Cause and effect

Dismal Economic Conditions in Muslim Countries: the Evidence and the Contributing Factor


Cause and effect
by varjavand

Part I (Part 2)

The evidence of dismal economic condition in Muslim world, compared to the other regions of the globe, is obviously staggering. Even a scant examination of the key economic indicators in prominent Muslim countries reveals abysmal results. I put together a table showing the values of a few such indicators for 17 prominent Muslim countries and carefully examined and compared and contrasted them with those for the industrialized nations. These 17 countries all have a population of more than ten millions, at least 88% of which is Muslim. The findings may be appalling but not totally new or surprising to us.

With the exception of Turkey and a couple of oil-rich counties, namely Iran and Saudi Arabia, almost all the other Muslim countries I investigated have a per capita income level of less than $5,000, in most cases even less than $2,000. To put this in perspective, the per capita income for United States is around $45,000, which is currently ranked number seven in the world. The share of population living below poverty line (defined as the annual income of nearly $20,000 for a family of four according to the US Census Bureau) is another telling statistics. This rate in key Muslim countries ranges from 12% in Syria to as high as 63% in Niger, 53% in Afghanistan, and 45% for both Yemen and Bangladesh. This rate is about 18% for Iran.

One can surmise that the share of population living below poverty line should be very low for a rich country like the US or really high for the poor nations. Well, it is not necessarily so. This rate, for example, is currently 12% for the US simply because income distribution is fairly inequitable in this country. On the contrary, for a poor country with low per capita income, like Syria, the same rate is relatively low, 12%. This is either due to reasonably even distribution of income or because of statistical inaccuracies.

Often, economists use the combined rates of unemployment and inflation for specific year, known as the misery index, to gauge the level of economic well being for a country or for international comparison. The lower is this index, the better is economic condition. Rising index, on the other hand, represents economic down turn. The misery index of more than 10% is considered unacceptable for the United States. For the past 15 years, the misery index has been around 9% for the U. S. economy in average despite the gloomy economic condition during past eight years. The misery index, the sum of unemployment and inflation rates, for the major Muslim countries is ranging from 57% for Afghanistan, 58% for Iraq, 46% for Yemen, and 17% for morocco. This rate stands at 27% for our country. One must also be mindful that all economic statistics in these are published by government and are subject to manipulation and window dressing.

Lagging behind industrialized nations in production of manufacturing products and services, the Muslim countries have to rely on export of oil, raw materials, and basic agricultural products as the primary source of revenues. The total value of exports by the selects Muslim countries is nearly $708 billions a year including the vast amount of money from oil exports. This number is about 50% of the value of the Germany’s total exports, and is almost equal to the value of annual exports of Japan alone. There is evidently no feasible way to calculate the value of the non-oil exports for all the oil-exporting Muslim countries in our sample because they do not publish any relevant reliable data. However, according to a research conducted by some Arab scholars, the total value of non-oil exports by the entire Arab countries is less than the value of exports by the tiny country of Finland!

Another relied-upon criterion for international comparison is a well respected index created jointly by Heritage foundation and the Wall Street Journal called the Index of Economic Freedom, IEF. It is a composite index designed to compares and rank 162 countries in the world using 10 different measures of freedom including; the extend of free trade, business freedom, the degree of government involvement in the economy, respect for private rights and properties, etc. The index tries to underscore the link between opportunities and various measures of economic success. The observed consequences show a significant positive link between this index and the major indicators of economic prosperity such as per capita income, level of employment, and the stability of exchange rate - value of currency. Not surprisingly, because of low level of economic and social freedom in Muslim countries, they usually ranked at the bottom of the IEF list.

Regrettably, Iran has the lowest rank even among Muslim countries according to 2008 index. It is positioned at the bottom of the list, 151st among 162 countries, preceded by Bangladesh which is ranked 149th, Syria 144th, Uzbekistan 130th, Yemen 125th, Indonesia 119th, and Algeria 102nd. All the other countries in my sample have similarly low rank. Surprisingly, Saudi Arabia has the highest rank among the selected nations in our sample when it comes to economic and political freedom. It is also ranked, 60th, among all the 162 countries in IEF list. Try to explain that to Michael Moore!

These painful facts and figures may lead us automatically to believe that Islam is the main culprit. Whereas such idea may have some validity, we should be wary of hasty conclusions and look deeply into this issue from the angle of impartiality. Here are some relevant questions: Does economic deprivation in Muslim countries have anything to do with Islam and its teachings? Is there a cause and effect relationship between Islam and economic backwardness, or it is simply a historical coincidence that Muslim countries are poor. And, more importantly, what at are the possible explanations for depressing economic condition in Muslim countries?

To address these and similar issues, we must first examine the forces responsible for economic advancement in developed courtiers and why such forces are either weak or absent in Muslim countries. We must also understand that economic development does not happen over night. It is an evolutionary process that requires persistent, concerted, and coordinated efforts by both private sector and the government aided by technology, high-quality labor force and capital, sophisticated physical and financial infrastructures, well-functioning communications and transportation networks, and a multitude of other factors. However, I would like to focus on a few other factors that I believe are more relevant to the Muslim nations>>> Part 2


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Mr. Ghaemi

by KavehV (not verified) on

I am in agreement with the majority of your argument regarding progressive trends and their eventual influence on the Iranian society and IRI leaders. Your observation regarding:

"The current Islamic radical movements in the Muslim world that are a reaction to the inevitable fast changes that will be occurring in the ME just as they are occurring in China, Vietnam, Thailand and India amongst others."

