“I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims;
I got back to the East and saw Muslims, but no Islam.”
Our mission is to stimulate peaceful reform in Muslim countries by encouraging effective institutions, which can only come about in the context of Islam and its recommended rules. We believe that Islamicity Indices, a work in progress, reflect fundamental Islamic teachings and offer the instrument and the moral compass for achieving this goal.
Our Islamicity Indices provide a simple approach for Muslims to focus on the indisputable source of their religion—the Holy Qur’an—as opposed to pronouncements made by clerics, rulers, the media and extremists, who all have their own selfish agendas. These indices provide Muslims with a continuous performance indicator of their rulers, governments and communities. Muslims have to individually take ownership of their societies, assess its successes and failures, embrace and support change and encourage their governments to develop and adopt better policies. As Muslim countries adopt these indicators as benchmark (or a modified version better suited for their country, as has Malaysia), they can build effective institutions, which are the foundation of economic prosperity, social success and political inclusion, to achieve thriving communities.
Islamicity Indices also serve as an approach to explain Islam in the non-Muslim world and with better understanding of Islam in both Muslim and non-Muslim communities peaceful reform and effective institutions will be more readily achieved.
The Islamicity Foundation will manage this initiative and develop an organizational structure across all Muslim countries to disseminate the ongoing results of Islamicity Indices (policy successes and failures of each Muslim country and their institutional shortcomings). In the process, our foundation will build a vast global community of Muslims who internalize the teachings of the Qur’an and support peaceful reforms and more effective institutions. Such an informed global community of Muslims, with the moral support of millions of Muslims and non-Muslims in countries around the world, would be in a strong position to peacefully encourage rulers to build effective institutions and to initiate much-needed reforms to enhance human and economic development across Muslim countries.
We hope that Muslims and non-Muslims will attribute the current state of affairs in Muslim countries not to Islam, but to non rule-compliant Muslim rulers and governments, their cronies, and their foreign backers as well as to the failure of individual Muslims to take ownership of their religion. The current state of Muslim countries is the product of centuries of missteps. These missteps are multidimensional—political repression, exclusionary social and economic systems, corruption and a social fabric that has become embedded with injustice, selfishness and despair. It will take many decades to achieve a turnaround in this path dependent state of Muslim societies, a turnaround that should help in closing the growing chasm between the Muslim and non-Muslim world to enhance the unity of humankind.
We are four individuals acting in our private capacity as concerned global citizens of the one planet we all share. Our founding member is a PhD economist (Hossein Askari), another member is a finance specialist (Hossein Mohammadkhan), a third is a PhD in Islamic Economics/Finance (Liza Mydin), and a fourth is a web specialist (Mostafa Omidi).
We have felt, and continue to feel that Islam, the religion, was hijacked soon after Prophet Mohammad’s death. Rulers twisted the religion as an instrument to control the masses for their own selfish ends. Pliant and opportunistic clerics supported their benefactors through their false interpretation of the message of Islam. This practice has continued throughout history to the point where today we see clerics, rulers, politicians, terrorists of all shades, institutions, organizations and individuals espousing a religion that bears very little resemblance to the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and its interpretation by the Prophet Mohammad. In most Muslim countries, Muslims have little say about the governance of their country; they enjoy little freedom; and they are prohibited from examining, discussing and discovering their religion from the Qur’an. Rulers and clerics have placed themselves as the only legitimate interpreters of Islam and routinely dismiss questions from Muslims as ill informed and not worthy of discussion. Such a disconnect between the teachings of the Qur’an and its practice has emboldened radicals, opportunists and terrorists to fill the void and to preach a version of Islam that has perverted the religion, divided humanity, pitted Muslim against Muslim, Muslims against Christians, Muslims against Jews and is destroying the fellowship of humankind that is at the core of all religions of the Book.
In 2006, feeling the pain around us, we set about to address this disconnect between the teachings of the Qur’an and the practice of Islam in the Muslim World. Islam is a rules-based religion that provides a compass for thriving and just societies. Our approach was to establish a benchmark (a collection of rules), based on the Qur’an and the life of the Prophet Mohammad, which Muslims could use to question the governance and policies of their countries. They could use the indices as a benchmark to assess the success of their governments, their rulers and their clerics in establishing institutions and societies that reflected Qur’anic teachings and the life of the Prophet Mohammad, a benchmark that could measure success and failure over time and that would afford an instrument for affecting helpful reforms.