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
IRW Logo.jpg
Islamic R
Motto Faith Inspired Action
Founded 1984 at Birmingham, West Midlands
Focus Sustainable Livelihoods, Education, Health & Nutrition, Orphans and Child Welfare, Water Sanitation & Hygiene, Emergency Relief & Disaster Preparedness, Campaigning, Integrated development
Area served
£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 programs and humanitarian relief around the globe, regardless of race, political affiliation, gender or belief.

Founded in 1984 in the United Kingdom, the Islamic Relief family includes national offices, affiliated partners and field offices. It states that it delivers its projects in over 30 countries. It also owns a subsidiary company based in Birmingham, UK. TIC International collects and recycles clothes to raise funds for IRW’s work and provides canned meat for aid purposes. [2]

Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) is 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 .

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 UK, 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. It has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate in humanitarian work with Lutheran World Federation(LWF)[3] and also formed a partnership with the African Union to tackle chronic poverty.


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
  • 1988: manufactured high-protein biscuits and multivitamins to tackle malnutrition in Afghanistan and countries in Africa
  • 1989: assisted survivors of the chemical attack in Halabja, Iraqi-Kurdistan
  • 1990: gave GBP £200,000 to provide relief to those affected by the Iran earthquake
  • 1991: started work in Bangladesh, responding to one of the deadliest cyclones on record
  • 1992: work in Pakistan began with the distribution of Ramadan food parcels and Qurbani meat
  • 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)
  • 1995: began working in the North Caucasus as one of the few aid agencies delivering aid amidst the conflict in Chechnya
  • 1996: began recycling and selling donated clothes in the UK
  • 1998: continued work in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and opened its Gaza City office
  • 1999: signed the Red Cross Code of Conduct (an international set of standards on working in disaster zones)
  • 2000: set up its Waqf programme, as a source of sustainable funding for humanitarian projects
  • 2001: one of the few international aid organisations working on the ground throughout the conflict in Afghanistan
  • 2002: began working in China, building new homes for families affected by flooding in Shaanaxi province
  • 2003: amidst the conflict in Iraq, Islamic Relief continued delivering aid in the country
  • 2004: from its offices in Indonesia, launched a large-scale response to the tsunami, which left 1.5 million people homeless
  • 2005: joined the UK’s Disaster Emergencies Committee, an umbrella organisation which launches and coordinates responses to major disasters
  • 2006: promoted child protection and child development to protect children from violence, abuse, neglect and all forms of exploitation in Yemen
  • 2008: began USD $1.2 million relief and recovery programme in Myanmar – reaching more than 100,000 people from Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, and Muslim communities
  • 2009: celebrated its 25th anniversary
  • 2010: one of the first international aid agencies on the ground in the wake of the Haiti earthquake
  • 2011: launched emergency response, which continues to date, to the crisis in Syria
  • 2013: became one of 11 organisations to qualify for Strategic Humanitarian Partnership with Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
  • 2014: Islamic Relief Academy launched, providing training and development services to the humanitarian sector
  • 2015: Memorandum of Understanding with African Union signed formalizing partnership to tackle poverty on the continent

In 2013, the organisation received £3.2 million from the UK's Department for International Development.[6]

Awards and nominations[edit]

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.

In January 2013, the charity was awarded the Charity of the Year award at the British Muslim Awards.[7] In January 2015, it was nominated for the Charity of the Year award at the British Muslim Awards.[7]

Islamic Relief global family[edit]

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 Chechnya

Islamic Relief India

Islamic Relief Kenya

Islamic Relief Pakistan

Field offices




Bosnia and Herzegovina












Occupied Palestinian Territories

The Philippines

Russian Federation (North Caucasus)


South Sudan





Countries in which IRW works through the offices of local organisations to deliver projects include: Central African Republic, China, Guinea, India, Myanmar, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, and Syria.

Islamic Relief Academy[edit]

In 2013, Islamic Relief Academy was established to promote and deliver the Management and Leadership Agenda of Islamic Relief, as well as to assist the entire ‘family’ in researching and developing new ideas and initiatives. The Academy aims to develop the leadership capacity and capability of Islamic Relief by commissioning and delivering development interventions and activities.[8]

Controversy and allegations of terror links[edit]

On 15 November 2014, the United Arab Emirates placed Islamic Relief on a list of proscribed organisations.[9][10] Islamic Relief is in the process of appealing the UAE judgement.

Two days after the ban was announced and before an investigation could be conducted, the charity’s West Bank offices were raided and their computers were destroyed, files were stolen, and office safe was blown apart.[11] In 2014 an audit of Islamic Relief's operations in Israel cleared it of any terror funding claim.[12]

Russian Security Services have also accused Islamic Relief of funding terrorism.[13] 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 has 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.[14] Though the UK Charity Commission chose not to investigate Islamic Relief, the organisation commissioned an independent investigation into the incident.[15] The organisation says the findings of the audit firm fully cleared Islamic Relief of the allegations. These findings were shared in full with a number of key governmental and institutional donors and partners, which have continued to fund Islamic Relief.

Russian security services have also accused Islamic Relief of funding terrorism.[16] 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.[17]