Is insightful and profound. Your statement above bears witness to the reluctance of the Islamic societies to accept change and conformity to modern world. You also mentioned the rapid advances of previously backward societies such as China and India within the past 20-30 years that have surpassed most Islamic nations. This again is another indication of Islamic nation's reluctance to compete and move forward for their own benefit.

This brings us back to the Islamic mindset that does not accept changes to their traditional, poverty stricken and often violent, lives. I see ample evidence and direct correlation between Islamic mindset and the resistance to change, or if you will, backwardness. Everything from IRI's laws, as you mentioned, to general public's mindset (that has been saturated with Islamic nonsense) is resistive toward necessary changes for an economically dynamic and innovative society. Note the common denominator, or the underlying factor, aside from natural human resistance to change, for this vast social illness is Islam related, in one form or another.

Lastly, you invite us to be patient and expand our time horizon and scale. This is simply an invitation to inaction. True, all social processes will require a finite amount of time to form and implement. However, requesting a 10000 year time scale for eliminating the social ills of Islam is a invitation for inaction and acceptance of the evil.

Eradicate Islam!


Dear Commenters:

by varjavand on

Dear Commenters;

I am enlightened and indeed humbled by the resourcefulness of your comments.  Some of them may well be related to the upcoming part of this debate. I will  submit the second installment tomorrow. It will hopefully be posted soon.  In it, I try to explore and analyze the source of economic development. I earnestly request that you to came back then with more of your insightful remarks and deeply appreciate if you do so. Let’s keep this critical discussion lively.

Wishing everyone a festive holiday.




Mr. Ghaemi

by YT (not verified) on

I truly enjoyed you comment for its insightful observation of historical facts. If you allow me, I would like to add followings.

In today's global economy with all its tight and close competition, division of labor, and TRADE has taken a global form. It has become totally impossible for a nation for be self sufficient by herself.

As it is defined in economy, Division of labor refers to categorizing labor(in a total economic frame work of an economy - nation) by their specialty, to achieve optimum efficiency. Labor efficiency is a relative term which signifies a relative advantage over other competitors, in this case countries. Example can be cited in case of India and her relative efficiency in Textile and garment related industries. This relative advantage has been one of major motivations for garment industry in USA to export and locate their factories in India.

Second point that needs to be considered, when analyzing economic situation of any country is the OWNERSHIP of resources. One most important factor in any economy is technology in terms of efficiency and ability in concept of [Mass Production]. It is through innovations in production that an industry is capable of producing relatively high qualities of good with minimum [optimum] cost possible, since COST is a determining factor in a market economy.

These innovations are acquired in two ways. Either a country which has strong MOTHER industries and educational system that lends herself to innovation of more cost effective methods of production, or it is acquired via partisanship, exchange of technology and import of such mother industries.

Industrial nations acquired such expertise through [in-house] innovation which was propelled by INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION. Among these countries one can name UK, USA, JAPAN, and etc. Countries such as China and India acquired the technology through exchange and import from industrialized nations such as USA, which was made possible after resumption of relation between China and USA by President Nixon.

Due to historical hostilities between most of the [third world] nation, which amongst them are Islamic nations, and non-Muslim industrial countries,there has been a [sort of] UNSPOKEN EMBARGO in effect, which has prevented these Islamic countries from acquiring the latest technologies. This has put them in a very disparate position as far as effectiveness of these nations in producing cost efficient, high quality goods. Which in essence has driven them out of market.

Efficiency is rather a [Double-Edged-Sword], in a sense that it can make or break an economy. Prime example of this effect can be seen in Automobile Industry. The best example one can cite is the dismal situation that American Auto industry has been in vs. Japanese and German auto industry. Needless to say that there are numerous other factor leading to the situation which might require totally separate thread to be discussed.



ClueLess... KavehV

by YT (not verified) on

I have told you several times, that you have such a pathetic way of BLAMING your ignorance on others. Once you grow up, you MIGHT realize that character defamation and name calling is reserved for infantile and juvenile people like yourself.

With that said, my intentions was not to clean your clock. I was merely presenting you with the KNOWLEDGE of the things that you have not been exposed to, and that is historical facts.

Among the reasons for economic situation of some if not most of the Islamic countries has been, for parts, UNTOLD economic and technological EMBARGO that has been brought upon most of these countries. Couple that with wrong, to say the least, economic policies of guys like Ahmadinejad and such and you get the situation that there is in Iran.

Not to be construed as a justification for economic policies of current akhunds in Iran, you NEED to realize that during past years, Iran has been in an 8 years of devastating war, which brought upon untold human casualties along with billions in collateral damages, on top of economic embargo, exodus of untold numbers of thinking and educated minds after akhund MUTINY, plus almost TOTAL LACK of INDUSTRIAL INFRA-STRUCTURE and lack of SUPPLY ELASTICITY in industrial sector paved the way to current dismal economic situation.

