Forget strict enforcement of sharia law. If Muslim leaders want to gain moral high ground, they have to fight corruption. On Transparency International's corruption index, only four Muslim majority countries ranked in the top 50. It's time to take a cue from the countries who did.
As a "Muslimerican" of Pakistani descent I woke up to a double whammy earlier this fall when Transparency International released its 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index, a ranking of all countries based on level of corruption. Pakistan fell eight steps down on the ranking to number 143. And only four out of the 48 Muslim majority countries made it above 50 on the overall ranking.
But why should the Muslim world care about this? Powerful extremists in the Muslim world are becoming increasingly enamored with a flawed understanding of sharia law, calling for strict punishments for alcoholism, adultery, or sometimes even for exercising basic freedoms.
But if Muslim nations really want to find moral high ground, they should first fight the corruption that put most of them as the bottom of the corruption index.
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So how badly did the Muslim nations do? The index uses a scale of one to ten, with ten being highly clean and one being highly corrupt. Pakistan’s score dropped from 2.5 in 2009 to 2.3. The top five most populated Muslim countries (Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Egypt) scored in the miserable range of 2.3 to 3.1.
The only four Muslim majority countries that ranked in the top 50 were Qatar, The United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Bahrain – with only one, Qatar, in the top 20. The other 44 countries ranked in the top 50 were so-called infidels.
Amid increasing calls to enforce a misunderstood concept of sharia law by the clergy in Pakistan and other Muslim countries like Indonesia, reports such as Transparency International’s should give those proponents pause.