KUALA LUMPUR, May 16 ― Malaysia is ranked the third highest-ranking Muslim-majority country in this year’s global Islamicity Index which measures a society’s adherence to Quranic teachings and Prophet Muhammad’s practices.
The country’s performance however slid to 47th out of 153 nations worldwide in 2018 compared to 43rd place in the year before. Malaysia ranked just below the United Arab Emirates (45th) and Albania (46th). Saudi Arabia came in at 85th position.
New Zealand continued to top the list for the third year running.
“While the performance of Muslim countries in the overall index is bad, their performance on the Human and Political Index is even worse,” the index’s coordinator, US-based Islamicity Foundation, said in a statement.
“These results bring to life the words of Muhammad Abduh uttered over a century ago: ‘I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I got back to the East and saw Muslims, but no Islam,” it added, citing the renowned Egyptian Muslim scholar.
The foundation said even the best-performing Muslim-majority countries in the human and political rights category had performed poorly when compared to the rest, with Albania merely ranking 43rd in that category, Bosnia and Herzegovina (50th), the Kyrgyz Republic (76th), Malaysia (79th), and Lebanon (80th).
Overall, the top performing countries after NZ were Sweden, the Netherlands, Iceland, Switzerland, and Ireland.
The bottom three countries were all Muslim-majority: Yemen, Sudan, and Chad.
“These indices do not assess personal requirements of a Muslim (such as daily prayers, fasting and the like) or belief commitments, they are premised instead on Quranic goals and the extent of a society’s adherence to its institutional recommendations and governance,” it said.
“In a rule-abiding Muslim community there must be political and individual freedom, no poverty alongside wealth, equal opportunities for self-development (education, healthcare, basic needs), economic prosperity, accountability of rulers and governments, and socio-economic justice.”
The index is a joint research effort of scholars in 15 Muslim-majority countries, including two in Malaysia: Islamic economist and author Liza Mydin and managing director of Islamic finance advisers DVA Consulting Daud Abdullah.
Prominent economist and former Council of Eminent Persons member Jomo Kwame Sundaram is also one of the Foundation’s three Advisory Board members.
The index was started in 2000 by Hossein Askari, now the president of the Foundation, and an emeritus professor of International Affairs, in George Washington University in Washington DC, US.
Muslims make up 61.3 per cent of the Malaysian population, followed by Buddhists at 19.8 per cent, and Christians at 9.2 per cent, according to the latest census data from 2010.