FYI: in 1980's alone 2000 medical doctors migrated to Canada alone, go check it out bud.

Now my CLUELESS friend, you can CHANT your racist and genocidal ERADICATION of Muslim slogan until you are blue in the face, however you might have noticed that your childish and ignorant name calling game does only work with your own kind.

have good holidays

p/s I'll be happy to tell you what ELASTICITY of SUPPLY means, after all I have been teaching the discipline (Economics that is) for years dude.


Dear Kaveh V.: I agree with

by Ali Ghaemi (not verified) on

Dear Kaveh V.:
I agree with you that the current Iranian regime is among the most inept, totalitarian and anachronistic in the modern world. The very IRI constitution places significant limitations on a free market economy thus exasperating our Economic backwardness. It’s absolutely true that China and India are moving forward rapidly. However, this is a reflection of their correct governmental policies. Keep in mind that this rapid advance has only been extraordinary within the past 20 years. How about China and India’s lack of relative progress for the past 200-300 years? Can we also blame Islam for their backwardness? Islam is the wrong proverbial tree that we have been barking against. There is no question that the Muslim countries are not advancing today as rapidly as the non-Muslim nations. This is due in large part to their inept totalitarian regimes as opposed to china’s proficient totalitarian regime and India’s Democracy. The current Islamic radical movements in the Muslim world are a reaction to the inevitable fast changes that will be occurring in the ME just as they are occurring in China, Vietnam, Thailand and India amongst others. As a physicist I would say that the laws of diffusion are in place and will eventually reach the ME. Paper was invented in China at about 0CE. It reached the ME by 700CE and from there to Europe by the 1200s. The printing press was invented in China at about 200CE and was re-invented in Europe in the 1450s. Regrettably it only reached Iran only in the early 20th century! The dissemination of technology is completely different today. Advances in communications (radio, TV, satellite, internet, etc) have revolutionized the transmission of technology. There is no question that, barring war and devastation in the ME, the transmission of technology is well under its way and the ME will also begin to prosper economically as well as the other emerging nations. The transmission would be radically enhanced if it also happens that we become a secular democratic country but even if we do not the transmission itself will change the nature of the regime in Iran albeit at a slower rate. The current lack of progress of Iran and the ME compared to China and India is just a blip in the 10000 year history of man. We just don’t have enough data to be able to project averages. There is a natural human tendency to think that history is only happening during our life time. We must not fall to this trap.
Ali Ghaemi


Islamist YT

by KavehV (not verified) on

So now the Islamists are saying the US financial intervention in Japan and elsewhere was the impetus in their recovery and eventual development into an economic power!! And, for the countries like India, China etc. the cheap labor and unsaturated consumer markets were the reasons for worldwide capital to establish technology and manufacturing base and grant the most favored trade status! So these are such a bad imperialistic trends that we should be happy that IRI is not a part of ? No wonder the Islamic republic is a bottom dweller in all economic performance indices.

All Asian and European recipient of US financial aid (read interventionism if you are an Islamist) since WWII were competent enough to use the proceeds to build their house and keep close ties to the world wide engine of economic prosperity (at least back then), USA. On the other hand, look at how much money Iran received from US (before oil revenue, i.e Truman's 4th point and various other aid programs) and what they made of it: nothing! Not only that, sixty years later Islamists call it "intervention". This is the difference between a backward nation and the progressive ones.

Reader beware of:

"Islamic economy"

This is the reason for the economic backwardness of the Islamic retards. The constant and continuous regression toward anything Islamic (hyphenated-Islam), hence the perpetual and vicious circle of constant violence and backwardness. If these Islamic morons wish to 're-invent the wheel' about every aspect of modern life in accordance to their, at best, rudimentary Islamic laws, while the rest of the world is flying jets, then they should do so as a hobby, in the privacy of their basements. To ignore the centuries worth of open and readily accessible human economic development, trade, technology and cultural experience as a guideline, or a roadmap for improvement of their societies is simply criminal. What right do these backward Islamic retards have in holding back the entire society from benefiting from prosperous interactions with the affluent world ? No, just because of lack of compliance with their Islam ? Who gave them the permission to stand up to the world at the expense of the Islam stricken people in Iran ?

Eradicate Islam !


