Our History

"Whoever saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind" Qur'an 5:32

We are an independent Non-governmental organisation (NGO) founded in the UK in 1984 by a group of concerned postgraduate students.

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From the very start, Islamic Relief historically had one vision: “Inspired by our Islamic faith and guided by our values, we envisage a caring world where communities are empowered, social obligations are fulfilled and people respond as one to the suffering of others.” In line with Islamic teachings on the value of every human life, we provide this assistance to the whoever needs us most, regardless of race, religion or gender.

While our beginnings were in disaster and emergency relief – providing for those who have suffered and lost everything in droughts, earthquakes, floods or conflict – alongside this immediate assistance, Islamic Relief has always aimed to relieve poverty and suffering in the long-term too. The year after it was founded, Islamic Relief set up its first field office in Khartoum, Sudan, ready to help those affected by the drought not just survive, but rebuild their lives.

Since then, we have opened over 100 offices in 40 countries worldwide – from Afghanistan to Albania, Pakistan to Palestine, Somalia to Sudan. As well as disaster relief, we carry out sustainable development work to provide water, food, shelter, healthcare, education in the long-term. We also work to support orphans and children, help people get jobs and build livelihoods to support their families, and protect vulnerable communities from future disasters, preventing the loss of lives and property.

Over almost 30 years, Islamic Relief has grown, by the grace of Allah, into one of the world’s largest Islamic NGOs (non-governmental organisations). As we look to the future, we are always eager to learn, develop and improve our work, to serve the poorest and neediest people.

Our three-year strategy, Faith Inspired Action, encapsulates our plan to do just that: to save and protect lives, empower communities to stand on their own two feet, speak out on their behalf about the issues affecting them, and strengthen our own Islamic Relief family so that we can work to the best of our ability. We aim to do this all in line with our key values, taken from our Islamic faith: compassion, justice, custodianship, sincerity and excellence.

Some of our highlights over the last three decades include:

  • Throughout: responded to headline-hitting emergencies like the 2004 Asian tsunami, 2005 Kashmir earthquake, 2010 Pakistan floods, 2011 Somalia famine and the ongoing Syrian conflict
  • 2013: over 30,000 orphans sponsored
  • 2005: the first Muslim charity to join the UK’s Disaster Emergencies Committee
  • 1999: signed the Red Cross Code of Conduct, an international set of standards on working in disaster zones
  • 1996: began recycling and selling donated clothes in the UK
  • 1994: the first Muslim NGO to receive UK government funding (£180,000 for a training centre in Sudan)
  • 1993: UK newspaper The Independent raised £37,000 for Islamic Relief’s Bosnia Appeal
  • 1986: began a number of major programmes which continue to this day, including orphan sponsorship and qurbani distribution, working in new countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Malawi
  • 1984: Islamic Relief is founded with its first 20p donation