As Cobb readers know, I'm hanging out with FBI folks these days. One of the agents I spoke with spent years trailing Azzam the American. Like most thoughtful Marine Corps troops and long war veterans he has had plenty of time to consider how Islamic jihadis actually are. He knows his Koran better than most of his foes in Afghanistan. Bottom line is that he understands as do most thoughtful people that Islam is not the enemy and jihadis are more fanatic and dangerous than religious. I don't want to go down the rabbit hole of 'moderate Islam' nor defend too great a tie between current monotheisms and common law. But some scholars (Scheherazade S. Rehman∗ Hossein Askari, 2010) did some interesting research into an idealized interpretation of the Koran vis a vis 'economic justice'.
Given the post-9/11 climate of global uncertainty, suspicion, hostility, and fear, interest in the relationship between religion and economics, politics, and social behavior has been rekindled. In particular, there has been considerable attention afforded to the impact of religion on economic, social, and political development and vice versa. However, before the impact of religion on economic performance or the impact of economic performance on religion can be examined, one should first ascertain the religiosity of a country. In this case, “how Islamic are Islamic countries?” or “what is their degree of ‘Islamicity?”’ In this paper, we assess, on a very preliminary basis, the adherence of Islamic countries to Islamic economic teachings and develop an Economic IslamicityIndex (EI2) to assess the extent that self-declared Islamic countries adhere to Islamic doctrines and teachings. We do this by measuring 208 countries’ adherence to Islamic Economic principles using as proxies 113 measurable variables.
The results of the Economic Islamicity EI2 Index can be seen in Table II, ranking 208 countries according to the 12 Islamic economic principals mentioned earlier, which are represented through 113 different proxies. These very preliminary results would indicate that the so-called and self-declared Islamic countries have not by-and-large adhered to Islamic principles. The average ranking of Islamic countries is 133 for the group of 56 Islamic countries. Islamic countries as a whole did not fare very well in an index that measures the degree of economic Islamicity. The highest ranked Islamic country is Malaysia (ranked 33rd), followed in order by Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Brunei, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Turkey (see Table II).
You'll have to look up the entire paper to see the interesting results. But here's a clue. Ireland is #1, and the US isn't far behind. America is more Islamic than you think (in the top 8%), and that's not a bad thing.