Previously, we have been discussing the problems faced by Muslim countries with a different approach such as discourse, cultural, socio-technology and political. In this article, I would like to elaborate on the possibility of developing Muslim countries through what social scientists call institutional approach.
The prominent scientist that encourages this approach and gain influential attention was Daron Acemoglu and Richard Robinson. They wrote Why Nations Fail in order to explain the phenomena of why some counties advance and some others do not. To handle this problem, they criticize other explanations that insisted the geographical and cultural factors. They provide another explanation that in history the decisive factor why Western countries relatively more advanced than the rest of the world is because they have been established a vast array of the political and economic institutions that govern society.
From this point, we can draw attention to what kind of social institutions that established within Muslim countries. It means that we have to trace the history of structural transformation in most Muslim countries. But in this article, we tend to focus on the current institutional structure that is already established in Muslim countries.
Maybe someone expects that the current institutional structure in Muslim countries was the result of modernization that necessarily differentiate the societal organization. It’s true since almost all Muslim countries adopted the modern type of nation-state formulated by Western philosophers and thinkers. Contrasted with traditional institutions, which gain their legitimacy through military power and sustain it with divinity, the nation-state idealized the societal structure that its legitimate power has achieved through social contract. And the essence of this political institution model is that inclusive participation.
I think this critical feature influences the ability of the political authority to accommodate the social interests of their people. In the other words, the cost of social conflict is reduced, and social cohesion is stronger.
Recently, Muslim counties across the world enforced themselves to build an inclusive institutions. But we must notice that an inclusive institution is never accomplished without common ground or at least a conceptual framework that unites the people. It is the necessary condition for the modern nation-state. However, that is not sufficient to sustain an inclusive institution.
The former we usually call united identity can be based on ethnicity, imagined nationality or religious tradition. This is modal to building political institutions inclusively. But to sustain political institutions what we need is complex regulation. This rule of the game must be set out according to equal principles. And the problem that most Muslim countries handle is they hardly broadened equal principles for their people.
I suppose political parties within Muslim countries seem to disregard and delimit equal principles because they think that political struggle is to dominate the other with their values. Consequently, the politics of Islam tend to be trapped with never-ending costly social conflict. And the approach to handling social conflict is not with democratic participation but coercive power enforcement.
That condition shows that the degree of civility within Muslim countries can be said weak or not well developed. And obviously, it must be tackled with cultural strategies that promoted egalitarian principles and toleration. I believe this is the finest way to build an inclusive institution. In turn, this institution would be expected to increase state capacity through eligible regulations.
But we must recognize that inclusive institutions are likely two sides of the same coin. Despite political institutions state also must develop inclusive economic institutions. It means that the design of economic structure does not advantage narrow business groups but is oriented toward the prosperity of a wide range of the population. To achieve this goal economic institutions must build a kind of distributive mechanism of wealth. But the major economic problems within Muslim countries lie in the concentrated and extractive economy to the unregulated informal economy. In the former elite business tend to monopolize vital sectors and in the latter, the rest population struggle with each other without any incentive and protection. How do we handle these problems? I suggest economic reform must be encouraged to set out a new economic rule of the game. But I also warn that the cost of reform is very high, especially without adequate and prudent planning consideration.