Dear Mr. Varjavand: You are

by Ali Ghaemi (not verified) on

Dear Mr. Varjavand:
You are absolutely correct in stating that one of the main reasons for the European Economic quantum leap was an abandonment of the metaphysical and the search for the real and the tangible. The reformation was a firm rejection of organized religion and the renaissance that followed was an emphasis on the “self” in direct juxtaposition to the church. These two movements led to an as yet unabated European stray away from spiritualism and towards materialism. However, I don’t think that the rejection of spiritualism was the sole catalyst for the sudden European leap out of the economic norm. I believe that a whole host of circumstances played auspiciously in Europe’s favor led by pure and simple “dumb luck”. I don’t mean this to be demeaning in any way the great European contributions to humanity, but just expressing my own opinion as to how it all lined up for Europe. Consider these events: The ME is devastated by the Mongol invasions of the 13th and 14th century, the Mongol empire (favorable to Europe since many of its generals were in fact Christians and were aided and abetted by the Christendom in their pillage of the Muslim ME) starts to fade away in the ME giving way to the Ottomans, the trade for spices, textiles and other commodities thus fell into the hands of the “Muslim Turk” which incidentally conquered Constantinople in 1493, the largest and most economically developed city in Europe. Thus Europeans started to systematically search for alternate trade routes to get to their commodities in Asia. This systematic search happened to be led by a navigational enthusiastic prince from Portugal, Henry the navigator. Slowly but surely the Portugese sailed along the coast of Africa and found their way to India and the rest is history. On the other side of the Atlantic, Columbus stumbles on the new world and its immense wealth in Silver. The European edge on fire arms proved decisive in their dominance of the seas. With money came investment in real science, such as , that led by the longitude commission. With science came technology (some argue that in fact it might have been the other way around), and with technology the Industrial Revolution. Had Columbus not landed in the Americas the situation would have not been the way it is today. Had the coal mines in England not happened to be near the textile mills the steam engine may have been just another nifty un-useful invention. Had the Portuguese not happened to hire ibn-Majid, the foremost Muslim cartographer of his time, they would not have been able to navigate their way to India as easily as they did. The examples abound. Religion is an easy target. But it’s the wrong target. There is not just a single overwhelming reason. There are many contributing factors and I for one don’t think that Islam is anymore an impediment to our progress than the rest of the factors alluded to above.
Ali Ghaemi

Arash Monzavi-Kia

Educated, Liberal, Free and Rich

by Arash Monzavi-Kia on

Comparisons can be made with respect to the education level, belief system, resources and regime typesIf one plots all the data on a multi-variable chart, the result will be predictably obvious; i.e. the smarter and the more liberal countries with adequate resources and democratic regimes win the competition. 

As for religiosity, the more closed-minded a society, the lower its chances of success and prosperity. But singling out Islam is unfair, as within the geographical stretch of Muslim nationsthere are non-Muslim countries of Serbia, Ethiopia, India, Thailand, etc, who are not doing well either.


Arash M-K



by YT (not verified) on

You point out that [..But, you forget to mention that just about the rest of the world has picked up on this game and prospered tremendously. Japan being one example that pulled itself up and became a major industrial power. We are now seeing similar transformations in just about the rest of the world that was previously known as the third world; China, India, southeast Asia and so forth. These countries learned that by quickly developing their economies by opening to the world market and interact peacefully with the entire world, including US and Europe, they can reap tremendous economic benefits. This requires a degree of open mind toward other people and cultures that is seldom observed in Islamic societies....]

Although I marginally agree with your summation of [Economic prosperity of certain countries] as a result of globalization of trade and economy, Japan's progress has been an unique and and special situation all by herself.

After WWII, In 1949, commercial burdens from wartime expenses threatened economic ruin. Post-war inflation, unemployment and shortages in all areas seemed overwhelming. Japan’s immediate economic improvement was not achieved on its own.

American government played an important and crucial role in recover of Japan's economy. It was belief of Supreme Allied Command, that economic growth not only can foster democracy and prevent reemergence of militarism, but it could stop communism from taking over in Japan.

Furthermore, war in Korean peninsula further boosted the economy in 1950 because the U.S. government paid the Japanese government large sums for "special procurement." These payments amounted to 27% of Japan’s total export trade. American government, also admitted Japan into [General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade] or GATT, over the objection of United Kingdom.

After the Korean war, a deep economic recession plunged Japanese economy into abyss, but Japanese government economic [interventionism] policy put the economy back into recovery track, which was initially propelled by Korean war.

As to countries such as India, China, large western companies [Europe and USA], in pursuit of CHEAPER labor, and UNSATURATED consumer market, relocated factories and offices in these countries. India was chosen for SERVICE SECTOR and some TEXTILE and garment industry based on cheap labor, high literate percentage of population and production expertise and advantage in textile. China in contrast was chosen as INDUSTRIAL SECTOR for her vast resources of raw material, cheap labor, and relatively inexpensive real estate. This recovery was further helped by the United States putting China in MOST FAVORITE TRADE status in early to mid 1980's.

The same economic policy, which in essence is dictated by BIG BUSINESS, has put countries that are rich in mineral reserve, particularly OIL as sources of such commodities.

Islamic Economy

This bring us to what is called [Islamic Economics], Allow me to introduce to you the man who is so rightfully called [FATHER OF MODERN ECONOMY]. If you guessed anyone besides [Ibn Khaldun-1332–1406] you would be wrong.

Ibn Khaldun, along with dozens of other Iranian Muslim scholars, among which I can name scholars such as Ibn Sina, Farabi, Ghazali, and Nasir Eldine Tusi, contributed great deal to Islamic Economic theory and Islamic economic philosophy.

[....Ibn Khaldun wrote on economic and political theory in the introduction, or Muqaddimah (Prolegomena), of his History of the World (Kitab al-Ibar). In the book, he discussed what he called asabiyya (social cohesion), which he sourced as the cause of some civilizations becoming great and others not. Ibn Khaldun felt that many social forces are cyclic, although there can be sudden sharp turns that break the pattern. His idea about the benefits of the division of labor also relate to asabiyya, the greater the social cohesion, the more complex the successful division may be, the greater the economic growth. He noted that growth and development positively stimulates both supply and demand, and that the forces of supply and demand are what determines the prices of goods. He also noted macroeconomic forces of population growth, human capital development, and technological developments effects on development. In fact, Ibn Khaldun thought that population growth was directly a function of wealth....]

