and 0.37 respectively in HDI. Over the years, following the same trend, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Tunisia and Senegal scored 0.85, 0.79, 0.73 and 0.51 respectively in the 2017 HDI. Now on the Non -Deen Average Index in IWI 3.0, we see that Tunisia (ranked 2nd, score 0.760) and Senegal (ranked 24th, score 0.618) are better than Saudi Arabia (ranked 29th, score 0.572) and Turkey (ranked 30th, score 0.561). As the two most influential Muslim nations, Saudi Arabia and Turkey may not accept these results. Therefore, the author of the IWI must make very convincing arguments from a methodological point of view and choose indicators that reflect the true reality.

Last Comment: Applying the concept of Maqāṣid al-Sharīʿah to measure Islamic wellbeing of Muslim countries is still a relatively recent exercise. Hence, it is expected to take time to reach a consensus on important aspects of the measurement. In the meantime, engaging serious and genuine research in this area would surely be an important step towards measuring Islamic wellbeing in the Muslim countries. On this account, Dr. Daud’s IWI is an excellent addition to the literature on measuring Islamic wellbeing.

Certainly, IWI has the potential to emerge as one of the indexes to represent Islamic wellbeing. For this to happen, the index needs to be institutionalized and a grand strategy is needed for this purpose. The definition and indicators of Islamic wellbeing as proposed by Dr. Daud needs to be validated through multiple focus group discussions to build a broad consensus. This will help institutionalize the index. Finally, organizational support for funding index development and application, including conducting periodic surveys of all Muslim countries, is very crucial to fill data gaps and improve survey focus and accuracy.

Author: Dr. Foyasal Khan is an Economist based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Ph.D. holder in economics from the International Islamic University Malaysia. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr. Daud Abdul-Fattah Batchelor (centre) presenting the 2022 Islamic Well-Being Index