Islamic Relief

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This article is about the UK-based Islamic Relief. It is not to be confused with the Saudi Arabia-based International Islamic Relief Organization.
Islamic Relief Worldwide
Islamic Relief logo
Motto Faith Inspired Action
Founded 1984
Founder Hany El Banna
Type International NGO
Focus Sustainable Livelihoods, Education, Health & Nutrition, Orphans and Child Welfare, Water Sanitation & Hygiene, Emergency Relief & Disaster Preparedness, Campaigning, Integrated development
Area served Worldwide
Revenue £82.8 million (2013)[1]

Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) is an international humanitarian organisation. As the global implementing and coordinating partner of the Islamic Relief family, it provides development programmes and humanitarian relief around the globe, regardless of race, political affiliation, gender or belief.


Governing document: Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) refers to the charity incorporated as a company limited by guarantee in England and Wales, with a governing document known as Memorandum and Articles originally dated 14 March 1989, and amended as a Memorandum of Association on 9 August 2010. IRW is also registered with the Charity Commission of England and Wales. IRW’s sole objects are ‘the relief of poverty in any part of the world’.

Memberships & Key partnerships[edit]

IRW is a member of the UN's Economic and Social Council and it is a signatory to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGO s in Disaster Relief. It is also a member of Bond (British Overseas NGOs for Development) and in the United Kingdom, a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), along with 18 other charities.

IRW is co-owner of the International Civil Society Centre, a global action platform, and an affiliate member of the INGO Accountability Charter Company.

The organisation states that its key partners include WFP, IDB, UNHCR, UNOCHA, EC, DFID, UNDP, OIC, Sida, Bahrain RCO, START Network, ROTA, and CAFOD.

Islamic Relief is part of the global Make Poverty History coalition which is campaigning to end extreme poverty and the Beyond 2015 coalition, which aims to influence the development framework which will replace the Millennium Development Goals. [3]


Inspired by Islamic values, the organisation’s stated vision is of a caring world where communities are empowered, social obligations are fulfilled and people respond as one to the suffering of others.


According to Islamic Relief's Global Strategy 2011-2015 document,[4] the organisation's four aims are

  1. Protecting Life and Dignity: Enabling communities to reduce the risks and effects of disasters by preparation for their occurrences, hazard mitigation and timely response through providing effective relief, protection and recovery
  2. Empowering Communities: Enabling the sustainable development of the communities we work with through integrated development underpinned with sustainable livelihoods, social justice and environmental custodianship
  3. Campaigning for Change: Supporting the marginalised and vulnerable to voice their needs and address root causes of poverty and suffering
  4. Strengthening the Islamic Relief Family: Building a governance system and infrastructure for the growing Islamic Relief global partnership that will maximise the size, efficiency and effectiveness of our operations to alleviate poverty and suffering


According to Islamic Relief's Global Strategy 2011-2015 document[5] the organisation states their values and teachings are provided by the revelations contained within the Qur'an and Prophetic example. They are Ikhlas (sincerity), Ihsan (excellence), Rahma (compassion), Adl (social justice) and Amana (custodianship).


  • 1984: Islamic Relief founded by a group of medical doctors and activists, with its first 20p donation (a year later this had grown to £100,000)
  • 1986: began major programmes which continue to this day, including orphan sponsorship and Qurbani distribution
  • 1993: UK newspaper The Independent raised £37,000 for Islamic Relief’s Bosnia Appeal
  • 1994: received UK government funding for the first time (£180,000 for a training centre in Sudan)
  • 1996: began recycling and selling donated clothes in the UK
  • 1999: signed the Red Cross Code of Conduct (an international set of standards on working in disaster zones)
  • 2005: joined the UK’s Disaster Emergencies Committee, an umbrella organisation which launches and coordinates responses to major disasters
  • 2009: celebrated their 25th anniversary
  • 2013: a total 32,000 orphans sponsored by Islamic Relief donors
  • 2014: Islamic Relief Academy launched, providing training and development services to the humanitarian sector.


The umbrella group NARRI - of which Islamic Relief is a founding member - received the Sasakawa Award for excellence in disaster risk reduction in 2013.

Islamic Relief features in the top 100 charities in the UK. At the UK British Muslim Awards in 2013, it was named ‘Charity of the Year’.

The Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington (IFC) awarded Islamic Relief USA with the InterFaith Visionary Award for its generous donation to support the vital work of building community and nurturing understanding among different faith-based communities. Also in 2010, a project to improve access to education in India won the UNESCO Wenhui Honourable Commendation award for educational innovation.

Examples of projects[edit]

Disaster risk reduction and resilience

IRW’s disaster risk reduction and resilience projects aim to help disaster-vulnerable communities to protect themselves from disasters and reduce the impact when they occur. Current projects include improving early warning systems in Bangladesh, sustainable farming as a route to food security in Malawi, and training community volunteers to support emergency response in Pakistan.

Emergency aid and assistance

IRW is responding to a number of crises and disasters at present. Emergency programmes include providing aid inside Syria and nearby countries, as well as delivering assistance to conflict-affected people in Iraq and in the Central African Republic.