Islamic Economy recognizes the concept OWNERSHIP of to the extent that is used for the welfare of society. As a result, ownership of resources such as mineral deposits are reserved for society as a whole, and not for individuals. a variation of such policy is in use in countries such as Sweden, Belgium and Switzerland.



Dear Mr. Ghaemi;

by varjavand on


Dear Mr. Ghaemi

As you stated correctly in your last comment, the human beings lived in $400 - $600 a year 2 or three decades ago. This implies that almost all the economic progress and all the wealth and income creation have happened during the last two decades of human history. We all lived almost equally on $400 - $600 income before that and there was no developed or undeveloped nations and no basis for comparison. Since then, the average level of real income has escalated from $400 to almost $50,000 a year in industrialized world today. I was wondering what kept us from growing economically for almost 10,000 years as another commenter pointed out. What were we doing before that? Why human kind was so poor in today’s standard?

I believe the answer is that we were doing perhaps the same thing as people do today however, but at much more slower pace and primitive ways.  Because we didn’t have the progressive ideas and the technology to implement such ideas, we were not able to create additional income hence wealth. Economic progress started with good ideas and the technology to implement those ideas. These two are the key contributors to our tremendous material progress during the last two decades. Income started to grow and wealth accumulated as a result. It was then the ingenuity of the market ideology that created the institutional settings conducive to further growth and the spread of economic progress; mainly competition and monetary incentive system. We took off and income grew at the healthy rate since then. With progressive ideas and the technology that allows transformation of ideas into useful, better and fancier products our life has changed and will continue to change.

When I was a graduate student back in 70s the only fancy item you could find in my dormitory room was a basic black and white TV. Even electronic calculator was at its primary stage. Although my TV was small, only 17 inches in black and white, it took several square feet of my precious space.  Today, my son, a sophomore at a university, has a 36 inches plasma TV in his room, a fancy iPod, state of the art cell phone in his pocket, sitting behind a sophisticated computer most of the time he is not in classroom.

And of course the institution that has facilitated all that progress is the free enterprise system.  In summary, at the heart of all this phenomenal progress are three things: ideas, technology and the system that has allowed such ideas to flourish and be translated into useful products hence income, wealth, and economic progress.

Can we say now that societies were poorer and lived in such a low level of income two or three hundred years ago when they were definitely more religious and less concerned with material well being? And if we can say that that can we blame religion as one of the causes of economic backwardness for so many thousand years?



Mr. Ghaemi, you start your

by KavehV (not verified) on

Mr. Ghaemi, you start your argument by offering a broader picture of the history of economic development of the world and yet do not provide an adequate picture. You say :

"The causes for Iran’s relative economic backwardness is not Islam, is not the male dominated society, is not our culture, is not the Arabs, is not the Mongols, is not the Qajars, or…."

The reason for this backwardness is explained as:

"Europe (namely Great Britain, Netherlands and the northern German states) simply economically outperformed the rest of the world by bounds and leaps, the likes of which mankind had not seen in his 10,000 years of civilization"

While your statement regarding the European economic development being an unprecedented event in 10,000 years of mankind history sound reasonable, it can hardly be the reason for Iranian backwardness. Iranians are not so far behind because of the "Euro's" being so fast and so far ahead. Iran has development issues because of people's attitudes and culture that is not conducive toward these developments, relatively speaking.

According to your argument the unprecedented economic development and expansion of specific "Euro" regions has brought exceptional changes, and prosperity, to the world. But, you forget to mention that just about the rest of the world has picked up on this game and prospered tremendously. Japan being one example that pulled itself up and became a major industrial power. We are now seeing similar transformations in just about the rest of the world that was previously known as the third world; China, India, southeast Asia and so forth. These countries learned that by quickly developing their economies by opening to the world market and interact peacefully with the entire world, including US and Europe, they can reap tremendous economic benefits. This requires a degree of open mind toward other people and cultures that is seldom observed in Islamic societies.

When you look at Iran, you see a reluctance to change and adopt to new world situation among a segment of the population. A religious totalitarian system that is extremely reluctant to allow conformity to worldwide interactions, lest it jeopardizes their religious hold on the population. This was a nation that was far ahead only 30 years ago in terms of the social development, access and very friendly foreign interactions. The populace drive for modernization is still there, but has much more obstacles than during the previous regime. This is by no means an accomplishment of the Islamic regime. The Islamic regime tried, and tried hard, to stifle the drive for modernity over the last 30 years and they failed. The future was even brighter during the previous regime (Pahlavis), but the Islamists have left their mark on history as an impediment to modernity and modernization. A quick review of IRI history and their leaders will confirm that for you.

Eradicate Islam



by suomynonA (not verified) on

You obviously have a big personal problem with Islamic nations and Muslims. Because other non-Islamic countries have similar problems or are in worse situation.

