Maldives tops Islamic Well-Being Index ratings

The 2022 Islamic Well-Being Index (IWI) for Muslim Countries was launched internationally with Maldives newly included for IWI 2022 assessment. Maldives was amongst 33 Muslim majority countries for which religiosity (Deen) data is available from World Values Surveys. Former leaders, Indonesia and Malaysia, share second place.

The nominations of these three Muslim countries shows the resilience fostered by Islamic values in facing the COVID-19 pandemic. Women’s contributions also play a major role in societal well-being in these countries.

Two prominent countries, Turkey and Pakistan, displayed the greatest one-year fall of rankings due to economic and political problems exacerbated by the pandemic. Tunisia dropped from second place last year, coinciding with the appearance there of authoritarian rule.

Kosovo, newly-independent in 2008, emerged with the sharpest well-being rise. Kosovans are ethnically Albanians, while Albania itself stands last in IWI 3.0 rankings. Kosovo was itself placed last in 2013 and 2021 Islamic Well-Being Indexes.

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The Islamic Well-Being Index (IWI) aims to assess the mean Islamic condition of Muslim citizens in majority Muslim countries. Two countries facing existential threats did well in the new rankings for Muslim countries (IWI 3.0-2022).

As Maldives is the 2022 leader in Islamic Well-Being, one may expect it to be a virtual paradise. However, the sea that provides its allure, also causes great unease as sea-level rise from global warming threatens to overwhelm the island nation within 60 years. The faith of Maldivians however, remains high.

Fifty majority Muslim countries were assessed for the four Maqasid fields: life, intellect, family and wealth.

The 2022 Index follows the approach detailed in the writer’s 2021 article “An Enhanced Islamic Well-Being Index (IWI 2.0-2021) for Muslim Countries,” based on the Higher objectives of Islamic Law (Maqasid al-Shari‘ah) published in Islam and Civilizational Renewal, journal of Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.

This is an enhanced version of “A New Islamic Rating Index of Well-Being for Muslim Countries,” published in 2013.

The five essential maqasid – protection of religion, life, intellect, lineage, property – as proposed by Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (died 1111CE), are the salient purposes of Shari’ah by general consensus (Kamali).

The IWI offers a scorecard that highlights various Muslim countries and provides insights for countries that aspire to move to a higher state. The IWI indicators provide a way to spot problems, set targets, track trends, understand outcomes, and identify best policy practices.

Fifty majority Muslim countries could be assessed for the four Maqasid fields of Life, Intellect, Family and Wealth. Based on composite averages, Kazakhstan (1), Tunisia (2), and Kosovo (3) did best in rankings. Morocco and Oman declined most.

Leaders in the Life Objective are UAE (1), Albania (2) and Jordan (3). Those that improved most were Kosovo and Maldives, while Morocco and Algeria showed the greatest decline.

Leaders in the Intellect Objective are Kyrgyzstan (1), Albania (2), and Bosnia Herzegovina (3).

Leaders in the Family Objective are Tunisia (1), Iran (2), Kazakhstan and Syria (3), while Morocco and Jordan fell sharply. Divorce rates increased worldwide, particularly in Morocco and Oman (doubled) in 2019-2020, exacerbated by pandemic lockdown restrictions, but especially in Morocco following 2004 revision of the Moudawana family code, which allowed women to request a marriage dissolution.

Leaders in the Wealth Objective are Palestine (1), Burkina Faso (2), Malaysia and UAE (3). Palestine’s position is not significant since it reflects paucity of data.

Comparing overall Muslim country averages for IWI indicators with World average values, shows Muslim countries often fare worse than World averages, except in religiosity, homicide rates, Gini coefficient, ecological footprint, and infant mortality rates, where they perform better.

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