Water,sanitation and hygiene

Providing sustainable access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene is another area in which IRW works. Projects include delivering sustainable water and hygiene facilities in India, installing wells in Somalia, and providing solar-powered water pumps in Pakistan.

Health and nutrition

Projects relating to food and healthcare provision include providing Syrian refugees in Lebanon with healthcare assistance, improving health services for Kenyan women and children, and its global distribution of Ramadan food parcels.


IRW also supports access to education and vocational training. Its latest projects include offering home-based education to rural women in Afghanistan, school-feeding in Tunisia, and community training in Albania, and helping improve educational standards at Indonesian schools.


The organisation's livelihood support projects help people to lift themselves out of poverty. Recent projects are seeing IRW helping Chechen landmine survivors to start small businesses, offering Islamic micro-finance to poor people in countries such as China, and promoting cooperative social business models in Bangladesh.

Shelter and protection

Shelter projects include covering the cost of rented accommodation for Syrians seeking safety in Jordan, building disaster-resilient family homes in the Philippines, and constructing shelters equipped with solar power systems in Afghanistan.

Child welfare and orphan sponsorship

Sponsoring 38,000 children in 24 countries, which provides for basic needs and schooling, Islamic Relief also offers psychosocial care in Gaza and Child Friendly Spaces in Central African Republic. Islamic Relief is also improving child protection in Kenya, and assisting Bangladeshi children to escape child labour.

Campaigning for positive change

Campaigning and advocating for positive change that tackles the root causes of poverty and suffering. Recently this has included campaigns to end Pakistan's debt crisis, secure improved humanitarian access in Syria, and for action on the ongoing crisis in Mali.

Other projects include tackling violence against women and children in Yemen, providing hearing-impaired people in the Chechen Republic with mainstream skills, and promoting Islamic perspectives on peace-building, development, and child protection. Islamic Relief is also working to influence the future development framework which will replace the Millennium Development Goals.

Integrated development

Islamic Relief delivers integrated development schemes to improve services and outcomes for poor communities in countries such as China, Sudan, and Pakistan.

Income and fundraising

Most of Islamic Relief Worldwide’s income comes from individual donations. It also receives institutional donations. As a registered charity, Islamic Relief publishes its Annual Reports and Financial Statements every year.

Islamic Relief global family[edit]

National offices

  • Australia - incorporated in the states of Sydney and Melbourne in Australia in 2011
  • Belgium
  • Canada – which provides emergency response and development worldwide, as well as projects to help disadvantaged Canadian communities
  • Germany – registered in Köln in 1996
  • Italy – operates from its Milan office, registered in 2003
  • Malaysia – incorporated in 2004 and launched in 2005 by the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, where it operates community, economic and social development programmes in addition to its international work
  • The Netherlands – founded in 2004 in Amsterdam, Islamic Relief Netherlands currently has 11 employees and 360 volunteers
  • South Africa – founded in Johannesburg in 2003, with additional field offices in Cape Town, Durban and Pietermaritzburg
  • Sweden – founded in 1992
  • Switzerland – founded in 1994, with an office in Geneva
  • USA – founded in California in 1993 as a tax exempt charity
  • Islamic Relief UK is part of Islamic Relief Worldwide.

Registered offices



Affiliated implementing partners

Affiliated Implementing Partners deliver projects on behalf of the Islamic Relief family. Some of these are independent legal entities. These include:

Islamic Relief India

Islamic Relief Kenya

Islamic Relief Pakistan

Field offices

Afghanistan; Albania; Bosnia; and Herzegovina; Chad; Ethiopia; Haiti; Indonesia; Iraq; Jordan; Kosova; Lebanon; Malawi; Mali; Niger; Occupied Palestinian Territories; Russian Federation (North Caucasus); Somalia; South Sudan; Sudan; Tunisia; Yemen


Countries in which IRW works through the offices of local organisations to deliver projects include: Central African Republic, China, India, The Philippines, Sri Lanka.

Controversy and allegations of terror links[edit]

On 15 November 2014, the United Arab Emirates classified Islamic Relief as a terrorist organisation.[6][7] Islamic Relief have 60 days in which to appeal the UAE judgement.

In June 2014, ahead of the conflict in Gaza, Israel added IRW to a list of organisations banned from operating in Israel, for allegedly funding Hamas. [8]

Islamic Relief has categorically denied any links to Hamas, citing its support from numerous UN agencies and government aid donors. It says that its humanitarian aid programme in the Palestinian territories is one of the biggest apart from UN agencies. [9] Though the UK Charity Commission is not investigating Islamic Relief, the organisation is carrying out its own investigation into the incident. [10]

Russian security services have also accused Islamic Relief of funding terrorism. [11] According to its website, Islamic Relief has worked in the Russian Federation since 1995 and continues to do so. The Russian Security Services are thought to have confused the charity with another charitable organisation using a similar name. Islamic Relief have stated that it raised the issue with the Russian Authorities and resolved the misunderstanding.[citation needed]