As far as Iran is concerned, it is not only threatened by the Judeo-Christian nations, but it also gets no help from any nation. On top of it, Iran is forced to buy lots of over-priced weapons to defent itself from Judeo-Christian nations and their pet dog Israel as well.

On the other side, Israel has the full Economic, Military, Scientific, Technological, Public and Governmental support of the Judeo-Christian nations and their taxpayer money. I guess otherwise they would be in the same s***-hole as the poorer Muslim countries.


Dear Mr. Varjavand: Thank

by Ali Ghaemi (not verified) on

Dear Mr. Varjavand:
Thank you for your response. But please note that I am not burying our troubles in hubris or nostalgia. Nor am I just playing the blame game. Past is history and we have to learn and move on. My main argument is that the economic disparities that we see in the world today are not the norm. Prior to the industrial revolution the entire world had roughly the same per capita income (purchasing power parity). In fact there are numerous studies that show China, India and the Ottoman Empire were at roughly the same economic standing as Great Britain at 1800 CE. The difference may have been a factor of 2 (see Pamuk). The causes for Iran’s relative economic backwardness is not Islam, is not the male dominated society, is not our culture, is not the Arabs, is not the Mongols, is not the Qajars, or….The Persian Empire simply suffered the same fate as the Chinese, Ottomans, Mongol India and Japan: Europe (namely Great Britain, Netherlands and the northern German states) simply economically outperformed the rest of the world by bounds and leaps, the likes of which mankind had not seen in his 10,000 years of civilization. It’s true that Women’s suffrage under Islam is disgraceful. But we cannot say that is the reason for economic backwardness when we can see Japan as a major economic player today and at the same time remember that women in Japan were literally bonded at home by feet distortion. When Japan was slowly rising in the late 19th century, such practices were still common place and in fact were still happening in the 20th century.
My message to all the Iranian people is that we have a bright future at hand if we learn to capitalize on our vast energy resources. Even under the current inept regime, Iran has already achieved a number of great advances: the rate of population growth rate is 0.79% (lower than the US), the literacy rate is 70% for the entire population and 90-95% between the ages 15-24, Iran has among the highest per capita rates of college graduates with more women than men enrolled in the universities, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are still mushrooming in Iran, a testimony to an advanced citizenry that is taking matters into his/her own hands instead of waiting for higher powers to intervene. These are all among the many factors that form the prerequisites for a democratic state. Democracy will inevitably flourish in Iran and with it we will step into the same economic rocket that China and India are riding. Keep hope alive and prey Obama or Israel don’t make another Iraq out of Iran.
Best Regards,
Ali Ghaemi


Dear Niloufar:

by varjavand on


Dear Niloufar

 Thanks for your comment. I am glad you brought up this point. You are absolutely correct, the less developed countries or emerging economies usually grow faster than developed countries, if you look at the list of fastest growing countries in the world, you see that the strongest ones like, US and Japan are at the bottom, and a bunch of smaller, newly emerging, countries at the top. The reason, when you are an adult (like the US) you don’t grow much more, or in my case you may even shrink! However, when you are younger, or a child, you grow much faster, you have lots of growing up to do. Matured countries are already saturated with years and years of growth and have not much more room for additional growth. Low growth rate it seems is a sign of economic maturity. 

I think that no single indicator per se tells us much about economic condition of a country and the level of social welfare, in a country. Equally true, there is no single financial ratio that tells us everything about the long term viability of a business firm. There are always a set of indicators that gives us a better understanding of what is going on.

In addition, growth rate is primarily a nominal value and does not represent the real progress of an economy. Real growth happens only when a country produces more goods and services. Nominal growth rate does not measure the change in the physical amounts of goods and services just the change in their values.




Could it be many reasons?

by nahal (not verified) on

I am not an Economist, but I am sure part of the reason is the issue of equality of men and women. When half of the population are not taking part in building the society and having input, then right there their country is lagging behind compared to a similar country with the same number of people.

Niloufar Parsi

varjavand jan

by Niloufar Parsi on

Iran has actually done quite well in terms of economic growth in recent years. its growth rate is typically double or treble that of the west. its lower than india and china, but whose isn't? 

Also other muslim success stories in recent years - and even decades in some cases - with impressive economic growth rates include:

Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon (until 2006), Turkey, Azerbaijan...and the list goes on.

the slowest growing region in the world over the past 7 years or so (i.e. in the 21st century) has been the west - significantly lower than africa.

i am not refuting that there is a need to 'catch up' with others, but this is being done right now in more muslim countries than you might believe. and not just on the economic front, but also culture and science. it is slow, but you cannot deny that change is taking place. ever been to Dubai? ever watched or surfed Al Jazeera English? Noticed iran's rising military technology? 



Dear Mr. Ghaemi;

by varjavand on

Dear Mr. Ghaemi;

Thanks for insightful comment. Regrettably, I cannot offer much input concerning the historical causes since it is not my area of specialty. There is, however, no doubt that colonization, and its modern form, imperialism, has played and effective role in keeping these countries at the position they are in now, poverty. But the question is; can we still play the game of blaming it all on the past and ignoring the present, And, what can we do to eradicate the poverty. Bernard Lewis once said “Muslims are obsessed with their past and frustrated with their present” and possibly don’t know how to pull ourselves out of it. Can we solve any problem by clinging to the denial and sweep it under the rug mentality?



