Malaysian Muslims Lead in Balancing Religious Observance and Social Development

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Daud AbdulFattah Batchelor


It has always been a big question: Which Muslims in what Muslim country are closer to achieving the ideal of Islamic wellbeing? Whose country is doing better at applying Islamic values? One response is a newly formulated rating index, the Islamic Index of Well-being (IIW), which suggests that Muslims in Malaysia lead the Muslim countries surveyed in Islamic well-being, just ahead of their Indonesian cousins. These two countries were clearly ahead globally in the group of 27 out of the 51 Muslim-majority countries for which full data was available to be assessed. Senegal, the Palestinian territories and Bangladesh came next, followed by other Middle-eastern countries, then the sub-Sahara African countries. Ex-communist bloc Muslim countries have the lowest indices, no doubt a consequence of the severe anti-religious policies formerly applied there, including widespread persecution. The results reflect a relative lag of Middle-eastern countries in this index, given that they are traditionally considered as the heart of the Muslim world.

The new rating method follows an objective approach, applying principles derived from Islam’s revealed scripture, the Qur’an, and the Sunnah, the example and teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). This analysis identified two key fields for wellbeing: personal religious observances, or acts of worship (ibadah), and good social interactions (muamalah): each is given equal weighting in calculating the index.  

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