Many good points

by Zion on

nothing surprising there though. Nothing.


To Fribors from varjavand

by Faribors Maleknasri M.D. (not verified) on

the key points are:
1. America is mainly responsible for world economical recession. Ameericans are the main victims with minimaly chance to recover.
2. The honorable Iranian Nation offers a Model how moslem Countries can make themselves free of slavery and manage their life by their own.
3. Discussing the economical misrable conditions in the
Moslem world under present internationa situation can have - up to my opinion - only one purpose: Hiding the desolate life of western nations. Why not speak about the deep dependance of europians on america instead? And better write about at least 3 Million americans who have or will loose their jobs. America drains Millions**2 from europe. and europians pay more and more for their daily needs. If Iranians had stil their majesty, he would not have hesitated to throw Iranian poverty about america sacrificing Iranian economy just to rescue amreican`s. But now? Iran stands relatively good. because of its undependance.
4. after all i think "IRANIAN" better puts asaid these deep scientifical and philosophical discussions. Because much more comprehensive and more logically structured articles about same subject are available elsewhere.
5. However it is profitable for the respectable web master when articles come in which motivate to response and are suitable for controvesis argumentations. It is proved that nice songs, Pics and video clips are not followed by so many and so lang comments. which means less clicks, less earning. Greeting


cause and effect

by Ali Ghaemi (not verified) on

Kurush: nice argument. The European economic leap took the entire world by surprise in the 16th century. This included China, the Ottoman Empire, the Safavid Persia, the Mongol India and Japan. The divergence had nothing to do with the religion of the native population as it encompassed the Islamic ME as well as the Buddhist, Hindu and Shinto populations elsewhere. The exact reasons are complex and an objective reader, who is not in the business of blaming the superficial reactionary responses, must delve deeply to find the real causes. Unarguably, the discovery of the new world injected huge sums of money into Europe in the form of Silver. That was the major propellant. The Silver was the only commodity that Europe had to trade with China and the ME for spices, textiles, sugar, etc. In other words, Europe had nothing that the ME or China wanted except for Silver. That plus a few other fortunate happenings, like the extermination of 95% of the indigenous Americans by Eurasian diseases, helped Europe take a quantum leap over the rest of the established world. With money came better guns, better education, etc. One must keep in mind that some of the greatest discoveries were made outside of Europe: China for Printing, Gun Powder, Compass, Paper, etc. The ME had numerous contributions, such as, the windmill, the gear system, optics and lenses, cartography, astronomy (astrolabes), medicine, etc. And all of this was still in progress well into the 15th century. Yes, even after the Mongol invasion, however, to a much lower extent. Read the following books which have only recently shed some new light/insight into this whole debate and have revolutionized the dominant schools of thought.

The Great Divergence:
China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy
Kenneth Pomeranz

ReORIENT: Global Economy in the Asian Age (Paperback)
by Andre Gunder Frank

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (Hardcover)
by Jared Diamond

The ME was ahead of Europe by bounds and leaps for 5000 years. It has declined markedly in the past 300 years. The current lack of progress in the Muslim world compared to China and India is just a blip. I don’t think there is any doubt that China and India will soon re-emerge as world powers and the ME will also follow albeit with few more bumps in the road. Keep hope alive and don’t give in to the hundreds of years of racist dehumanizing thoughts that have dominated our teachings.


To Mrudzio & Faribors

by varjavand on

To Mrudzio: It is not by coincidence that almost all the world’s poorest countries are in Africa, like the ones you have mentioned. Poverty in these countries has nothing to do much with any religion, lack or inadequate natural resources, geographical location, corrupt or irresponsible government, bloody civil conflicts, insufficient infrastructures, lack of education, and of course colonialism are the most relevant causes.

I didn’t make any assertion in my article about the cause and effect relationship between Islam and economic misfortune in Muslim countries although that may be surmised from the title. However, you should notice that the title and often the subtitle of the articles posted on this site are chosen by of the editor of this site not the writer of the article.

To Fribors; I don’t want to be rude, but I have a vague understanding of the purpose of your comment and its relevance to my article, can you be more specific about the key point(s) of your remarks.




some evidence of poor economic performance in Muslim countries

by Faribors Maleknasri M.D. (not verified) on

without any judgment?
To explain the misery in the moslemworld under present circumstances - so I think - has only the purpose to deviate the thouths from the misery of the sorce of the misery. The main sorce is the us-imperialism. Hier another evidence of another poor economic performance:

Biden: US economy is absolutely tanking
US Vice President-elect Joe Biden has warned in a television interview that the economy is in danger of "absolutely tanking."

Soon one can pay a sack full of dollors for a loaf of bread, so little will be dollor worth. In America. And the honorable Iranian Nation has the YALDA festivity and soon many other nice days to celebrate. Other Moslems may take an example on honorable Iranian nation and soon they will have also a happy life, Undipendant and free. Greeting


Cause and effect?

by Mrudzio (not verified) on

The following are all overwhelmingly Christian countries:
Ethiopia, Zambia, Rwanda, Papua New Guinea, Angola, Botswana, Haiti, Namibia, Malawi, Lesotho, Gabon etc etc.

Should I then link their economic fortunes with their religion of choice?


Dear Commenters

by varjavand on

Dear Commenters;

1.       In this episode, I only reported here some evidence of poor economic performance in Muslim countries without offering any judgment or interpretation. We should be mindful that the statistics reported are mostly compiled and published by US sources.  Statistical data are always subject to manipulation, biasness, as well as window dressing. Therefore, comparison of economic data among different nations is a precarious business and must done with due caution.


2.       Nominal values (dollar values) for different countries cannot be compared meaningfully unless they are adjusted to compensate for the differences in cost of living in different countries. For example, $300 is not a big amount of money in the US; however, it may be enough to support a family for a month in India. To correct for this problem, such monetary values, such as per capita incomes, are adjusted by using the PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) exchange rates.


3.       I am looking forward to present and to analyze the contributing factors in the second part of this discussion. However, I appreciate the comment you already posted about this issue. Tthey are of immense educational value to all of us.


Thanks again for your comments, Varjavand



A minor correction

by varjavand on

 I would like to make a minor correction. At the end of paragraph seven, the sentence before the last one should read: “Surprisingly, Saudi Arabia has the highest rank among the selected nations in our sample when it comes to economic and political freedom. It is also ranked, 60th, among all the 162 countries in IEF list”




by Kurush (not verified) on

That is the reason for the seeming poverty of Moslem states: acausality. Since this is of my own coinage, it requires a definition. Acausality denotes obscurantism with regards to the real causes. For instance Iran & Iranians have always been portrayed in the Western & American media in an acausal way, namely as moslem fanatics who just hate 'our freedoms' which is the American media's favourite catchphrase. The real causes, the imperialistic intervention in Iran's internal affairs, the '53 coup, the looting of Iran's oil are never mentioned, because if they are ascribed correctly to Iran's behaviour as the real csauses then Iran appears to be acting rationally. It has real and tangible grievance. But the West/US make sure that may never happen. It is done by a retarded educational system which highly indoctrinates the population and avidly seeks to prevent the development of a reading populace who can think critically. Iranians must appear as irrational and unreasonable extremists. So if you apply this acausality to the sphere of national economies of moslem countries you obtain the same obscurantism. First and foremost, you must remain as ignorant about the West's economic history as possible. There are very few university chairs granted for the studyof the West's colonial commerce. How much wealth was transferred, say from the Aztecs and Inca's, to Spain in the 200-years time span after the Spanish conquest of the Americas? The Dutch, a tiny European country, for close to 300 years were in physical possession of what is today Indonesia, the fourth largest country in terms of population. The Dutch East India Company transfeered enormous wealth from the 'spice islands', and with the discovery of oil, the Dutch Shell assited in the newly fouund loot. Did the moslems in Indonesia get any of this plundered loot. Of course not. Use your imagination to guess the wealth Britain looted from the two largest countries in the world, China and India (and Iraq/Iran oil). Each time a country or a region is embroiled in a devastating war, its population and its economy suffer horrifically for at least a generation. Britain invaded Afghanistan three times, in 1838, 1868, 1919. The backwardness of Afgahanistan is due to the Western colonial occupations and invasions. The same applies to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, the whole of the ME. These are the real causes. The loot and plunder by the West, since the so-called Renaissance, of the whole world, allowed relative peace and stability to the West to develope its science and culture. It came as a horrific cost to the world. The third world would not exist today were it not for what we dimly know as the Western Colonial world. The blame lies at the doors of the Western countries. This sustained act of pillage, loot and plunder and rapine, which is yet to be fully narrated, has been the root of all evil for 500 years. Obscurantism must prevail lest the oppressed and the looted know the real evildoers.


Mr. Varjavand

by Anonymous888 (not verified) on

Mr. Q has told us that the IRI has to be in the G20 and Q is always right. I am sorry, as per Q, Islam is not the problem and not even an issue. How dare you to even think of such thing? Are you a Zionist? The IRI should be in the G20 and that is the end of it. These stats about re IEF are also wrong. The G20 is a better indicator. Talk to Mr. Q, he will make you think correctly.


Islam is a waste of time and mind

by KavehV (not verified) on

Just think about the lost economic productivity and opportunity of the average faithful who has to break his daily routine so many times to bend-over to his god and recite the same nonsense. To be conscience of the detailed Islamic guidelines on daily basis is a major distraction in anybody's life.

Combine this with the ritual of emulating his Emam and wasting so much time listening to more nonsense sermons in the mosques and deliberating on them is a total waste of intellect and time. How can you expect technology, economic, civic and cultural innovation from individuals tied so tightly to Islamic nonsense ? The Islamic psychology alone prevents any type of innovation. They tell you to follow the path of Allah, the Emams and other murderous idols. With so much social, cultural and religious distractions, how can you expect people to be engaged in economic, technical and social development of their societies ?

Erradicate Islam.


It is Islam..

by Parthian on

It is Islam, its teachings, and application that has prevented those countries from advancing. That is the only common denominator. Islamic countries expand from Indonesia, all the way to the tip of Africa in the Atlantic, there are cultural, linguistic, and other major differences with only one thing in common.